Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Make Local Connections!

Hello to one and all of you my good friends of Curation Nation! It's Hollie of Blueberryshoes! Here is a guest post for those of you looking to meet more crafters locally :D Enjoy!

Etsy is a dream come true for indie creators and crafters. Not only is it a venue for making dough off our handmade goodies, but it also provides the community we crave. Fact is, it's hard to come by crafty types within our own circles, locally. Depending on where you're located, you may feel out of the loop with the creative peeps-or maybe you question if there even IS a craft scene in your area?
Fact is, Etsy limits you. The only way your business can grow is by getting in touch with your community, in REAL life. The computer can only do so much for you. Shaking hands and connecting with people into the same cool stuff provides such a different feeling and experience for us. We as human beings crave human interaction. Especially with those who "get" us. How rewarding would it be to sit with crafty friends at a cute cafe and bounce crafty ideas off each other? Don't shrink away thinking this impossible for you. It isn't if YOU make it happen ;)

As you know, Etsy Success is up to you. You get what you put into your shop. You experiment with pictures, angles, lighting. You promote all over the place. Well it's the same with local connections. Look for ways to connect with the community, and you'll be rewarded with new friends and great opportunities!

Where to start? Maybe you're new to town or simply shy. But there's something in you pushing to make connections. Maybe you've seen pictures on Facebook of other Crafters meeting up or doing craft shows. You know you wanna feel a part of something. Listen to that feeling and quench it. It'll be the best thing you ever do!

First and foremost...Join a local Etsy Team
Search under the Etsy Teams for your State, and then search for the team closest to your city. JOIN! It'll be the best Etsy decision you will ever make :D Be an active member and whenever they throw a show or meetup, attend. Meeting everyone in person is super fun! Remember it's A-okay to be on more than one team. Being on a local street team is key to a successful Etsy experience.

Coffee Shops
Get to know the coffee shops in your town. Look at their bulletin boards and take biz cards, take down numbers and note upcoming events. Be it an open mic, craft lesson, class of some sort, anything! Just get involved. Coffee shops are usually hubs for indie types. Leave a few of your own biz cards on the board. Who knows what doors that will open. When you get home, search for the coffee shops on Facebook and "like" them, so you can keep tabs on what events are happening at all the locations. Leave a comment on their walls saying you loved stopping in and that you'd love to get involved with anything crafty. Leave your Etsy shop link below.

If you find a coffee shop you really like, sit down and start crafting right there. You'll open up conversation and interest from anyone around you. When you introduce yourself, ask questions and smile. You've made a new friend ;) Remember to exchange business cards. Also, even if this person is not a crafter, it's still someone who was interested in your creations. Hey, maybe they'd like to enter the craft world, and you could help them! Plus, everyone has crafty friends, maybe even this person you just met.

Independent Boutiques and Art Supply Stores
Every town/city has them. Whether they sell specialty gifts, yarn, kids stuff, art supplies, etc- they love to see new faces walking in their front door. Walk in and look around, even if it really isn't up your alley. Grab a biz card and talk to the manager with a smile. Ask if they know of any craft meetups, or events coming up. Mention your Etsy shop and that you're looking to make some connections in the community. They might have tips for you :D "like" them on Facebook and leave a comment saying you loved meeting them.

Some of these boutiques house meetups and craft demonstrations or classes, so be sure to grab one of their schedules if they do. I know most Michaels locations do craft classes! Be sure to attend them! It'll be hard to motivate yourself, so maybe you could bring a friend if you're very shy. However I find I'm more confident when I go myself. Force yourself to talk to everyone sitting at the table. Be the one who takes an interest and see how many connections you'll make! People will be so happy someone else is taking the lead and making things happen.

Sometimes creepy, sometimes awesome, Craigslist can be a great place to start! Look for the "Artists", "Events" and "Classes" sections under Community. Also "Creative" under the Gigs section. Browse and get a feel for the things going on around you. You might be surprised! If there's just nothing going on, now's the time to post!

Under Artists or Events, go ahead and post a friendly but not too personal ad saying that you're a local crafter/artist who is looking to put together a craft meetup at a coffee shop in town. Put up a link to your shop and say that anyone interested in Etsy, craft shows, or networking is welcome to get in touch. You may get some responses! Make sure they share their etsy shop with you, or some kind of link that guarantees they're not a creeper. Always mention that there will be a group of you meeting up, so no one feels weird.

Shop Local on Etsy
If you haven't checked out this part of Etsy, you'll be pleasantly surprised! Type in any city and state and you can see all the crafters in your area! Look for shops that strike your fancy and read profiles. Do you get the vibe certain shops are open minded and looking to meet new creators? Convo them! Let them know you're planning a craft meetup at a craft shop and that you'd love to network. Sound very friendly and interested. Mention something nice about their goods, or shop. This will show you really care! Remember to search for the little towns outside of your town, as well. Make it a goal to convo alot or even all of them! Never give up ;)

Feel free to ask them if they will be doing any craft shows or local events in the future. They will likely know of some fun stuff for you to participate in! Most Etsians are in the same boat as you, looking to connect and will be so happy you got in touch.

Meetup.com is a GREAT venue for crafters! It's free (unless you start your own meetup group) and you can search local goings on! You'll love it.

Consider making a separate account just for business. You won't think twice about networking. Where as if you share biz with family and friends, you'll probably hold back.

"Like" any and everything local you can. Look for fresh markets, Whole Foods, indie boutiques, art stores, Michaels, etc. "Like" it all! Then you can start adding local friends. It will snowball from there. Fill up your "Events" with "Maybe attending" even if you know you won't go. That way people will see your face and name around the Facebook world and maybe even add you. Besides, if you mark yourself as "maybe attending", you might just find you can make time to go after all ;)

Craft Meetup
So now you've got a little group totally into the idea of meeting up. Don't stress out! It's VERY simple: Choose a location, date and invite! That's it. Tell the coffee shop you guys are coming. Pack a tote bag with your crafting materials and get there 15 mins earlier then the time you told everyone to show up. Have a coffee, enjoy a scone. Get into biz mode. Maybe you could make a little sign to put on the table that says "Craft Meetup"! Make it a cute little event ;)

When everyone shows up, get conversation going about their shops, where they're from, their families, what they love to do, where they see their business going. Hey, maybe you'll all come up with a great idea to throw a little craft show ;) Be open minded, confident and remember, SMILE! You'll have a ball and all the girls will LOVE you for taking the initiative to bring you all together. At the end of the meetup, talk about the next time you'll get together. Don't leave it open ended. You could even start a Facebook Group page for yourselves. Hey, maybe even an Etsy Street Team ;)

Be creative, and most importantly HAVE FUN! That's what being an indie creator is all about ;)

To throw a crazy fun Crafty Potluck Party at a friends house, check out my blog post on one I threw!

Remember, don't give up! If you don't get the response you're hoping for at first, keep working at networking. You'll see that soon enough you will get the ball rolling, and it will all pay off ;)


  1. What a fantastic post, Hollie! I'm a member of my local HandmadeMN Etsy street team, and it totally rocks. The team produced its own craft show in May, which HandmadeMN teammate JulieMeyer blogged about for the Storque (http://www.etsy.com/storque/how-to/how-to-organize-a-craft-show-with-handmademn-9119/). It was hugely successful, and I've volunteered to help organize our next one. I have been amazed by how wonderful it feels to meet my local teammates in person, and to get out into my community and see what this place is all about (I've only been in Minnesota for about a year now, and most of that I spent on the computer!). It has definitely gotten my creative juices flowing, and I've learned a ton from talking to teammates, local media, and press in person.

    Anyway, I'm with ya, Hollie. Great post.

  2. This is an excellent post with some great tips! Thanks for sharing! :)

  3. This is a really great post Hollie! I couldn't agree more about the limits of the computer, as wonderful as the interwebs are! I sell in several indie boutiques in PA and am also the leader of the Handmade in PA team, so this is all very valuable info. Thanks for sharing it :)

  4. Great tips Hollie! I really do need to do this in my community. I don't know anyone else here with an Etsy shop, but I know they must exist! ha

  5. Great post! Joining an Etsy team was the best thing I have ever done. I joined ShowMeSt.Louis in St. Louis. We did several shows together and 2 years ago we even opened up a shop together! We called it Show Me Handmade and there were 9 of us. We closed after a year, and moved into a much busier mall. We now have about 20 artists and we all run the shop together. Our shop name is Fusion and we are located at Chesterfield Mall.