Today I went to the coffee shop down the street to work on this week’s posts, and while I was waiting to order, I bumped into a woman in full 1840s costume. The Corner Perk is frequented by an eclectic mix of hipsters, retireees, and other locals, but she stood out just a little. I placed my order and sat on my usual comfy couch, but was quickly drawn in by her dress and accessories. She was obviously a novelist, as demonstrated by the table full of books and other promotional material.
I asked to examine her lace tablecloth (I always want to check whether lace is handmade), and we struck up a conversation. Her face lit up when I told her I made lace the old way, and she shared her table with me as we had coffee together. We ended up exchanging cards and talking for over two hours. Kim Poovey has been a reenactment actress for over ten years, and she specializes in the Victorian era from the 1840s to the turn of the century. She has just published her first novel, Truer Words.
To be completely honest, I’ve always been worried about how difficult it would be to make people appreciate what I do. I’ve stayed awake at night contemplating how to teach people to care that lacemaking is preserved and passed on, how to make them understand that it is important. I know it’s a niche market, but if I have a hard time starting up, is it because my products aren’t good enough, or is it because my potential customers don’t understand them? Is it because I’m not good enough?
My afternoon with Ms. Kim was so encouraging and enlightening. She tells me that reenactment enthusiasts are constantly searching for quality, authentic pieces; and that they are usually (grudgingly) forced to order from overseas suppliers. What if I made lace for reenactment actors? She suggested products that she’d love to have, gave me names of several reenactment fairs and historic preservation gilds, and suggested that I lead workshops to teach lacemaking to reenactment actors. In just a couple of hours, she opened an entire world to me, of people who already want me!
I cannot express how encouraging our conversation was. The weight of worrying how to make people appreciate my work–how to make them understand what lace is–is completely gone. I’m free now, to focus on creating! What a blessing to meet Kim! I’m just bursting with ideas now. I just had to share.
The best way to accomplish goals is to list them out loud and make them quantifiable, right? I mentioned in my last post that I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this website, and my business, to be. Ironically, Cari over at The Skinny Olive is hosting a link party for girls like me, who have a website and want to do awesome things with it, but need a little accountability. So here we go, my blogging goals for the next few months:
- Put good content on my blog: have 100 posts on the site by the end of the year (especially history lessons and tutorials!!)
- Know that someone cares: start getting comments that aren’t spam, and be ‘pinned’ by someone other than me
- Make a schedule: structure my posts so that we know what to look forward to each day (i.e. every Friday, we get to hear how Bethany’s doing with her website and how her own projects are going!)
- Try selling it: start using that Etsy shop I set up a year ago
- Participate: stop silently stalking other blogs, and start talking to people!
- Be a good hostess: try out a guest blogger, and maybe return the favor
- Socialize: host a link party and a giveaway, and set up a Twitter feed
That’s more than enough to get started! I’ll come back to this page as things progress, and of course you’ll be updated.
It’s been a while.
The last few weeks have been off. Things have been pretty busy at the little grey cottage; we had three houseguests back-to-back, I traveled back and forth to my hometown (four hours away) several times over the last couple of weeks as my mom had surgery, and my work schedule has been all sorts of crazy.
That said, I’ve still been working on my ‘second job’ in my time off my ‘real job.’ I promise I’m not giving up yet! I’m actually taking this venture quite seriously. Here’s what’s going on and what I’ve been up to:
- A lot of you have been clicking over to the History section of the site, but as you may have noticed, there’s no content there yet! No worries, I’m working on a series that’ll teach you about the history of Nottingham lace during the industrial revolution.
- You’ve also been clicking over to check out the Tutorial section of the site, but again, there’s no content there. Be patient; the site is young. And rest assured, I’m on it.
- I’ve been reading a good bit lately. This week it’s Craft, Inc.. Last week I read The Joy of Knitting, and I’ve just purchased The $100 Startup. It’s a varied reading list, yes, but they all cover a facet of where I am right now. Craft, Inc. covers the logistics of and challenges in starting a crafting business. The Joy of Knitting is more of a knitting theory book, but it doesn’t just give guidance on choosing fibers, etc. It explains the passion within the knitting community. The $100 Startup is, I’ve heard, a great book on the lifestyle behind small business.
- I’m still working on the craft diet. I’m trying to finish the color block blanket, and I finished putting all of my photos into albums, which accounted for a good bit of weight. I’ll post an update on the diet specifically next week.
- I’m trying to start creating my own patterns. Or at least I’m working on that.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want my craft business to be. Is selling pieces that important, or am I just in love with the history side of things? Would I rather put my pieces into lots of peoples’ hands, or would I rather make a select number of custom-made pieces? Do I want to focus on teaching more people how to make lace?
I don’t know yet. I’m still working on that. I know I’ll get there, though, I still have confidence. But I’ll be a little more vocal and present here next week.
Hi Bethany, so-and-so repinned your pin, ‘lace crochet cattail dragonfly painting ’ on Pinterest. Happy Pinning!
-Ben and the Pinterest Team
I was on my way home from work the first time I got an email notification that one of my lace pieces had been ‘repinned.’ It had been a pretty tiring day, but when I got the email (yes, I was driving and checking my email) I squealed and immediately went down the list of top contacts in my phone until someone answered. By the way, the person I finally reached had not yet heard of Pinterest, but was polite enough to be pleased for me.
My website wasn’t up yet, so the pin I’d posted linked to the LaceArtist Facebook page. There wasn’t any increase in my ‘likes’ or even page views. My pins definitely haven’t gone viral or anything. In fact, my pieces have been ‘repinned’ less than ten times. But I still know that someone somewhere has seen my piece, and that’s incredibly cool. Someone I don’t know has seen my piece and has liked it enough to post it on their imaginary cork board. I get an irrationally huge lift whenever I get that email–I’ve made a special folder to keep those.
It’s so easy to forget that many of the cool things you find on Pinterest have a real live person behind them, cheering them on. It’s easy to forget a lot of things while on Pinterest, actually; but I digress. I challenge you to take a few extra minutes to appreciate an aspiring artist’s pin–maybe it links to their site, gallery, Etsy page, whatever. But help spread their work and their name. I can guarantee you’ll make an impact just by clicking ‘repin.’