What does it mean to slow down and Make in a thoughtful manner....?

Let's talk about it!

The Wizard of Oz

What the hell is she talking about?  Bear with me...

I listened to a really interesting podcast the other day on Abby Glassenberg's blog WhileSheNaps.com. It was an interview with Virginia Johnson of Gather Here and Jaime Jennings and Amber Corcoran of Fancy Tiger Craftstwo businesses, and three businesswomen, and makers, I admire greatly. I highly encourage you to go listen to that podcast when you get a chance, the link takes you directly there, and its a little less than an hour of your time. You can listen to it while stitching.  

There were a couple of interesting points they made that stuck with me. All of them are multi-crafters who like to work with textiles and fiber in many different ways. Gather Here and Fancy Tiger Crafts have both taken their original brick and mortar business to the internet. But the thing that most resonated for me was their personal imprint on their business. They all made the point that, while the internet gives them access to most of their products without having to see them in person, they prefer to go to Market (professional trade shows) to see and touch the materials, and most importantly, to meet the people behind the products. Those impressions, that interaction, can make or break whether they carry a product. They further went on to discuss how they use social media to connect with their customers. Virginia made a special point of saying that she finds it important for her to make her customers aware that her business is just that, hers. Well, actually its hers and her partner/husband Noah's. The point being, she wants her customers to know that there are real live human beings running Gather Here. All three ladies made a distinct point of saying they won't carry anything they don't believe in. That their businesses are a direct reflection of them and their values. My business heroines....

It made me so happy to hear them say that in an interview. I feel that the modern craft movement, the current go-round of DIY, is a direct response to our increased use of, and reliance on, computers, and the way we have gotten so far away from the human interaction. Previous to A Gathering of Stitches, I was partners with my husband in Rabelais, selling new, used and rare books on food & drink, a business he now runs on his own. We had a brick and mortar store in an on-street location for six years. We made the decision to move the business off the street and back into a studio-type location so we could continue to host customers, but on a less frequent basis. We found that retail as a business model was too challenging for our tastes, especially trying to compete with Amazon. Whenever I hear of retail businesses that are making it work, I have a soft spot in my heart for them. I also pay close attention to what they are doing to see if they have that 'special sauce' that makes it work. I do not believe there is only one path to follow to make a successful business of this sort, but I do believe the key is being true to yourself and producing something genuine that you believe in.

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This is a very long winded way of my telling you, folks who have been to AGOS, or are considering coming to AGOS,  that A Gathering of Stitches is a business that I, Samantha Hoyt Lindgren, have put together, and run on a daily basis. I am the man behind the curtain. There are no employees (at least not yet), I do not have a marketing firm, or an IT department, or someone handling my social media. It is all me.  I designed the website. I empty the trash. I maintain the equipment.  And therefore it's success, or lack thereof, is all me. Which means if you guys come and take workshops, or rent equipment, I can succeed. But if you don't, then I will evolve. So when I ask you questions, I am seeking to mold this business to suit your needs. I listen to your responses, I read them, I absorb them. No one else, just me. Because it is just me, I can be pretty responsive to your interests, so tell me what you want.  Chances are I can make it happen, or at least I will give it a good try. I don't sell products, I sell experiences, and instruction, and tools, and space. I stand behind every experience you will have here: the teachers who provide them; the equipment that supports them; and the space that allows it all to happen. I have heard some rumblings that my prices are too high. I do not want to go into details on how I come to my prices, but I will say that, again, I stand behind them. They are considered. They have been made with the best interests of my teachers, my budget and my desire to make a living.  I believe in the world of craft, and so am paying my teachers commensurate with their skill and experience, and treating this whole enterprise as a legitimate business, not a pet project. There's no reason why we can't all enjoy ourselves, while taking this practice seriously!

A Gathering of Stitches is a community idea. It has been built around the idea that stitching is a great thing to do with others. I love these stitching practices and want to share them with others.  Do you want to come join me? What would you like to make....?

Weekend doings

Musings on QuiltCon