So, I just came back from Craftcation 2019 (literally like, a day ago!), and I definitely needed a moment to decompress and organize the many thoughts that have been flailing about in my head. But the one consistent thing is what an incredibly amazing experience that was, comparable to none other.
(But, fair warning: This post has no pictures, literally it's a big wall of text. If reading isn't your thing, just cut out now. I will totally understand! Here's the summary: It's really great, everyone should do it!)
But, I guess first things first:
A little about me:
Hi! I'm Eileen and I design a locally made collection of vintage inspired dresses.
I first found out about the Patchworks show in 2011. My cousin Sean lived in Santa Ana, and was constantly telling me about these bad ass boss babes in his community, Nicole and Delilah, and they sort of became the creative entrepreneurial role models for me. I started vending at Patchwork that same year, and it instantly became one of my favorite shows. And believe me, I was hitting that show circuit hard so there were quite a few shows in our rotation. My clothing line at that time, Fleet Collection, did just about every local maker pop-up and farmer's market in the area, and the one thing that always stood out to me about Patchworks was the sense of community…everyone was just so nice! It was a group of people that really seemed to genuinely care about each other and foster support for small business and local makers.
So, you might’ve noticed I’ve been doing this for eight years! And designing this collection is my full-time job, I'm sort of a one-woman wrecking crew over here. But I think every creative sometimes hit a place where they feel stuck, whether it may be creatively or logistically. And the burn-out is real. I've been somewhat on autopilot for the last few years, staying afloat but not really feeling like I've had a firm grasp on the direction of the business. I tried spending a week in Kauai to get away and reset. That didn't work. (Although Kauai is really just lovely!). And then I jetted off to Italy to hopefully find inspiration amongst history, fashion and art.That was also a bust, although a very wonderful and enjoyable one. And when I received the announcement for Craftcation in my inbox, it was like the universe was sending me a message to stop flitting around and just focus on my craft.
I have to preface this and say that I exclusively attended only the marketing and Secret Classroom sessions, no fun stuff over here! I didn't take a single creative workshop, and although I had a bit of FOMO, looking back, I don't regret that decision at all.
I thoroughly enjoyed every session, even on topics I would normally consider to be dry or out of my wheelhouse. I had been been burying my head in the sand about SEO and branding, (and I guess just about all marketing in general!), but complex concepts are broken down in a palatable way that provides clarity without being overwhelmingly intimidating. The entire experience was really uplifting, and there are knowledge bombs being dropped every which way. I walked away from every session with a fresh perspective and strategy that could be implemented into my existing business plan, even in areas where I previously didn't even know where to start.
All of the presentations are so well done. I took the Using Tarot to Envision your Creative Project with Even Howard (we have the same shoes, it was totally meant to be), and I was really thrilled to find this novel approach to be so gosh darn effective! I discovered the most valuable thing about the exercise wasn't about the importance of the actual cards. Rather, it was learning to re-frame critical questions to seek new solutions to tackle the challenges. The cards are just a vehicle to prompt interpretation through a new lens, which is sometimes all it takes is to find the answer you've been seeking. And that was the common takeaway I had from each presenter: we learned new tools and resources to circumvent challenges and remove roadblocks, and I found it to be extremely helpful in relation to my own business,
Would I do it again? 100%! I'd probably come better prepared with business cards (oops!), lots of snacks and maybe an extra sweater or two because, baby it's cold inside! But for now, I have soooo much work to do and things to fix and I can't wait until next year!
Till next time~