I am an Island?

One of the main things that came out of this year's craft show season is that I probably need to get more involved in the indie craft movement in the St. Louis area. I don't know about other parts of the country but we have a very strong underworld with a lot of different tentacles and ways to get connected. The above shot is one a friend sent me from the first day of Strange Folk that I just recently discovered. The little girl is Sophie, Brian and Sandy's daughter.

I was talking to a vendor at one of my shows and she asked me what groups I belonged to after finding out I had gotten into the three main indie shows of the season. I told her I was completely unaffiliated and she looked surprised. She said, "Well, I guess you don't need to be in them if you are getting into the shows on your own." I took this as a compliment but also as a word of caution.

Being a free agent, so to speak, does put me in a vulnerable position. I am known for being a very prolific knitter and I think that has gotten me into a few of the shows as they know I will be bringing a lot of inventory. I'm sure they like me as this nets them a bigger percentage of my sales than someone who doesn't have as much inventory to bring. But I can't count on this working forever. If another prolific knitter enters the scene and gets herself involved with the different groups than I could very easily be on the out list.

The big indie shows like Strange Folk, Rock N Roll Craft Show, and the Big Ass Indie Show are definitely my bread and butter. Of the three only the Big Ass Show is fully run by the Craft Mafia. After chatting with some people in the mafia at different shows I feel a little less intimidated about applying to join. I know a few people that are in it relatively well and am facebook friends with a few. They just had a membership drive and are not accepting new applicants until next year but I am definitely considering applying. They are doing a lot of good things in the community and have a much more up to date website and even a zine that they do seasonally. It could bring some good promotion opportunities and I wouldn't have to worry about getting accepted into any of their shows as members are automatically in. There are dues and meetings that I would have to attend but it would be good for me to get out there more and socialize with some like minded crafty types.

This year I participated in the Upcycle Exchange at Strange Folk and I've signed up for their new program which I talked about here. This is not so much a club although they do have a membership fee which gives you access to the donated items on certain days of the month. I'm excited to be a part of it as it will get me some cheap yarn but also will get me better known in the community. Autumn runs the Exchange and also organizes the Strange Folk Festival so it should help my chances at getting into the show next year. It's no guarantee like the Mafia gives you but than there isn't as much involved with joining so you get what you put into it.

The other possible contender for my time and devotion is the Show Me Etsy Street Team. The description on their site says that it is: "a business minded group of Etsians that have come together to promote handmade through local craft and trunk shows as well as helping each other to make our businesses grow and thrive. " This sounds most like what I'm looking for. They have dues and monthly meetings which you have to attend a certain number a year. I'm acquaintances with the current membership recruiter and talked to her for awhile at the Big Ass show. She's also a knitter and I used to consider her competition but as I've gotten to know her she's a real sweetie. They do some smaller shows and lots of other things in the community and being involved with them would help bring me more name recognition to the events I apply.

A lot of the same people are in both groups. This just isn't really an option for me. Most of them live in the city or South County so that is were the meetings tend to be. I also work full time and just can't spend multiple evenings a month driving 40 minutes to a meeting. It sounds like Show Me Etsy does the meeting in multiple areas of the county which is nice. They also don't feel as intimidating to me or as difficult to get into. You do have to apply but knowing someone inside makes it easier for me.

It is hard for me to put myself out there. I am definitely an introvert but I have extrovert features with people I know well. I can be really shy in social setting that I'm unfamiliar with and with people I don't know. The whole process is intimidating to me but if I want to take my little business to the next level and keep making connections in the indie movement I feel like I will have to take the plunge.

What do you think? Do you think I should take my chances and stay a free agent, test the waters with Show Me Etsy, or I could try to get myself into the Craft Mafia sometime in the new year? Have I also mentioned I'm terrible about making decisions.


Lin said...

It's sort of like Entrecard--You gotta play the game with being connected, but there are some benefits. You can quit at any time, but you risk losing what you have gained. So, the love/hate continues on another realm. I'd say try it on your own for a bit more and jump only if you have to.

Sinclair said...

Wow! That is a lot to think about and mull over. I am in the introvert but can be extrovert category as well. I am going to look into some of the links you posted and get myself more educated on such matters. I think, for you, you need to choose one or two of the most important/beneficial affiliations that are close enough to you to be feasible and go with those.

Split Rock Ranch said...

I don't like the group situations any more than you do. I'm a loner and walk to the beat of my own drum. I have attended a few spinning days with a local group and I love the other ladies and have fun but I just don't like the big group situations. If you can continue to make it on your own, I say go for it - more power to you!

Angela said...

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