Friday, September 28, 2018

Brian Kay

It's Entrepreneur Friday! This week's self-employed artist is Brian Kay. I'm not sure how long ago I met Brian, but it's been at least a few years now. We've done several gigs together for Istanpitta Medieval Music Ensemble. Brian's voice has a clarity and the rare ability to give life to songs from distant times and lands as if these songs were right here in our back pockets all along. Aside from a gorgeous voice, Brian is an extremely varied musical talent, so varied, in fact, that he is working on a series of YouTube videos on his channel to answer the often asked "What kind of music do you play?" On the same YouTube channel, you can hear/see him perform, and he has plans to interview other musicians. I highly recommend following his channel. I enjoy watching him grow as an artist, and I have no doubt you will too!

Brian, Al, Rosalind and myself at a 12th Night celebration.
I asked Brian a series of questions for this article and rather than botch his answers, I will copy a bit of what he had to say here. Every time I talk to him, I feel like I am talking to myself of 20 years ago...  yeah, that means I'm getting old - haha...  Maybe the familiarity points to some universality in the questions, ideas, struggles, and reasons for going on this artistic entrepreneur journey.
The modern musician.
What is your favorite part of artsy entrepreneurship?
There are many things to like about being an artistic entrepreneur. If I were to pick a favorite, it would have to be that there are times when it enables me to follow my muse and learn a new style of music or a new skill. I’m constantly expanding my set of skills, and lately I’ve started painting and doing wood working. Right now they are hobbies, but they could very well become another means of income in the future if I decide to pursue that route. I don’t always have that kind of free time, but the nature of my work is that I get hired for a period of time and become the musician necessary for that gig, then I might have a week, two weeks, or even a month off to work on my own artistic vision.

What is the worst part, or what do you fear?
It’s hard to say... Everybody has ups and downs in life and we all have an average level of performance. Sometimes we perform above our average and others below. But most of the time I’m right in the middle, and that middle has an upwards trajectory, and has ever since I’ve started playing music. In other words, I’m always getting better at what I do, and therefore my average level of performance is getting better. Still, there are times when I don’t feel well, or I find it hard to focus. It is during those times that I’m most at risk of performing lower than my standards. I always try to remain optimistic and be forgiving of myself when I’m unable to rise to the occasion. But I haven’t always been so forgiving of my imperfections. All of that said, I guess my greatest fear must be that I might become complacent or hit a plateau and not aspire for growth. Or that I may one day run out of ideas, which seems nearly impossible considering all of the ideas I have now. Still, it is a possibility.
Pondering his next big idea.

Self-care… It’s not always easy to be your own boss. What do you do to be kind to yourself?
I like how this question is framed! I used to be so hard on myself. I was a bad boss and a bad employee. I recently started to take better care of myself: changed my sleeping habits, diet, exercise routine, quit drinking alcohol. I have meditated daily since 2013, but I started to get more serious about my practice and to explore other methods of meditation. All of this led to me feeling better physically, mentally, and emotionally. It has culminated in me being more organized throughout the day and my productivity and creativity has exploded. 

If you're in Texas like me, it's worth noting that he'll be at Ye Ol' Texas Ren Fest October 13 and 14 with Istanpitta - a rare chance for you to catch this northerner live here in Texas. Go forth and subscribe to his channel and buy his works. Snoop... stalk... go on, you have permission!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Crafty Woes

I love putting things together all by myself.... except when my skills aren't QUITE up to it and I can't figure something out! ARG!  I am so smart, I just know I am - how can this stupid inanimate object win like this?!?!?

Yesterday, I popped open the pop-up trailer. I take it to Texas Ren Fair so that I can sleep comfortably off the ground, and so that a fellow musician can as well. It's clean, airy, and has two full beds. At the fair, I do not have electricity. When I first got this trailer, I used it at a fair with electricity and everything except the overhead light worked fantastically. I had a fridge and two outlets available as I liked. Coffee maker, lamp, cook top, even the next door neighbor ran an extension cord from my camper to his because there were no more official outlet posts in the campground. I ran quite a bit of electricity through this baby.

Now, the fridge flat won't come on. The outlets come on for about 60 seconds before flipping the breaker to my house. I have pulled unnecessary wiring. I have checked over what exists for breaks or loose connections. I hate to think that the breaker box itself might have gone south because that's not exactly cheap, but it's just about the last possible problem.

Being crafty is all fine and good until the craft gets craftier than you!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Texas Renaissance Festival

Texas Renaissance Festival starts this weekend. I can hardly believe it has been a whole year. This year, I will be performing only the first three weekend of November with Istanpitta. I take a brake every few years. Al Cofrin is truly a great weekend boss, but it is good to remind myself that this is his gig and I do have outside goals. One of my "free" weekends, I will be going to Dublin, TX to perform at Things Celtic's new location. It's good to get out and do my own thing... it's also great to be welcomed into the Istanpitta team each year.

Have fun, everybody!!! <3 nbsp="" p="">

Friday, September 21, 2018

Entrepreneur Highlights

I am getting ready to write a series of posts about entrepreneurs I know. As I sit here thinking about that, I realize MOST of them are artists. Musicians, painters, stained glassers, circus performers, dancers, and owners of companies that produce shows and employ people of all types. I know so many creative, amazing, funny, self-driven people. They inspire me every day. I hope that writing about one person each Friday, I will be inspired to act toward my own crazy goals, and possibly inspire someone out there in some way. I am looking forward to knowing my creative friends better!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bird feeder

I made some bird feeders! I used a bunch of left over materials.

First, choose a length of 3 inch or so PVC. Spray paint it the color you want or the color you have. PVC deteriorates in the sun. Cut a couple inch piece off a 2x4 - this will carry the chain up through the middle of your PVC so that it doesn't tip over. Drill a hole in the middle of a melamine plate big enough for an eye-bolt to pass. Cut a couple of pieces of wire... anything will do. Drill a hole in the middle of your wire, or if it's bare wire, from a circle in the middle. Pass eye bolt through the wire and then down through the plate. If your eye-bolt has a corresponding bolt, make sure you have a washer and attach the bolt through the plate, eye side up. If your eye-bolt is just a screw bottom, take a piece of wood and attach it under the plate as if it was your bolt (that's what that white piece of wood in the photo is).  Bend a license plate to become the roof and drill a hole in the middle big enough for the chain to pass through easily.

 Now, time to assemble. Attach the chain to the eye bolt. Send the chain through the PVC pipe. Send the chain through the piece of 2X4. Screw the 2X4 to the top part of the PVC. You may need to pilot hole and then send in the screw so that you don't split the small piece of 2X4. Send the chain through the license plate. Hold it up and hang it!
The PVC should sit down on the wire allowing a bit of space for the bird seed to fall on the plate. Birds will perch on the wire or the edge of the plate. Lift the license plate and carefully pour seed in. The first few seeds might slip over the edge of the plate because gravity is fun like that, but you'll get the hang of it and the birds will love you!

Monday, September 17, 2018


Alesha Yamal, Cayla Cardiff and I met singing and playing for Al Cofrin's medieval band, Istanpitta, during the Texas Renaissance Festival. The three of us found that singing together was easy and fun, and we each had our own harmony strengths to offer. Vocal harmony is one of my absolute favorite things on earth. There is something about it that reaches for the soul in a depth that harmony by any other instrument doesn't quite venture.

The three of us have rehearsed for several years as our schedules have allowed. The last two years we were able to play at the Texas Renaissance Festival under Al's umbrella of Istanpitta. Every now and then, he leaves us to our own devices and we call ourselves MISStanpitta.

We had a rehearsal yesterday. I fall in love with these voices all over again. Most of our repertoire is Medieval for the sake of the one venue we so far have done. We have a few other songs in our back pockets just waiting for the day when we have a house concert or other small venue where we can sing and play everything!

Harmony.... ahhhhhhh, my soul.

Friday, September 14, 2018

I am an Entrepreneur

I am a do it yourselfer to the core. I am almost toxically independent. I am self-motivated within my own goals. All of these traits led me to entrepreneurship.... these things plus the fact that I am also very frugal.

Once upon a time, I was working at the SPCA/Humane Society in Austin, Texas. I was a clinic nurse assisting with spay and neuter surgeries as well as vaccinating and examining all incoming animals, and preparing their paperwork for adoption. One day, as I clocked in with one of those old fashioned time card stampers that make the loud KATHUNK every time someone clocks in or out, I looked over at our bulletin board. On that bulletin board was a flyer advertising the sale of a pet-sitting business. This was the very first time I had ever heard of pet sitting. It was also the very first time I heard of creating, naming, owning, and then being able to sell a service business. Business that sell goods, that's one thing, but service businesses... I guess I thought the grew like trees and just died when it was time. And maybe, they actually do.

I called the lady who was selling her business and asked many questions like, "How long did it take you to build this business?" "How long have you been in business?" "How much are you looking to sell the business for?" "How many clients do you care for in a week?" Her answers sparked my interest not in buying her business, but trying to start my own. It took 3 years to build her business to full time. She had been in business for five. She was asking $30,000 for her business. Well, if I could build my own business in three years while I worked part time somewhere else, why pay $30,000 for a list of clients who may or may not choose to hire me over someone else?

It wasn't long before the few clients I had took enough time that my schedule at the Humane Society was not compatible. I found a part time job at a vet clinic. Both the Humane Society and the vet clinic referred odd cases to me because of my medical care experience.  In one year, my business was in full swing and I let go of the part time job.

When I divorced and left Austin, I sent a letter to my clients offering a list of pet sitters I knew and trusted. I chose to begin a career in music. The process of building this business was much the same. To fill gaps in both my brain and my calendar, I began offering services as an organizer. The blending of service businesses is a great way to keep my creative music mind fresh and keep the sometimes monotonous chore of organizing from become too much of a chore.

I love entrepreneurship. I love shifting my businesses and ideas in directions that feel right to me. I like serving people of my choosing in the way I wish to contribute.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Container Kitchen Complete!

In the right hand margin of this blog, there are a list of labels. I encourage you to click the "Container House" label to see all of the posts showing the container as it progressed.

This container was an annoying eyesore from the day I moved onto the property. I tried to give it away, but it is wedged between powerlines and mature oak trees. It would not be easy to remove. The roof was hole-y and rusty which in turn rotted large portions of the floor.

Anne pulled the rotted floor out. She also scrubbed and scraped the rust from the roof. I designed a deck style floor so that water could pass through the floor rather than collect and rot. We installed this new floor the very day it arrived from Lowe's. I primed and painted the roof with a serious coating of paint sealer. I got to use my Wal-Mart sale sprayer to spray the interior and the exterior of this metal box. I bought it for $65 to spray the container house and it did a great job! I never expected to be able to use it again, but I guess I cleaned it well and on it sprays. Anne and I moved the garage shelves that previously lived beside the cabin creating a wall between the new outdoor kitchen and my new garage. The kitchen got 16 feet, and the garage got 24 feet. The container is 8 feet wide by 40 feet long. I cut windows and doors which we lifted to make awnings over every new opening.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Things Celtic, Dublin, Texas

I'll be singing some songs for a couple of hours at Things Celtic's new location in Dublin, Texas on October the sixth... I am looking forward to it! Come and visit!!