I admit it. I’m a joiner.
I like being a part of of groups and communities. I contribute to online discussion groups; serve on the board of the Women’s Jewelry Association; work on committees of Jeweler’s For Children and other industry org’s… and in my spare time I lead my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, head a PTA committee and even make most monthly meetings of a wine-fueled book club. I find the cameraderie and brainstorming a great way to offset the sometimes limited socializing that comes from running a small business with my husband.
But even if you’re not naturally a joiner, you need to get out. We can all benefit from a little help from our friends. In my workshop, "Tips from the Trenches: How to Grow a Successful Designer Business" I’m always encouraging introverts to train themselves to be extroverts. Those that "schmooze well" have a great business advantage. Contrary to popular art school advice, art does not sell itself. It is sold by people relating to other people. [TIP: Practice talking about your work so that you get comfortable mentioning it’s features and benefits in a natural way with enthusiasm. Think about what excited you about the stones or the technique or how well it relates to a trend. SHARE not lecture!]
Today’s Chicago Tribune includes an article on an artist’s mall outside Chicago that is helping 50+ designers/artisans help themselves and each other. It’s a great concept and one I wish would catch on in more cities. Artists’ co-ops make a great retail environment for the customer looking for more unique products, and a mall or co-op makes it easy to find artisan goods. Read the article, and more advice from me, here.
There’s a similar co-op in NYC called edge*nyNoho that features 65 fashion, product and accessories designers. Similar concept to feature young talent … is there one in your town?