HOW TO OPEN STUDIO #22: How to Make a Layaway Plan More Easy

Layaway plans can be an incentive for people to buy our work. They may not have a chunk of money available, but a payment plan can really help.

The problem is, it can also mean a LOT of extra work on our end.

I purchased an expensive piece of artwork years ago, way more than I could afford. But the artist offered a layaway plan, and it worked.

Unfortunately, I learned first-hand about the downside. It was easy at first, but as the payments continued, I had doubts about my actions. The artist was extremely diligent, sending regular emails when my payments were due, with encouraging words about how I was “almost there!”, “on the home stretch”, etc. It was still annoying, as I felt embarrassed about having doubts, but it did help, a little. Without those slightly guilt-inducing emails, I probably would have bailed.

And I’ve had people bail halfway through a layaway plan, and had to refund their money. Even more embarrassing!

Then another artist shared their layaway plan with me, and it was a game-changer!

This was back in the day when we used credit card slips, and ran our sales through the processing machine at home. (No telephone service at the annual fair we exhibited at, and years before wifi!)

He asked them 1) How much did they want to put into each payment? 2) How often did they want to pay? Which led to 3) How many payments would that amount to? (Including tax on the first payment, and any shipping costs on the last payment.) ALL payments were non-refundable.

Then he asked them to write out the appropriate number of checks or credit card slips, with their perferred amount–and HE would keep the checks or slips in an envelope.

Over that time period, he deposited each check (or ran each credit card slip) on the buyer’s preferred date (e.g., the first of each month, every two weeks, etc.)

And when the final payment was processed, he would either ship the item, or they would pick it up.

Now, if things got hard, all they had to do was reach out and ask him to skip a month. Or if they were better off, they could tell him to deposit/process ALL the payments sooner.

No late payments. No refunds.

People loved it! And the hidden beauty of this arrangement?

Almost always, partway into the process of writing 6, or 10, or 15 checks/charge slips, the person would say, “Oh, gosh, I’ll just put it all on my credit card now and make my own payments!” (WOOT!!!)

I haven’t had anyone ask for layaway in years now, so I’m not sure how this would work with credit cards. It’s possible we could have a printed agreement template, with the blanks filled in as we agree on the timing, amount, etc. And it’s really important to add there are no refunds after the agreement is…um…agreed to. (Signed!)

It might be possible to do multiple payments through PayPal or Venmo, or even Square, once we have their credit card number and their signed approval for us to do repeat payments. I haven’t explored this yet, but it’s worth checking out.

So even just offering a layaway plan can help people get over the wall of how much they’re able to pay, without ever having to actually use this process. I don’t know of any stores that offer layaway anymore. It used to be a ‘thing’ and now it isn’t. (Except for cars and houses!)

But it can still be an incentive, and encourage people to consider completing that purchase. I have a sign letting people know I accept layaways, and I believe it’s helped to “lower the bar” for purchasing.

If you’ve had similar experience using today’s modern payment methods, let me know in the comments! I’ll add them into this article, and of course I will thank you and credit you with the insights.




Horses were my symbol for courage, to pursue the work of my heart. Now maybe I need a fighter pilot to protect it….!


For some reason, I have had a lot of encounters with angry people in my life.

I used to think it was something I was doing wrong. I would try everything I could to “correct” the situation, apologize, explain, etc. And nothing ever worked, until I would finally go along until I could get away.

I realize now that’s a habit/strategy from my childhood that never worked. I had no idea how to set boundaries, stay safe, etc. (I’m getting better!)

My latest was an exchange with a former gallery manager who used to carry my work, until they had to shut down at the beginning at the pandemic. They sent me my final consignment check.

Which I set aside and forgot about, until two years later. (As in, last month.) It was a sizeable check, too, for me. Drat!!

The check was “stale”, of course, but I tried to reach out to see if they would still honor the payment with a new check. After many, many unanswered attempts, they finally wrote back.

And the resulting conversation(s) were so toxic, I couldn’t believe it.

Their first response was, “Sorry, you messed up, not me. So too bad.” I responded with, ‘okay’. I thought that was the end of it.

I then checked with a few other galleries I’ve been in/am in, and asked them what they would do if a consignee hadn’t cashed their check. I did NOT tell them I was the person who had to be notified.)

Every single one said they would reach out to the person, to make sure they’d gotten the check, to make sure they were okay, and to make sure they deposited the check.

I thought the story ended here. I didn’t hear back from this person….

Until weeks later, when they asked if I’d gotten their replacement check. Wha……??

Yes, they’d finally sent a check. Did I get it? No. Because rather than contact me, they found the address to my STUDIO on my website, and had mailed the check there. Where we can’t receive mail.

There was a terse bit of back-and-forth, and of course, more blame assigned to me. But they finally sent a second check to my home address, which I provided them. With the $30 stop-payment fee deducted. Okay….

But the card had quite the toxic message.

I had “messed up” by losing the check. (Yes, I know.)

I had “failed to provide a proper mailing address.” (Um….no. They never even told me they were sending a check, or I would have given them my home address. And they HAD my home address at some point, or I wouldn’t have gotten ANY of their consignment checks.)

They found an address on my website, but it was the wrong one. (Um…yeah. For the record, a LOT of artists who are women/women living alone/jewelers working with precious metals and gemstones, avoid giving out their home address, and yes, I have the backstories for that. My website has my STUDIO address.) (I have added my mailing address, though I still worry about visitors mistakingly coming to my HOME.)

So it was “my fault” the second check got lost, and so it was on me to pay the $30 stop-payment (for a new check I never was informed about.) Both the card and the check had a “FINAL SETTLEMENT” note on them. (Okay……)

In my research about this person, I contacted a few friends, and got confirmation this person’s ethics, processes, etc. were slightly off. It was a relief to know my suspicions were confirmed. No, this person was not playing fair….

Fortunately, I had a meet-up scheduled with a dear online friend of mine who mentors artists.  And I got clarity about what was really going on.

This artist friend and I both had a similar toxic encounter with someone similar years ago, and they came up in the conversation, too. My online friend’s insights helped me heal from that incredibly toxic encounter, they shared some of their more recent experiences, and they gave me more clarity about why/how we get caught up in these entanglements.

They said these people are someone with “The Dark Gift”:

The ability to see our tender places, and to use them to demean and destroy us.

WE are the real thing!” they said. “And they attack us because they want what WE have. And when we don’t see our own value, we can’t see their envy. And so we tend to blame OURSELVES for their anger and agression.”

Wow. WOW. This explains soooooo much.

Another dear friend shared a similar insight years ago when I was struggling with another, very famous toxic entity. The person was so successful, and internationally-reknowned for their work. Why were they constantly trying to take me down??

This other friend shared a similar encounter they’d had, and then said, “When someone at that level tries to take you down, they have raised YOU to THEIR level.”

It was restorative, and combined with these new premises and insights, it was a (BIG) breath of fresh air. And comfort. And a huge “Aha!” moment.

Keep these words in your heart the next time someone blames you for issues they have created.

Constructive criticism can be helpful. Destructive criticism serves no purpose, except to that person with “the dark gift”.

It’s hard to recognize our value, especially at our most vulnerable, when certain people let us know they DON’T value us.

But then, those are exactly the people whose words and actions we shouldn’t take to heart. 

And now for the “if’s”….

If you know someone who might need this, pass it on!

If you’d like to share it, please be sure to share my name and appropriate links–THANK you!!

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I still love this bracelet. But I never ever want to make 200+ of them again. (Also, I still have tons of the beads I stocked up on, in case it got to 2,000.)















Even when we’re sure we’re doing it right, and it goes wrong, it can end up RIGHT.

Last month (oh! And last YEAR!) was a month of strangeness.

Our porch and backyard had accrued too much stuff (long boring story), and it was made clear we had to do something about it. I volunteered to find homes for the more-usable items.

I thought the easiest item to move on would be our big ol’ recliner.

We found it a few years ago, on a neighbor’s tree lawn, free. In great condition, and from their description, I thought it was real leather, from an upscale furniture store here in Santa Rosa. We were so excited!

But it turned out to be one of those swivel rocker-recliners. I’d just had knee surgery (my 6th!) and being swiveled when I tried to stand up juuuuust didn’t work for me. And it was big, too big for our small living room.

So we put it on our porch (protected) and it sat there for several years, until recent circumstances forced us to move some stuff on.

I put it on a “Buy Nothing” group on NextDoor, where people can post free items. No takers. Not one.

I put it directly on NextDoor. Many, many interested people, dozens. But when I picked someone, every single person bailed. One because it wasn’t real leather. (Okay…..) Several, who seemed really excited for it, said they’d pick it up at a specified time/date. They never showed.

So after two weeks, I took down the offer.

Next, I tried a group called Welcoming Home, who ask for donations of furniture and household goods for formerly-homeless people who are newly-homed. After many attempts, that finally fell through, too. “Too big”, “No need for one right now”, etc. “Oh, wait, yes, we want it oh no we don’t nevermind.”

Then I turned to Restore Marketplace, which sells all kinds of home goods in support of Habitat for Humanity. Same story. They could pick it up. They said they won’t pick items that are “up stairs”. (I told them our porch has THREE STEPS, and we would help if they really needed assistance.) Then they said they came by, but they couldn’t find it. (I had told them it was on our porch, in plain site.) You can see it from both streets. (We live on a corner.)

So now what???? Will no one rid me of this troublesome recliner????  (Apolgies to Henry II.)

And a few days later, my husband told me he actually now loves sitting on the porch in that recliner!

It’s sunnier. (Not in direct sunlight, just facing south).

It’s more private. ((We have neighbors who are not…evil…just hugely annoying. I removed the rant, let’s just leave it at “they are incredibly self-absorbed to the extent that even my extremely-tolerant-to-awful-people husband can no longer bear to talk with them.”)

So in the end, my partner is very very happy with a recliner that meets his needs and wants, that I spent ages trying to rehome.

I’m now glad I didn’t succeed!

I have several more similar stories this last month, but I won’t bore you with all the details.

Just sharing that sometimes….

Our biggest roadblocks, dead-ends, set-backs, turn out to be exactly what we needed.

Such as my struggle to find a teaching job in the 1980’s, during the recession, even going on a three-week road trip to visit Native American reservations who were the ONLY schools hiring. (Turns out they had so many applicants, they couldn’t even consider more.) I resorted to temping, working in kiddo daycare and being a substitute teacher for several years. And finally walking away, devastated, about giving up my dream job.

Only to realize 20 years later that I’ve always hate hate hated having to be someplace at the exact time and place, every day.

I would have made an awful elementary school teacher. Not even ‘summers off’ would have changed that.

(Similar story: This is also why I never want to be in Sundance catalog, either. I took on one mail-order client back in the recession of 2007-2009, and made several thousand dollars. But I had to make hundreds of the exact same jewelry item. I thought I would lose my mind. Never again!)

Now, to clarify…

When we are in the middle of this shit, it’s really really hard. There is no “gift”, no “blessing”, “so-and-so never gives us more than we can handle”, nada. Just the feeling that we aren’t good enough, we’re never gonna have what we want, and that life isn’t fair.

It can take a looooong time to realize that maybe our new journey is the one we were really meant for.

I now see so many people who set aside their creative desires to pursue a career that was kinda-sorta-ok and paid well, and only return to their creative work when they retire.

To be clear (again!), it’s great to find work that is “pretty good” and even better if we make room for our creative work. Even in small doses.

But totally postponing the yearnings of our creative hearts until we’re in our 60’s  or 70’s? Sad.

Though I never returned to “real work” after having kids, I did find my place in the world. It’s become my creation story. And I still tear up every single time I revisit it.

So yeah, sometimes we need grit, and endurance, and determination to achieve our creative dreams. And even then, we may never get there.

And sometimes, we just have to accept that we can’t change the past.

But we can hope there’s a chance to retell it, see it from a different perspective, in a way that lifts our heart and allays our sadness.

How to tell the difference?

I have no idea. Except, maybe, give it time.

And, if an angry bear is involved, it’s probably not gonna get better…..

My favorite snarky story about coping with difficult times.
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