April 30, 2017

How to Get Sewing Articles Published

*Shakes dust off shoulders* Hi again. I have not fallen off the face of the earth as you may have suspected. It's just been a crazy spring. Between parents visiting, having sewing deadlines, and being sick for 75% of the last three months it's been what you might *lovingly* call hectic.

But hey, this is cool:

Check that out. They made that badge for me to put up on my blog. I feel so official.

I love writing for Sew News. I worked as Associate Editor for them for 3 years and am so grateful I can continue my relationship with them. The ladies who work there are wonderful people. I get to sew, which I love, I get to help others learn how to sew, how cool is that, and I get paid for it!?! Win-Win-Win

Here are two of my projects from the Feb/March '17 issue:

The day I get a project on the cover-- I won't rest until I make it happen-- I might spontaneously combust.

If you know how to sew and have fun designing your own projects, you can send in queries to get your project and accompanying instructions published in the magazine, for fair compensation of course. Check out their query guidelines here.

If you'd like to query but don't know where to start, contact them to get on their contributor email list. You'll receive Call for Editorial emails, which provide a mood board and a jumping off point for the types of projects they're looking for.

(Machine embroiderers make sure to query to Creative Machine Embroidery magazine, which will be included in the Call for Editorial emails.)

Here are some tips for writing queries, from someone who has waded through them to choose projects for the magazine:
  • Be specific. Identify preferred fabric and color choices. This is something they may work with you on, but it's good to have a place to start.
  • Be unique. What technique are you going to teach that isn't something people see every day? 
  • Provide detail photos. If there's something on the J Crew site you're copying a detail from, include a picture of it. Make sure to identify in the notes or on the picture what detail you're capturing. Include some sketches of the design as well, identifying inner details and seaming details.
  • Be professional. Send each query in separate word or pdf documents as attachments. Include in the body of the email a nice letter, detailing your sewing experience. Once you send in your query, wait patiently. If it's chosen they will email you. If it's not chosen they will email you to thank you. And keep sending in your ideas! They love having a great pool to choose from, and if your project isn't right for the current issue, they may even keep it for consideration for a later date.
If you can sew and think it would be cool to see your projects professionally photographed in a nationally-distributed magazine (which it is), send in a query! You've got nothing to lose!

April 17, 2017

How to Get Out of a Bad Investment

Bad investments, we’ve all made them. Maybe it’s something you expected to appreciate in value – like real estate or a stock. Or maybe it’s something you just thought you really needed, but don’t use – like a bike, a watch, or home exercise equipment. Because we made this purchase there is ego and pride attached to it. Our ego tells us: “Just wait until the investment turns positive.” or “I’d sell it, I just can’t get back anywhere near what I put into it.”

If that sounds like you, you’re giving yourself the worst possible advice. In addition, you’re wasting your time and headspace worrying over something that you should just do something about.

Easier said than done right?

I’ve been following a few pieces of good advice that I wanted to share:
  1. You don’t need to make it back the way you lost it.
  2. If you can’t afford to lose it, you can’t afford it.

#2 has been a driving force behind my decision making for a few years now, I’ve internalized it and I love it. But #1 is a harder lesson to learn.

So… here’s a story about getting out of a bad investment (aka an older Mr. Go cleaning up a mess made by a younger Mr. Go).

A brilliant 25 year old Mr. Go, with plenty of disposable income, decided to buy his lovely bride to be a $10,000 engagement ring. Impressing people was important, and surely a ring of this value would make him look like a total douche badass. So he wrote a check and the ring was his. It was custom designed by a jeweler with a 1ct round cut diamond (that sat up so high it would conveniently rip shirts and scratch people). The jeweler wrote an appraisal for the ring and valued it at $14,500. What a great investment!

Bad investment on left.

What if the ring got lost or stolen? Easy, personal property insurance can cover that; it’s only $9 a month. Mr. Go purchased this ring in April 2010.

Now comes the part in the story where I started thinking more thoughtfully about my future, using my resources to spend time with loved ones while I still can, having a kid and toning down my focus on work.

As my family has continually downsized our needs and simplified our life, there isn’t a lot of superfluous spending. And when something is purchased it always passes the test of advice point #2 and also “Will this purchase improve the quality of our life?” The flip side of the latter question is, “Would getting rid of this reduce the quality of our life?” Mrs. Tell’s answer, in the case of the ring, is a simple “No,” the ring does not add any happiness to her or my life.

But for me, it was reducing my happiness. Every year I would get this stupid premium bill for $109 to insure something I didn’t even want anymore. It wasted much of my time and headspace thinking about what to do with it. Do I stop insuring it and put it in safe? Do I sell it at a loss? Do I wait for diamonds and metals to appreciate in value? Is there a market for used engagement rings? What about the sentimental value?

It was time to take action. I submitted pictures, appraisals and the GIA report to a few online diamond buyers to get an estimate on the diamond’s value and the ring’s value. Diamond buyers were coming back with offers around $4,200. The ring was only worth its weight in platinum plus the diamond chips, so about $500. I accepted reality (remember advice point #1) and took it to a local jeweler to negotiate a deal. We reached a deal where he would buy the diamond and set a new diamond in its place.

I replaced the $4,200 1ct diamond with a $325 1/4ct diamond. The jeweler told me that in 40 years of business he had never had anyone ever come in requesting to downsize a diamond. I took that as a sign that: 1) I’m a genius to realize a bad investment and get out of it, or 2) I’m a dumbass who got himself into a bad investment (or maybe it's a combination of both).

1ct left, .25ct right. What a deal!

Now I should note, with a little expert negotiating, I walked out of the jewelry store with a check for $4,700 and a 1/4ct diamond set in the ring, making it the best offer I got anywhere else. But also noting that the only person that lost (financially) in any of the transactions described above, was me. If you’re interested in buying the diamond in this story it will cost you about $10,000 dollars in this jeweler's shop.

What will I do with the $4,700 dollars? It will go into a non-retirement investment account with every other dime I save (see The No Hassle Approach to Investing). At an estimated 6% annual return I might make my money back on this investment in 10 years. Oh, and over that 10 year period I’ll also save $1,090 in would-be insurance premiums.

There is probably a more sophisticated way to evaluate the cost of this investment, but who cares. It’s a huge weight off my mind and I’ve freed up headspace to focus on more important things. Life is great!

Mrs. Tell and I will be celebrating our five year wedding anniversary on 4/21. I’m proud to say our love for each other has grown now that our time is guided by thoughts and actions, rather than objects. And on a side note, Mrs. Tell loves the “new” ring.

If you’re sitting on a bad investment, stop letting it take time and energy from you, go do something about it.

- Mr. Go