The other day I had a yoga-fueled epiphany.

It’s hard to avoid, actually; true yoga practice relies much less on the physical and more on the spiritual than popular culture would suggest. There’s usually varying degrees of meditation during class. It’s not why I practice yoga, and to be honest I always resist it a bit for inexplicably stubborn reasons.

This particular class was with a teacher I’d never had. New Years was approaching, and it was the first class I had attended in quite some time (something I hope to amend in the new year, of course). It was a small class, maybe five or so people, and the teacher saw it as an opportunity to get to know us a bit better in this unusually intimate setting.

“There are some new faces here. Let’s start practice by going around and saying our names, plus one word that describes our intentions for the new year.” Oh god. Here we go. Part of me wanted to bolt, or sink into the floor. But I knew what I was going to say before it was even my turn.

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This week the project that I had been working on for the past nine months launched to an open prototype. It was a huge undertaking. It may be the hardest project I’ve worked on. It’ll easily be the most trafficked. I’m incredibly proud of the work my fantastic team and I did. And I’m proud of myself, but for slightly different reasons.

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Pricing my embroidery

Pricing your work is hard. Whether you’re a freelancer or you sell handmade goods, putting a value on something you’ve created is tough. It requires balancing a competitive rate with paying yourself what your time is worth, and for many people (myself included), it’s easy to undervalue your time.

In the past few weeks I’ve had a few people reach out to me asking about how I price the items in my Etsy shop. I’ve posted my response to a convo from another embroidery seller on Etsy below. I don’t think I have pricing completely figured out (after all, my shop is only a year old and is only a part-time project), but I feel like I’m in a better place with pricing than I was when I first sold my embroidery.

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What blameless really means

Part of Etsy culture is blameless post-mortems. It’s a term I’ve heard used a lot and up until last week I thought I thoroughly understood. Etsy supports an environment of learning, people make mistakes, don’t point fingers, etc. All good things and things I believe in.

On Friday I was involved in a smallish incident on the site; I was driving a deploy and, long story short, the deploy didn’t go perfectly. Nothing serious happened and the site was fine so we didn’t have a post-mortem, but I had that terrible I-did-something-bad feeling in the pit of my stomach all day long. True to the culture, no one at Etsy pointed fingers (as expected), but I still felt pretty awful and like I could have done better.

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New year, new challenges

My first job in high school was at a small store in the Washington DC-area called Appalachian Spring where I sold jewelry, pottery, glass, and other crafts made by American artists. It’s at Appalachian Spring where I developed a passion for all things handmade. I credit my time there (among other sources) with my desire to support artists, which brought me to New York to work at Kickstarter over two years ago.

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2013 reflections

I can be really bad at stopping to reflect on my accomplishments, but so much has happened this year that I feel really great about. Here are some things from the past year of which I’m most proud (in no particular order):

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Emoji embroidery: a post-mortem

On Thursday night, my emoji embroidery was part of the first-ever emoji pop-up market at Eyebeam Art+Technology Center in Chelsea. I had no idea what I was doing when I started. Here’s what I learned.

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A redesign with Siteleaf

The last time I redid my website was almost exactly two years ago. I was ready to leave my job and needed a refreshed portfolio. (Side note: why are so many of us terrible about updating our websites unless we’re looking for a job?) It had been a bit of time since I built a website from start to finish (designers at that company weren’t allowed to touch code), and I spent a three-day weekend proudly handcoding my brand new site. It was a completely static site with no templating and probably some terribly-written CSS, but it worked.

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Scare yourself

Six months ago today I moved from a small town in southwest Virginia to New York City. I came up here with just a duffel bag, a suitcase, and a backpack. I slept on an air mattress in my friend’s living room in Bushwick for three weeks until I was able to move into an apartment in Brooklyn Heights. I sold my car, got rid of a third of my wardrobe, and moved to a city that’s basically the opposite of the place I had been living for the past six years. After working at a digital advertising agency for almost three years, I decided that I wanted to switch industries and quit my first job as an adult. To say my life has been full of changes in the past six months would be quite the understatement.

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Jessica Harllee is a product designer at Etsy in Brooklyn, an avid crafter, and an amateur writer.

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