Want to know what it's like at a trade show? In this video I walk the floor at The National NeedleArts Association trade show and talk to a few vendors.
This week we're doing something different – I'm taking you with me as I walk around the trade show at TNNA. We'll meet yarn shop owners, vendors (yarn companies) and see some pretty stuff!
Whether you're in the yarn industry or not, I thought you'd enjoy seeing what a trade show looks like, how the vendors set up and how they talk to everyone who walks into their booth. These conversations are edited, because it was recorded live and there are, like in life, a million interruptions.
If you usually listen to the audio podcast, I encourage you to watch the video, so you can see the faces and the beautiful yarn!
Here's more info about the people I spoke to (Go! Support them!)
- The beautiful dress was made out of Freia Fibers
- Maridee and Barb of the YarnOver Truck are looking for crochet designers! (Get on that, crocheters!)
- Ben just opened Nifty Knitter in Issaquah, WA (Go visit!)
- LuxAdorna is all cashmere, all the time (drooling!)
- Laura is the new owner of Pioneer Yarns in Minden, NV (Go say hi!)
- Sabrina is the owner of Anzula, which I'm obsessed with (Go get some!)
How to listen
- You can subscribe to it on iTunes (If you do, leave a review!)
- You can listen to it using the player above or download it.
- Subscribe or listen via Stitcher (or subscribe in whatever you use for podcasts – just search “Explore Your Enthusiasm” and it should pop up!).
Find all the podcast episodes here.
Here’s a round-up of what I saw, did, and read this month! Follow my Instagram Stories for in-the-moment photos + videos. You can find years of Adventures here.
- My new book, Map Your Business, is now out on Amazon! I've also got several boxes here of the print version and I'm sending out copies to everyone who pre-ordered first, and then I'll have more available. If you want a signed copy, find it here!
- I'm teaching at a summit for LYS owners with Gwen Bortner in Asheville, NC in April. More info here!
- I've started a new Friday video series where I talk about the lessons I'm learning while I build my own biz. Find it here!
I am so grateful for…
- TNNA! Meeting students + hanging out with Starship captains is the best part!
- The community that has grown around the #ExploreYourEnthusiasm hashtag. I love seeing what you're working on while you watch or listen to the podcast!
- A series of complex adventures (print book, travel, teaching, webinars, online classes) all going very right, in a very short period of time.
- Grit, by Angela Duckworth (I even did a podcast episode about it!)
- How to get over FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)
- How Silicon Valley can Help You Get Unstuck
I'm listening to:
- How to Feed Good Habits (more love for the Four Tendencies!)
- What the Immigration Ban really means, by John Green
- All of Gary Vee
- Delicious Pho in San Jose (I went there 3 times in 4 days)
- Honored to be included in Sarah's round-up of creative biz podcasts!
- Starship captain Karen is hosting a retreat – I wanna go!
What did you read, listen to and eat last month? Come tell me on Facebook!
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.
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 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.
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.)
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.
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?
I'm in San Diego! And if you are too, I'd love to meet you!
You can come to dinner here (totally casual, everyone is welcome!) or take one of my classes at TNNA.
Not in San Diego? I still want to meet you! Invite me to your town here.
Today I'm exploring with Starship Captain Jill Wolcott. Jill is an award-winning teacher who combines a wealth of knitting knowledge with a great sense of humor to make her classes both useful and fun. Jill is always thinking about knitted garments, how they fit, and how to guide knitters toward a successful knitting experience. She recently published an ebook of knitting designs: The Goddess Collection.
People have this fantasy of what it's like to be a full-time maker. But what's a normal day for you really like?
I don't really have a “go with the flow” life. Weekdays I get up at 6:30, make coffee, tidy up, look at email and Evernote (my assistant works from her home), shower, then hit my office. My office day is spent working on patterns, marketing, administrative things, book projects, creating classes and class materials, and whatever is on my list. It almost never includes knitting. The closest I get to knitting is picking up needles to figure out how I can better explain how to do a technique or maneuver. I do a lot of editing, drafting, redrafting, initial charting, and a lot of grading sizes.
On Wednesdays I leave my office about 10:30 and go downtown to teach at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. I'm usually pretty tired at the end of six hours there, but I am a favorite instructor and have been given an outstanding faculty award 11 times in the 14 years I've taught there.
I do volunteer work for TNNA and am part of the Starship and Cat Bordhi's Visionary Authors group. I also have an elderly mother and we do things on Thursdays and Fridays when I can get away. She is a long-time knitter so is always interested in what I am working on.
Wendy works with me from Pittsburgh, PA. She is like the third lobe of my brain and is beginning to take on more pieces of my day-to-day work so that I can explore more, create more, do more. I would be lost without her. I have another assistant who comes into my office twice a week and does hands on things–from winding yarn to finishing work on projects. She does shipping, tracking, and entering things into my bookkeeping software. Again, without her help I would surely be buried in my own mess.
Most of my samples are knit by paid knitters. They are a brave lot who embark on projects that are often still in process. They must be my eyes as I am not seeing what is happening except through weekly photos. I have someone who works as a project manager to keep the knitters on track–and make sure I answer questions and address problems.
I have a tech editor who works per hour. She has a wonderfully detailed brain and asks me lots of questions to make sure my work is clear. I also have a copy editor who works on my longer work. She is primarily looking for consistency and continuity. Both are knitters who understand why I like to take a different approach in presenting my patterns.
I knit after I quit work in my office. I cook dinner most nights, and I knit afterwards until I go to bed. I am not usually knitting samples; I am either working on new design ideas or making a second sample or one of my designs for me to wear. I make the final sample myself only if there is a quick deadline or if it is a small item. We've found that I am not reliable at finding problems in the patterns, so it isn't usually a good place for me to put my knitting energy. All my knitting is related to my business and I have no time to knit any one else's patterns, but I do love to knit.
Weekends are often where I find time to follow new ideas or do things I want to do but don't need to do. I have a wonderful husband who likes to spend time with me–some of it without knitting needles in my hands. We go to a fair number of jazz and world music performances, plays, and author/artist lectures. We both read a lot, although knitting cuts into my reading time!
There are so many ways to make a living as a maker – how are you doing it? What have you combined and how has that changed through the years?
As mentioned above, I teach to make money. It is the only reliable money source I have. I am working on making it possible to offer classes via video with live check-ins so that I can continue to teach those classes online without it being a live performance. This will make it easier for people to fit it into their schedules too. Right now those classes are for knitwear designers of any stripe. I hope to have classes for knitters in 2014 as well. I do not teach at retail knitting shows right now because I simply do not have time. I do some limited work for magazines, and sometimes do consulting work.
I don't think the work of a designer has changed much over the years. With Tara's help I am finding the courage to do what I believe I want to put out into the world, even though it is a little different.
What new thing are you exploring now?
I have just launched what I call Studio Space. This is a subscription program to invite knitters to share their knitting time with me and other committed knitters. I have framed my first offering around my Goddess Collection, but I think this will end up being the beginning of the program, and not our sole focus. My other new thing is eBook pattern collections, and online classes. I want to write books too, but need to get some of these other wheels turning more effectively to allow that to happen.
What's your definition of success in your business?
For my business to be successful I need to balance expenses and income, but that isn't the whole picture for me. I would like some recognition for my skills and talents, but primarily I would like to know that I am helping knitters find pleasure and satisfaction in the actual making of knitted things. I would like to be able to make a living too!
What's the next destination you're working towards?
Thanks so much for sharing your workday and adventure with us, Jill!
Every day is an adventure. I share the view, the gratitude and the finds on Fridays – you’re invited to join in. You can find all my adventures here, or follow along via email here.
I am so grateful for:
- Community + belonging + family
- Decorating Mom's tree with “vintage” ornaments (the first picture is an ornament I made in Junior High)
- The ability + resources to travel to spend time with loved ones (I'll never get tired of being grateful for this)
- The editing + clarifying genius of my Number One. She has made this (brand-new, kinda secret) project infinitely better!
- Trying on a bridesmaid dress I liked. I really will wear it again!
- Being recommended (by several sweethearts!) for an interview with a journalist! So flattering + appreciated, no matter what comes of it!
- Facebook isn't a competition. I LOVED this piece about “following pages” to “keep up” by Chela. Read it!
- This is a great list of 15 ways to help your friend with her book. (PS. I only have three copies of my book left until TNNA in January. If you want a signed copy for you or a gift, grab it here.)
- English has a new preposition, because Internet! I found this great article, because Starship!
These are the recipes we made this week:
- Sweet Potato Chipotle soup
- 2 bean meatloaf, with mashed potatoes + mushroom gravy
- Butternut pasta
- Chocolate chocolate chip cookies (my mom insisted!)
(With all this traveling, we ate out a lot. Or favorite: Tomato Head!)