I have had this scrap of paper for thirty years. It traveled with me from one job to another, and when I eventually retired, it came home with me. I think these words are as true in business as they are in life.
Nothing like falling asleep with the TV on, only to be awakened by an Infomercial. You know what I’m talking about. You can buy anything during the wee hours, from cookware, to knives, to pots and pans, even vacuum cleaners. Often the program is hosted by an “all American Barbie and Ken-like duo,” who follow a well crafted script, designed to educate you—the would be buyer—about why you couldn’t possibly live without their product. They banter cheerfully back and forth, rolling out the said product—feature-by-feature and benefit-by-benefit—all before a gushing studio audience.
This genre of advertising never ceases to amaze me. Regardless of what the product is, in a mere half hour you want it! Period. And, you are pretty certain that the world will stop spinning if you don’t buy it. All of those starry eyed folks in the studio audience who ooh and ahhh at just the right times can’t be wrong, can they? They provide just enough justification to warrant a purchase. Seriously, these ads are sophisticated; they are engineered to motivate, and move product. They work! Meanwhile, the implied underlying message is that you aren’t good enough, your house isn’t clean enough, and heaven forbid if you don’t have “abs or buns of steel!” Infomercials are compelling, to say the least. And, don’t forget, you can have that new vacuum cleaner with “just four easy payments of $49.95, but wait, there’s more…”
What does this have to do with anything? I’ve decided to do my own infomercial, without the cameras, and with one poorly paid host: Me. Today marks my one-month anniversary in the B’Sue Creative Group’s Build a Line Challenge. Just one month, I can’t believe it has only been a month! Wow.
What did I do with myself before the challenge? Here are a few short answers: I floundered around, for starters. I played with my beads. I sat around in my artsy-fartsy cocoon, therapeutically creating stuff. And it was good…just not nearly good enough. Where do I want to take this passion for making jewelry of mine, I honestly don’t know? But, when I do decide, at least I will have a compass and a roadmap to get me there.
The line I’m designing, “Deck out the Denim” will feature these colors. When we started the challenge, I had an entirely different color scheme in mind.
When I tossed my hat in the ring and entered this challenge, I thought I’d learn about making jewelry, and making it better, that sort of thing. Little did I know that I would learn the fine points of converting a craft into something more viable. Brenda Sue Lansdowne started the Build a Line Challenge as an offshoot of the B’Sue Creative Group on Facebook. Brenda is a fine jewelry artist in her own right, as well as a seller of parts, a creator of instructional videos…you name it, that lady does it! And does it well! They say when the “student is ready, the teacher will appear.” We are a group of 55 diverse students/artists, all being led by Brenda, and we are willing! She’s teaching us not only about design, but also about the business side of following a creative path. She began with showing us examples of jewelry that sells commercially. Then the group piped in and began to share examples of designers they admire. That was the beginning of our awakening. But wait, there’s more…
Vogue magazine was discussed. Truthfully, I doubt I have willingly thumbed through three issues of Vogue in my life. I am a “tom girl” at heart, no one would accuse me of being a “fashionista,” and, I was of the opinion that Vogue was “out of reach” for most women. I’ve since learned otherwise. Time to pay attention to the world outside of my creative bubble.
We moved on to branding and discovered that some brands, the Nikes, Adidas, Coca-Cola’s and other giants lead the pack, while others simply lag. One does not become a major player by accident. It takes work. For instance, blogs, social media, search engine optimization, tags, categories…all things that at least some of us felt were of little consequence a month ago, are vital to growing awareness and establishing an identity.
There are some incredibly talented and knowledgeable members within our ranks. To be part of this group and to have access to collective wisdom and experience is a gift—a rare gift indeed. For instance, one gal inquired about logos, another member whipped out several samples of logos she created on the fly. They were impressive!
Some of these pieces will find their way into my line. Aren’t they yummy? I fell in love with the Rose Ox pieces carried by B’Sue Boutiques.
Here’s an example of one of the things I needed help with. I struggle with some of the big components that others use so cleverly. So, I posted a picture of the stamping I was having trouble with, and within minutes, several members of the group shared pictures of their work, using the same component. I was amazed at the talent, and the diverse approach we have within the ranks.
This component will be part of my featured line. I called on the troops for help using it. They came through! Sometimes it takes a village for me to learn things. I’m so happy to have found this one! We are a loving tribe!
I really like how this is coming together. It will beautiful on just about any color. I’m striving to create pieces which can compliment most wardrobes.
But wait, there’s more…this is a ninety-day challenge and we are but thirty days into it. In less than one month, we are building lines, blogging and considering more effective ways to market ourselves, and our work. We’ve learned we must design pieces at both ends of the pyramid. At the top are those rare souls who purchase art because a piece speaks to them at the core of their being. We covet and cherish this buyer, knowing our work will be treasured, celebrated, and appreciated fully. At the base of the pyramid, it yet another wonderful buyer, the one who more likely will sustain us by purchasing more pieces, more often. Both groups warm our hearts.
Here at the Build a Line Challenge, we’ve discovered that we need to do more than simply make jewelry. If we want to take anything to the next level, we must be willing to commit ourselves to a new path. And we need to be willing to do the work. We need to create with intention, and focus, not just on a whim. That means shopping smarter, engaging all of our senses to create designs which have more universal appeal. It means thinking about color, shameans engaging both our head and our heart when we sit down to create. No one is asking us to abandon their roots; rather we are being encouraged to grow our wings. Life is good. Very good indeed!