In one of my past lives, I was an indie artist who started up a small, custom digital design business out of my own home because (1) we needed the additional income without sacrificing any of our arms or legs in the name of child care; (2) I needed a creative outlet because I still hadn’t fully adjusted to becoming a stay-at-home mom and changing diapers and navigating the wet and smelly terrain of potty training just wasn’t scratching my creative itch anymore; and (3) I loved to work in Photoshop and transform the ordinary into the extraordinary and make people cry. But only in a good way! HAPPY TEARS ONLY. That was my motto. As was PLEASE TELL EVERYONE YOU KNOW ABOUT ME BECAUSE I CAN’T AFFORD SQUAT FOR ADVERTISING although that turned out to be too long for my business card.
I had my business for almost five years before I closed it because, to put it bluntly, I was burned out. To a blackened, charred, psychologically scorched, stressed out crisp, if you want to get technical about it.
It wasn’t so much the creative part that got to me since, by the end of my run, I was spending so little time creating that often times, I completely forgot why I had started my business in the first place. No, it was all the other stuff that goes into running a small, independently owned business on a budget thinner than Amy Winehouse after a colonic. Stuff like marketing, research, product development, marketing, vendor procurement, marketing, prototype fabrication, invoicing, marketing, accounting, marketing, networking, website design and maintenance, marketing, marketing and finally, marketing. Oh, and marketing.
Getting your name out there is, I think, one of the most important yet hardest aspects of running any kind of business, but most especially for the independently owned business because often, the funds just aren’t there to launch any kind of media campaign, let alone one that has even the slimmest chance of success. You can make the best damn pound cake in the western hemisphere but if no one knows you make the best damn pound cake in the western hemisphere, do you really make the best damn pound cake in the western hemisphere?
This is a big reason why I prefer to focus on the indie artist and/or small business owner when I run giveaways on my blog because hello? Been there, done that too many times to mention and I would have killed for an opportunity to get that kind of exposure for my business back then. It’s also why I admire Liz Nonnemacher, the editor of Wickedlychic.com. I first met Liz on a chat board where she had the gall to refer to me as a bona fide writer right before she featured one of my posts on her site. And the best part of the whole thing? She wasn’t whacked out on drugs at the time. She’s intelligent, funny, savvy, generous and has dedicated her online business to promoting the creative community of independent fashion and design. Three years ago, she would have been the rubber pants I would have gladly donned on before wading into the sea of shit unknown that is Marketing 101 for the naive and clueless.
Wait! She’s too good for rubber pants. Rubber pants make people chafe and sweat and Liz does neither of those things. Not that I want to know about, anyway. No, I’d say Liz is more like a boat, but not one of those old, creaky things that are always belching smoke and leaking gas because Liz does neither of those things. Not that I want to know about, anyway. I’d say Liz is like a shiny, sleek kayak that could have effortlessly carried me across that sea of marketing to the other side known as HOLY HELL, I FINALLY MADE IT! AND I’M NOT EVEN COVERED IN SEWAGE!
Wickedlychic.com is hosting a Spring Fling featuring thirty independently owned fashionable businesses, including Paper Yum (affordable one-of-a-kind jewelry & art prints), Sandra Eileen Jewelry (handcrafted gorgeous jewelry), Randolph Street Market (unique indie craft market in Chicago), Fenderskirts Vintage (authentic vintage imagery and stationery) and essensu (luxurious holistic skincare).
The Spring Fling is bursting at the seams with talent, filled with artisans who live to craft and craft to live and who are waiting to be discovered by you. You have until April 24 to stumble across your new favorite shop! And there will be discounts and giveaways from several of the participating businesses so don’t miss out because honestly? It sucks to sit there after the fact with a nasty case of woulda, shoulda, coulda while all your friends are sitting there with a nasty case of I TOLD YOU SO.
Been there, done that too many times to mention as well.