I debated writing this post a bit. It's kind of more general that we usually do, but I still think is super applicable to makers. Because makers are at the frontlines of creating this very new, different and fragile economy, I think the lesson here is important because it also affects the whole maker community. It's also inspired by two makers (I'll tell you more on this in a bit) who do this really well, so there, it relates!
There are so many things that I don't have control over. I see a world how I want it to be, but it's frustrating because that world is still not happening yet. Or at least not at the rate I want to appear. But what I do have control over is making sure that I support the things I want to exist and that will help make this world appear. I will give you an example.
A Cautionary Tale
Recently a popular sewing studio in Los Angeles (Sew LA) announced its closing. The impending loss is being felt by the teachers who helped to make this a vibrant community and relied on it's income. Not to mention all of the independent fabric, pattern and notions lines the store supported.
It's demise occurred not because it lacked good business sense, outstanding customer service or quality product. What's really scary is that the demise came about because people who used to come into the store started to choose a big chain store largely based on the fact that it was cheaper.
This isn't a dig at chain stores. I think they can have a place in this ecosystem. The thing that I want to point out is that people began to choose it exclusively over the small mom-and-pop shop without understanding the consequences to their own neighborhood. A vibrant local business is now gone and with it all of the support it gave to other small and local businesses.
A Brighter Spot
This week we introduced you to #ahasmember Nicole of Delovely Details as our inspiring maker for the week. Her spirit through adversity is something to behold! She recently had her house burn down, which was also her business.
While completely devastating in many ways, Nicole is blessed enough to have pieces to rebuild her business. She made smart decisions before the fire that have allowed that to happen and her shop was doing well. It's not easy by any means, and it will certainly be costly, but her business looks like it will recover.
But what if she hadn't made those moves or those customers online had decided to DIY their own product or demand coupons? I think Nicole's story points to how fragile working for yourself can be.
💛"All the love you put out will come back you when you need it." This week's #inspiringmaker is Nicole from @delovelydetails. 💫The quote above is from what she shared with the group at last night's @oc.ahas chapter launch. The words alone are nice, but they are backed up by how Nicole runs her life. She is a giver and we are so happy she has been a member from the early days, before there was even a chapter in OC. Very recently her house was destroyed in a fire. Which also basically destroyed her business. She's rebuilding it all like a champ. She continues to work hard, care for her family (@drew.delovelydetails is also a pretty amazing partner in crime to have!) but also always kind and gracious. 💛
What You Can Do
Which brings me to two makers who I think deserve extra special shout outs for doing this even if takes some effort.
One of our founding #ahasmembers Miriam Dema is always talking about how you need to "support the things you want to exist" even if those things themselves aren't yet fully existing perfectly. I know this is why she supported us so early on even though our "dream" of what we would be wasn't fully a reality. And it's not just with us. This includes the makers she wants to see flourish and the community resources that she thinks are important to not just her but everyone.
The other person that inspired this post was Lizzie of Forgotten Cotton. She is one of the most supportive people I know. I think of this when it comes to her commitment to supporting American businesses, which if you are committed to local or businesses in your own country you know that this is not always the easiest or cheapest thing to do.
Forgotten Cotton works with American small businesses to source their materials. They have also been huge champions Aftcra (another #ahasmember) that is just starting out as an all American-made marketplace. Lizzie is constantly referring people to shop in her Aftcra shop because she sees it as a valuable space.
I guess I just wanted to say that there are so many things in this community with a fragile existence-- craft shows, selling platforms, resources, services, community spaces, and other makers. You probably don't even realize how fragile it is. So, supporting them however you can is so important to create a healthy space for ALL of us!
KC and I have only been doing this a bit over two years. And while we feel like we are babies in this business, we were just marveling the other day how many businesses that began this journey with us have already closed shop.
I will leave you with this: Who would you miss if they went out of business? And what are you doing to make sure they don't? Again, I think things are often way more fragile than we think.
Just a thought. Let me know what you think in the comments.