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Businesses Working for You: The Creative Business Circle

Blog

Businesses Working for You: The Creative Business Circle

Academy Of Handmade

I am so excited to introduce to you today a group of handmade business supporters that I am proud to also call sponsors. In particular, this set of sponsors is the Creative Business Circle. I created this special distinction this year to honor this group of businesses that has been supportive of Academy of Handmade all year long-- not just during the AHAS Awards. All of them are huge supporters of makers and I encourage you to check out how they can support you.

DAVE CONREY, FRESH RAG

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
A: My name is Dave, and I'm an artist and author who likes to spend much of his waking moments emboldening other creative business owners. I've been doing creative work for a long time, but really got focused on doing my own thing in 2013, and have been grinding away ever since.

Q: How does your business help makers?
A: I try to bring to light the best information about how the creative business world is changing, and mix in a little kick-ass motivation now and again. In the past, this has been through my blog and podcast. Today, I am reinventing my email newsletter to become the resource of record for keeping abreast of new developments in the creative world.

Q: Why do you think this is important?
A: I want to people to have all the resources and information available to them. The more educated we become about ebb and flow of the business world, the better equipped we are to handle shifting markets.

Q: What advice do you think is really important but most makers don't hear?
A: Competition is an illusion—there's plenty of business for everyone. The minute we figure that out is when we become free from the shackles of comparison.

Q: Why do you think celebrating the achievements of makers is important?
A: So others know what is possible, and have appropriate, and realistic, goals to aim at.

Q: Anything else?
A: Sign up for the Fresh Rag News in order to get a leg up.

Q: Where can people find you online?
www.freshrag.com

 

TARA SWIGER, TARASWIGER.COM

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business, including how long you've been around and why you started.
A: I help makers and artists build businesses they love, through exploring and experimenting with profitability, marketing, and goal-reaching. I started my own handmade business in 2006 and after I quit my dayjob to make yarn full-time in 2009, I started answering questions from other makers. Helping other makers became my full-time job in 2013, because it was just SO FUN to see results in other businesses and watch the makers transform their lives through their thriving businesses. 

Q: How does your business help makers?
A: I help makers (through classes, books, and my podcast) defeat overwhelm and build confidence by focusing on the most important areas of their business: profitability, marketing, and effectiveness (using the time you have and working towards goals you care about). I do this by teaching classes, both online and in person, writing books, and leading a private community of makers and artists that provides accountability, encouragement, and education. 

Q: Why do you think this is important?
A: In my experience, anyone can build a business they love IF they get clear on what they really want and are committed to taking the action. But what holds us back is self-doubt, overwhelm and a lack of focus. So I work to help my students focus on what matters, build their biz confidence and take the most impactful actions. 

Q: What advice do you think is really important but most makers don't hear?
A: Get crystal clear on what YOU really want. Not what you think you should want. Not what other people have that looks awesome. Focus on what you want, both in terms of time spent in your biz and money made. It's ok to want what you want (and not want to be bigger, or smaller), but until you get clear on this you're going to keep chasing a business that you don't really want. That leads to wasted time, disappointment, and a business that exhausts you.  

Q: Why do you think celebrating the achievements of makers is important?
A: It's sooo important! We, as humans, have a negativity bias - it's easier for us to see and remember the negative in our lives and businesses. So taking time to celebrate  is vital to actually noticing and remembering that awesomeness happened. It's important for us to do this as a community, so that we lift each other up AND so that we can show ourselves and others what's possible. 

Q: Where can people find you online?
A: Everything is at TaraSwiger.com, including the free 6 week Biz Confidence Challenge, which you can get at TaraSwiger.com/BizConfidence.

 

ERICA RIEGELMAN, AFTCRA

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
A: Hi there! I'm Erica Riegelman, President and Co-Founder of aftcra. If you haven't heard about aftcra yet, we're an online marketplace where you can buy and sell handmade products made in the USA. So, if you're an artisan and you live in the USA, you can sell your handmade work with aftcra! aftcra is about two and a half years old, and we're full of thousands of talented artisans from coast to coast. 

aftcra was created in homage to my mom. My mom is an artisan and crafter. When she struggled to sell her wares in the local boutiques of northern Wisconsin, she started becoming frustrated with the process and considered throwing in the towel. So, I got involved. I wanted to create an online marketplace that would both be easy for artisans to use while also providing shoppers a one-stop-shop to support local artisans. aftcra achieves both of these goals by allowing sellers to create a storefront and list products within five minutes while giving shoppers a smaller, more manageable shopping marketplace that is free of manufactured overseas goods.

Q: How does your business help makers?
A: aftcra's sole purpose is to support our local makers by providing an online marketplace that is free of charge until you make a sale. We offer several resourceful posts on our blog that house tips and tricks for artisans to improve their online storefronts while providing one-on-one guidance to shops who are in need of improving their presence - whether it be their online shop or social media outlets. We also help connect artisans with our handmade partners to provide them with resources outside of aftcra.

Q: Why do you think this is important?
A: Makers are an important part of our communities. They showcase a community's cultural and local flair in a way that is meaningful, impassioned, creative and timeless. By placing a spotlight on makers and allowing their talents and voices to be seen and heard, we allow our creativity and ties to our community to grow. That's why aftcra is so important to me - instead of just buying a piece of artwork for my home I am given an opportunity to interact with an artisan on a different level. I can learn about the inspiration for their work while helping them grow their business. It's an incredibly fulfilling job.

Q: What advice do you think is really important but most makers don't hear?
A: You're the expert in your business, and you know more than you think you do. All too often I see makers doubting themselves and falling into the arms of Imposter Syndrome (hey, I live there once in awhile too). Embrace your business, allow yourself to be successful, continue to learn, and know that you're smarter than you were yesterday. If you ever need that little nudge of support, I'm always here to lend you some virtual liquid courage. And so is the Academy of Handmade and their rockstar community that'll help you far exceed your goals. 

Q: Why do you think celebrating the achievements of makers is important?
A: We have to embrace and celebrate our achievements as a community of makers and supporters, otherwise our work and talent will go unnoticed. Over the past few years the emphasis on "artisanal" and "handmade" has grown, and if we continue to prop each other up, support each other's achievements, and celebrate one another's milestones we will all win. 

Q: Where can people find you online?
A: I'd love to connect with you and potentially work with you on aftcra. You can visit aftcra at the following social media outlets, you can sign up for aftcra's newsletter, or you can visit aftcra online. If you ever need to chat, you can contact me at one of the social outlets below or shoot me an email and I'll be in touch. 

Instagram: http://instagram.com/aftcra
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aftcra
Pinterest: pinterest.com/aftcra
Twitter: twitter.com/aftcra

 

ISAAC WATSON, MAKER'S NATION

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
A: I’m Isaac Watson, and I founded Maker’s Nation in 2012 after realizing how important it is to help creatives learn those entrepreneurial skills that are key to thriving as a small business owner. Making your thing often comes naturally, but learning how to talk about it, find customers for it, and grow your business intentionally is far from genetic. I’m here to help with that!

Q: How does your business help makers?
A: I offer business education and community support for makers of all stripes through in-person programs that blend learning with social experiences ranging from casual meetups to two-days conferences. I can’t stand stuffy panels and boring lectures, so I always try to put on engaging, fun programs that also help you improve an aspect of your creative business. I want everyone to walk away from one of my programs saying, “That was amazing, I learned so much, and I made a new friend!"

Q: Why do you think this is important?
A: Getting out of the house and away from your studio (and social media) is the best way to connect with your people, take a break from the hustle and grind, and better your business with an infusion of new perspectives and ideas. It’s easy to spend all day with your head down working, but it’s vital to come up for air and take look at what your next best steps are for your business. The people around you have so much wisdom and experience to offer—it’s so important to take advantage of that whenever possible.

Q: What advice do you think is really important but most makers don't hear?
A: Think about your financial future. Where do you want to be in 5 years? 20 years? What does your business look like? What does your quality of life look like? Are you on track to get there financially? Set goals, grow with intent, and plan now to succeed so that you don’t look back 20 years from now with regrets (or empty pockets). It’s OKAY to make money as an artist, maker, creative. You deserve it.

Q: Why do you think celebrating the achievements of makers is important?
A: We’re swimming in a sea of imposter syndrome and everywhere we turn we’re comparing ourselves to others. We need to recognize and celebrate our victories, no matter the size, and bolster up our friends and colleagues with the support they need to keep on making.

Q: Anything else?
A: You’ve got this! :-)

Q: Where can people find you online?
Twitter: twitter.com/makersnation
Instagram: instagram.com/makers_nation
Twitter: twitter.com/ibwatson
Instagram: instagram.com/ibwatsongram

 

REBECCA SAYLOR, SFETSY

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.
A: SFEtsy is a vibrant and diverse community, full of creativity. We strive to support and promote local Etsy sellers by sharing expertise and advice, hosting local shows and events, and providing a valuable network of local talent and resources. We were founded in 2006 when the founders of Etsy reached out about creating a local network of Etsy sellers. Our team has grown beyond the Etsy platform, proudly representing 1800+ etsy sellers in the greater Bay Area. 

Q: How does your business help makers?
A: SFEtsy is a local resource to Etsy sellers, providing tips and tricks via our private community group. Sellers are also free to ask questions, get insider feedback about events, technology,and a variety of other topics that affect small handmade businesses. We also host a twice annual super-popular craft show called the SFEtsy Indie Emporium and offer workshops for all levels led by our talented pool of smart, resourceful team members. 

Q: Why do you think this is important?
A: Etsy sellers have unique questions as business owners and they also tend to be home-bodies. We seek to help get makers away from the workspace from time to time and come together to learn and grow from each other.

Q: What advice do you think is really important but most makers don't hear?
A: "It's not a get rich quick scheme, it's a get rich (if you take your time, learn and grow constantly) scheme"

Q: Why do you think celebrating the achievements of makers is important?
A: Humans need validation. Celebrating achievements helps everyone continue to push forward. Maybe you are competitive and need that sense of competition to motivate yourself, or your favorite product or maker gets recognized and it validates your own passion. Awards give us something to talk about, a way to connect to each other and fuel to fan our creative flames. 

Q: Anything else?
A: Keep up the good work Academy of Handmade! 

Q: Where can people find you online?
Website: www.etsysf.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sfetsy
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sfetsy/
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/sfetsy/