Lately I have been consciously listening to my gut, trying to work through the diluted mess it can become from constant external influences directing what I ‘should’ be doing. Sound kind of intense? Yes it can be, especially when I question and vocalise what I feel stirring up in this gut of mine. I wonder if other creatives/makers/businesses feel this way sometimes too? Sit tight for a minute and let me explain.
Amy Rad Jewellery is the bees knees. I love it! I get to use tools, get my hands dirty (literally), create jewellery people value, help solidify loving connections, contribute to a handmade community and satisfy some integral parts of myself. I make an income from doing something I love, which is important to my core values, and something I am trying to grow to be sustainable for my lifestyle (which isn’t lavish by the way. Ain’t no bottles of Moet in my fridge). Here is where I hit some brick walls though.
Taking a one-woman-I-do-everything-myself small business to the next level is a massive undertaking, requiring other people’s skills, substantial financial input, time, commitment blah blah blah , you’ve heard it all before and know what I mean. So I spend a great deal of time trying to navigate this step in the most authentic way I can to reflect what I want my business to be, what is important to maintaining the integrity of what I do and how I can find my people. Along the way I hear “You gotta spend money to make money”, “You have to play the social media game”, “You have to do what everyone else is doing”, “It’s just the way the world works, get onboard or get left behind”, “Don’t you want to be wealthy?”, “Just go get a regular 9-5 job. Everyone else does it. It’s what you have to do.”
And my absolute favourite load of horse shit in one sentence….”Business is business”. Can’t business be more than that? I often see this used an excuse for people doing crappy things to other people. “Well that’s just business isn’t it”.
What if I don’t want to buy into all of this? What if I don’t want a marketing guru to plug A, B and C into the magic formula they use and regurgitate the same trendy product placement flat lay I see in my Instagram feed? Do I really care if some celebrity we’ve never met wears my jewellery? No. I don’t actually and why do you? I’ve had success with celebrities wearing my jewellery before and business definitely came from this. Yes my bank account grew and I was able to start considering my jewellery as a sustainable business, but I questioned why and felt like the use of celebrities and product placement couldn’t be the only way to get that elusive golden ticket.
The question is, How do I grow my business authentically? Without cutting little slices out of my soul and handing them over in neat little money-wrapped packages to someone who will plug in all the right figures to the current mass formula for success.
Is it even possible to build a sustainable business just doing what you love? Is it a case that marketing has shifted and evolved and now this is the new normal? Have I been drinking just as much Koolaid? Let’s be fair, I have a website, Facebook page, Instagram account, Pinterest, Twitter and I spend too much of my day looking at my phone screen instead of face to face engagement.
Over time, I hope the social media and society ‘shouldness’ (just invented a word) will implode on itself and through the carnage a desire for authenticity will emerge. For now I see this all as one steep mofo of a learning curve, figuring out where on the spectrum I would like to perch myself. Maybe I’ll be eating these typed words and my Instagram feed will be one hashtag away from your blocked list.
I’m opening this up to you to share your thoughts too. As you can see I’ve asked myself about ten questions in this post and wonder what the answers will be. Maybe you have some pearls of wisdom to share or a gem of an idea to contribute (all jewellery puns intended).