We recently updated our newsletter subscribers about what we have planned for 2016. We thought we'd share with all of you what we are up to too. If you don't want to be left out of the loop, scroll to the bottom and sign up for our email list-- you'll get access to some additional goodies, as well.
I'm going to be honest with you-- when I think about all of the things that we have planned for this year I'm a bit overwhelmed. But I am also really excited.
This is also clearly the year we have to, HAVE TO, have a growing network of supporters. Creating AHAS was never just about creating a thing for KC and I to do-- we've always known that for it to survive it has to be much, much bigger than us.
I also want to briefly reflect on and celebrate a year that we we finished strong despite so many speed bumps in our personal lives: KC had a baby, I had to move multiple times due to an ordeal with a burst pipe, I got married and just all the other stuff life can throw at you (like a rough 2014-- haha!). I think both of us end 2015 tired and grateful.
What amazes me the most is that this thing continues to happen even with all of that. This is important work to us and it's so heartening to see that it's important work to all of you.
So with that, I wanted to share with you about where we are headed in 2016. I warn you this is long, but this will really help you see where our brains are at with this community.
Onward and Upward,
Sharon (and KC)
This year we worked a lot on our chapters-- even creating leaders to meet the needs of our online community and members who are without a local chapter. Which I feel like has really helped to lay the foundation for growth here.
I have a very ambitious goal... I repeat VERY. I'd like to close out the year with 20 chapters throughout the U.S. by the end of the year (we currently five). Why do we want so many? I believe these in-person, local connections are huge to connecting makers to the resources and support they need. Plus everyone is different-- some people find online community much easier and some find in-person much easier.
Here are the cities we are targeting. The lowest hanging fruit:
The fact that we don't already have chapters here kind of surprises me. We have a good concentration of members in all of these places as well as others who have expressed interest. We are really just looking for people there to rally the troops.
- Raleigh/Research Triangle
- Fayetteville AR/Tulsa OK
- Columbia, SC
- Central Coastal California (this one has been tough because I feel like interest is wide along a very long stretch of coast!)
Yes, I realize the total is more than 15, but essentially these are the cities I see most likely to happen. If you're interested in bringing a chapter to you, clink the button below.
HONORING AND MAKING ROLES FOR LEADERS
All of these chapters will need leaders-- good leaders. And since these leadership positions are voluntary (you receive other compensation... if you sign up for our chapter interest list we go into more detail), I am always cautious we don't create burnout and that people always feel honored for their time.
I remain challenged to continually find ways to show my gratitude to our current chapter leaders and also support them with our limited resources.They always continue to impress me with their spirit of community and eagerness to help their fellow makers.
We are also creating something that is born out of the desire to make sure this is never just about what me and KC want or agendas we have. While we do our best to listen to what makers and our members are saying, we can still run into quandaries.
That's why this year we have created a National Leadership Council-- I guess it would be our version of an executive board. The people selected to serve were done so because I have seen them time and time again exhibit passion, care and support for the maker community.
I am proud to announce that the following individuals will be supporting you and the AHAS community as National Leadership Council members this year:
- Melissa Wert, Print Therapy
- Stacia Guzzo, Handcrafted Honeybee
- Rebecca Saylor, Oodle Badoodle
- Erica Riegelman, Aftcra
- Miriam Dema, Miriam Dema Artwork & Designs
I can't wait to see how this group pushes us forward this year!
MORE MAKER VOICES
Along with a big chapter increase goal, I have another crazy goal-- blog twice a week regularly by the end of the year. For some reason the first one seems more doable. ;)
2015 was the year we consistently did one newsletter and one blog post a week (with the occasional second post). And it really did a lot for us, but in our quest to create a vibrate community of makers it seems like it's still not enough.
The problem? Our blog just isn't about us-- it's not a personal blog. Really, it's your blog. Just adding more of my voice is not what we are about. The heart of our blog is to showcase maker experiences that others can identify with and learn from.
Have ideas for the blog? Please feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
More voices also includes us starting to fold in more #ahasmembers on our Instagram. We really want you to get to know these awesome folks more!
REVAMPED AWARDS AND SHOW
Right before our first awards show we were told (by a very grumpy person) that "makers don't need awards shows." We remain defiant that they do!
And every time someone sends me an email about how excited they are to be nominated for an #ahasaward, I'm reminded about the power of recognition. Celebrating makers will always be at our core!
That said, this year we are trying to make our awards show a much broader community activity. We're partnering with our favorite local community arts org, Art Share LA, to have proceeds from the event go to them, including a raffle and silent auction featuring the works of our awards nominees and members!
I'm so pumped about this, but also nervous. It's a pretty big change and undertaking.
We are also making a "change" that's probably more of an addendum. We've realized that our awards show is meant to elevate everyone in this community where possible. So we have extra committed to making working with small and family businesses who are helping makers on sponsorships. We are so proud and excited for the sponsors who have already signed on and we can't wait to share more about them with you.
On top of all of this, structure changes to making the voting and nominating process will also happen. This is more just an additional step in the process to making it better.
MORE GOOD FRIENDS
This year really saw the fruits of friendships and more seeds planted. KC and I started this based on friendship-- ours. And the whole idea for awards came because we looked at our friends who were kicking ass at business and making but saw no good way to celebrate them as a community.
In fact, you can read one of our very first blog posts on Lauren of Mitsymoto who was doing so many awesome things with her business she is literally part of the inspiration for AHAS.
Making friends in business has always been important to us and when we first began we knew that we could only create AHAS through the graciousness of our existing friends. We also knew that cultivating new friendships was huge (confession: we at one point even discussed writing a book called "Ladies Courting Ladies" because we saw how difficult it was for ladies to make new friends-- I will let you draw your own conclusions as to why that title probably isn't quite right for what we were trying to do ;)).
And I don't mean friends in the "Well, strategically friendship with this person would allow me advantages in my business" kind of friendship. I mean we are looking for more real friends to support and grow with. I want pals to cheer for and who have my back. This has to be one of the single biggest joys of creating business friends.
That was a lot of stuff. You get high fives for reading all of it-- or even skimming it (No judgement. That's how I got through all three of my degrees). I'm excited for where we are going and to have you along with us!