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What’s weavin’?

It was a long, relaxing holiday weekend here, which was just what the doctor ordered! And what else was on the agenda but some quality weaving time! (I’m guessing not everyone had that on their agenda… just a guess…)

So, here’s where I am. Still working on my lipstick red/light blue necktie fabric. It’s slow, but steady work. At this point, it’s a little like eating pasta – every time you think you are almost done, the remaining bits multiply!

Handwoven fabric

Handwoven fabric

Handwoven fabric

Handwoven fabric
I’m hoping to finish it up soon! I can’t wait to show you the finished bolt!!

What are you working on this week?

The soggy truth…

There are so many wonderful, amazing aspects to being an artist! You make cool stuff for a living. You set your own hours. You stretch yourself with new concepts and techniques, developing a style that is distinctly yours. There’s nothing like it! 

And then to balance the scales, you have days like today. I’m at the Broad Ripple Art Fair in Indianapolis and my guess is that in the last hour, we’ve gotten 2″ of rain. Now what you should know is that yesterday it also rained. Truth be told, we’ve had more rainy days than sunny this spring! (I haven’t done any real fact-checking there, but that is what it feels like!) 

So, the field I’m in was good & muddy before the sky opened up & Armageddon began. Good times! Here’s where a good sense of humor is critical. Because the tough aspects to schlepping my wares around to sell become REALLY tough as I sit here. In the rain. Not selling anything. Staring at the artists across the aisle from me. (Who are delightful people I’m sure! But I’m not venturing over there in the torrential downpour just to say, “hi”.)

In an effort to stay remotely optimistic, I’m going to make a snazzy little list of things you can do while waiting for the rain to clear. Trapped in your tent. At an art fair. 

1. Take a video for Facebook/Instagram to gather sympathy from family and friends. Videos are supposed to be good for social media, right? 

2. Call/text someone who loves you. It’s always important to connect with your people. And gather sympathy, of course. If they can’t give you a, “Man, that sucks!”, who can? 

3. Stretch. It is vital to stay limber. Standing stretches only, obviously. 

4. Write a blog post. Share your experiences with your online followers. It’s good to post on a regular basis to verbalize your unique point of view. And of course, gather sympathy. 

So my friends, that is the current state of affairs. Upbeat and soggy in Indy! Feel free to rejoice in the fact you are indoors! And if you are feeling generous, I’ll be collecting bits of sympathy through today at 6:00. Or until the sun comes out. 

Please tell me about your awesome day creating cool stuff, setting your own hours or developing your unique style? I need to live vicariously for a bit…

Handwoven

What's weavin'

My latest project du jour is a hybrid fabric – part traditional yarns, part recycled neckties. I started off the bolt with a custom portion. I really love the challenge of custom work! “Here are 12 of my husband’s ties – create something!” It’s like a puzzle! What common colors run through each tie or will pull it all together? 

In this case, I decided on a red/blue mix for the warp yarns (yarns running through the loom). They will provide a very cheerful platform for the unique variety of ties – hopefully without looking too patriotic! 

Then once I clear the number of inches needed for the custom bit, I’m off and running with my own portion! I’ve become a bit of a spontaneous weaver, which surprises no one more than me! I’ve gotten in the habit of carefully planning the beginning of a project and when it comes time to weave, letting the wind blow me wherever it pleases! And so far, it has served me really well! 

For my portion of the fabric, I’ve been working with black & gray ties, keeping the colors simple. Then little by little, I am tweaking the weft yarns (yarns in the shuttle) underneath them. I gotta say, it’s coming together well up to this point! There’s still a lot of inches to go and there’s no telling how it will play out! But, I’m happy to share my progress to date! 

Handwoven
Handwoven
Handwoven
Handwoven
Handwoven

(I’m having technical issues with my captions, but the top 3 are the custom portion & the bottom ones are my portion. The string is what I used to measure the correct number of inches and the shuttle image is a reminder of what not to do – that is, overstuff the shuttle!) 

What are you working on this week? 

Let's sell something!

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend Art in the Park in Elmhurst, IL. Notice that I said “attend”, not work. It was quite a treat to simply enjoy the experience without the usual pressure of having to make money! 

As I was wandering around the area, saying  “hi” to a handful of fellow artists and getting a feel for the event, I took note of the different selling styles. Selling has been a topic ping-ponging through my head lately. You see, I’ve been working with the business advisors at SCORE and across the board, they are brilliant, seasoned salespeople. They have years of experience and it just seems to come naturally! 

They’ve really challenged me to think about my selling process – where I’m strong and where I could use some help. So as I analyze my own style, I’ve been thinking about other artists I know and how they approach selling. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve found – 

The Mysterious One. Have you ever walked into a booth at an art fair and you can’t even find the artist? They’re hiding behind a panel or wrapped up in something else entirely. This style doesn’t necessarily appeal to me. But I feel like these folks can still sell really well! Shoppers like the mystery, the allure, and dare I say, “aloofness” of that type of artist. 

The Friendly One. I feel like I firmly fall into this category. I like people! So, I do well connecting with them. We’re buds! I would happily ask them to get a cup of coffee (or tea, in my case). But, when it comes down to it, I’m not brilliant at sealing the deal. At the end of the day, these are the artists you look forward to seeing next year at the same event. You may not buy from them, but you’re excited to see them! 

The Determined One. This is the artist who tells you the special features, asks pointed questions, and tries to engage every person who walks past. I feel like these folks are laser-focused, goal-driven, and usually intimidatingly intense. But, if they don’t scare you off, they are typically brilliant at identifying what you need and showing you a solution – convincing you to buy! 

The Absent One. This is a special category for the artists lucky enough to have a gregarious partner who handles the selling portion of the show. They might speak up when asked a technical question. But for the most part they sit back, allowing the non-artist to take center stage and sell the crap out of their unique gems. Lucky ducks! 

So, the goal for my upcoming shows is to enhance my strengths and develop a strategy for the weaknesses, all while happily weaving along! I’ll let you know how it goes…

What is your selling style? Any brilliant selling tips to recommend? 

Handwoven handbag
The magic of selling!

Always learnin' 

Many years ago (when I had just started the business), I picked up a book called, “The Creative Entrepreneur” by Lisa Sonora Beam. My friend Laura mentioned that she was interested in working through it, too. So, we both read the first chapter, did the specified activities and called each other on the phone to discuss. Little did we know what we had started! 

Since that first book & first phone call, we’ve read our way through an impressive stack of books! Mostly business topics or ways to improve ourselves (we did a book on organization once – very helpful!). We’ve tackled Jack Canfield’s “Success Principles”, Brian Tracy’s “Goals!”, and a number of Jeffrey Gitomer’s “little books”. We’ve spent hours and hours reading, discussing and learning! 

Some books were game-changers and some didn’t really resonate. But through it all, we have kept at it! My Ma once said that she figured our years of work had to at least make up an MBA by now. Well that’s sweet, Ma, but probably not quite accurate! Truth be told, I’m not after an MBA – just a better understanding of how to tackle the many daunting tasks of being an entrepreneur! 

Along the way to business enlightenment, I found a steady, smart, funny, challenging voice on the other end of my phone who keeps me reaching for the next book. Laura and I have learned so much about each other and ourselves while figuring out how to sell a handbag! We gleaned early on that our discussions must take place over the phone, because if we get together in person, we have WAY too much fun! Staying on target becomes immensely more difficult! 

Laura has learned that I can only handle a max of about 3 things at a time, and I’ve learned that she works much better when colored pens & post-its are at the ready. We’ve learned how to discuss very personal  topics and when to call each other on our bullshit. We’ve both taken risks and taken breaks. But through it all, we’ve made it a priority to keep reading, keep working and keep doing it together. It’s an amazing partnership and I’m really proud of us! 

Our latest venture is a book called, “The Right Brain Business Plan” by Jennifer Lee. And so far, we are really enjoying it! It is challenging us to take a good look at our businesses and express our goals in a colorful, creative way! (Love this idea!) And the truth is, I could easily read the book on my own. But, it wouldn’t be a quarter of the experience I’ll have learning it with Laura! She’s my safe place to feel dumb, be brilliant, and just think out loud. And every book is better knowing I get to discuss it with her! 

Do you have a Laura? I highly recommend having a friend to learn with!