I have been saying "no" a lot lately. It is a word I struggle to say, especially as a one-woman business. I take every sale and every request not just as income but as a compliment. Someone has taken the time to find me, read about what I do and like it enough to contact me and ask me to make something special for them. They are not buying a manufactured product, but one that has my heart in it. This is huge. As Henri Matisse is credited for saying, "Creativity takes courage." I am putting myself out in front of the world to see for judgment, rejection, but hopefully acceptance.
While I feel it is a sign of success to come to a time when I have the luxury to say no, it also feels like a tiny failure, like I have let someone down. I have turned down several very large custom orders recently because taking them would have meant endless hours of extra work, the stress of an immediate deadline and time away other things that are important to me.
A charitable organization asked for 1000 rainbow seed bombs that would be given out at their fund-raising event. While it takes a long time to roll each little ball of pulp by hand, it also takes a lot of space to dry them. I figured I would need to make more than 200 every day to get the order out in time, and that was assuming they all dried quickly. But I would have to put aside other pending custom orders that had tight deadlines (as well as canceling several really fun events in my personal life), so I had to say no.
A church contacted me needing 400 white doves for an event about a week before their deadline. Add in the time it takes to ship and it would mean no sleep during a very busy time of year.
A bride had been looking for something special for her wedding and didn't find me until the very last minute, which was yesterday. I love making items for weddings, especially when the bride and groom want something different from the products I ordinarily make. (As a matter of fact, some of my best-selling products have come from ideas that customers gave me!) But to meet her deadline, I would have had to compromise my quality for an event that is too important for goofs. Another no.
So I am feeling ambivalent and relieved all at once.