Weekly-ish notes on navigating big change


Open to adventure

Stay foggy, San Diego. #latergram #tnna

A few months ago my publisher sent me an email that said something like, “Just wanted to forward this in case you missed it, I think you'd be great.” Attached to her message was an email from The National Needlearts Association inviting teachers to apply to teach at their national conference in San Diego.

I immediately thought: that's not really what I do. This isn't for me.

But I left the email in my inbox (which is uncommon – I ruthlessly delete or file or boomerang) because the idea of it appealed to me. Half my family lives in Oceanside and I visit them every year or two anyhow…wouldn't it be nice to get paid to do that?

The email sat there, waiting, until I opened it again to see if it had expired, if it was already too late to apply (I assumed and kinda hoped it was). No, I still had a week left. So even though this still seemed like absolutely the kind of thing I wouldn't do, I put it on my calendar, to remind me when applications closed, and I boomeranged the message to come back on that day.

It's a seriously gorgeous day for #TNNA

On the very last day, both my calendar and inbox both reminded me to apply. And I thought: What's the harm? I'd already developed classes that could serve the needs of TNNA attendees (shops, designers, dyers), so I had material ready. In fact, at the last TNNA conference, several Starship Captains attended…and if I was already helping them online, why not help them live?

So official! #tnna

So I applied. And...I got accepted!
And I worked super hard rewriting the classes (and workbooks) for this particular audience.
Things went all wrong (flight delays meant I didn't land in time to print workbooks so I had sprint across town at 11pm to print + collate…) and yet, it was great.

A fabulous (blurry) night with  @quaternityknits @knitterotica @picnicknits @YarnoverTruck @thedahliascene and more!

I met smart, generous, interesting shop owners and clever, ambitious, talented designers. I got to hug two Starship Captains in person. I got recognized in an elevator, which made me feel like a rock star (it was Corrina and we had a great time hanging out…because I'm not actually a rock star.)

Yesterday's Social Media for Yarn Shops workshop was filled with smart & generous shop owners! Here are two of them, @woolandgrace & @colors91711 #tnna

And it was awesome.

This morning, while I was in Introvert Recovery,  I was thinking  that I almost didn't do this. All because I had an image of what I do and what I'm building with my work and I wasn't open to something new.

This is something we all struggle with – so many people (perhaps well-meaning family members?) give us suggestions for what we should do with our business, that we get into a default mode of No-Saying.
“No, that's not really what I do.”
“No, I'm too busy with other projects.”
“No, I'm not that kind of X (teacher, writer, artist, maker)”

And that's smart. You don't want to do everything. Everything isn't for you. No one knows your work better than you do.

But what if you changed your default position from No to Open?

You might still say no, but you'll first take a moment to consider it. You'll be open to possibility. Open to opportunity. Open to connecting to disparate ideas into something new.

Here. And after a  sprint (.7 miles) through downtown San Diego to  Kinkos before they closed at 11 pm (tomorrow morning's class workbooks!), I'm finally ready. For bed.

This is different from saying an indiscriminate YES to everything, because it comes from a different place. Instead of feeling desperate and needy (for approval, for validation, for acknowledgement), you're coming from a place of willingness and curiosity. What if you DID say yes? What if you took a moment to explore the idea and see if it might work?

This is exactly what I'll be asking myself this year, as I explore my new word of the year: Open.
It's about opening to opportunity, opening to ideas, opening to flow.
Being open in expression, in enthusiasm, in my own power.

What do you want to be open to?

Throwing a party inside the CraftyBiz Kitchen

Let's get right to the point: The CraftyBiz Kitchen is now open.
You can join us here.

I tried to keep that page short and to the point, but there is so much that I'm excited about that I just had to share some of it here.
Let's do Q+A, shall we?

What's the CraftyBiz Kitchen?

When it started, in July 2010, it was simply a subscription to my CraftyBiz classes. Every class came with recordings, worksheets and post-class chats. As more people joined and started asking for different features, I decided to close it to new members on September 1, so we could experiment together.
Over the next 3 months, I added some things, tried other things and asked the Kitcheners what they wanted at every turn.

They voted and what we have now is something we all really love:

  • 2 hours of classes/month (most of them private, a few classes will be available to the public for $30-$70)
  • 30 minute one-on-one session with me, via Google chat. We talk about your business, prioritize for the next month or just brainstorm product ideas (like Zombie Jesus. Yes)
  • Weekly chats, in a private (online) room and on Twitter

The best part?

You pay each month and can leave at any time.
Or, if you'd prefer, you can pay for 3 months at once.

(Once you've been in it for 3 months, you have the option of buying a 6 month membership, at the request of some very eager Kitcheners!)

What classes?

This is the part I am most! excited! about!

The CraftyBiz Kitchen allows me to know who, exactly,will be in the classes, so I can shape the content and discussion to benefit you, the individual business crafter.
I've started to work on the outline of the first quarter and am delighted that as I was mapping everything out,  it turns out that each step could happen in a real kitchen, as you're planning a party. So that's the metaphor we're going with (but we're also going to spend some time coming up with a metaphor YOU like, for YOUR biz (if you're into that sorta thing)).

For starters, everyone who joins will get Right Price + Right People in mid-December, so we're all on the same page when we start in January.

Build your own Kitchen: Building the “home base” for your business, the fist step in creating a thoroughly-you business. We'll look at all the different spokes of your business + learn how to make them cohesively you. This step makes it easier for your Right People to recognize you when they find you.

Stocking the Shelves: Does your online presence (website, etsy shop, etc) answer all of your Right People's questions? Is it easy to navigate? Easy to understand? Before we invite people over, we need to make sure we've got what they need.


Planning a Party: We all want more sales, but before you invite the people, let's plan for what kind of party you're throwing. In other words, what your Unique Selling Point? What's the thing that makes your thing awesome?

Putting together the invitation list: In this class, we'll dig into who YOUR Right People are. Who do you hope shows up? What do they want from you?

Who has it helped?

Here are some CBKers who agreed to share their story.

Kristine says, “I launched my crafty business in 2010, and the help that Tara gave in form of classes, one-on-one, and chats was invaluable to getting off the ground.  I'd highly recommend that if 2011 will be the year of something new for YOU, consider investing in yourself and join the CraftyBiz Kitchen!”
Joyce started her business after our first IdeaStorming and has since started teaching, succeeded at her first craft show and totally rocked it.
(Also, she sends me emails after classes that say hilarious things like this:

“I got so much from the most recent class!!! SO incredibly informative and helpful! I dub thee Tara Awesomepants! “

There are lots more stories and sillyness, but everything you share in the CBK stays in the CBK. Privacy and mystery and ridiculous passwords. Yes.

But here's the thing: none of this is the CraftyBiz Kitchen.
It's all them. Their hard work. Their application of what we've talked about. Their curiosity and experiments and willingness to try.
I'm just delighted I get to hang out with them while they work on it!

Is this for me?

It depends.
If you're wondering if this is for where you are in your business, the answer is “Probably yes.” I'm working on baking layers (like a cake!) into each of the topics we cover. The general concepts are great for someone just starting their business, but the specifics of how YOU  implement them will help even the most advanced crafty business.
For newbies, you'll be building your business as we learn.
For established businesses, you'll be tweaking and improving as we learn.
For everyone in between, it'll be a combination of new-to-you-stuff and oh-I-should-really-look-again-at-that stuff.
Everyone will have the support of me (via one-on-one time) and other crafters (via chat) to ask questions, dig deeper and explore all the gooey layers.

(Side Note: The layers thing is something I am terribly excited about. I plan on playing with the concept (and maybe even actual cake layers) a lot during my sabbatical. You've been warned.)

If you're wondering if this kind of thing is right for you, the answer is “maybe“.

Before you decide, it might help to ask yourself these questions (this is what I ask myself before I buy anything):

  • How do I intend to use this, actually implement it, to improve my business?
  • Do I have time to listen to the classes and join in chats (about 4 hours a month)?
  • Do I enjoy the other things by this person (blog, other classes, etc)? Would I like hanging out with her on a regular basis?

But is this for ME?

Still not sure? Send me an email: vulcan@taraswiger.com

And you know what?

If this isn't for you? Or it isn't for you right now? That's totally cool. I still adore you and your businessy dream and can't wait to hang out with you in the comments.