you are not a snowflake {lessons in eight years of handmade business}

Hello friends!

I'm coming up on eight years of running this little business of mine.  EIGHT YEARS! How crazy is that? Just six months shy of how long I've been a mother.  And honestly, I don't which event I would claim to have taught me more about being a good person.

I've learned so much these last eight years.  I've connected with strangers all over the globe.  I've been blessed by women I only know online.  I've been encouraged and lifted up in prayer.  I've made some great friends that I never would have known had it not been for this adventure.  On the same note, I've also been hurt by strangers.  I've been accused of things I didn't do and sent ugly emails and been misunderstood.

Having an online job puts you in this weird position of being subject to "anonymous online".  Where people think they can say and do whatever because they have been able to disconnect the person on the receiving end of their words from personhood.  Not many jobs allow that kind of disconnect.  The results of this unique kind of job have led to some good lessons for me.  Over time, I've slowly been able to learn how to maximize the good and minimize the bad with a few simple realizations that did not come so simply to me {we are talking about an eight year learning curve here}. 

I hope you don't mind if I share them.  

1} You are not a unique snowflake.   One of my favorite Mike Rowe isms.  Living a creative life leads creative folks down this path to believing that we are more unique and special than we really are.  I've seen it, I've done it, we are not that great or different from one another on the surface.  We like to think that what we DO makes us unique and special and a new kind of creative.  It doesn't.  It's HOW we do.  It's when we learn to settle into our style and recognize it for what it is that we really learn creative freedom.  As cliche and hippy loving as it sounds {and I say that with total love}, it's really not until we find comfort in our sameness does our ability to be unique come through.  We HAVE to stop caring about what other people are doing to find true peace in creating.  Jealously and peace cannot coexist.   We are all in this together.  

"The acts of the flesh are obvious: ...jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions  and envy; and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:19-23 {abbreviated}
  
2} There is a huge difference between copying and drawing inspiration.  One is stealing and one is part of being creative.  Over the years this has been a constant source of hurt and growth at the same time.  This ties into the arrogance that comes when we think we are completely unique and special and THEN we feed that idea until it becomes a monster.  I've recently come to the conclusion that the number of times I think I have been copied is way less than the actual amount of times I have been copied.  If I am being honest, most times were likely just inspiration.  Partly because my pins and products are so popular on pinterest and partly because people just want to make things.    

I was sinfully NOT assuming the best in people and arrogantly thinking that I was unique enough to be copied. 

I was wrong.

Part of being a creative person is to inspire others.  That is truly part of the joy of making.

Now I am not saying that there are not people who set out TO copy.  There just are.  But there is a choice in your reaction to them {see number three below}.

I am also not claiming that you can't be copied.  Photos, artwork, words, very easy to prove when you have been copied.  Also very easy to protect legally.  The fact is, the pool of things you can protect legally is very small so we have to go out into our creative worlds and act accordingly.

Go to Etsy.com and look at most of the listings there.  Most of those things cannot be protected legally from copying.  There are a million ways to make a millions things and creative people will make those things.  You cannot lay claim to them.  You just can't.  People are going to make all the things.  I know because I am that way too.  Yes, I mostly make monsters.  But I also love to make totes and pouches and pillows and necklaces and quilts and headbands and all the things.  Literally.  It is a driving force in me that I cannot control.

We don't own the right to all the things.  When it comes down to it, people will buy from you because they love YOU.  They've connected with you and been inspired by you.  The more you let go, the freer creative juices will flow.   Be you and that attracts the people who will support you.  Breathe fire and you'll only burn those around you.

More than once I have had makers get in a huff because I have made something from the same FREE tutorial (that is not theirs) that they use to make items and sell.  Yes, using someone else's idea, making the thing, selling the thing and then being a complete snot because other people want to do the same thing.  Crazy yes? It didn't matter to them that I was making it my own way, with my own supply choices and style.  Nope.  "MINE!!" is the response.  Ew.  Not ok.

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."  Ecclesiastes 1:9



3} Never confront someone online about being inspired by you.

UGH.  Of all the things I could go back and NOT do, it would be contacting people who I felt {and maybe justly} were copying me.  I will NEVER EVER do it again.  Why?  Because you just don't know the truth.  You just don't.  And I know this for a fact because it just recently happened to me.  I had someone completely lay into me about something I was making, that looked completely different than anyone else's, but because it served the same purpose they were convinced that I was copying them.  They laid out all their evidence and my heart was completely broken.  Their words were sharp and cutting.  I knew that I knew, they were WRONG about me.  I had gone out of my way to ensure my product was unique and different and "me" and it did not matter to this person.  I was accused of setting out to not only copy this one item but to copy them on other things as well.  The best part was that the person I was accused of copying did not have a single unique item in her shop that I had not seen elsewhere from others sellers I had followed for much longer.

And it was this juxtaposition of truth and accusations that God showed me the truth, that you can't know anyone's intentions and not assuming the best is dangerous.  I can tell you that there are few times in my life where I have been more hurt by words.   Like, deep, aching pain that is still there to this day.  A sharp reminder to me to always extend grace and assume the best.  Encourage other makers and don't knock them down. 

I will never ever contact someone to accuse them again of copying me.  I WILL use that as motivation to work harder and better and do more things well but I will never again assume to know someone's intentions because I NEVER want to make someone feel the pain I have felt.

Now, stealing photos or art or words are different but I know that my words to speak to them will be kind and WILL assume their best and act accordingly.

So there we are eight years into owning a creative business.  My best bits of advice and the hardest lessons I have learned.  All painful but all growth inducing.  All have made me a better person in the end and I feel, have allowed me to contribute more richly to the creative world AND the people in my immediate world as well.

As I am thankful for the learning curve of motherhood, I am thankful for the learning curve of being a creative being.  He has made me this way and I am thankful that He helps me navigate it all towards His purposes.  I am excited for the future of this path.  With these lessons in hand the learning will be all the more great.

xo


P.S.  While you are here, you might as well enter to win $100! 

  

3 comments:

Kelly O. said...

those are hard lessons. Praise the Lord that you are able to learn and rise above them. Press on.

M. Kasch said...

This is my first time posting on your wall- Just to say:
This is the best post you've ever written. It's real. It's honest. And it's showing humility and acceptance. It's the breath of fresh air that I needed to read today.
Thank you for writing the way you do, for creating the way you do, and for walking the Walk the way you do. You're inspiring.

Darcy said...

ALL excellent points - thanks for sharing :-)

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