This episode I’m in conversation with Shannon Downey, known in her business and online as Bad Ass Cross Stitch. Shannon is an artist, craftivist, community builder, and general instigator which is a word I love and we explore pretty early on.Read More
A lot of energy is spent by people on social media, complaining about social media. Have you noticed this? We fight algorithms that don’t help us grow a business. We shout at one another for not living to an unwritten standard that only we define the parameters for. We read meaning into tweets simply not directed at us. We feel bruised by perfection but don’t want to feel miserable at all the reality being shared either. We detox, delete apps, take time out, make rules and lists and goodness me, don’t we all like a group message safe from prying eyes?
And yet, I adore being online.Read More
You know how people online have quite a thing about 'Finding Your Tribe'? Is it ok to have more than one? I mean, it's good to have a solid group that always, always have your back and that's great but there seems to be this idea that we just have one place. One group. One shot at being 'in' the crowd. It reminds me a little of the idea of meeting your soul mate.Read More
This episode I'm thinking about our online community of makers, small business owners and independents. I'm talking about the benefits of shopping local and with your favourite small businesses this Christmas.
I began the year with my own commitment to reflecting on my craft practices through ‘The Maker’s Year’. It was a guiding theme for the podcast, my blog, Instagram and all my making this year. The idea was to reduce any environmental impact I could by sourcing locally and seasonally, as well as increasing my own skills to enable me to do that. I’ve loved seeing every entry in #themakersyear hashtag and so many of you who used it to evaluate your making at home too.
Anyone who has listened to this podcast before will know I love to celebrate maker businesses, people who are innovative in their field of expertise and enriching communities and the economy through their skills. So today I’m combining these two passions and sharing my goal this year for Christmas: Shop Small.
One fact I love is that research has shown that for every £1 spent with a small or medium-sized business 63p stayed in the local economy, compared to 40p with a larger business. It’s been investigated by local authorities and the figures seem to support this. That means more for our local communities! It's not just about the local economy though! Small businesses are innovators. I love to shop local for the level of expertise and skills I find in that business and their commitment to both the product and the customer.
Plus it’s more environmentally friendly- things like a lack of air freight and reduced packaging are a definite bonus. A lot of the maker businesses I order from are really committed to reducing their global foot print and have more control over sourcing their packaging while still keeping an eye on their margins. I also read that local producers are much more likely to source local themselves which was interesting to me.
This year, it felt important to actively choose businesses that represent diversity and individual flair. I want that voice to be celebrated and have been more than a little alarmed by some of the aggressive advertising I’ve seen from bigger brands in national media whose views I don’t agree with. There’s been a strong reaction to the Stop Funding Hate campaign and a number of large businesses won’t be getting my hard earned pennies this year because they’ve stated they’ll continue to advertise in this manner. In fact I’ve opted for presents from some makers purely based on the fact they’re supporting charities with profits from purchases.
Some of my favourite UK based independent businesses:
- Newton and Pott- aka The Modern Preserver.
- Lolahoaddesign- Prints and Christmas Cards
- Katie Robins Ceramics- Beautiful nature inspired vessels keep my plant babies happy
- AR Ceramics- Textured ceramics such as homewares
- Pip Wilcox Ceramics- Ceramic vases and vessels
- The People Shop- Hand made garments that are slightly oversized and handmade
- The People Tree- Slow fashion and sustainable production.
- Oh My Clumsy Heart- Clean, minimal jewellery
- Tatty Devine- Probably best known for their Perspex fun and colourful pieces such as a gin range that I’m coveting but they work with a lot of different materials such as wood and fabrics.
- Afro Deco- Prints that are heavily influenced by Art Deco and the bold colours of African textiles.
- Mooshpie- Illustrations both in print form and her embroidery have a slight celebration of childhood feel but grown up. This is so cute and quirky!
- Andsmile Studio-Colourful watercolour designs.
Music is 'Christmas Time' by Hill and Hale via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.
Dawn. A high pitch scream from my daughter's room jolts me awake. Gently, I lift her from bed and coo gently in her ear. I carry her to my bed, tucking her next to me on the mattress. I stroke away the bad dream and watch as her breathing slows once more. Her brow is hot and sweaty. Tendrils of curls are stuck to her temples. I turn my attention to the notifications showing with increasing urgency on my phone.
It's not good news.
In those dark hours before light begins to creep into my room I work hard to organise my thoughts about our newly elected world leader. I try hard to bite down the rising panic I feel as I watch my daughter slumber, genuinely afraid for a world that continues a relentless march towards the right. These are not my family values. This is not a world I wish her to witness.
I sift through my timelines and quickly see that people feel powerless and abandoned. People want someone or something to blame. They're scared and angry and I understand. I saw it here in the UK in June. There are many reasons that people in the UK voted in such an inwardly looking way, leaving us with a government that views me as homeless because I identify as a citizen of the world. It is not for me to shame someone for their voting choice though and I'm trying hard to work on my responses and understanding of why people have made the choices they have. I'm learning that not all these choices are clear cut.
Since June I've begun taking action. Realising that I lived in an echo chamber of my own political views, I enrolled in several community projects. I wanted to take positive action in supporting some of the people I was concerned were becoming more marginalised and vulnerable. It's also hard to condemn those who voted differently to me (and that's the majority where I live) when I'm working side by side to improve our local school's inclusion programme, for example.
However, this is not about people who other than their voting choices are pretty much the same as me. This is about difference that runs far deeper than that. In one of the sessions I ran recently about inclusion, a colleague admitted that she often shies away from diversity for fear of getting it wrong. Gently, I asked what her silence communicated to people of colour, to those who did not have the same set of beliefs or sexuality that she did. Together we looked for questions she feared to ask and then we talked about where we would find the answers. It was a good lesson for me too if I'm honest. If we are asking, perhaps our children are too and more than ever, I want them to find the right answers.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about how I could move forward in a way that is helpful to the biggest number of people I can be of help to. I've turned my attention to my own social media and podcast and the messages that I convey on a regular basis. I've thought hard about some of the stories I wish to tell next season. Will they be reflective of the global community I currently live in?
I am as responsible as the next person to make this world feel like a safe home to everyone. One thing I've already learned these past few months is that by stepping outside of my bubble and listening as well as acting whenever possible, I feel less powerless. I can start with me and if I'm lucky, that ripple of change will grow. For example, I can share some of the brilliant things I've discovered online that you can be a part of today if you're feeling powerless too:
5. Consider donating time or money to some of these causes if you're concerned about people in our communities.
It might be time to go to work and you know what? I'm ready.
See you for Season 4?
"When you get so many enthusiastic minds in one place, it's amazing what they can come up with." - Jessica Forbes, Co Founder of Ravelry.
"We realised we were going to have to abandon [Ravelry] or make it A LOT bigger" - Casey Forbes, Co Founder of Ravelry.
It feels good today to be sharing a conversation I sought because when I think of the word family, it goes beyond blood and that intimate home space. For me, I see layers of support and one of those layers has undoubtedly been my favourite online space, Ravelry. Ravelry was created with a community’s needs in mind first and foremost and a result has presented a level a playing field for everyone who uses it.
Jessica and Casey created Ravelry with such genuine hearts and today they share the story of what it means to run a website that grew rapidly to over 6 million highly engaged members. This is a large family and a family has needs to be fulfilled. Hearing how Jessica and Casey have navigated this is fascinating.
I was also charmed to hear the humble start of their business ideas. Their entire business strategy was to work with many small businesses to support Ravelry rather than larger businesses that might start to shape and change the community for their own marketing purposes. It’s limited them in what they can achieve but has protected a community that looks after each other and themselves.
Music is Cobblestone by Ethansroom via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.
Edited 19.4.2018- In this episode, I use the word 'tribe'. The white use of the word 'tribe' is a cultural misappropriation and one that makes me deeply uncomfortable and led to me changing the graphics and images for this piece. This coopting of other's cultures is a boundary I regret crossing and would like to be clear that I regret.
In this episode I’m sharing some thoughts about the way we support one another as creatives and asking you for some feedback.
A Playful Day now has a Facebook page. So if you’d like to make sure it shows up in your timeline, please do click the like buttons, share and comment. It’s the happy interactions that Facebook loves!
I share news about Honey and Harvest, a day of inspiration at Deans Court that I recently attended. You can find a previous episode where I interviewed Ali, one of the family, here. You can also find out more about Lisa of All Hallows Farmhouse here. Look out for more from her in the future- she's super talented.
I mention THAT Mulled Pear recipe (seriously, it's delicious, enjoy)
Then I chat about this:
- Check local craft stores- When I move, I always head for somewhere creative. Whether it’s a thrift store, a sewing shop or café that seems to nurture a freelance community, there’s often flyers and all sorts that I gobble up as I get a flavour of the area.
- Ask online friends- I love the fact I can ask for suggestions of a venue, place or meetup online and get a flood of answers back. I use Ravelry, the online community for fibre folk a bit like Google. One of the reasons is that I trust people who like to sit and knit to know where is great to do so with a great coffee. 9 times out of 10 they know where the good craft places are nearby
- Make your own craft circle- This one’s a little trickier. I’m not someone who finds it easy to reduce my anxiety around meet ups and getting to know new people. I feel awkward easily but I’ve also realised I always come out feeling glad that I did make the effort. It can be as simple as asking 2 other people to grab a coffee after the school run, a small moment carved out of a busy day. It can take a few attempts too I’ve found so try not to be put off if you don't get there the first time!
- Have an accountability buddy- It’s good fun to make together and you don’t have to be in the same physical space to do so although it’s nice! Having a friend who you craft with on the same projects will help you grow relationships that are creative. Just one is all it takes.
- Take a class- Having new skills or pushing existing skills further in the company of others means a firm date for your creativity and the more you make, the more you make. Learning one skill that can transfer across the rest of your creativity and get you in that creative habit can be just the kick start you need. Plus you have an automatic pool of people interested in the same skills you are.
- Be in a creative place- This sounds bizarre but sometimes seeking out a creative space will help you find your community and being open to that happening is important. Whether it's a gallery or workshop spaces, following your nose around that centre will often lead you to other beautiful, creative spaces such as florists, stationers and more. My example was The Forge, Bristol where I recently taught a workshop.
- Join a Twitter chat- I have several I love to join in from #theinstachat to #theyearinbooks to #makingwinter that starts again very soon with previous guest Emma Mitchell. My first real hashtag join in was Blogtacular which has led to several real life friends and hangouts thanks to the conference that the Twitter chat supports. For me, connecting online is a sort of rehearsal that helps me overcome that initial anxiety that I spoke about earlier on.
In this episode I speak a little about the Makelight Retreat and wanted to be sure to link you in to a couple of people I mention for leading creative workshops. The first is Jody of Country Wild Flowers, with whom we made the beautiful Floral Crowns you can see below. The second is Kate of Posy and Petal who has just launched her own business around paper crafting and workshops. They're both very talented, so do go and say hello!
Music is Cross my Mind by Twin Forks via Noisetrade.
Podcast creation support by my producer, Chris Muldoon.
This week, I'm poised to move into our new home so I'm asking YOU for inspiration by exploring the idea of taking chances in order to adventure. You can participate however you wish, either via blog, Instagram, or even tweet.
I would love to hear about the chances you’ve been taking, those adventurous moments that you’ve been investing in. What is motivating you to take on those challenges no matter how big or small? Share them and add the tag #themakersyear so we can all find the stories we've been sharing as a community. Your story might be the prompt one of us needs to invest!
I'm off to pack and move house but let’s stay in touch. You can find me as aplayfulday on:
When I can, I’ll share updates on the move and then I’ll be back with the last few interviews for this podcast season of Adventure.
Music featured today is Tennis Court by Mary Broadbent via Noisetrade
Podcast produced with the kind support of Chris Muldoon.