Where do You Find Inspiration?

I heard something today from a friend who I’d previously thought of as a creative entrepreneur. He’s an ad guy so you’d just assume he’s an idea machine, right?.  I complimented him on a print piece I’d seen and asked where the inspiration came from. His answer shocked me. He fears running out of ideas.  It’s a concept I can’t even fathom,  though I’ve heard it from many corporate creatives. Don’t those who make a living by convincing with words and images  have a steady stream of inspiration?  Not always. While we do get ideas in our sleep and in solitude,  if you hang out in your own head all the time, eventually, you become a desert. You’re creative juices dry up.

As my mentor and friend Barbara Winter  commented on the adman’s fear of running out of ideas, “That’s scarcity thinking. He doesn’t know that inspiration must be nurtured.”

And that nurturing takes different forms  at different time for different people.

When my sister Pam moved to Nashville at 23 to pursue her songwriting career, she signed a contract to spend every Friday in a publishing office on Music Row cranking out lyrics. I couldn’t imagine how she cold be creative in that environment.  It’s always been a puzzle to me how employees who have to be creative on demand find inspiration sitting in an office building.  . I thought about where my own inspiration came from for paintings and realized it never happened in the studio. That was just where I went to implement.

Think about songwriting. How may lyrics are inspired by new love, lost love or betrayal?  The experience that trigger those emotions don’t happen in the cubicle.  Creativity, like friendship, needs to be nurtured to thrive, and that nurturing can be both internal and external.

That nourishment for me comes from walking on the beach, though the redwoods or driving on the open road. The ideas flow continuously. The colors, textures and motion feed the idea bank. Not all ideas are born in solitude, thought. In fact, I find watching travelers in airports to be a red hot creative spark.  A conversation with a stranger can be a great jump start for inspiration. Visit a preschool class or a farmer’s market and you can’t help but find ispiration. And of course read. A lot.  Read  about people who’s lives look nothing like your. Have a conversation with a five year old. And an eighty five year old. Watch a foreign film the first time through without reading sub titles.

My favorite, and the most powerful recharger of all is a live workshop.  Whether you’re an introvert or extrovert,  there’s nothing like the charge you get from being in a room of people with curiosity, enthusiasm and  passion.  It’s not just about exchange of information. When you put ten entrepreneurs in a room together, the creative energy is palpable.  That’s why the concept of a mastermind is so powerful and I’ll be talking about that in future posts.

Even if you’re someone who requires frequent periods of solitude, which I do, you owe it to your business and your art to put yourself in a room with people who “get” you.  Not a huge informational conference although some people do find those stimulating. ( I find them so draining and go into information overload quickly. It takes me days to recoup.) I’m suggesting you go to an interactive, live meeting of creative minds where everyone benefits from the exchange of ideas,feedback, brainstorming and problem solving.

Where do you find inspiration? Out in nature,  while traveling, on a crowded subway, at a lumber yard? Of course you’re invited to share your sources of inspiration. We’d all love to know what makes you tick .

Is your Handmade Craft Recession Proof?

A couple of days ago, I read that  a share of Jo Anne’s Fabrics stocks nearly triple from a year ago. The national sewing and craft supply retailer reported earnings for first quarter 2009 were up significantly from the same period last year.

Last night I heard from a friend in commercial construction. I was astonished to hear he just closed a deal to build a multi million dollar casino in the midwest.

In my neighborhood coffee shop, a couple shared with me that their high end handmade ice cream and gourmet jerky  (yuck)  business is thriving, and a neighbor who reps  cosmetic medical products tells me her sales figures are up.

You’re probably wondering what face peels, fancy foods and gaming have to do with selling hand made crafts, right?  Everything.

While the media is ranting about the economy and we’re seeing  stores shut their doors and friends lose their jobs,  these businesses are booming.

What do these thriving businesses have in common? Continue reading

Right Now is the Best Time to Get Your Craft in Galleries and Shops

If getting your work into boutiques and galleries is on your agenda, don’t wait another week. This weekend begins the wholesale show season and the likelihood of a gallery or shop owner taking your work on consignment is far greater now than it will be all summer. When retailers return from a wholesale show, they have generally spent their budget for the next few months and are anticipating the delivery of all the crafts they’ve placed orders for and they’re concerned about having space to display it all once it arrives. So, make time this week to connect with your target shops.

There are some great tips on approaching galleries in the “13 Tips” at right so do download them. Good etiquette for approaching owners/buyers is key. If you walk in with a box of our wares, you’ll likely blow your chance of them even taking time to view them.  Since you aren’t early enough to mail a brochure, line sheet or info package, second best is Continue reading

Where’s the American Craft in America’s Heartland

This past weekend, my friends went to a western shop in Dodge City, Kansas, expecting to purchase some handcrafted “Cowgirl” jewelry. Disappointed, but not surprised, they found everything they picked up was made in China. Thankfully, my friends are conscious shoppers and didn’t buy imports believing they’d found authentic American cowgirl goodies. But how sad that the shop owners, like retailers all over the US, stock their quaint shops in historical buildings with imported knock-offs when there’s an abundance of authentic, handcrafted merchandise they could carry instead.

I appreciate that a sole proprietor of a small shop in Kansas may not want to spend the money to go to one of the semi annual wholesale handmade in America shows,though, I’d argue that smart sourcing is money well spent. Even so, a savvy retailer doesn’t need to leave her home town to find some of the best Continue reading

Where to Get the Money to Launch a New Product, Open a Shop or Buy more Supplies

If successful entrepreneurs share one common trait, it’s resourcefulness. When we need for something to happen, we don’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it, we make it happen. A resourceful entrepreneur knows that a small business loan isn’t the best way to fund a new project. Some develop an info product, others have a sale of existing inventory. to generate cash.  

My friend Alice Barry is one of the most creative entrepreneurs I know and she continues to astonish me with her resourcefulness. When Alice needs funds to launch a new idea, she creates an EVENT. And Alice’s needs money to launch something BIG-she’s holding us in suspense and won’t say what -so she’s planned an event to fund it. 

If you’re anywhere near Minneapolis on May 28-30th, you can’t miss the ‘Superchicks Stimulus Sale. http://superchickssale.wordpress.com/.  Friends and crafters from all over the country have sent their goodies to Minneapolis and Alice will be holding a flea market, craft fair, and party.  We’re not talking a garage sale here. Items range from handcrafted jewelry, purses and “Fascinators” by Margaret Winter of Santa Barbara, California http://overthetopfascinators.com/ to a 1958 Ford Fairlane, Police Interceptor Special Edition. Knowing that when Alice plans an event, it’s  bound to be a blast, it may be worth heading to Minnesotato check it out. 


Are you Feeling Lucky? Who Loves to Win Free Stuff? Tell me What YOU want to KNOW about Selling your Crafts?

As I’m putting together the speaker list for my summer “Turn Your Craft Into Cash’ tele-summit, I want to make sure we cover the topics you are most interested in. I’ve had request for more info on How to Get your work into Galleries, How to Break into the Wholesale Market, How to Open your Own brick and mortar Craft Gallery, Cause Marketing, Licensing, Sourcing, How to Get Continue reading

“Kind Over Matter”

Had to share something that started the day off right for me. I have a terrible habit of going directly to my inbox within the first few minutes I am awake. The only things that come first are brushing my teeth, making coffee and feeding my dog. I’m working on trying to change this pattern because some mornings the news in my box makes for a less than ideal mindset to start the day. 

This morning was different. I found a link to this delightful site and it set the stage for what must be a happy day. Wouldn’t you just love to know these two lovely ladies? http://kindovermatter.blogspot.com/