Some days, when I'm worried about bills and time and whether I'm doing enough, I think that maybe I should have taken the other path, the one with a full-time job and a regular paycheck and benefits. Then I spend a morning with a new friend working on a potential class project where we explore and play and create. And I spend the evening with a new acquaintance at our Drop In, who talks about how much she loves the school space and the class offerings. I think to myself, if not us, then who? Do we wait for others to build the community we're looking for or do we build it ourselves?
As before, when this idea was first percolating and I was looking for guidance and inspiration, Grace Bonney's Design*Sponge blog, with it's wonderful podcasts and their evolution into a series of articles called Life & Business, came along with a message that rang clear and true. Last week, the blog posted an essay by two sisters who started a business called Artifact Uprising. They had solid careers as professional photographers and could have comfortably stayed that course, but they had a different vision, an entrepreneurial vision, and they chased that idea and created a company around it.
Building something is hard. Some days you think to yourself, why did we do this? One of the sisters writes:
"Remember that you'll want to quit as many times as you'll be warned not to begin."
But she also writes when asked about their greatest success thus far:
"It's the community we've found along the way. They showed up when we were just a couple of sisters in a basement, and they continue to show up, with stories that remind us to lead meaningful lives....each of us."
When you talk in the abstract about the community you hope to build, you're not quite sure what that looks like, because you only know for sure what that community will look like from your side of the equation. The people who are coming to teach and to learn are creating a far richer experience than I ever could have dreamed.
One of Artifact Uprising's first customers wrote to them to thank them and offered this gem of advice:
"Let love be the sum and total of all the little things you do.... Let love be a way of doing business; not a one time event, but a process of creating a customer environment of information, assurance, comfort and credibility."
Craftstitute was born out of a love for the handcraft skills and a desire to create a gathering place for like-minded folk. Our goal is to always be learning, both new crafts and better ways to run our business. We're doing this because we love it, because we believe that engaging in creative activities is good for the heart, body and soul, because every generation should know how to make things with their hands, even if it's occasional (you know, zombie apocalypse prep!), because it frees us from other people's visions to pursue our own. It starts small, with something like making thank you notes (no more Hallmark cards), and one day you find you are making your own clothes and jewelry. Along the way, you develop an appreciation for the work that goes into mastering a skill (10,000 hours!), and why handmade items cost what they do. Mostly, you find your people, and it's not just the people who like the same crafts as you, but people who are passionate about other crafts and have some innovative ideas for applying one craft to another - pulling everyone in with their passion and curiosity.
It's magic. And full of love.