14 September 2009

Business Update: Ponderings and Upcoming Events

So I've been reading this book called Craft Inc. It's all about turning your creative hobby into a business. It's a little overwhelming at times...copyrights, commercial zoning, marketing, etc., but for the most part, it seems pretty doable to me, and I've enjoyed thinking up collections I could make and how I would organize my files and what kind of logo and banners I would want. I've always been good about the planning and the brainstorming. I've always been excited about dreaming up new possibilities. But when it comes to the actual making, I don't have a great track record of follow-through. Call it procrastination or perfectionism or both, call it laziness or lack of time or energy or skill. But when it comes down to it, the part I like most is the stage of inspiration, design, imagination. If I could be a professional creative idea and brainstorming person, I would be set. But so far, I haven't had any job offers matching that description. In fact, most job offers I've received are the opposite of that description (i.e. receive other people's ideas and busy work and figure out a way to organize it efficiently in an environment governed by inefficiency and communication break downs). Lovely.

So I've been thinking about having my own business and loving that idea. I've been thinking about what my craft show displays would look like and how I could incorporate teaching and community and events and tea sandwiches into my business. And I love those ideas. I've been thinking about how I can pair collections with EPs...little 5 or 6 song compilations that reflect the spirit of the crafts I'm selling. And I love that idea. But when I think about what I would like to make in mass...what I would enjoy making every day...what I would have fun producing ad infinitum... That idea does not thrill me. Because when it all comes down to it, I haven't found a creative process I enjoy nearly so much as dreaming it all up. I need to find something that is as fun to make as it is to design. Something I can enjoy and appreciate in the process of making it.

And I don't know what that is.
But in the mean time, I have some very exciting news that I’m hoping will provide me with the motivation to start making more and to figure out what I love to make along the way.

Without even trying, I've had 3 craft shows basically fall into my lap. The first is the Cranberry Festival in Chatsworth, NJ, which I will be doing with my mom and my sisters. I am absurdly excited about this because if I could envision my perfect job, it would be to move back to Jersey--and Amy would be there, too--and my mom and my sisters and I would revive the golden years of Swan Bay Folk Art Center when we all taught classes and went to craft shows and brainstormed and made things together. It was just lovely. So I am very excited about the opportunity to do this show with them. It's on October 17th and 18th, and I'll be selling aprons and embroidery hoop projects and other such goodies that aren't made yet. (I really need to get on the ball!)
This will be my first attempt to sell my work since I was very little. (Occasionally my sisters and I would make baskets at craft shows and sell them alongside my mom's.) I’m a little nervous but mostly really excited, and I’m thinking that the nervousness will subside when I have some projects out of my head and in my hands.

The second opportunity occurred as a result of Charlie and Amadeus. One of the professors I assist is interested in felting, so I had previously referred her to Amy's etsy shop. She's planning a show themed around Fair Trade and Local Made, and she asked me how far away my sister lived. I told her that she's in South Carolina, and the professor said, "That's too bad. 'Cause those [referring to Charlie and Amadeus] are so cute, and I think they'd sell at this show." And I said, "Well, I made those," and she said, "Well then maybe you could sell things like that at the show. I'll send you the info." So I'll be a vendor at the North Shore Bazaar in Peabody, MA on November 8th, selling mostly felted things and felting kits and hand-spun yarn and such. I'm especially excited about this because I made those owls in hopes of bringing a little bit of myself into an environment that can feel so hostile to my creative energy. So to feel so affirmed there and to actually have it lead somewhere was such a gift. I'm super pumped about it.

The third show is one that I haven't heard anything about yet this year, but in the late fall/early winter, Gordon-Conwell hosts a sort of holiday fair where people from the seminary community can sell things that they've made. One of my goals in starting the weekly make was to build up an inventory for this show, (which I haven't done at all).
I'll let you know when I have more details on that show.

And in addition to all that, this Friday, there is a coffee house at Gordon-Conwell celebrating the release of the first addition of Kalos, the journal that includes my tree wall-hanging. My wall-hanging will be on display in addition to the sonnet for my tree and a few more sewn/embroidered/appliqu├ęd goodies that have yet to be made. (This is going to be a very busy week of making, which is good because I'm a few weeks behind in makes.) I'm also going to get to sing a few of my songs because there will be an open mic. The coffee house will begin at 7:00pm this Friday, and it will be held in the Great Room on the seminary campus (where the big steeple is on top of the hill).
If you're in the area, you should definitely come.

I'm hoping that doing these events will be sufficient motivation for me to start making more. And if I don't sell everything, I'll start up an etsy account. I'm also hoping that in making more, I'll get more skilled and faster at it so that I can turn it into a lucrative business. And I'm hoping that I'll discover something that I really enjoy making...something that I would make just for the fun of it, even if I wasn't trying to make a living at it. That sure is a lot of hoping, but it all seems doable to me, even as I sit in my little veal box of an office.
I'm so excited that things are actually happening and that they're happening without a whole lot of struggle and striving on my part. I feel like God is affirming what I want to do by gifting me with the deadlines I need to be motivated and with opportunities to share what I'm doing beyond the blogosphere.

I'll be honest: the idea of releasing my creative world into the real world is a little intimidating. What if people don't get it? What if my little makes look cheap and simple when placed in the context of the work of "real artists"? What if people don't take the time to really look and consider the thought and the work that goes into what I do? In one sense, this blog is safe because it stands alone. It doesn't beg for comparison. And I have the freedom to explain
what everything means, every bit of artistry, the whole creative process. You see what I do in a very controlled context. This Friday, I'm stepping out from the shelter of my blog. I'm giving up the right to case my handiwork in disclaimers. And I'm nervous that my little art won't stand alone. But these are risks I have to take. They are natural steps in my creative journey. And I suppose there's no better time than right now.


  1. Oh, Robin! I wish so badly that I could come to see you and your makes on Friday!!!! I hate living so far away too!!! It really would be nice to be crafty all of the time with the little family, but I'm so looking forward to our crafty endeavor in October!

    People don't understand crafty/made things and how they are supposed to appreciate them for the vast amount of time, thought, planning, and execution that goes into making. Amy Karol of angry chicken blog fame made the cutest labels, and I just had to share this post with you -


    I especially love the label that says, "I made this, just so you know. So don't say anything mean about it." Also, read the comments about her readers' horror stories regarding homemade gift giving. Your makes will never be as bad as a giant sweatshirt adorned with a fabric kitty and puffy paint (remember those?!) LOL!

  2. GO FOR IT! (Yeah, sorry about how cheesy that is, but it is 8:30 in the AM. That's all I got.)

  3. Amy, I also am very excited about our October show. I just finished a few embroidery hoop projects last night. I'll post them soon. I saw those labels on Angry Chicken. So funny! As far as those stories go, they put knots in my stomach. And from what I recall, I liked my puffy paint kitty sweatshirt. I was never very hard to please, though, and it was the 80s/early 90s. :o/

    Devin and Ariah, thanks! I'm super duper excited!

  4. Um, I love this post and I love you. And I kinda want to come stalk/visit you at the Cranberry Festival. Because I love cranberries. And I love crafts. And as already stated, I love you. The end.

  5. I love you, too, Hannah. See ya there. :o)