February 16, 2010 Issue 15
Last of the snowflakes?
I can be a bit superstitious at times...but I'll ask the question anyway: Is winter on the way out? Judging by the snowstorms we've had here in the U.S., we'll all be wearing wool bikinis this year. This week we're celebrating the (hopeful) end of winter with closeout deals and a special look at the Winter Olympics. Go ahead and get the fire going...we'll wait!
Snowstorm Encapsulated by Risky Beads. (That's me. :))
Pondering the Winter Olympics with Dee-Ann LeBlanc of Dee's Adornments Dee-Ann LeBlanc of Dee's Adornments is actually living in the midst of the Winter Olympics right now so she's hard-pressed to push winter aside. She writes, "I've always been more bookish and lost in my head than athletic. I had physical activities like dance classes, but I've never sustained a physical fitness regime for longer than a year so I'm flat out awed by athletes of an Olympic caliber. These are people for whom dedication and intense focus is the norm. Living in the middle of the 2010 Winter Olympics has had me thinking about athletics along with my usual thinking on the world of the handmade. Ultimately, my central thought is this: Great athletes aren't mass-produced; they're handmade.
You can't just walk into a gym like it's Walmart pick up an athlete of this caliber. People like this are painstakingly made through intensely hard work along with the guidance and support of coaches and family. So, I wonder.... Do I approach creating my products with the same focus, dedication, and level of excellence? Could someone walk into Walmart and buy something like what I make?
If I look at my early work and am honest with myself, the answer is probably yes, at least for some of it. I take comfort in the fact that this is probably the case for most crafters. We all have to start somewhere to learn what techniques, materials, and styles best suit us. The danger is in staying generic and not finding your crafting "voice," a term I'll steal from the writing world. Olympic-level crafters have recognizable styles, just as the highest caliber athletes do. They approach their craft at a level that inspires awe at their talent.
Top athletes don't just focus on their sports though, just as top crafters don't just focus on creating. An Olympic-level athlete has to manage their time, their state of mind, injuries, their interactions with the media and fans, temptations of many sorts, and everything else related with the world of sport.
For crafters, there's the need to manage all aspects of their business. Top crafters build relationships with their customers and bloggers, they know their expenses and how much they want to make for their time so they can set smart pricing, and they approach every aspect of presentation with the same drive and perfectionism that they approach their work.
So while I'm not likely to become a top notch athlete out of the blue as I approach 40, I can aspire to take my crafting and my business to the next level, and then the next, and the next.
The great thing is that this is a sport where everyone wins."
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Until next week,
Lori Ward, Founder, Handmade Highway