Stop Doing What Doesn't Make You Happy

So many of you know that I am a knitter in my spare time. There is this terrific idiom amongst knitters: a UFO. An UnFinished Object. We have who discussions about how many UFO's we have sitting around and if we should finish or rip out a particular UFO or not. We have groups you can join that will help motivate you to finish your UFO, some even will finish a UFO for you, or rip it out for you if you just don't have the heart to do it yourself.

Sometimes UFO's can make me happy. Having multiple projects on the needles gives me options. Maybe I don't want to knit a complicated lace pattern in the car, instead I pick up a washcloth instead. But sometimes UFO's can make you sad and overwhelmed and can become a block to your creativity. When do you keep pushing on and when do you just give up?

This really is for all things. When do you give up on reading that book that you just aren't into? When do you give up on that half finished project sitting in your workshop? When do you drop the yoga class you are miserable going to on Mondays at 6 am?

Just stop them now. tear them out, pass them on, decided they are "done enough" anything to keep them from being a drain on your creativity and happiness. Think of the book you are not finishing because you don't particularly like it. Are you sitting and playing video games instead of reading this book you can't seem to get into? Will giving up one half finished book open up the flood gates of other possibilities so you can enjoy reading again?

We all have that list. Those things to do that never get done. They sit there, sometimes from year to year. Really, if it's been on your list to do for 12 months is it that important? Is it so important you need to see it written down day after day?

So when I look at a UFO that has been sitting there I ask myself: is it blocking me from doing some other project. If the answer is yes, then I either finish it or tear it out. If no, then I can pick up another project and look at the UFO as just another option. Heck, it's taken me a year to knit a sweater, little by little, when I felt like I had the mental capacity to tackle it. But it did get done, it did see progress.

But is amazing how much lighter I feel when I just stop doing something I hate. I don't always get that option, but when I do, I seize the opportunity.


Atmosphere of Growth

OK, so what am I spouting about now?

Basically the theory is that what makes us happy now will not make us happy later if we stagnate. We need to live in an atmosphere that allows us to grow and strive to keep being happy.

Seems like a pretty easy concept, I can think of lots of examples:

Think of all the divorced couples that had one or more partners who felt stifled, that they couldn't grow as a person or in their job, or whatever. The lack of an atmosphere of growth is what killed that relationship.

The person who has their dream job one year and just a few years later hates it. Why? Because there is no place for them to go father with their career. They are stuck and they hate it. No growth sends them to another job or career.

An artisan who gets burnt out. Same shows every year, same display, same product line, same, same, same. The customers get as bored as the artisan does in this case. It doesn't have to be all new every year, but growing keeps it interesting for you and your customers.

So I've been on a growth kick this year. Taking lots of classes, listening to podcasts, getting back to reading actual books, and expanding the business in some new ways. Am I happier? I don't know if my overall happiness quotient has raised, but I am happier in the moment. I am happier to be in the car when I have something interesting to listen to. I am happier in my free time when I am working on a new craft. And because of these types of things, the things that take from my happiness seem to be less frequent and less intense.

Now when I get unhappy I look for ways to get out of my rut, to do or try something new, to learn, to grow and that typically gets me out of my funk. Bored with cooking, try a new recipe book. Tired of making soap, look for some new fragrances to experiment with. Sick of the same old routine, time for a new restaurant and maybe a date night to change things up. Build your atmosphere of growth :)


The Days after a 'Fest

I get asked all the time what do I do between festivals. The easy answer is clean, make soap, do paperwork, and sleep. Not necessarily in that order.

Today was the first day after the 9 day Kutztown Folk Festival. I think of it as a 12 day festival because it takes me a day to pack, a day to set up, nine days of fest, and a day to clean up afterward.

Before C had to leave for work, his car was emptied of the inventory he had to bring home yesterday. All the bins were emptied of their contents, and inventory put away. All the displays and lamps were cleaned and dried, and returned to storage in the shed. Then I went to my van and did the same thing. I was done with this about 11 am. I started before 7.

Before even starting the unpacking I had tallied the deposit, paid the bills, changed the outgoing phone message, answered all the emails that had collected during the week, and ordered some desperately needed supplies.

After, the vans were emptied I actually brought the deposit to the bank, had lunch, went to the grocery store, and started on my refrigerator full of food from the garden and CSA that had collected during the week. I managed to get through three cucumbers (making two salads) and two cabbages (another two salads) before taking a break to write this and figure out what dinner will be. It's 6 pm.

Now I am off to make dinner, take a much desired shower, and shell a few gallons of peas. I think I will fall asleep with a sink full of dishes and still a long list of things to do.

I always think it's cute when someone thinks that Mondays are my day to lounge by a pool and take a nap.

I am just grateful that I have it easier than some people I know, they load into their next show Wednesday. My wonderful customer base means I can pick and choose shows, not travel far from home, and have online sales to get me through the lean times. I am truly blessed.


The Garden Harvest

I am an avid vegetable gardener. Flowers and other plants, not so much. My front yard is not well maintained or pretty. C always has to do the weeding and ask me what to do with the plants. I know how to landscape garden, I just don't like it. I think plants should be useful in some way other than just pretty. He has banned me from growing any food in the front yard.

So I have my vegetable garden in back. It is about 10'x15', and I have a plot at the community garden that I share with a friend and that is another 15'x30'. Oh, and I belong to the Quiet Creek Farm CSA. There are TONS of vegetables around this place come spring and summer. I have an understanding with C, garden all I want, just no wasting food. OK, I will admit, I will get rid of some extras salad greens now and again, I will forget that the bok choy is in the bottom of the fridge, but typically, nothing is thrown out. It is either canned, dried, eaten, or given away.

I just bought a new dehydrator. C thought this would be instead of the one I had before, it is more like in addition to the one I had before. This new one is more powerful and has a timer and a heat setting so it is great for more delicate items. The older one is fantastic for things you can just set and leave going till you remember them and take them out (sometimes the next day for me).

All the veggie extras (like turnip greens and kale stems) get boiled with my leftover chicken bones and I can my own chicken and sometimes vegetable broth. I get my chickens through the CSA and can that meat as well for later use. It makes great enchiladas and chicken salad.

This year I also got a pressure canner. I am excited to be able to do green beans that don't have to be pickled and other vegetables as well as the broths and meats I mentioned already. I really think that with some solid planning, I will be able to have most of my food for the year stocked by the end of summer. I am learning what we eat most of and what we like best it will take a few years to figure it all out but I will get it all under control. By no means does this mean we don't go out to eat, or that I don't go to the grocery store, but what it means for me is that I know what we are eating most of the time. I know what is in it, I know that it's healthy, and I know where it came from. I've started getting meat from a few local farms, splitting a pig and a cow with family and friends, stocking my freezer too. C picks on me some, but when I use something from the store (like tomato sauce) he can instantly tell and misses the home cooked taste. I take great pride that he would rather eat home than eat out when given the choice.

Sometimes it gets a little stressful. I need to get things put up and out away before a big event. Sometimes I loose a little sleep. I have been known to make pickles at 5 am before a day at Musikfest. Overall I enjoy the challenge and the  process of it all. The bounty of the season brings me joy.


Just 1 minute

So I listen to a lot of podcasts. A LOT. Most are dramas (Welcome to Nightvale,  Pleasure Town, Our Fair City) but I also throw in a good dose of history (Stuff You Missed in History Class, Sawbones, The Memory Palace, Lore) as well as women's issues (Stuff Mom Never Told You), Crime (Serial, Undisclosed), Design (99% Invisible) and some odds and ends (The Mystery Show, Invisibila, Jack's Farm Radio). See I said A LOT of podcasts.

I listen when I work, go for walks, drive in the car alone, or sit and knit at night. When I run out I either find more or break out the audiobooks.

But I have a new one. Happier. Now I started following The Happiness Project when it first started as a blog. Then it morphed into a book that I admit I never read, and I fell away from following blogs to following podcasts. Now it's new incarnation is the Happier podcast and I am catching up from the beginning.

But why did this get me here. What was so interesting. The 1 minute rule. If you see something that needs to be done and will take you less than a minute to do, then just stop and do it. Don't put it off until it takes longer, or until it drives you crazy because it's not done. What can this be? For me it has been washing the glasses in (or near because sometimes for some reason they don't make it in) the sink. Takes just a minute and there is now almost always an empty sink. Toilet? Just a quick brush anytime it looks like it needs it. Shelf needs to be dusted. Just do it. Doesn't have to be the whole room or the whole unit, just the one I noticed as I walked downstairs.

It's great for the business too. Quick emails (not detailed ones, those get done once or twice a day in office work sessions), print an order and place in in the to do pile, add something big to my to do list, you name it.

Why does this help me? Because I get overwhelmed. I get anxious. I get almost claustrophobic when I feel like there are a million things to do. So I am heading things off at the pass. Doing them before they make my to do list. Doing them before they are just driving me to the brink of sanity, doing them before a little project grows into a huge one. And most importantly doing them before I get so stressed that I am just a ball of nerves and I try and tackle everything at once in a whirl wind.

So if you hear me say that I "just need 1 minute" I do, I have something important to accomplish in that time :)


How Many Different Ways Can I Reach You?

It is tough having a business that moves every week and it is hard to make sure that everyone who wants to know where I am can do so. I make sure my schedule is posted three months at at time so in March I begin to list March, April & May, in April I post April, May & June and on and on. That way shows get three months of time to be seen and planned for. I don't post my whole schedule because I actually think that a whole season is overwhelming to look at.

So where do I post this information?

Here on the blog. Over to the left hand side of the page you can see my schedule.

On the web site: There is a whole page dedicated to the event schedule.

On my Facebook Page: There is a section for my schedule, plus I post information about shows as I see it in feeds, and often as I am at the shows too.

Twitter: It gets fed all my Faceboook Posts, so everything is seen here too.

On the guild site: The Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Makers Guild has a place where you can find me and look up my schedule.

On my newsletter: Same as everywhere else I post three months at a time, based on the month the newsletter is for.

On my phone: As each week starts my outgoing phone message lists where I will be for that week.

Postcards: If you are on my snail-mail mailing list I send a post card with my show schedule every three months.

Oh, and I answer emails, so if at any time you ask me where I am going to be, I am happy to tell you.

So my question is: Where do you find out where to find me? What is the best way to give you this information? Am I doing enough?


I could have just eaten the oranges...

Many of you know that I live gluten free. One of the only things I really miss is Angel Food Cake. I am not a baker, I thought it was hard to make, and I never even tried making a gluten free version.

Tuesday I was in Echo Hill Country Store picking up the frozen organic banana slices I like to use in my morning smoothie, and I saw a mix for gluten free angel food cake. I put that right in my buggy and headed to the checkout.

When I got home I looked on the box for ingredients...12 egg whites!! 12!! Now I happen to have a few dozen eggs in my house because I have been getting them with my weekly Butter Valley Harvest CSA share. (I learned we don't eat many eggs around here, so even though I share with a friend, I had amassed 2 1/2 dozen eggs over the last 7 weeks). I was happy to fins a use for so many eggs. But what to do with all those egg yolks??

I did some research and found this great web site from The Kitchn (they even list the recipes by how many yolks you will need!) I decided on the Bitter Orange Creme Brulee. But now I needed oranges for their zest. Off to the grocery I go..

If you have been thinking the way I do...now what will I do with those two zestless oranges? I have Rhubarb, how about orange-rhubarb jam. Ok...off to Google that (while in the grocery store and trying to steer my cart straight). I pick up jars and liquid pectin and I am good to go.

I get home and explain to hubby this whole line of thinking. His response: "You could have just eaten the oranges". Yes, but that would have taken the fun out of figuring out how to use all of everything!

I do this all the time, it can drive my city slicker hubby to the edge of crazy. But I really do try and live a "waste not, want not" lifestyle in every way I can. Sometimes I just go a touch too far. I could have just stopped and eaten the oranges :)


Easy Easy Easy- is it killing the Arts & Crafts Industry?

It seems lately every where I look something is easy. Easy dinner recipes, easy knitting patterns, easy life hacks, easy garden projects, and on and on and on.

Are they so easy? They are if you start the project with a particular skill set already. Dinner is easy if you know how to shop vegetables quickly. Have bad knife skills and that 10 minute prep listed quickly becomes 30 minutes of potato peeling and cutting hell. Easy knitting patterns are only easy of you can already knit and purl proficiently. You get the idea.

But lately book after book, after website, after magazine is full of "easy" things to do yourself. I consistently overhear conversations at shows about how "easy" something is to do and how dare the artisan charge so much for their work. It used to be doing a demo at your booth made people understand what goes into your trade. Now, if you are good (which you should be to demonstrate) it looks so "easy". Like they can go home, plug in a lathe and fill their house with bowls in a few hours.

Don't get me wrong. I love the DIY movement. If it is actually going to get done. Pinning a pattern doesn't make it materialize in your wardrobe. Now when I hear "I can do that" I answer with "yes but will you find time to?" Artisans charge for our knowledge, our practice, our skill, our proficiency.  We make it look easy because we do it over and over and over. The people writing the books have too. It is easy- for them and people like them. Is it easy for you? By the time you buy all the ingredients / supplies will you wish you just bought it from an artisan for just a few dollars more?

There is a great quote I was told once and I keep by my desk. (wish I remember where it came from):

"Amateurs practice till they get it right, professionals practice till they can't get it wrong"


Happy Earth Day! How are we green?

We say in my family that "green" is a way of life, it's not hype and labels and marketing. Actually most of the "greenest" people and companies I know do it so intrinsically they forget to even mention it. So I decided today is a great way to explain some of the ways we try and stay "green" around here.

  • We use USPS because they provide friendly boxes. Their packaging already meets several ecological standards. 
  • Since they are already at the workshop 6 days a week. I just leave your order out for them to pick up as they go by, no extra fuel is wasted.
  • We buy shipping labels that are made with recycled paper too.
  • The packaging is all reused. Every bag of air, bubble wrap, and packing peanut used has been saved by us or a customer to be reused in your package. We never buy packing materials!
In the Workshop
  • We work while it is cool out. This means in the summer we are in by 6 am and out by Noon. No fans, no Air Conditioning needed!
  • We use fluorescent lighting, using 1/4 the energy than if we lighted the shop with incandescence lights.
  • We order supplies in bulk. Often I order what I need for a year or more. That way it ships only once. I also buy from the closest supplier possible to keep that carbon footprint down

Overall Business:
  • We recycle! Can you believe the whole business throws away less than one 30 gallon bag of garbage a week? Everything else is reused or recycled!
  • All the scraps and ugly soaps are made into sachets, not thrown away! 
  • We pay bills digitally whenever possible.
  • Deliveries are made in batches or with other errands. I have been known to stop at the grocery store between deliveries just because it saves me a trip later.
  • I only travel 60 miles for shows. This means I use less fuel, can pack my own food for the day, and sleep in my own bed at night. 
  • My overall philosophy is not to "green wash" you. I am human. I am doing the best that I can right now. Maybe I can't afford to do something better, maybe I don't know how to do something better, maybe I just can't do it consistently. I'm on a journey to be a better business each year, in increments. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to what I do and how I do it and I am always happy to answer questions and take suggestions. 


Get Rejected Every Day

So I have been catching up on the Podcasts I listen too and have finally gotten to Invisibilia. It's another great one put out by the folks at NPR and it focuses on things that are invisible in our lives. This one was about fear.

The part that specifically spoke to me was about the gentleman who decided to get over his fear of rejection by getting rejected once a day. He even came up with a name for it: Rejection Therapy and a web site and some cards to help you do this yourself. Now he was getting over rejection by random people, and from friends by asking them for sometimes strange things.

But do you know what he learned? That you are not rejected as often as you think you will be. He also learned to just let it flow off of him when he is rejected, by answering with a simple "thank you" and being happy about the rejection. Why happy? Because being rejected in the first place was his goal. He made rejection a game, and the way to win was for someone to say "no" to you. If they didn't then you DIDN'T ASK FOR ENOUGH.

So I am in the car and I am thinking about my own fear of rejection when it comes to my business. I am afraid of stores telling me they are not interested when I approach them about selling wholesale. I am afraid of new shows rejecting me when I apply because I am not what they are looking for. I am afraid to voice my desires to show organizers regarding my booth placement at an event because I am worried they will get angry with me and this will hurt my chances of getting accepted again in the future. I am afraid of making telephone calls, even returning people's calls, because of my fear that they have changed their mind and will reject me when I come calling.

So here is my plan. 30 days of rejections. I am going to take the month of April and think of 30 scenarios that I am scared of dealing with. In May I am going to conquer one a day. My goal isn't to be rejected, but to at least ask. If I am rejected, fine, it will help me get used to it. If I am not, bonus, something good came out of the request.

So what are you afraid of?

P.S. Time + Thoughts = Fear. Take time or thoughts out of the equation and you won't be afraid. Whole new meaning to Just Do It.


Web Site Upgrades

These past few months have been filled with research into how to upgrade my web site and get the most bang for my buck. There are so many thing to consider.

Online orders have been skyrocketing and my current site is a bit clunky. It only accepts PayPal or credit cards through PayPal, dealing with bulk purchase discounts is tough, the coupon codes (for me) are impossible to track, and it is terrible on any mobile devices or tablets.

I have come to believe that spending a little more for a streamlined system will pay off in the end with a better online order experience and hopefully even more online orders.

My first option was to keep what I have, and add on a payment gateway. This would mean I needed to add some security layers, and find a gateway and processor that I like. Possible: yes. Time Consuming: yes Expensive: Yes. I thought I had an option to use Authorize.net and not need a Secure Socket Layer, but I was wrong and tool two days and spent $50 on a non-refundable set up fee just to learn the whole thing won't work.

So then I explored all in one platforms. I started with Indiemade. Awesome platform. Easy to use. Looks great. Took a day and a half and started inputting inventory, got their payment gateway all set up with my bank, and then went to set up shipping options. Boom. Nope... no flat rate shipping options available. Can't offer free shipping either. Luckily they have a 30 day free trial so all this cost me was my time. At least I learned how important shipping is to me.

I sat with a friend and talked about other options. One she thought of didn't work out. She actually told me about them,. checked them out for me, and emailed to say not to bother all before I got home and had the time to check. Time saved is money earned.

Then I looked into PayPal pro. I could keep my site they way it is and this would add on a credit card gateway. But that wouldn't solve my clunky site, mobile issues, or coupon codes. 

Next was Shopify. This is what I am currently looking at. They have a 14 day free trial. I have put in some inventory items, checked out their shipping, and looked at their themes. It is a little more complex than the system I am using now (Wordpress running Market Theme), but with complexity comes more options. I think this is going to be the way I ultimately go. But I am not positive yet. I will let you know.

No matter what, look for a nicer site with better usability, more payment options, and an overall better experience in the near future!!


Lehigh Valley Garden, Pool, Patio and Flower Show

Come see the beautiful displays that our landscapers develop for this show!  You will be amazed at the amount of detail that goes into each exhibit!  Don't miss the baby ducks!!!  The landscapers, artisans, and vendors are ALWAYS willing to sit down and talk with show attendees and answer any questions you have.

Don't miss the speakers from: individuals, garden clubs, and various companies that will present topics of interest throughout the weekend - informative presentations for adults and children!

March 13-15
Friday 10am-8pm
Saturday 10am-7pm
Sunday 10am-5pm

Adults $9, children under 12 are free!


The Knitter's Edge Schedule Change

Well the weather isn't cooperating for Thursday night, instead I get a Saturday Afternoon, Whoo Hoo!

I hope this means more of you can come join me this Saturday March 7 from 1-3pm.
Official Release Party: The Knitter’s Edge, 1601 West Broad Street, Bethlehem, PA  This is a free event and you don’t have to be a knitter to attend. Come listen to me give a brief talk about my products, answer questions, and give away some samples. This will be your first opportunity to see and sniff the new 2015 line up!


Taking a Step Back to Move Forward

My time away this month has has a much bigger impact than I expected and in ways I never even thought of. Yes I took care of some personal things, yes I now have these things off my plate for the rest of the year, but the time did so much more.

Typically when I take time off, I really don't. Either I am with my other half, and he needs to work some too, and that gives me an excuse to work a bit each day, or I am by myself and I schedule out a few hours each day to work on special projects I bring with me on purpose. This time was different. I didn't have the ability to work every day and it made me take a step back from it all.

Like all retail businesses, the November-December months are usually the most crazy time of the year for me. I came off of these two months worn out and stressed. Knowing I would take time in February, I hit it hard, right after Christmas. I took no days off and worked my equivalent of double shifts for most of the month. This wore me down, dad down, and pretty much sucked the fun out of everything. One day Carlos sat me down and told me to chill out, that I am a freak when it comes to work, that I just put my head down and push through it, and that almost no one he knows can sustain that level the way I do, and he knows some pretty stubborn people.

Honestly, I ignored him. I had a goal. Double shifts every day, no days off till I had to leave and it would ALL be done. Everything. Every lip balm, every soap, everything probably until after summer shows wiped me out again. And then it happened. I ran out of space in my drying racks for soaps. It all came to a screeching halt. I could make no more soap, there was no place to put it for at least a week until the fist batches were cured enough to store in boxes. I did finish the lip balms and the lotion bars, and most of my supply ordering, and the web sites looked great thanks to Jen, but this was the start of my looking at things differently.

Once I was away I had to rely on Dad and Jen to keep the day-to-day going. Dad started working on soaps he can make by himself now, like Avocado Almond, and Oatmeal, Milk & Honey. Jen kept the orders going out, returning phone calls, book keeping, and other administrative things in line. This is the first time I stepped back and trusted to have things done when I got back. I didn't email every day, I didn't micromanage, I just let it all go. And it was all just fine. In fact, Jen did such a great job on shipping orders, it's her primary duty now.

I learned that 99.99% of my customers are awesome. They understand this is a super small, one woman operation who now just happens to get some awesome help from her dad (who one day will retire and not be replaced) and now has a super smart, flexible, loyal admin assistant. The .01% that didn't get it, who tried to bully their way into meeting to pick up an order, who called no less than 6 times demanding I get back to them ASAP because they needed a gift right now (the phone message clearly stated I wouldn't be returning calls), well, if they never order again, they won't be missed. I used to think every customer was right all the time, that every customer was gold. I am sorry, but there is no such thing as a soap emergency. Jen does not have to give up dinner with her family to meet you for your soap order because you forgot you need some while on vacation, I do not need to take time out of my personal business to call you back ASAP when both my web site and phone message says I am gone for a few weeks. Their lack of planning does not need to constitute an emergency on my end. I want to be nice to everyone, I usually go out of my way to do all I can. But sometimes there is just a great big "Hell No" and this month taught me exactly where that line is for me.

It also let me take a look at the forest, not just the trees. I get bogged down every day, dealing with this and that. But where is the path I want to be on. What do I want to accomplish and do. How do I want to get there? I got to take a long look at these things. I am putting some measures in place so I can look at my product line, see what sells best, and see what I should and shouldn't be making and bringing to shows. I am looking at what shows I do and how many I should keep. Half my shows added up only bring me 20% of my sales. What do I do about that? I am a fanatical hobbyist knitter and  my wool wash is starting to take off, how can I expand that product, make it special, and advertise it to a niche market?

So I stressed about time off, about being behind. And I am, I have a lot to do. Much to catch up on, and much to accomplish. But I also have taken two steps forward, on a path I can more clearly see now. Pretty soon I will be running down that path. 2015 is going to be a great year!


A Little Time Off

I am taking a little break this month to take care of some personal concerns. This means I won't be in the workshop from February 4-22.

However, I have minions! So you won't see that much of a difference :)

Dad will be in the workshop making sure everything stays on track. He may even find a little time to make some Oatmeal, Milk, & Honey soap if I am lucky ;)

My new illustrious personal assistant, Jen, will be shipping orders (every Tuesday and Thursday), returning any phone calls, and probably labeling hundreds of lip balms in between.

I will be answering emails during this time so feel free to drop me a note, question, or concern. I may have to pass you off to Jen but I will do my best to take care of you myself.


Making a difference and attaching meaning to our work

OK I promise this will be the last blog post about a  book I recently read: Marketing-A Love Story. (I am reading a new one about the history of botany..that should produce an interesting blog or two). Once again, Book quotes will be in old, my thoughts won't, and sorry. still no page numbers.

What if marketing was where we began our journey towards understanding what people need and want?- Arts and Crafts don’t solve problems, but they do feed an intrinsic need for the beautiful.  Our journey is to understand and provide what people want, not what they need in many cases.Selling a want versus a need is more complex. Often you have to help people realize they nave a want, or to give an exact description to what that want is. I need to be clean, any soap can do that. I want to smell "nice", but what does that mean? I want to have soft skin, but my definition of soft may be different than that of my neighbors. These things need to be defined before I can purchase what I want, and after I find something I like, I may even start to define it as a need if I want it bad enough to give up other things for it.

Art and business alike are about doing things that make a difference. – Need or want, it is to make a difference. So what do you do that makes a difference? How does it make a difference? Are you helping someone express their inner person? Are you providing art they can look at and that brings back a memory and increases their happiness? Do you provide a product or service that can become a tradition, an heirloom, provides a connection between people that is more meaningful than then item alone?

The number one reason a salesperson fails to close a sale is that she can’t effectively communicate the value of the product. Don’t sell the guitar, sell the music.  The biggest spending consumers aren’t simply shopping for stuff anymore; they are shopping for ways to change how they feel, to express themselves and to find meaning. They no longer want information or even experiences, they expect context- an understanding of what matters to them. We are mini psychoanalysts. We need to look at a potential customer, size them up, and quickly figure out how we can connect with them, how we can connect our art with them, and how we can make what is meaningful to us, meaningful to them. 

Marketing is not a department; it’s the story of how you create difference for your customers. It is the way we enable our customers to attach meaning to our products and it’s the reason they want to belong. Marketing is a transfer of emotion. We buy with our hearts and justify decisions with our heads.  That is what buyer's remorse is. Making a purchase with our hearts, only to have our heads tell us later it was a bad choice. We need to mitigate that remorse by attaching as much story and emotions to an item as possible. They aren't buying our art, they are adopting it, they are making a part of us a part of them. It is much harder to have remorse over a purchase that has its own emotional meaning to it. I watch American Pickers and they are always trying to buy a piece of rust from someone who will never get around to restoring it, but loves it too much to pass on to someone else. Those people have emotional attachment to that item so strong that money can't break that bond. We need to have each item we sell leave with the strongest bond to the purchaser as possible. They may never come back and buy another, but they will never part with the one they have or say anything negative about it to anyone who asks about it either.

Consciously bake word of mouth into your product or service. Most people skip this step. Make giving people a reason to talk about your products and services part of your culture, not just your marketing. Attaching meaning is what word of mouth is based on. Having our customers care enough about us to tell our story for us is key. Having them love what they bought so much that they buy more as gifts, or talk about it so much that all their friends need one too. This is is what the artisan needs to be doing. Most of us don't have advertising budgets, or a marketing department, or even a sales force. But if we treat our customers right, teach them about us, and show them how much we care about who they are and what we do, they will step up and be all the advertising, marketing, and sales force we need.