Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Heart-to-heart: Everyone likes to sound successful.

I have forgotten the real purpose of a blog.

Remember the days in the past, when blogs used to be an online replacement for our paper diaries, when one could spill thoughts into the immense world wide web.

For some people, blogs are still very much like that. But when commercial blogs started entering the picture, product photography and beautiful descriptions trying their best to convince the reader to purchase took over honest words and thoughts. 

I never wanted this blog to be that way. While it is not a personal blog, I had wanted to share my thoughts (oh I have so many) and feelings (as many as thoughts) while I carry on this journey of being a full time food miniaturist. Many times, I have forgotten about this, but TODAY I will pen down some thoughts.

They would be disorganised and may be more like rambling, but they are from my heart. So if you would like to, read on.

So, as opposed as to what others think of my life, I do not have a crazy schedule of sculpting orders to complete and loads of parcels to send off to the world every day. I don't jump out of bed thinking, "Another wonderful day ahead! I'm going to make use of every minute today to complete everything on my schedule today!". I don't sit back at the end of every day, patting myself on the back for another day well spent and feeling satisfied with being able to support myself with AiClay.

Very much the contrary in fact. 

Ever since I quit my job and started AiClay, I have known myself to be fighting against the odds. Of course, these include living in a country where a university graduate is expected to join the workforce and climb the career ladder. And also judgement from peers and family. But the greatest odd of all, would be myself. 

I believe it is crucial in the pursuit of happiness, to know one's greatest strengths and weaknesses. And wow, am I weak in discipline. I found that out soon enough after I embarked on AiClay full-time. When I started getting attention from the media, one of the most popular questions would be, "Describe how a regular day in AiClay would be like." I usually tell them what they want to hear. " I get up at 9am, check my emails, get started on sculpting orders, mail off packages, answer emails, brainstorm on new products, and repeat this the next day." 

I guess it just sounds much better than the truth. Which is. "When I feel hardworking I get up at 9am, but many times I have found myself snoozing past 11am. I surf the usual social media sites while having my brunch, and then when I feel up to it, I open up my mail and get so distracted answering my mails that it's usually evening by the time I feel ready to work. And then I might have to walk the dog, and by now it's probably time for dinner, so I get food. Sometimes friends ask to hang out after their work and I have a problem with saying no, although I should probably be working. I really don't get much work done at all in a day." 

There I've said it. Now that you guys know the ugly truth, I hope you're as disgusted as I am at my lifestyle. Because there is no way a business could survive like this. 

Most people envy business owners and our flexible work-play schedules. So many people hope to quit their day jobs and start a business, thinking they'll be less stressful and they will get to work lesser. Let me set the record straight, and tell you that if your business is to take off, you will face MORE stress and will work even harder than the regular employee. 

Because, flexible working schedules can also be read as having no fixed time to knock off from work. In a workplace, you might find yourself counting the minutes to 6pm before you can leave the office and head off to a night out with your friends. If you're a business owner, sure you can leave anytime but if you know there's work sitting there which directly affects your income, most likely you'll be working hard and forgetting your hunger. 

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy working hard, that's not the reason I quit the workforce. I just wanted to work hard for myself, and not for others. And definitely not working hard at something which didn't even matter to the company in the end. 

While I say that I enjoy working hard, there is still a not-so-fine line between enjoying working hard and getting to that point. Once I get in the mood, I can get raring and sitting at my computer/sculpting table for ages. But these moods are hard to come by. 

I digress, I think. (Reminder again that my thoughts are not organised at all.)

So the biggest problem with AiClay and how I'm running it, would be that all this time without knowing it, I've been trying to have the best of both worlds. I've been enjoying the flexibility of spending time not working during work-hours and also allowing myself to hang out with friends/family after (usual) work-hours.  Or simply put, I've just been a lazy unmotivated bum. 

Being my own boss sounds a lot grander than it really is. 

That being said, I now know my greatest weakness and a solution is for to seek collaborations. While I am all up for working for myself and not under a boss, at the same time I crave for human relationships and the knowledge that my actions (or rather, non-actions) affect another business/person. I needed this accountability. Let's face it, I could sculpt the most realistic miniature food and I would still not be able to support myself with AiClay. A business, is a business and money needed to roll in. 

So this May, I am glad I had formed quite a few business relationships and never had I attended so many business meetings in my life. Now, before I take a time-out on an email/project which has been abandoned for many months, I know I'm accountable to others and I force myself to get the work done before allowing that haunting tune of Candy Crush to fill the air once again. 

This entry is a mad jumble of thoughts but thank you for reading through if you have. :) I'll love to hear your story or thoughts if you could leave a comment below.

P.S This is inspired by my business partner/friend Daniel, who has always amazed me with his honesty, even in prestigious magazine features he gives the bare truth about his own struggles. :)


  1. Great honest post! Being a business owner is hard work. I don't think people realize the amount of time, energy, prayer, etc, that is needed to have a successful business. I applaud you for realizing your weaknesses in an effort to make things better. I'm a workaholic, which isn't that much better. I work day and night. Not because I really have to. I'm just addicted to it all. So, I too, need a reality check.

    1. Hi Vanessa! Wow how does being a workaholic feel like? ;) I hope you're a biz owner because your biz would boom in that case! But please remember to take breaks for the sake of your mental and physical health. Wishing the best for you too! ♥

  2. 加油 Jocelyn! I don't have my own business but I know how you feel. There are bad days and good days. But always remember that you were one of the most down-to-earth and real people that I met for 逐梦者, with a story that is amongst the most worth sharing. I'm sure that with your spirit, AiClay 会越来越好~ ^^

    Peisi :)

    1. Hello Peisi! How nice to connect with you again! :) Thank you for your kind words, they mean A LOT to me. :)

  3. I know what you mean. I'm a housewife attempting miniature modelling as a career and its hard enough not getting much support from your family and friends because you decided not to work 9-5 like everyone else. It's actually much harder being your own boss because its easy to procrastinate when you lack self-discipline.
    However it's all worth it when you finally have reached success and there is nothing more satisfying than actually making something that you have made all by yourself

    1. Hi Nadia, you're right about the satisfaction when you've accomplished something by yourself, it's gratifying. :) Let's work hard at our careers then, take 'attempting' out of the picture and REALLY treat it as a career! Anything's possible if we believe wholly in it.

  4. Hi Jocelyn!

    Thank you so much for your honest sharing!

    I can totally relate myself to your lifestyle cos I'm no different from you..
    Many times I wish to do something for myself but due to the lack of discipline, it remains as a daydream.
    Although I've yet to experience life in the workforce, I've always hated routines in school and doing things that at the end of the day, its only about grades. I believe that no matter how great my passion is for my craft, there are still times when I run out of ideas/ don't feel like touching it at all. But as soon as ideas flood back into my mind, I find myself getting all excited about making new things again. You've def encouraged me in many ways through this post! By far to me, Aiclay has the best miniatures in Singapore! And. my thoughts are jumbled up too :P High five and let's work harder tgt! :)


    1. Hi Rachel, thank you for the compliments on my works! Really appreciate it. :) Yes, discipline + power to dream will take us places! Alas we can only work harder ourselves on discipline, JIAYOU! ♥

  5. I TOTALLY understand! I am exactly like this and I may have a different situation, but my days are often the same. I am relieved to see such honesty in this post! I hope that you find the motivation to get on a better track! I love your work and wish the best for you!
    A Bohemian Bazaar

    1. Hello Blake! It's nice to know that other people are the same way, right? That's one of the reasons why I decided to write this, because I'm sure many are feeling the same way but few have decided to be honest. I'm wishing all the best for whatever you do too! ♥

  6. Jocelyn,

    I love this post! I agree with you one hundred percent on all counts. Running a business is hard work, and perhaps the hardest work is finding balance between being billable (that is, sculpting), establishing relationships, and having time to be creative. Sometimes you need to not think about something in order to have the best ideas, so don't beat yourself up too much about sleeping late. I'm guessing you started a business so that you could dictate your own schedule!

    Regarding blogging, I wonder if honest communication as well as great photos are a recipe for success? People (myself included) love honesty & transparency--but also photos. ;) The fact that you're thinking these things and running into this resistance is a sign that your business is growing and evolving. So keep your chin up. :)


    1. Hi Amelia! You're utterly right in the fact that I started AiClay so that I could live my life according to my own schedule! (Despite it slacking towards a more all-play-and-no-work schedule currently.) I'll definitely be still putting up photos, I appreciate good photos so I'll keep working on mine too! :) Thank you for your insightful comment. ♥

  7. I really enjoyed reading this blog and it absolutely struck a chord with me. I am a terrible procrastinator and have poor self-discipline. Unfortunately it has resulted in me not always reaching my full potential, or quitting things prematurely. Not only that, but I lose some of the enthusiasm and love for my craft when I'm working on commission pieces. I no longer feel like I'm indulging in my passion for my own pleasure and satisfaction; instead I am 'forced' into working to another person's specifications whether I feel inspired to work or not. It's great to hear I'm not the only one who struggles with these things. I wish you all the best with AiClay :).

    1. Hello! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. :) Self-discipline is something I've always struggled with, but I know I've not gave it my all in trying to get better so I'm gonna try even HARDER! You should too k? :) I'll love to know what you craft as well! All the best in whatever you do! ♥

  8. I feel the same!

    Im always impressed by your miniatures! They are amazing!

    Im creating +/-4,5 years and I have learned a lot in this time..

    Now people are starting to 'creating' by their self, I have no orders,I havent sold anything since january. Now im trying to find a full time job-unfortunatelly,students in Poland cant find it at all.

    Im feeling tired and I wanted to close my blog, but friends are saying DONT.

    We have such a wonderful hobby, we can create something from nothing. And this is why I love it <3.

    1. Hello! Thank you for your compliments on my work, deeply appreciated! :) And I like your honesty about your sales, I know it's not easy to admit it but hey, things can only go up from zero right? :) You're correct that it's actually pretty amazing that we create something from nothing, thank you for reminding me about the beauty of crafting because I forget it sometimes. :)

  9. I admire your honesty. I have never had the guts to quit my day job for being my own boss, and I suspect a lot of it is down to my fear of not my own inability to do the work, but a lack of discipline to get things done. This is odd, because when I was at university I was very hard-working anhd determined to get the best grades I could (and I did!) and I am very independant at my current job, requiring very little supervision and yet multi-tasking and getting everything done. But some days I just cannot be bothered to make miniatures. And to me, if it isn't something I enjoy doing all the time, I'm not sure I can risk my income on it. I may not enjoy my day job all the time, but at least I know I will definitely get paid! So I totally understand where you are coming from. Hopefully these new collaborations will be what you need to get into more of a business routine that will be easier to sustain in the long term. Good luck!

    1. Whoa, I was about to comment on this post, but then I was reading the comments and yours is almost verbatim what I was going to write. So I'll just say, hell yeah I second that!!!

      I love this post because I don't feel so awful knowing I'm not the only crafter that's not happy-cheery-let-the-day-begin! like in all the interviews. I regularly read Etsy's Quit Your Day Job and shop highlights section, so it's easy for me to get snowed under all the images of people just being beautifully self-disciplined, and me snoring away in bed while they're hard at work and successful because of it (though some of them are very honest about their challenges working for self).