I plan to do some posts about how it is to work in the craft industry. I love to share and anyone who has ever talked to me will know that if you ask me a question about anything, I will tell you the answer and help you, unless it is about one of the 3 secrets I have (which are really silly little things but I keep them close). Anyways, for those of you working in the industry, no matter where you are at in your journey, and those of you thinking about it, I hope this helps you or at least makes you chuckle a little :) I am not a super star and I do not wish to be – I am just a scrapbooker turned craft designer and instructor who wants to eek out a living doing what I love. And if I can help someone else in their journey, then that is just icing on the crafty cake!
Over the last few weeks I have had a lot of phone and Facebook chat conversations about my job and working in this industry. I am overjoyed when I hear that someone has put in a good word about me, referred me to some amazing opportunity, or just recognized the hard work I have been doing. The majority of my calls and contacts are that way.
But I have recently found that I have been the subject of rumors, jealousy, and just mean girls talking smack about me. People who I thought were my friends, turning on me and saying horrible things (though, a side note to that is that I did not see the warnings — they talked smack about everyone else so why did I think I was immune?)
This whole realization really floored me. On the one hand I am too busy to pay too much attention to it. But on the other hand, it does hurt a little that people jump to some crazy conclusions with little to no information and then they feel they need to tell other people about their ill-thought opinion.
In my naivete I thought I would never get that kind of attention–jealous? Really? I am an over-educated, overweight, super short mom with alot of health issues living in the trailer park capital of So Cal trying to figure out how to change my business in this changing economy so I can keep doing what I love. I buy a new car once in every 10 years and I live in a house that was a repo that we are fixing up and we owe twice what it is worth. Oh, and I have a ridiculously large student loan that I have to pay off for a degree I don't even use. What on earth is there to be jealous of?!
I will admit; at one point, I was quite envious of those who I perceived to be successful in this industry, who I thought just got everything handed to them on a silver platter and weren't working hard for it. I nit-picked them in my head and sometimes in conversation (I know, it is terrible and I regret it), trying to justify why I was not successful by saying “they just got everything the easy way”. That feeling and those thoughts got fewer and fewer over the 9 years I have been working in this industry. That has been a good thing. Yeah, I was in my 20's when I started and I was immature. No bones about it! Immature and stupid. Hopefully I am less of both of those now ;P
Some point last Fall, I realized that I had started to look at things very differently. For one, I had no time to focus on what everyone else was doing because I was too darn busy. I started meeting and talking more openly with other designers and instructors and I realized we all had the same things in common–we worked CONSTANTLY to keep the work coming to us. We worked late at night, early in the morning, pitching our work to companies, trying to work with stores to run classes, trying to keep up our momentum. We worked for free sometimes because a trade-off was that we could promote ourselves; it is advertising we could not afford to buy. We failed sometimes. We dusted ourselves off. And we kept going. We have been stiffed by companies who did not pay us but adored and treated like royalty by others. And we have had to take pay cuts or change who we work with because the companies are suffering in this economy.
No one makes us do any of this and I am not trying to make people feel bad for us. We do it out of love, passion, and joy.
The point is, that despite every failure, change in plans, or curve-ball thrown at us, we pick ourselves up and keep going. Our passion helps us stay motivated. But we all have days where we wonder, “what are we doing”?! “Should I just quit”? The thing that makes us successful is that we keep going–we learn from our mistakes, we turn each experience into job experience that can help us, and we keep working at it. Now I can't speak for the “stars” in the industry but I can almost guarantee that they go through the same thing 10x more intense than I have ever experienced.
And there are days when we are hurt by what people say. And I guess what hurts most is that we KNOW the people saying mean things just don't understand. They do not comprehend that we are working constantly!!! That nothing is ever handed to us no matter how easy or convenient it looks on the outside. The minute we sit on our laurels for a few days, we can easily see the adverse affects on our business. That we put our heart and soul and then some into this business and we hear that someone was bashing us at a trade show, or that they were bad-mouthing our class at a crop, or that they were just making up insane rumors and posting them on Facebook. That is like a knife in the heart! Sure, someone is reading this right now, misunderstanding, and is going to bash me for it. I hope they keep reading and maybe change their mind a little :)
The Women (and Men) who you see out there teaching, promoting the craft industry, and working for companies, are some of the hardest working and most under paid people in the craft business. Our commitment to the success of this industry drives us. Our passion rewards us. And sharing our love of crafting, be it through samples, classes, or whatever, so that we can inspire others is what keeps us warm at night. Yes, some of us make money at our jobs. And it is that, a job.
For anyone who wants to work in this industry, who has ever wondered why some people are successful and they think they themselves are not, please leave a comment. My phone number and email address are easy to find. Call me. Email me. My Facebook Profile allows anyone to send me a message or start up a chat. Pull me up on chat.
The first thing I will ask you is what is your goal. Then I will tell you to become a CHA Designer Member if you are serious about designing as a professional. And the next thing I will tell you is that you have to find your own path and work hard at it. If I can mentor anyone or at least give them a leg up, I will because there have been scores of women who in the past and including now mentor me and help me and guide me. We all support each other and together we become more successful.
Believe it or not, most designers and professionals in this industry LOVE to help others. We can't do every job ourselves!! There is definitely enough of the “pie” to go around. It is a way to give back, it is a way to build relationships, and it is a way to help the industry we love prosper.
So next time you wonder, “How did she get that job?” or “How do I get to do work like that?” just know that there are months of hard work if not years of work behind that person getting from a crafter to being a professional. And it is possible for you too to achieve that kind of success if you are willing to put your nose to the grindstone, focus your effort on your work, ask questions, help others, and work hard.
I hope this inspires you to keep on keeping on! Now I am off to work!