I’ve been quite neglectful of things lately. Not just the blog, but the garden and pretty much any other craft project I may have wanted to start (or finish). The process of growing a business has changed tremendously since the last time I set out to sell my wares. I spend my days not only designing and sewing, but emailing, Instagraming, Facebooking and photographing. Its still fun, learning as I go, and learn I do. I am “hashtaging” and “liking” and wondering all the time what I am doing right and where I can learn to do better. Sometimes though, I long for the simplicity of the good old days.
Way back when, I made hundreds and hundreds of teddy bears. I designed bears with moveable joints and I sold them in many shops throughout the country. I had the help of lots of friends, family and everyone was helpful, supportive and pointed me in all different directions to ensure my success. I laugh when I think of my mother and I loading up my van with baskets full of teddy bears and driving up and down the coast stopping in at shops and boutiques. We’d walk in with a basket loaded up with bears and the owner of the shop was always there and would oohhh and ahhhh and buy whatever we showed her. At each stop we’d try to squeeze a few more bears into our armloads to ensure greater success.
Prior to that I did woven wall hangings. I sold them at art shows and shops in town and even scored a gallery showing of my work. Similar to the teddy bears, all of my marketing was done by meeting shopkeepers and gallery owners in person. I’d head out to my favorite shops and meet with the people who would buy them from me to hang and sell in their shop. Each shopkeeper would simply write me a check and I’d be on my way, happy, confident and $$$ in my pocket.
My, how times have changed. These days I use social media in its various forms to introduce myself, show photos of my work and continually attempt to have my product seen by all the right people. I make contact not with the shop owners but with the marketing managers and assistant managers to the buyers. I send emails with jpeg photos attached and hope I’m reaching out to the right person and wait to hear back from them. I get purchase orders and send invoices. Meetings are done via phone and email and often there’s no reason to meet in person. More often than not, after attempting to show them my pillows, I never hear from them. People are busy and my email gets lost in their inbox and slips away. Like I said, times have changed!
Because of the internet we have the world at our fingertips and we are able to be the webmaster, photographer, marketer, besides being the actual maker. There are parts of it that I love, like the design and the photography, but other aspects are more grueling; I can’t be good at everything. It might seem that with all of the options of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and more, the variety of ways to be seen by all of the right people would be vastly improved. I’m not sure, but there are certainly more ways for us creative types to share our work. I assume anyone in a buying position is inundated with hundreds of photos and line sheets every time they open their email. For me…I still miss driving with my mom with that van full of teddy bears. I loved that person-to–person contact and the enthusiasm of the shopkeepers. They offered insight, ideas, suggestions and most importantly of all, they bolstered my confidence that I was definitely on the right tract. I’ll keep at it, but still I occasionally long for the good old days!