Starting a business blog has been on my mind for such a long time now. And with the insanity of the 100 Day Project being over, it feels only fitting to mark that occasion with another huge project - this blog!
Whilst browsing Instagram on April 1st I came across a few posts about the 100 day project. And having tried (and failed) in 2017 to do a doodle a day for 100 days, I had no qualms about jumping back in, feet first. The challenge started on April 3rd which only gave me 48 hours to think of a project and in a way, I'm so glad that I only had a short amount of time as it made me focus on the ideas I thought were viable and didn't give me time to mull over the ideas that weren't. I narrowed it down to watercolours of endangered animals (as I want to improve my watercolour skills) or embroideries of endangered animals.
And with that, my idea was born and I was committed. Because I had already failed at it once I knew going into the challenge just how hard it would be for me to stick to a plan. For the next two days I wrote down lists of endangered animals, I spent hours googling and reading articles and looking at photos. When I started I could only come up with 10 animals off the top of my head that I knew were endangered or extinct so there was a lot of research to be done!
So I came up with system. I wrote out 110 animals that fit my criteria and whittled it down to 100 animals. I cross referenced so I didn't have lots of similar looking animals - because as much as I love tigers, they all look pretty darn similar when you make them into geometric shapes. I put out on social media for people to send me their favourite endangered animals and got some brilliant responses such as the rusty patched bumblebee and the panda - which I had entirely forgotten about! I edited the list and got down to drawing patterns.
I started out by drawing 6 patterns at a time, but gradually realised that I would never be able to keep up with stitching at that rate, so I dedicated evenings where I would just sit and draw until I got tired. It meant that by Day 70 I had already drawn out the patterns for all the rest of the embroideries which, by that point, was such a relief in itself. I kept track by highlighting my original list - pink for animals already drawn, green for animals stitched so I could keep track. I think a big part of the success for me was being able to see my progress throughout the project to motivate me towards the end goal.
By the time we hit Day 20 though I was pretty much in my stride. I had created a routine where I would work on my embroidery after lunch and subsequently research facts and post it on instagram. It was going pretty swimmingly. Even my husband was getting into it and would ask me what that day's animal had been once he got home from work.
My only issue was time. I didn't realise just how much of my time this project would take up. Initially, and rather naively, I thought that I'd spend no more than 30 minutes max on it per day. It was pretty clear after the first couple weeks that this was going to end up being much more than that. Sometimes the designs I created were taking me hours to stitch. Sometimes I wound up spending half the day trying to research facts for a creature so elusive barely anything was written about it (I'm looking at you Giant East Usambra Blade-Horned Chameleon). At the start of the project I thought I would live stream each stitching session or at the very least film it so I would be able to string together a video at the end. That idea fell to the wayside pretty quick as I had to focus on just getting the daily embroidery hoops done!
I'd be lying if I said that it was all easy. It wasn't. There were days when it was really, really hard. There were days when I was so tired after coming home from a craft fair and I had forgotten to take my embroidery with me that I felt like just throwing it all in. In those days, I relied heavily on my support network of fellow entrepreneurs and my husband. I re-read the lovely comments on previous posts I had done on instagram and I swapped animals around so I had a slightly easier design to make that day and I did it.
But was the experience worth it? Absolutely without a doubt, yes. I learnt so much about our world, about the creatures that inhabit it, about what we've done to destroy our planet and what we're still doing, but also the fun stories, the way that we're trying to fix things and the ways in which we're succeeding.
I also learnt so much discipline. I learnt that I could take on big projects and see it through to the end if I plan them out in advance. I learnt that deadlines are my friend and that seeing my progress on a daily basis is worth it's weight in gold. Would I do the project next year? I'm already drawing up plans to figure out what to do!