My Business Model is Evolving

19 08 2009

Oh I still have every intention of reviving Norwich’s textile industry in a hi-tech cottage textile industry kind of way. My vision of what I’m building up to never changes, but my ideas of how I might get there, and my ideas of what I’m going to be doing with my time to bring in a living seem to be evolving in front of my eyes.

I’m not really surprised. One problem I’ve always had was with market research. Basically, the only way to know which of the things you want to offer people will actually spend money on is to put your offers out there and see what happens.

So far, I’ve found out that there’s apparently not much demand for bespoke interior textiles locally. At least I haven’t been able to locate it. Nor was there much demand for my handmade goods from the people who came into the Textile Centre, though at least one other person in the Centre seemed to be doing pretty well.

But I’m getting weaving students. And weaving and teaching weaving are probably the things I like doing the best of all the things I know how to do. Sometimes, the world decides to cooperate with you.

Considering the state of the UK’s textile industry, it would seem that setting myself the task of reviving it would be an unlikely career plan. But slow but surely, it just might be working.

So I’m not saying I’d turn down a commission of some sort. I’m just saying it begins to look like I’ll be doing a good deal of teaching (which pleases me mightily since I highly value all these handskills I have and it would be a pity not to pass them on) and some making of the really fine things I want to make (I’ve got a shadow-weave chenille scarf on the loom just now.) and about ten other ideas for how I might be able to bring in a little cash from one way or another.

And, recently, I’m really enjoying my life.

(All the sunshine we’ve had this summer has something to do with it. I make sure I get my hour in the sun every day there’s enough sun and heat for that. But the other things I’m doing have a lot to do with it too.)

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Shoes, My Next Speech, and Items of Rooted Beauty

22 07 2009

Today was a good day. I definitely needed one because yesterday was not.

I spent most of the day in a business training meeting. The first part was on networking. I was surprised how little internet networking possibilities were mentioned. I have some notes on changes I want to make to my business card though, and I’ll be looking for some FREE local networking activities. I have a feeling they won’t be official networking activities. More likely are visits to exhibits, during which I keep in mind networking. Maybe just an effort toward constant awareness of networking possibilities, but hopefully more than that. Also, my elevator speech is now one that can be delivered on the elevator of a building of less than 75 stories. It’s actually down to 30 seconds flat and I like it.

The second half was about presentations. Considering that I’ve been active in Toastmasters for a good half a year now, it was not surprising that there wasn’t much advice and strategy of presentations I hadn’t heard of. But the timing was perfect. Tomorrow I give my second speech at Toastmasters. I’ve been turning different ideas over in my head, but hadn’t really sat down and worked on it yet.

So I used the opportunity to practise for tomorrow, and I’ll be darned, what I produced was highly praised. I do think my attendance at Toastmasters has produced noticeable results. It’s done wonders for my confidence about actually being able to make a business of this. The instructor said the kind of enthusiam I have for my business is a good predictor of success. I’m finding myself imagining how it might actually happen. Amazing!

The second thing I want to write about is a project that pays nothing, though it might produce some useful publicity, and it should make some money for a charity. I’ve been commissioned to review a book for a website (the commission being keeping the book). The book is about turning unattractive or dull shoes into some really impressive shoes. Since it’s an instructional book, I think trying out a project needs to be part of the review. I proposed making a deal with a charity shop to allow me to take some of their shoes and tart them up. The website liked the idea, and the very first charity shop I approached approved it on the spot and let me choose three pairs of shoes to transform. Then they’ll be featured in the window with an attribution. Dig it!

Ah yes. and “Items of Rooted Beauty”. An e-mail discussion group I subscribe to has been discussing how difficult it is to make a living in one of my favorite craft arts these days. It was partly that discussion that had me down yesterday. But it is also that discussion that led me to try to find a description of the difference between the types of items I make and all those mass market things that might fill some of the same purposes. What I make are:

Items of Rooted Beauty.