I have been MIA for a while now – but am back because I want to talk about finding support. While I was gone I was primarily selling my wares at craft fairs. As a card-carrying introvert, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy this much social interaction, but in reality I found it was wonderful to talk to the people who bought my things, and to find out how I could make them better. For example, I created coloring books for an environmentally friendly fair. I knew that the people who lived in the immediate area were predominantly young, environmentally conscious, and into yoga and meditation. I created coloring books using recycled paper, designs to inspire mindfulness, so containing a lot of tiny spaces to color. Bizarrely, the people most interested in the books were older women who wanted interesting pictures to color, but with fewer tiny details. I went away and created a completely different coloring book of flower pictures, and it has sold very well! Without the support of my customers, I wouldn’t have learned how to change the coloring books into ones that people really wanted.
It was also a great time for talking to other vendors and crafters. So many of us work from home or online, and seldom meet anyone else from our tribe, so the quieter moments of any craft fair provide plenty of time to talk to others doing the same thing as us. My daughter in particular was eager to start a group who meets monthly to chat, share experiences, and swap stories. That group is still being formulated – should it be anyone who crafts? only Etsy shop owners? only those actively earning money, as opposed to those who make things and sell them solely as a way to buy more supplies? While we wait for the snow to melt, that support group is still pending.
On the other hand, a friend who has been going through a particularly trying time in her life asked me where to find other women who wanted support while they were restarting their lives. Having been to many MeetUp groups, that seemed to be a great place to look for women who might be interested in joining such a group. To my amazement 50 women quickly signed up for the group, and the 12 spaces for the first meeting taken, plus 3 people were left on the waiting list. The first meeting fell during a torrential storm, so was smaller than anticipated, but everyone who made it agreed that finding others to support and encourage them was crucial to their wellbeing. If you live in the Swarthmore, PA area, please come and join us, or join us online on the Facebook group.
Although finding a passion and turning it into a purpose – be it more income, social connections, or a completely new path – is an exciting process, it can also be one filled with self-doubt and worry. In out over-connected online, but under-connected offline world it is reassuring to learn (again) that it doesn’t take a lot to feel support. It does however take the effort to step outside your comfort zone and go and meet new people in a similar situation. Who knows who else is on a similar path to you and could benefit from your support? Or you from theirs?