So you're thinking about taking your brand to market for the first time?
With Nashville's summer market, Porter Flea, right around the corner, we turned to interior designer and Porter Flea co-founder Katie Vance for some tips on how to achieve success as a participating vendor.
Back in 2011, I had been working as an interior designer for the better part of a decade and started to notice something that just made me flat out sad — there was no crossover between the architecture industry and the network of people who make really wonderful, high-quality, handmade goods.
This summer marks our 15th Porter Flea, complete with more than 175 vendors from all over the country. WHAT. It's crazy just to type that. And then again, it's not crazy at all because we've got the best dang vendors who have worked hard and continually talked us up to other vendors far and wide. Some of them have been with us for nearly every market (we love you, Bean & Bailey), some come and go and for each market, we receive an average of nearly 400 applications. It takes weeks for our jury to sort through them all. I wouldn't say there's a strict formula for vendor success, but there's no denying a handful of trends.
Here are the five big ones:
June 29 - June 30 — Nashville, TN
Featuring modern handmade goods from the area's most talented designers, Porter Flea is Nashville's definitive Pop-up event for independent artists, designers and artisans.
It's Monday morning. You're scrambling to find that list of to-do's for the week you wrote somewhere in your notebook. Flipping pages, there's a note scribbled about a show coming up soon you want to sign up for. (Note to self: remember to sign up.) Your team is gathering, and it's time for another weekly meeting.
So, take our meeting agenda step-by-step. Ask questions, open up discussion for not only problems but possible solutions, delegate weekly tasks and give credit where credit is due. Everybody loves a good shoutout for a job well done.
Download MW's Morning Meeting Agenda for your next meeting (and all the ones after that).
Do you notice patterns in your moods while sharing and viewing art on social media?
Does social media begin to feel like an echo chamber of stagnant ideas?
This series of questions explores some underlying issues of the unethical, unhealthy and uninspired behavior we see frequently in the creative community through social media. Taking responsibility for how we use social media and create projections/illusions we tend to cast on others is a start. As ‘change starts within,’ a first step is to reassess our own social media consumption, engagement and patterns of self-promotion. But, to survey this new digital landscape requires a community conversation. Venting privately with friends can be a healthy outlet, but do we really know how our entire creative community feels about both plagiarism and online engagement and find resolution when our boundaries have been crossed? Not until we start the conversation. Public discussion topics on ethics will help us to discover both our own and others’ boundaries. They will also help us to formulate our own ‘laws’ to obtain justice for artists who have been exploited in a way the justice system generally fails independent artists who are copied. Social media can be a powerful form of currency to mobilize peers and clients — and often as independent artists, it's one of our most abundant currencies. I created a guide not as the ultimate word on ethics in art and craftsmanship, but as a community conversation starter that is a culmination of my years teaching and working in the creative community, sharing and listening to artist-friends vent, and observing patterns within myself while engaging with social media.
So many makers seem to fall onto the well-tread path of plagiarism while on their creative journey because they feel overwhelmed, blank or creatively blocked. Some makers are very adept at following DIY instructions and haven’t ever unlocked their own creative potential — failing to understand the difference between the two. Others are currently being copied by so many other makers that they feel drained and ready to abandon their creative pursuit altogether. Some makers feel so overwhelmed by the current of creative soup swirling in their Instagram and Pinterest feeds that they have gotten stagnant in their own creative practice. And many are so addicted to social media that they can’t look away from their phones long enough to really sit down with their own practice. If you feel your creative platform needs centering, refocusing or reboot, I’d like to share a few resources for reigniting your practice.
First, take a sabbatical from social media for a set period of time and pick of one of these books to guide you through this new phase:
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron— Maybe you’ve heard of this artists’ self-help classic…. for a good reason! It is an interactive guide that should be required reading in every high school or introductory college course. The ‘homework’ assigned by the book includes ‘Morning Pages’ and “Artist Dates.’ It's a book that many return to frequently when their creative tank is low. It's meant to be read like a 3-month course, so carve out some time and dig into it.
- Art & Fear by David Bayles & Ted Orland— Is the heaviness of a blank canvas overwhelming? Another self-help classic, this quick read focuses on perfectionism, expectations, acceptance and approval. It has a calming tone and strikes a vibe somewhere between a psychology textbook and spiritual manual. I read this book in college and it really helped to make the blankness of an empty page less intimidating. Created by artist-teachers with a professorial tone, this book has the feel of preparing a young grasshopper to move forward into the wild unknown.
- Grapefruit by Yoko Ono— Since high school, I have just loved this fat, little book of surrealist art prompts. Maybe you need farce, playfulness, absurdity and subversiveness to feel alive and inspired with your process again. Directives like “Draw a map to get lost” could lead to new breakthroughs. If you like this approach, you may also like “A Book of Surrealist Games” by Alastair Brotchie.
- The War of Art — by Steven Pressfield and Shawn Coyne — “We have met the enemy and he is us” — Are you your own saboteur? Do you feel the lack of routine and consistency is one of your greatest battles? This book is all about helping you shape your practice — and by practice, it really means practice. No excuses. We have to make a concerted effort to carve space for channeling our muses. This book discusses the concept of “resistance” and how this almost-personified entity within us fights our creative growth. If you can find the interview he did with Oprah for Super Soul Sunday, I highly recommend watching that, too.
- Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — Knocking down a lot of the old European male martyr-ism mythology of the art world, this book advises you to be a trickster in your creative process. Written with a spiritual undertone, this book is all about syncing with the flow state of the universe, embracing change and channeling your muses. I highly recommend the audiobook version. Also, The TED Talk the author did on creative muses has to be one of the best TED Talks ever.
- Practice you: A Journal by Elena Brower — Maybe instead or in addition to books that challenge your mindset and routine, you just need a journal that offers gentle guidance toward divulging your thoughts and feelings. This beautiful watercolor-brushed book has heavy matte pages you can write on. It invites you to make lists, free associate and tell stories to yourself. It is great for emotional introspection and would be a useful autobiographical book to complete while you are working through concepts.
If you want more, check out Lise Silva's online guide, Art & Practice, on the personal boundaries we face as makers, creatives and entrepreneurs.
Lise Silva Gomes is an artist & teacher based in Oakland, CA. She explores the power of symbols through her work with Sacred Knots creating fiber jewelry and wallhangings with handmade cord entwined in knot designs that serve as a metaphor for life experiences, dreams, and deep desires. Her collaborative jewelry designs with metal worker and Spirit Speak tarot creator Mary Elizabeth Evans, called In The House of Lovers, is a ceremonial collection of Artwear where they experiment with innovative design and mythic iconography. As an extension of Lise's exploration in symbology, meditation and visualization are a tool in her creative process. She leads guided meditations as a tool for manifestation, lucid dreaming, mental/emotional balance, creativity and relaxation. She offers knotting workshops to connect people with the ancient craft and symbolic beauty of knots.
I know the last thing anyone wants to think about is doing their taxes but it is a great excuse to organize, automate, declutter, and plan for 2018.
3 quick tips to organize:
Passwords: Find a way to organize them. There’s apps, Field Notes, and oodles of other options. Think of all the time you spent last year logging in, failing, resetting, and trying to think of which childhood hero you haven’t used as your password yet. Even if you have all of your passwords in one place, security is important so look to winning apps like 1Password or LastPass. They even make it easy for you to audit your passwords, update them when you need to and share them with your trusted circle of co-workers and family.
Finances: Whether you’re just starting out or have built your Creative Conglomerate, separating business from personal expenses is the first step. Come tax time, you just print off the last 12 months statements and you’re on your way. Be sure to look at Business Credit cards that offer rewards. If managed correctly, you can save big (or pay for that epic vacation of your dreams). I have a rule that money out on the card must have money coming in. What I charge will be covered by incoming expenses. Don’t over leverage. These credit cards are good for reoccurring software expenses (think Shopify, Shipstation, Google Suite, etc.)
Documents: You can snap a photo of all important documents and keep them safely in the Cloud away from coffee stains and children – but I can never manage to do that. I have 2 to 3 places I consistently stash receipts, statements, and the like. Put a pocket folder in your car and one in the kitchen junk drawer. That should capture about 80% of the important stuff. I know you were hoping for something more insightful and inspirational that pocket folders in the car, but we’re being honest here and my daughter is screaming for a bike ride at this very moment.
Whether you use a CPA or self-file, there is no way you can gather all the needed documents and think through an entire year’s worth of business to protect yourself and your pocketbook in a messy house or office. Stop, declutter, and clean. Breathe.
For me, tax season starts with a top to bottom cleaning of the house. Boxes for donations or clothes to be passed on to nieces and nephews begin to stack at the front door and eventually make their way to my truck. The importance of a clean workspace and a clear mind cannot be overstated, especially when you’re building the financial portfolio for the previous year.
What are our favorites?
A local CPA who has time to meet with you and discuss your business and financial health. There is no way you can run a business and keep up with the ever-evolving tax code. Peace of mind rules supreme.
QuickBooks: Both desktop and mobile options that link with numerous online retail platforms and most major banks. There are options for payroll and other key services to run your business.
Asana: Not just for team projects, to-do lists, and communication. I make all financial and business notes in a separate file. It’s not rocket science but it helps story-board your financial year.
Credit Cards: We use Southwest Rapid Rewards for business. Every dollar is a mile and bonus options are available. Through Chase Bank, this card allows you to classify expense as they appear. *Note be mindful of Amazon purchases and don’t miss out on capturing business expenses mixed in your deodorant and dog food purchases.
Once in this ‘mode’ you will see ways to save money or spend it more wisely in the New Year. You’ll be healthier and wealthier in the year ahead. Be sure to join the discuss over at our Makers Workshop Facebook Community and share some of your favorites.
Self-care seems to be a hot topic these days and with good reason. We work from our cars, on the subway, while we eat - often with little pause to check our system - you know, our physical and emotional body. Self care prevents burnout and nurtures our emotional hygiene. Here is the thing: It’s not indulgent, and you don’t have to earn it.
Allow yourself the gift in the morning to have a mindful morning routine, experiencing the present moment and acknowledge your body’s data.
Here are a few ways how:
- It’s a habit to grab your phone first thing in the morning - don’t! Protect your schedule. Hopefully you’ve gotten enough zzz’s and are well rested. Have a quiet moment and wake up slowly. You'll be surprised how those first few conscious breaths can ground your day.
- Nourish yourself with good food. Drink a glass of water. Make your morning simplified by having your meals ready to go the night before so there is less stress. If you need help, try using our post on easy meals for your week.
- Here's where you get to customize your routine to something that works well for you because we are all unique individuals and our days and needs change. Here are some suggestions:
- Take a walk
- Planning out your day
- Use Essential Oils
- Take a Shower
- Do a mini declutter
What's the best part of your morning routine?Hot lemon water and Beyoncé? Whatever gets you going, we're into it. Let us know!
We know how hard it is to juggle everything on your list. And everything that is....not on your list.
There's social media, product meetings, sales meetings, marketing meetings, meetings for meetings, basic operations of the business (someone has to order shipping supplies!), and don't forget to leave time to be inspired, connect with your customers, stay up to date on the latest Instagram algorithm (oooooffffff) annnd breathe.
But, remember this is what it is all about! No, not the algorithm but the process, the journey, and the everyday basics of being a maker or small business owner. There is a sweetness in the work even on the hardest of days, don't you think? We're still firm believers in working smarter and not harder, though, and having a day off when we can so, we put together a list of three simple tools to help improve your workflow.
So, let's vow to stress a little bit less this year and enjoy the blooming opportunities and ideas ahead.
- Slack - Think of Slack as your team communication and collaboration app. It offers capabilities to share files, organize your team and connect them when needed, archive and index past discussions, fine-tune your notifications (helllooo do not disturb!), and it can even predict the messages that matter to you the most. Where Slack really shines is its third-party app integration. You can get alerts on employee time sheets, integrate MailChimp and receive alerts about new subscribers or watch your payments on Stripe. There are only a few of us on the Makers Workshop team and we use Slack constantly throughout the week. If you don't think Slack is right for you and your team, we suggest checking out Workplace by Facebook — I mean, who doesn't want a way to deploy custom bots to take care of everyday tasks!
- Asana - This one is for all the list makers. Asana is a web and mobile app that helps teams organize their work, projects and to-dos. You can keep tabs on your project management by assigning tasks to specific team members, setting due dates and outlining details for more complex projects. To really simplify things, you can set up an extension for Chrome and quickly add tasks OR if you're on Slack, you can integrate Asana to keep your team updated on your project progress. This will be your new favorite accountability partner.
- Evernote - Evernote is still at the top for us when it comes to note taking and daily organizing. This cloud-based app helps you store receipts, edit and tag documents, create multiple notes and notebooks for easier sorting and save that stack of business cards (one of our favorite features). You can add tags to all of your notes; the main navigation lets you view and search your notebooks by tags. But, where Evernote really shines is in it's web-clipping capabilities. It's an extension for your browser that allows you to save images, select text, or full pages, and save or share them with others. You can also add tags to your clips as well! Here's our pro-tip: use the Evernote scanner while you are on the go to take a photo of all of your receipts and file them away into a 2018 expenses notebook. You won't have to worry about the receipts fading or spilling your coffee on them!
We're all in this together. It's one of the beautiful things we love about this maker community. So, if you have any other tips or tricks you would like to share, let us know!
And if any of these tools work for you, we would love to hear about it.
We spend so much time scrolling through digital content on everything from our desktop computers to the teeny, tiny screens of a smart watch. We're definitely guilty of it over here. But every now and then, we slow down, take a step back and crack open a book. A physical, bound book... Okay, maybe sometimes it's an audio book, but a book, nonetheless. We all have our favorites, but this week, we wanted to share a few good reads that shed some light on the business side of making. We turned to Paul Claxton, the business brain behind Makers Workshop, to learn about which books he's been reading. So, if you're looking for a new take on business or just a little insight for the new year, this one's for you!
1. "Our Iceberg is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions" by John Kotter and Holger Rathgeber
This one's all about leading through change. No, I'm not crazy because, yes, this a story about a family of penguins. The authors do a great job of putting a fun spin on the challenge of change as a business owner, which makes this a quick and easy read.
2. "Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works" by A.G. Lafley and Roger L. Martin
If you sell a product, this is a book you must read. It takes you through the process of thinking about who your customer truly is and how you can create a better product for that customer. It takes a couple chapters for your gears to start turning but offers some great tips on refocusing your business. I would recommend listening to the audio book first, too.
3. "Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service" by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles
If you're looking to create a world-class customer experience, I would recommend this simple and quick read. The authors take you through various examples of how to create raving fans instead of just customers for a wide range of businesses. This is especially effective for businesses where the owner still has a hand in each customer interaction.
For a more established business, or for the forward thinkers out there, check out Reid Hoffman's "Masters of Scale" podcast as well.
4. "Real Artists Don't Starve" by Jeff Goins
Whether you making a physical product or providing a service, charge people for it. Goins explains how you can jeopardize your business by not standing up for yourself. Additionally, by charging a premium price, your perceived value increases, which allows your business to thrive without you having to add extra work hours. This is another great book to have in its audio book version for those times you're in the car or working in the studio.
Reading any business books you just can't put down?? We want to hear about them in the comments below!
Here's to a happy, happy new year! We're embracing everything 2018 has to offer with open arms and starting it off the best way we know how — with great friends, like the wildly talented Cate Havstad of Havstad Hat Company. It's no secret that the end of one year and beginning of another brings about a time of reflection and reminiscence. In this spirit, Cate shared her reflections on mindfulness, working meditations, intentions and work ethic as a maker.
The end of the year is my favorite time of year, well second to the river and lake days of summer in Central Oregon. The introspection that this time of year inspires is unique. I look back at the year and, all of the sudden, I can see just how much I accomplished. This is a stark contrast to the feeling I have more than I like to admit — that I'm not doing enough, that I'm behind, that I should be further ahead than I am... I wonder if this plagues many other makers? I have a feeling it does. It is profound to look back over the 52 weeks of the year and see the body of work completed, and I revel in this rare time where I feel a sense of completion. In my world, a sense of completion is rare because I have, at all times, a fairly large production list. This is one of those gift problems... I am so fortunate to stay busy in my workshop with orders all year long, I don't take that for granted. I do have to admit that staying grounded, staying on top of the workload, staying balanced in work/ relationships/ self care, and keeping my grace is a challenge and I am a work in progress on all of these levels.
There are many things we are taught are important to be "successful." Work hard, persevere, stay organized, be on time, manage your finances in a smart way... etc, etc. What I have realized might be one of the biggest lessons I am just now learning is that finding a way to stay mindful and present in day to day life might be the biggest key to my success as an independent maker.
There are days and weeks when finding the flow is difficult, and I wouldn't describe my mood as "inspired," but I don't have the luxury of only working when I feel that way. In my practice of learning how to change and influence my mindset on a day-to-day basis, I have learned that inspiration and motivation can be cultivated. Here are the ways that I pull myself out of funk, and cultivate motivation and inspiration.
- Exercise. Getting out of my head and deeper into my body is key for me. I try and take breaks throughout the day to have a quick stretch.
- Meditation. There are a lot of ways to strive for the quieting of the mind. For a long time the word meditation intimidated me. I didn't think I could sit still for 30 minutes or an hour, and in the beginning, I couldn't. I started with just taking 10 minutes each day to build this practice, and it has been an instrumental practice this year.
- A great audiobook or podcast to look forward to. There are days when I don't feel "motivated," but if I have an audiobook I'm really enjoying, I actually get excited to get back into my workshop to dive back into the book.
- A killer playlist. In the same way a great audiobook can suck me into a flow for hours, a great playlist can do the same. Today I danced through my workshop listening to Freddie King, Charles Bradley and A Tribe Called Quest.
- A **reasonable and attainable** To Do List. I love sitting down and writing out a solid To Do list, but I have learned through making this mistake for years that writing out an unrealistic list can lead to me feeling stuck, or feeling frantic looking at more work than I know how to handle. By pairing it down and keeping it realistic, I work through crossing things off in a calmer frame of mind.
My biggest lesson of 2017 is that mindset is everything, and even amidst difficulties and challenges, we all have the power to cultivate the mindset we need to be successful. A flow state is possible when I am in the moment, so finding ways to quiet my mind and become more present helps me get into this flow in the workshop. Experiment with what tools and practices work for you in shifting your mindset, consistently return to these tools, and get after it in a present, steady way. Here's to a happy, productive, mindful flow in 2018 friends.
Cate has been building hats independently as Havstad Hat Co in Central Oregon for 5 years. Each hat is handcrafted from start to finish by Cate. From using the finest beaver fur felts made in the USA, the highest quality sheepskin leather sweatbands, to utilizing hand-shaping techniques and hunting down original hatter’s equipment dating back to the late 1800s, Cate’s approach to hat making both honors the history and traditions of the past while incorporating her modern day flare into her designs and business.
- Offer a special discount code for your customers when you send out their parcels. To keep it even more in line with your brand, make the code a word that someone would associate with your shop/brand/business. If you're a photographer maybe the discount code could be "CLICK"
- Include some "swag". I adore dried flowers and flowers in general so I always include a bit of flowers in my packages whether it is in the form of petals from my garden, pretty botanical cards, a postcard with a beloved inspirational quote, or a mini bouquet of dried blooms.
- Keep your packaging consistent. It took me awhile to figure out how I wanted to package my orders and some trial and error for getting my supplies, but now that I have it down to the basics, for the holidays I can just add an extra little touch like tissue paper, silk ribbons, or washi tape.
- Include a hand written note. Admittedly I don't do this for every parcel, but if the parcel warrants a special note, I will always write one. For instance if the garment used to be mine I like to write something about my memories wearing the dress and I hope the new wearer will continue to add to the story of the dress as the new owner. Also if you know why the item was purchased or who it was for, include a note. I once had a dress purchased for a very romantic reunion and I felt so honored a garment was chosen from my shop to begin the second chapter of someone's love story.
Rodellee Bas is the founder and owner of Adored Vintage, a company who curates antique, vintage, and vintage inspired items. Rodellee spent her childhood living alongside the pacific ocean in the Philippines and on her grandfather's farm nestled near mountains. Spending her childhood surrounded by nature is the primary influence of her love for its omnipotent beauty, an aspect that largely influences AV. As a young girl she immigrated to the United States with her mother and lived in New York. It was the time she spent with her aunts and grandmother in Vermont that established her love and romantic views of the past. Throughout her life she has worked in fashion and e-commerce (and at one point was a pre-school dance teacher). In the early 2000s she started Adored Vintage and has dedicated her life to it since. Rodellee lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and their dog, Robert Redford.