I’m so excited that I will be speaking at the SxSW Interactive, Music and Film conferences in just under a week in Austin! If you are there, I would love to see you to talk about skills and strategies for building a creative business and life.
March 8: SxSW Film
2 pm Meet the Insiders: Funding and Special Organizations panel discussion with grant makers and nonprofit film service organizations
March 9: SxSW Interactive
11 am Navigating the New Handmade Economy panel discussion
with Rena Tom of Make Shift Society, Sharon Fain of Academy of Handmade, and Courtney Klossner, Digital Content Consultant
3:30 pm: Grow book signing
March 13: SxSW Music
3:30 pm: Grow book signing
5 pm: Your Data and Your Life workshop with Courtney Klossner
Are you hosting a talk, get together or event in Austin during SxSW? Please let me know - I’d love to link up!
As 2013 draws to a close I want to take a moment to thank everyone who has helped bring this project to life this year! Last year at this time I was wrapping up the Grow manuscript and getting it ready to send it off to the printers. Publishing an independent book is a community undertaking and it’s thanks to the strength of the DIY and creative entrepreneurship communities that this book exists!
Grow’s publisher, Microcosm Publishing, has been a fantastic partner for this project since the beginning, but it’s our community of readers and supporters that give books like Grow a life beyond its pages. Thanks to your support we launched a successful crowdfunding campaign with RocketHub to support a national tour of workshops, panel discussions and talks about creating sustainable creative businesses. We also sold out Grow’s first printing before the book was even officially released! So now thanks to you there are 15,000 copies of my little book in the world!
For me taking Grow on tour was a fantastic opportunity connect with creative entrepreneurs all over the country. I loved traveling to places like Omaha, Nebraska and Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I had never visited and returning to places that have a strong artistic community like Minneapolis, Minnesota and Portland, Oregon. I’ve been able to forge a community of new friends and a network of people who are dedicated to strengthening the handmade and creative business community, from putting together events like Handmade Omaha and shops that sell handmade goods and support local makers like Made: The Indie Emporium Shop and Tinderbox, to groups like the Academy of Handmade looking to build a platform to advocate and celebrate handmade business owners, to Craftcation and their blog Dear Handmade Life that bring together makers from all over.
I’m looking forward to keeping the momentum going 2014. On the docket are speaking engagements at SxSW interactive, music and film, as well as Craftcation and leading workshops at MICA and RISD. I’ll also be part of the LA Zine Fest and hope to be at the Brooklyn Zine Fest too. I’m also working on putting together a monthly meetup and hackathon for creative entrepreneurs, DIY business owners, and anyone else interested in the confluence of tech, creativity and entrepreneurship. More details very soon or take a moment to sign up for my email newsletter to be the first in the know! What are your plans for 2014? How will you keep your creative momentum in the new year?
Thanks again for a transformative 2013 everyone! Wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year!
Photos from Grow’s NYC launch event at Wix Lounge.
With the end of 2013 in sight I feel like it’s time to start assessing my accomplishments for the year. What has worked? What surprised me? What do I want to do differently next year? Has Grow been a success? The fact that it exists at all, that 15,000 copies are in print, and I held over 30 Grow-related events all around the country this year certainly feels like it, but beyond that how do I tell?
I was recently asked in an interview how I measure success. I think this is a great question because success is very personal, and yet we often look outside of ourselves or our projects to judge whether we have achieved it or not. I shared three strategies for measuring your success on the Dear Handmade Life blog. These strategies are especially useful when you are looking at a project or business that does not lend itself well to traditional measurement like profit or loss (though that’s important too!). Have a read and think about: what are you proud of for 2013? And what will success look like for you in 2014?
Writing and publishing Grow has motivated me to take a good, hard look at my life and work and make some decisions about how I want to grow and evolve professionally. Over the next few months I’ll be posting my thoughts on my career exploration and transition, sharing ideas from the workshops, meetup and conferences I attend, and thinking about how my personal processes relate to the ideas of entrepreneurship, sustainability and creative business practice that drive Grow as a book. This blog will continue feature Grow news, DIY business advice and profiles of different DIY business owners, but it will also be a platform for my own entrepreneurial storytelling. I hope you’ll follow along!
Grow is all about envisioning and moving towards the life that you want that sustains you emotionally and financially. Right now I am focusing in on the types of businesses that value creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. I’ve started to hone in on New York City’s vibrant tech startup community. Now, this is a huge group of diverse businesses, so I am especially focused on startups that serve and add value to the work of creatives, makers and artists as part of their core mission and business model.
Earlier this month I attended a workshop at General Assembly with Charlie O’Donnell, of Brooklyn Bridge Ventures. He brought up many important strategies for approaching the startup world, and I realized that his points were very similar to how I advise DIY business owners to approach and present their businesses. Here’s some of my big takeaways that I wanted to share, because I think they are relevant to entrepreneurs not mater what the sector:
What are you offering? Offer something concrete to the business you want to work for (or to your customers for a DIY business). How, practically, do you help them build their business (or improve their lives)? What are the deliverables that you can offer?
Think in terms of sector. What sector of the start up world (or craft, or art world) do you want to work in?
Network strategically. Identify and connect with thought leaders and do your research to identify them. Who are the true experts in that sector and how can you learn from them? Can you organize a conference or event to bring the sector together?
Approach jobs and collaborations like consulting gigs: focus on adding value for thoughtful people who appreciate how you think.
Movement is positive because it opens up the “adjacent possible.” Trying something new creates opportunities and connections that would not have come about otherwise.
Lately, with my book and career, I’ve been inching towards taking leaps into the unknown. This particular advice made me feel like in doing so I am actually on the right track. Have you made a big shift in your career or business? What was your approach?
I had a fantastic time in the Lone Star State last week! While Texas plays a contentious role on the national stage, to be sure, it’s a fascinating (and huge) place that is bursting with creative, resourceful and entrepreneurial people. I only had time to visit Houston and Austin on this trip, but I really enjoyed the chance to meet with such dynamic and interesting people.
After I arrived on a very early morning flight I headed to Brasil, my favorite cafe in Houston to get work done, with cold-brew coffee on tap and great brunch and lunch. Sufficiently caffeinated I went to set up my table at Zine Fest Houston where my wonderful tablemates of the collective art zine Cat Juice made me a the cool chalk lettered sign you see above. It was great to plunge right into meeting creatives and sharing books, zines and stories!
To further engage with Houston’s creative community, the next day I had the pleasure of meeting the fabulous couple behind The Tinderbox, a craft and maker space that hosts workshops, DIY events, and sells handmade goods by Houston creatives. It’s a welcoming and exciting space that is part of a creative revitalization of a block of the Mid-Main area that also includes the fabulous coffee and cocktail bar Double Trouble.
Later that week I led a workshop at Fresh Arts, a leading local arts organization that is dedicated to to helping artists view themselves as entrepreneurs and find more resources for their practice. For me the process of talking with creative people about their goals and working together to identify concrete steps to achieve them is one of the most gratifying things about touring with Grow.
While Houston is a sprawling city that is finally coming to national attention as an arts and culture hub, Austin is a smaller city with an outsize reputation for being a hub for creativity. In addition to hosting a meetup for creatives at my favorite place to eat and work, Cherrywood Coffee House, I took myself on a tour of some new and exciting creative businesses in Austin. I checked out the Rosewood Collective, located in a beautiful East Side bungalow which houses several different creative entrepreneurs including Olive vintage, Sound and True housewares, and Sister Coffee, run by a very sweet lady recently arrived in Austin from San Francisco.
I also got to meet the eminently inspiring Michelle who helps creative people and businesses establish systems to they can get what they need to do done. Finally, just before leaving Austin I stopped by Stitch Lab, housed in two super cute bungalows and stuffed with beautiful fabrics, patterns and knowledgable stitchers. They offer classes, workshops and plenty of inspiration for aspiring to advanced stitchers.
I was a little reluctant to leave Austin, but I’m excited to announce that I will be returning for SxSW Interactive and Music in March to present with my awesome friends from Academy of Handmade and Patreon. Thanks to everyone who supported us during the voting process and Austin, I’ll see you again soon!
I’m very excited that I’m taking Grow to Houston and Austin, Texas for the last leg of the book’s national launch tour. Both of these cities are known for their growing and thriving creative scenes and I’m really looking forward to connecting with creatives of all kinds who call the Lone Star State home. Looking forward to seeing you at a meetup, workshop or the Houston Zine Fest!
October 12 3 to 8 pm
Zine Fest Houston
October 15 7 pm
Handmade business owners, crafters, creators and makers meet-up at Cherrywood Coffee House, Austin. RSVP here.
The other month I went to the NY Tech Women meet up, an awesome, friendly meetup for any ladies working or interested in working in the tech world. As someone who has spent 10 years working in the art world I was prepared to feel out of place. However, as I chatted with rad ladies who worked for startups and in tech for established companies, I found the ideas and subjects covered in our conversations were extremely familiar.
We talked about reaching new audiences, moving an idea to execution, and making a sustainable funding plan. The conversations were exactly the kind I have been having with DIY entrepreneurs of all types! Here’s are some key ideas to remember, whether you are launching the next big tech start up, building up your handmade business, or planning your great artistic masterpiece:
I think that these points are very important for creatives to remember. Sometimes, as creative people, I have found we undervalue our own business acumen. When I realized the questions my peers and I grapple with about creating a sustainable business are similar to those in the creative, tech world talking business and connecting with them became easier and I was reminded: we creatives have something to say, experience to offer, and an opportunity to learn from all fields.