The Maker, A Human
Hey fellow humans!
How the heck are you? Are you doing ok? I hope you are.
I have been so inspired to write recently, and then I sit down and all my thoughts immediately wash away and I stare at a screen for a while. It's like when you get into your car and open Spotify only to find out you don't remember what you wanted to listen to.
My topic today is...being a human in a world full of humans. Deep, right?!?!
A lot of my maker-friends have spoken about this and it's something I'm recently finding more of happening in my little corner of the maker world.
I said "maker" but let's go with "public figure" because I think this extends far past people that make things. As someone who makes things and posts them on the internet, someone who does live chats with others on a public forum, someone who posts photos of her life and her friends wearing her creations, and as someone who puts herself out there mentally, emotionally, and to a smaller extent, physically, there is a lot to navigate through from the other side.
One thing many fellow makers have written or spoke about is the maker-to-maker interaction; asking questions, asking specific processes, etc, which is fine, and if the person is willing to share those things, more power to you both! But, let's explore this...
As a maker, we ALL learned from somewhere; tutorials, other makers, happy accidents, brilliant ideas, and LOTS of failures, many of which are expensive and time consuming to learn from. If you're asking another maker something they had to spend $500 to learn, they're in turn saving you money and time, which is a really decent act of humanity. So...maybe say hello first? Ask how their day was? Compliment the piece you're now trying to learn from? Follow them on IG? Create at least the most basic form of human connection and try to ask rather than demand answers, because frankly, they don't have to give them. I think humility is something we are so desperately in need of right now as a species...think about how much easier the world would be if we didn't have our ego to attend to? So think about your approach and your reaction if that maker chooses not to share that answer with you, it's likely nothing personal but them just being protective over their process. I'm fairly open with a lot of things that I do, but I recently have opted to send people to resources that I learned from rather than divulge my entire process. I think not only is it important to put the work in but to find your own process that works for YOU and what you aim to create. I'll talk more about resources at the end of this ramble, there is an actual ton of them out there right now. I guess my point with this part is, if you're asking a maker-to-maker question, you have to have some semblance of empathy, right? You're a human with emotions and bad days and feelings, it's pretty safe to assume the person on the other end has those things too, no matter how many followers they have or how quickly they sell out of earrings on a drop. We all work really hard to achieve our goals, don't let any of those numbers fool you into thinking that person isn't a human.
I have made so many amazing connections with other makers. I have had them reach out to me to share info without me asking, I have had them graciously show me some of their fave tricks or answer questions about how to do something or where to source something, I have had conversations with them about our giant closets, our cats, our love for bubble water, or our crushes on Harry Styles. This community has been a very honest, loving, and positive one and I think s someone who's fairly new to it, I owe it to those who came before me to treat it as such and keep it that way. We owe it to each other, to those who will join it, and especially to those who came before us and we have learned from. Start by saying hi.
I want to start my next section off by saying that I have the BEST customers. THE BEST. As someone with a fairly small following, I am lucky enough to have people that consistently engage with me, who are repeat buyers, people who share my work, and people who I have become friends with. I am so incredibly fortunate to have found my vintage style loving, color-loving, big, bold earring love crowd out there, so thank you. Thank You, Thank You. I'm forever grateful for your support and I absolutely love chatting with you and seeing you bring my earrings to life.
I started Polymer a little over a year ago and I have gone through many iterations of how I run my business, it's been a hell of a fast evolution and I'm always growing and changing things to make it better. I went from selling on Instagram, to doing pop-ups, to a really icky website, to a good website, to having a few earrings at a time available on my website to doing collection drops. I don't know that the recent model will be the end-all-be-all of how I chose to run this business, but as a one-woman business with a "real" job, it's currently the best choice for me.
I'll explain a little - I started off just having a few pairs of earrings available as I would make them, I'd post a little picture on the IG and have people DM me or go to my site...but man was that not working. I started to do collection drops around December of this year, let me explain why:
If I have a drop date, a collection and design goal, and a rough number of pieces I want to make, I feel more focused in my time that I dedicate to clay. I’m able to devote all my time to a collection rather than feeling a bit spastic with adding a few styles here and there. If this was my full-time gig, it may be different, but as someone who collectively works about 65-70 hours a week, it seems to be the most beneficial to me and my brand!
While it certainly can become competitive and some people get bummed they aren't able to get a pair on drop day, I feel like overall it gives people more style options and a larger chance they’re going to find something they like. You're far more likely to find a pair that you LOVE within 75 pairs of earrings rather than if I was just listing 7 at a time.
There are A LOT of logistics that go into creating one pair of earrings let alone 75, so just know that the behind the scenes stuff works a lot better if I'm able to do it this way rather than the alternative way. I've had people ask about preorder, but I'm still far too small to offer that. Pre-order typically works best for makers who are making multiple pairs of each style, Im usually doing 1-2 of each style. It is something I will explore in the future when I've hit the point where Im needing to create multiples of earrings. I appreciate your want to buy my earrings, keep asking, one day the answer may be yes.
As far as remaking color stories, specific pairs, or customs, it's not something I'm currently able to accommodate. 95% of the colors I use are handmade mixes of colors rather than pre-made colors I can just pop out of a package and go on, so when you ask if I'll be restocking a certain pair in a certain color, just know it's nothing personal when I say "no". I use "collections" as a way to challenge my brain to create a cohesive thing that has heart, has a vision, and has a visual element that ties it all together.
Most people are very understanding and supportive, but there are people out there that want to know why I sold out and they didn't get a pair, why I'm not making more of that one, why I don't do it on Tuesday instead of Sunday, can I message or tag them when I do the drop, etc, etc - and while I certainly appreciate the interest and understand the feeling behind so many of those questions, just know I am one human who's doing the very best she can and I have put A LOT of work in to find a system that works best for my business. I let everyone know multiple times (to an annoying degree ) when the next drop will be, I can't let each of you know personally, I'll be more active sending out emails from my website, so please go sign up there for all the up to date news (and of course Instagram). I can't please everyone all the time, so if something doesn't work for you there's likely someone out there that it does work for, there is always a balance. Just know I appreciate you and I want you here, but I need some faith that I'm doing the most I currently can to make it all happen!
Let's go back to resources:
If you're getting into clay here are a few (there are FAR more out there, this is just a jumping-off point)
Polymer Clay Tutor:
Cindy of PCT is AMAZING and she is the reason i know much of what I know. It's a free YouTube channel l
Blue Bottle Tree:
Ginger knows what's up.
Emily of 31 Suns:
Emily has a Patreon that's VERY affordably priced and comes with tutorials and a damn fine community of polymer makers who support each other
Lauren of Sigfus:
Lauren just began doing workshops, she is amazing.
Polymer Clay FB Group:
I know this was long and ranty, it genuinely comes from a good place. Just be aware. Be aware of what you're asking and how, be aware that who you're asking is trying really hard, and be aware that we are all in this together, especially right now. Sending you all love.