02 April 2009

Sorting Hat

Alright, so the Sorting Hat has very little to do with this post. It's called "Sorting Hat" 1) to give you a clue about the theme of this week's make and 2) because I was going to name this post "But what to call you." I heard that in my head in a very particular voice, and I could not figure out what movie it was from until I realized the line was "But where to put you." Ah yes...the Sorting Hat.

Anyway, I'm writing once again with a question. Today, I told Jason that I wouldn't play any scrabble on facebook and that I would be super productive. Well, I haven't made a whole lot of progress on my work to-do list. But I have been productive. I've been doing some research and some dreaming about someday when Jason is out of school and I can start my own business. Yup...that's what I want to do. I've finally decided. I often find myself saying, "Wouldn't it be cool if I could start a tea house?" or "I want to get a building and gut it and sell studio space for all sorts of artists and have a gallery where people can sell their stuff, and we'd have sweet events and stuff," or "Maybe I could teach classes out of my house where people would come and make stuff or have that be a part of a whole experience with crafting and food!" (Hmm...does that one sound familiar?) Or sometimes I throw all of the ideas together into one big art-food-teaching-community-awesomeness compound!! How cool would that be!?!

So where does all this come from? Well, basically, I have the coolest mom in the world. Yes, even cooler than Soule Mama. Over the years, my mom has been a demonstrating weaver and spinner at a historic village, an entrepreneur, a basket weaver, a basket-weaving teacher, an artist, a jelly-maker, a fiber arts apprentice, a Sunday school teacher, a shop owner, the head of a Lyme's Disease support group, a worker at a gourmet cheese store, a teacher at a Jewish preschool, a craft show vendor, a dean/counselor/craft lady at Delanco Camp, a sheep farmer, and oodles more. And most of that was just in my lifetime! This might give the impression that she's someone who goes flitting around from thing to thing, but that's just not the case. She's just a person who has so many talents and interests that to leave some unexplored would be a dreadful waste. When someone would ask her about why she's starting some new venture, her answer was always, "Well, I need to do every cool thing." I remember one conversation in particular that went something like this:

Mom: I think I need to settle down. I need to just stick to one thing. Maybe I should just focus on developing my business.
Robin: But Mom, you have to do every cool thing.
Mom: No, I'm done with that now. I've done enough cool things. I need to stop the craziness...Hey, look! That diner is for sale. Wouldn't it be fun to own a diner?

So you can see that maybe this little addiction to brainstorming new things to do, never being so fulfilled with where I am that it stops me from dreaming up my next cool thing...maybe that's genetic. Or maybe I'm just trying to be like my mom because she's just so cool. Or maybe she's just given me all the tools and skills and ideas to do my own cool things and to not use them feels like an awful waste. Whatever the case, I've decided: Jason will get a job that gets insurance for us and our family, and I will build a cool empire of my own. (Sound like a good plan, Jason?) My first step is to make a ton of stuff. My second step is to be a craft show vendor, because that's an easier place to start from than a tea house/studio/school/compound.

I was reading this blog, which lays out everything you need for your first craft show. And my brain started reeling. I've started a list of all the different things I want to make. I've envisioned my displays. I've thought about how I can set up a separate business bank account and keep track of materials and time so I can determine pricing. I've thought about things that will be my trademark. I've thought about promotional ideas and giveaways...

...and now...all I need is 1) a lot more free time (which I can be patient for because even though it feels like it sometimes, seminary can't last forever), 2) some start-up money (anybody know any charitable patrons lying around?), and 3) a name for my business. Tricky. I've thought about building from the Swan Bay Folk Art Center empire, maybe making a sister company to my sister's company (Little Sheep Felt). Little Bird something? Little Frog something? Little Red something? The results of Etsy vendor name searches put those three out of the running. So now, starting from scratch, the possibilities are endless. So I was thinking about going from my mom's model with something like this:
Every Cool Thing.
What do you think? Too cocky? Is "cool" not cool anymore? And I really hate being cold, so should I not do anything with possible cold connotations? Should I find a name with more obvious logo possibilities? I don't want to limit myself to a particular medium. I don't want to use "The Weekly Make." (It would be nice and nostalgic because this blog has been one of the main stimuli of what I want to do, but I don't think it carries over into a good business name.) I just don't know what to do!! I need your help. Any thoughts/comments/suggestions? Get those creative juices flowing, people. I need to get some actual work work done today.


  1. Your idea about a crafty community made me think of this post on Apartment Therapy
    I read it a few weeks ago and was completely inspired to someday start a place like this! Now if only I had lots of extra money sitting around...because there are two empty store fronts side by side in downtown Wheaton that would be most perfect for a place like this!

    I love the name Every Cool Thing, especially because of where it comes from, plus I immediately thought of the verse in James where it says every good and perfect gift is from God. Don't know quite how that ties in, or helps you think of a logo, but I like it!

  2. Hi,
    My name is Nancy and I found your blog doing a search for basket weaving and you mentioned that your mother did it so it popped up in my search. You sound much like me in trying to start a business. I have 3 kids so I've just put it in God's hands as to how fast and how far my basket weaving/crafting business venture will go at this time. There is a really great podcast called Work At Home Moms with Kelly McCausey as the host. She seems like a genuinely good person and is there for the moms starting out businesses. I've learned so much about starting a business just by listening to the podcast archives. (She even had me on one time. Episode 245) Anyway, I wish you much success and I understand your struggles at this time. Good luck with deciding on a name. I've branded myself as the Basketmaster, but it does limit me should I try and branch out with selling other mediums so use caution with that.

  3. Hi Robin
    You made me laugh and cry. And then I thought...what have I done....you (and your siters)are also some (and the most important) of my "every cool things" I am sorry and happy all at the same time. If you can look at all of this as a very exciting wonderful journey then it does not seem quite so overwhelming. When you do get your "space" can I rent a piece of it? Because I have never been part of a community like you are striving for. Everyone around me had to play with me being in charge. I don't mean for that to sound quite so controlling but maybe it is. But we all do have a lot to learn from each other. I can't wait to see where this journey takes you.
    I do love "Every Cool Thing" because it will not limit you. Who likes limits?

  4. Very insightful, young Robin! I just love you...and our crazy and talented little Mommy. Yes, she is more amazing than Soule Mama...and I want a piece of your crafty commune (something I've been pondering for a while myself).... I've been thinking about a Christmas "open house" in my house (kind of like what our Mama did years ago), but the addition of Jesse put that on hold...then I started thinking about renting our the community building for a "Christmas in July" for all the local artists.....but that seemed too big....plus, I have a hard time getting inventory together!!! (There's always someone's birthday or baby being born...arg!)
    Three things popped into my mind to share with you - a book you need to read (which I will now get you for your birthday and save me some crafting time for business - HA!) called Craft, Inc. by Meg Mateo Ilasco and
    2) I've been trying to come up with a new name for my business also - because "felt" is limiting, especially since I have a whole baby gift/sewing line stewing in my mind.... I'll figure something out...., and
    3) I am incredibly proud of you, and inspired by you to create more, and tap into that wild, crafty genetic pool that we have been so blessed with. :o)

  5. Jacqui- The Urban Craft Center looks SOOO sweet! I wanna go!! Too bad there isn't a Boston-North-Shore-Rural Craft Center. I would be there all the time. I hadn't thought about the tie into every good and perfect gift. That makes me like Every Cool Thing even more. Thanks!

    Nancy- Thanks so much for stopping by! It's always good to meet fellow art/craft-minded people. And thanks for the tip about the podcast. I will definitely check that out!

    Mom- I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry, although I probably should have anticipated that. :o) You are by far the very coolest person ever. What do you mean, "What have I done?" You've done every cool thing!! And yes, you can totally have a spot in the space. I love you!!

    Amy- A Christmas open house would be so fun! I think about that thing mom did at our house a lot. How cool was that?!? And absolutely you can be in on the commune. We just need to find a state that everyone can agree on. :o) I know what you mean about the business name...but I will be very sad to see Little Sheep Felt go. Hooray for birthday books and for our crafty genetic pool! Love you!!