Warning... This topic may make you need a cup of tea but I feel it is essential. Especially since I have seen several posts on social media lately of drama and hurt feelings among makers in the maker community on Instagram. I have been on the receiving end of this not too long ago and I can understand how it can weigh us down. Because while this may be our business, being handmade and from the heart it is also all so very personal. So I am honored Nicole of Naturally Nora Crochet reached out to me to do a blog-hop on this topic of community and share perspectives. Feel free to share YOUR perspective in the comments or join the conversation in your own small group.
I joined Instagram as a social media tool to share pics and life moments with friends and family. About a year later it became clear I could also use it for my small business so I started an account for my small handmade business. Now, when I did this, I thought it would be all about previewing new items to customers and getting customer feedback. I had no idea what a wonderful community of makers and creatives I would connect with beyond that.
Shortly thereafter, I was launching Stitch & Hustle to serve that very community so to me it was all a bit serendipitous.
Through this community I have met some of the most wonderful people. I have teamed up with so many incredible makers at various stages, not just to "promote" each other but to truly have an exchange of creative ideas and inspire and share our creative ways. I have had the incredible honor to be partnered up with Ali of Ford Explorer Knits to host Stitch Up Chicago and so many other great collaborations. To me, that is what "community" is about and should be about. But let us go deeper.
I only started hearing the term "community over competition" after joining Instagram and actually since about mid last summer. The term baffles me and has for many months. And so after much thought, I've decided I don't agree with the term and it's a false misleading term.
I realize I may not have a very popular opinion but this weighs heavily on me as I see so many makers trying to find their voice and stride and I have some experiences recently with some who only amplify this conflict.
I've decided I believe in community AND competition. Yup. BOTH! And you do not have to, nor do I have to, nor should anyone have to sacrifice one for the other. Take a breathe. Take a beat. Have that cup of tea and marinate on that a minute.
I've decided I can root for your success while still striving for my own AND that rooting for your success and supporting your creative journey doesn't have to be at the expense of my own. It doesn't have to be one over the other. They are not mutually exclusive nor are they competing principals. To me, it is possible and in fact essential to be both supportive of others and lift them up AND strive for the best success possible for myself.
Additionally - my support of fellow creatives is not linked to a level of success. That's right. You do not have to have 20k followers or 10 followers for me to support your journey and root for your success. As I said when I launched this blog - it is a whole other level of hustle. It is not about what you can do for me. It is about what I can do for you with NO EXPECTATION in return. It is about being IN community with one and other and in service TO one and other.
Don't be fooled though. Being IN community does not mean I will not work hard every day for my own success. And yes; Success IS linked to one's level of work. I believe we should constantly be works in progress striving daily to be better and do better than we did the day before. I am not an "everyone gets a trophy" kind of gal. I think we should work hard. And as we work we will find some work harder some work less. And that is OK. Success is relative to the work we do. Period.
I hope I'm explaining it well because to me the bottom line is this: I want you who is reading this to succeed and thrive but I want to be there succeeding and thriving along side with you and will bust my ass to do so and not feel bad about it a single day. Your success will INSPIRE me. And I can only hope mine will inspire you.
And speaking of inspiration... this takes us to the world of copying. I want to tell you something: there are only so many stitches and it is all math. There, I said it. But that doesn't mean we can't be creative. It is WHY we need to be creative. Play with color. Work with texture. Change an edging. Make it your own. Add YOUR voice.
What I love about Nicole of Naturally Nora crochet is her brand and personality comes through every single design and every single post. I would like to think mine does in my own work as well. So if we BOTH post a double crochet shawl the same week, I will not feel one has copied the other. I will be CELEBRATING that a single stitch can speak so loudly and clearly for EACH of us. That our own voice is there. That is kinda cool.
So know this: who you are at your core, the creative within... that can NEVER be copied. Not by anyone. That is the voice you stay true to in every stitch.
We realize this is a deep topic. But it is so necessary to remember the most important part of any community are its members. I am so honored to be able to share these thoughts because I want you to know I AM rooting for you. And I am rooting for me too. Not one OVER the other. I am doing BOTH. Simultaneously.
Prior to the plan of this post with Nicole, I wanted to expand this blog to make it more diverse and give different points of view. This seems like a fitting moment to BE ABOUT community and as luck would have it was already planning to do just that. So as they say - timing is everything and sometimes the timing is perfect.
It is because of my love for this creative community and hope that I can add value that is the WHY of this blog. Even though run Stitch & Hustle and it is my baby - it is FOR the community. It is not about “me”. Being just me behind the curtain so to speak, I often wonder if it is only “my perspective” so I wanted to give others in the community an opportunity to show their work, show work they admire and makers they enjoy and are inspired by. I want to spread some good vibes and give OTHER perspectives.
I carefully selected four makers to Take Over in April. Each will take over the Stitch & Hustle Instagram for a week to share their work, their inspiration and their perspectives. I am stoked - we have four AMAZING artisan makers coming on board for this who I just simply LOVE. I selected them specifically for a few reasons:
Each has a very specific point of view and it is not "like" each other so I believe there will be authentic variety in points of view which is an incredible gift of being part of this community.
Each maker is someone I respect and admire greatly and who inspires me in more than just my maker ways, but in who they are as people.
I believe each of these amazing artisans (like each of YOU) can add value in ways I can’t even imagine and hope that you will also receive good vibes from this program & community takeover.
I hope that each will inspire you and you will celebrate them and celebrate yourself. What an amazing thing that they want to share with us all. I've decided April is community month around here. Let's celebrate each other. And if more than one of us makes a garter stitch scarf well hot dang let's celebrate that too!
Please head over to my friend Nicole's blog to read her thoughts on this really important topic.