spring canvas tote bags

— May 02, 2017

One of the most fun things I began to do is to create products from my photography and artwork. Last fall when I decided to participate in a couple of craft fairs, I had to design and create all of the items that I was going to sell. Since I don’t do anything normal, I had big plans to offer a tiny gift shoppe experience at these craft fairs.

What was I thinking?

Well, like I said, I don’t do things normally.

I had a ball creating every item that came with me to my tiny craft fair gift shoppe but it was also way more work than I was in a place to handle. Lesson learned, of course, but what came out of that experience was a variety of valuable informational tidbits that I would not have collected that quickly had I gone at a slower pace. At a time while I am pondering my “best directions” (notice that is plural because I can’t just commit to only one direction…boring!), the experience and information I gained with those craft fair gift shoppes has helped me mold my vision for this year.

The theme of “balance” became my main theme for this year because I didn’t want to be that busy and out of control again, whether it was from my own doing or from the circumstances I did not create but had to manage any hoo. So far, I have used that theme as my guiding principle to make choices and decide what to participate in or not and it is working. I have back the balance that I am used to, which is a sort of one-legged arms flapping tippy kind of balance, but that’s how I roll these days.

I had thought that I would begin to create and sell a few items that were easy enough to have produced elsewhere once I designed them but that proved to be an exercise in “going in the wrong direction”. Sometimes, you need those too.

The biggest deterrence to that idea is that at this point, I am a small potatoes producer and cannot control the quality of the product that I am ordering. Like these tote bags. I love these things! They are so roomy and on my level of production knowledge, they are the only ones that I could find that have the photography/artwork wrap around the whole item. All other tote bags use the “corporate square” in the center of the tote bag for the image and that’s it. I wanted something different. Naturally. These also have a super fashionable rope handle instead of the typical nylon flat handle that most totes use.

Alas, the love of these has had to be tabled for a while because when I started ordering some volume, they were arriving with just as many of them having flaws in them as not. The company was good at replacing the flawed items but I had contacted them to go a step further to correct the flaw issue. I do not have time to go through each piece that comes in and get replacements. If the flaw is the same on each piece, there must be other customers who are having the same issue. Regardless, I was looking to be a repeat customer so I wanted to have the issue resolved by eliminating the flaw, which appeared to be in my own opinion, in the production process.

Like I said, I am “small potatoes” because I never heard back from the company. If I really needed to head in this direction, I would have been a fly in their soup until they addressed me one way or another, but it helped me to see that selling my own items at this point in my journey is not the right way to spend my energies. I have been working with a SCORE business mentor, Mr. G., and he helped me to see that there are other current dreams that fit better into my need for a flexible “working” schedule right now. I do not have to give up on creating and selling my own items, but it is not a good fit at this time. Ahhhh, balance came back into my world again when I realized that. He also suggested that I try to sell my designs to companies since I am already creating them, and then I am not caught in the manufacturing/selling/accountability role that is too much for me right now.

That Mr. G…he’s a super smart guy.

Here are a few of the tote bags that I had designed. These are perfect for spring and I love carrying them around – they just ooze happiness. Someday, I want to add them to my own country gift shoppe and I hope I get the consistent quality haggled out by then!

Pink Spring Flowers

Blue & Purple Pansies

Night Sky Toenail Moon

It’s The Simple Things Sunrise

Back to the drawing board!!


  • Erica

    May 2, 2017

    The bags are beautiful Aaryne! Many times I find that “less is more.” The scenes on the bags give one the opportunity to pause and enjoy the moment! Thanks for sharing-

    • aarynemm

      May 3, 2017

      Why, thank you, M’am! They are some of my favorite photos and these bags just make me happy. But then I think I already mentioned that…

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