Open Studio, Open Hearts

Self-promotion is hard. Neither of us are particularly adept at marketing our business, and despite our passionate beliefs about why we do what we do, we are not practiced or polished when it comes to talking about it. It was easier this summer during Type Rider II: The Tandem Poetry Tour. We had a goal - to tandem-cycle 1400 miles and build 25 Little Free Libraries. We had a platform and a plan. We had a map. In this realm of marketing our business, though, we are largely mapless.

Perhaps it stems from some long-ago belief that it is impolite to be something other than humble. The dictionary definition of "humble" is not proud or arrogant. And while we understand not being arrogant jerks, we're not quite sure about the "proud" part. Shouldn't we be proud of what we have accomplished? Wouldn't it behoove us to shout it from the rooftops that we have built this small business from the ground up? Despite the fact that creativity is typically compartmentalized as something most people do if they have a few extra minutes in the day? (Or week? Or month?) Shouldn't we be proud of the skills and talent and experience we bring to our business? That we have some really great ideas and offerings? That we are damn good teachers?

When I (Amy) had my vintage button jewelry business 10 years ago, I would sit in my booth at craft shows and wait for people to notice me. I (humbly) believed that the beauty of the pieces should speak for themselves. I had the attitude that if people liked them, they would buy them and I didn't have to do much more than sit there. As a result, I was terrible at attracting people to my booth and would even avoid eye contact because I was so nervous about talking to strangers and "selling" myself. Because that's what I was really selling, right? My self? I was selling my craftsmanship, my eye for color, my designs, my art. I realize now that I was afraid that if they didn't buy something, it was because they didn't like ME. I was afraid of rejection, of having my feelings hurt. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that I didn't make very many sales. I was too afraid to put myself out there and risk getting my ego bruised.

But I know now that because I wasn't willing to take that risk, I wasn't willing to succeed either. I let fear rule the day and never really kept myself open to the possibility that people might like what I had to offer because it was good. Because it was beautiful. I was proud of that work, but I never let anyone know that for fear of not seeming humble. 

Last night, we flung open the doors of our studio and  stepped out of our comfort zone to say, "We're here." Maybe we're bumbling and maybe we forgot to put out a sign-up sheet to collect email addresses and maybe we didn't say all the things we wanted to say. But we showed up. We stepped out of our comfort zone and took a risk. We were proud, but not arrogant, and our hearts were wide open.