An Open Letter to Oprah

Dear Oprah,

Your business empire has excited and empowered women for many years. We appreciate your humble beginnings and your never-say-die attitude in making your way to the top. Whether harnessing your television audience, your crazy good business sense, or wide-reaching network, your big ideas and passion for change are a big inspiration to me and my community.

My community, you ask? That’s the very purpose of this letter!

My community is the creative thinkers, makers, and designers of the indie craft & design movement. And Oprah, we’re ready for you.

It’s time the lid is lifted off this goldmine of passionate, empowered, and assertive women (and dudes). It’s time that the world knows that China isn’t the only place that things are made. It’s time that consumers begin a love affair with the things they buy and not the quantity of stuff they buy.

And the makers & designers of the indie biz movement make great stuff. They produce beautiful products with engaging stories – original designs with innovative ideas – clever stuff with thoughtful details. You can shop in a variety of online venues – including my favorites Etsy and Supermarket – where you can buy directly from the maker. Many artists also run their own stores. Others sell at craft markets or in independent galleries & boutiques.

Although these women are working hard at promoting their wares & services, they are facing an uphill battle against big box stores, mass production, instant gratification, and a society that values quantity over quality. Oprah, these women need your help. They need your inspiration, your thumbs up, and your ability to shift the tide of American consumerism.

Your suggestion, word, or endorsement would do nothing less than change the lives of hundreds – thousands – of creative women (and dudes) who are seeking a more meaningful way of doing business, making a profit, and creating social change. It’s change we can believe in – the kind of change that lifts people up spiritually & financially and the kind of change that makes the world a more beautiful place.

We would be happy to open our community to you – and anyone who is interested in becoming more mindful of the things they consume and the way they spend their money. We want to share our stories & our passion with the world. We want to find a place in modern society for handcrafted, thoughtfully designed wares.

Thanks for your time and consideration.

A fan,
Tara Gentile
Scoutie Girl
owner, Scout Creative Media, llc
tara_gentile on Skype

images above from top-left, clockwise:
chicago skyline spoon ring by RiffRaffCrafts
my kind of town eco-felt pillow by DiffractionFiber
chicago flag bowls by CircaCeramics

[image of Oprah via oprah.com]

124 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Oprah

  1. Tara I love the way you think! If we have big ideas, we need to reach big targets. I have long admired Oprah for these same qualities, and I have a feeling she’ll embrace your message.

  2. tara, i love it!
    you have such a way with words, and i think your message will be received loud and clear. though i’m sure oprah will be happy to open her door to you (to us!), i’m so inspired seeing you kick down this door 😉
    i can’t wait to see what becomes of this… so exciting!

  3. Tara thank you! I have been thinking about this for months, one show on Oprah highlighting the indie community would give handmade the boost it needs. The community is in line with so much that she believes; following your passion, thoughtful consumption, and innovative products. I sincerely hope that before the Oprah show comes to an end the handmade community is featured.

  4. My one-year-old daughter Monet was sitting in bed with my husband and I, and as I read this aloud to him, inspiration in my voice, my daughter Monet started clapping. I think she knows that you are making changes for her, for the day she too is an artists in our society. Thank you, I too am giving you a standing ovation.

    Thank you for this Tara! For standing up for us, inspiring us, and giving us a push when we start to get discouraged.

    Can I publish this on my blog today and link back to you? I want to help spread your message, “this communities” message, and this beautiful letter you wrote! Please let me know if there is anything else I can do to help. Really, this is awesome!

    P.S. Did I mention I’m from IL. Chicago is amazing; full of fine food, culture, art, and recreation. It’s one of my absolute favorite cities in the whole US.

    1. oh angela, that made me a little weepy!

      you’re right – and i’m sorry to say i don’t even think about it that way… i’m very “now” focused as a human being. but these changes are for our children. they’re for a new generation of crafters & artists & creative people AND for a new generation of consumers.

      of course you can republish it!!

      thanks!

      p.s. most of my “must see” cities are on the east coast or west coast but chicago is definitely up there. it really seems to offer a LOT!

  5. Yeah, Tara!! Go indie artists!

    I’m not sure if you heard Oprah’s podcast/discussion on her Spirit Channel with Daniel Pink. He talks about how artistic, empathic skills are becoming more valued, and soon, professional success will belong to the right brainers! I strongly suggest his book “A Whole New Mind.” When I first decided I wanted to “be an artist” for a career, I got so much crap from people. “You’ll never make it…” “Oh, you want to be a STARVING artist??” These words only pushed me further to my success as an independent illustrator and designer.

    Right now, I can honestly say that because of this whole shift with the indie/handmade movement (plus a lot of faith and hard work!) I can support myself on my art’s income alone.

    We are at the brink of a new and amazing artistic awakening…

    Go forth, indie crafters!!!

    1. thanks for the book rec, katie!

      yeah, i’ve taken that “crap” and turned it into ambition & power too. cliches suck. but, often, they’re unnecessarily true. we need to break ourselves out of this “poor artist” shell and embrace our skills for what they really are: something the vast majority of people WISH they had.

      hello?! THAT’S MONEY!

      and I agree, we’re at a tipping point with this. we need to push push push until we hit it and then reap the rewards. thanks for your support!

    2. The time is ripe, Tara! Thank you so much for being a champion and knocking on Oprah’s door : D

      Katie, I love the energy in your work! It reminds me so much of Amy Butler’s creations before she got into patterns and fabric.

  6. tara, genius as always. i love this letter, and i hope oprah gets the chance to read it! let’s get it into her hands :)
    bring the world over to handmade, it really is beautiful over here!

  7. Love it! Wouldn’t it be great if she did a favorite things style show all about indie makers? Or searched Etsy for accessories to use in makeovers? Or both? Somebody needs to teach Oprah to knit. Now that would change the crafty world. :)

  8. Yay, you go girl! We all have to work together to get the word out, to educate people about the differences between massed produced by machines (most often outside of North America) and hand made with passion and love and care and attention right here on our own soil, stimulating the economy, helping moms to be able to stay at home and raise their children.

    Bridget

  9. Fantastic Idea!!! This would be so amazing for crafters around America to be seen and heard! In these trying times small craft buisnesses needs to know that they have a chance to make it, and this is an amazing way to make that happen. Thanks so much for your support to all crafters and for putting this into writing so perfectly!!!

    Mary

  10. Tara, you’re brilliant! Your letter to Oprah is a remarkable and touching inspiration for all of us. Thank you for supporting our handmade movement. As artisans we can’t compete with China in price, but we’re certainly heads and shoulders above them in quality and thoughtfulness.

    Love your blog. Keep it coming!

  11. Genius! What a fabulous letter. On behalf of all of us who sit quietly in our little corners, working to make the world a better and more beautiful place, thank you!! And a big hug, too!

  12. *applauds*
    Whoooo! Yes!
    I agree, and if Oprah will take notice of all of us crafty crafters, we might start a revolution!
    { when Oprah “discovered” Carol’s Daughter that business exploded! An interesting article “The Oprah Effect”: http://www.cnbc.com/id/29961298/ }

    Thank you Tara! I hope Oprah reads your letter….. and yeah, let us know when to tune in! 8^)
    ~diana

  13. Awesome letter! I so hope that this comes to her table and she reads what movement that is happening around the world. I can say as a Canadian artist, this letter represents all the hard working artists that work so hard in our country. Together, we must stop the belief that all things in this world need to be made in China. Why is this world so held up in the con that having more is always better? Where did the passion go regarding what we value and love towards art that is made in our countries? I hope that our indie voices are heard and that the women and men of North America will come to appreciate all of the hard work that goes into our products. Awesome Tara…just awesome!!

  14. I love the Indie world. It has inspired me so much. I have always wanted my own business……to be creative…….and break away from the bordom of corporate nonsense.

    I found what I needed within the Indie world. The crafty creative people of this world have inspired me and I have learned so much from their blogs that I am thankful everyday for this world. It would be great if we were recognized on a different level. :)

    Luv, luv your blog!

  15. Unbelievably brilliant! Thank you so much for all that you do to keep our world steadily moving along. This letter to Oprah is beautifully written and is so inspiring! If only Oprah and her people would get behind this I just know great things would happen!

    Please keep up your great work. You inspire me every day to be better and go farther!

  16. Huzzah!!!! Bravo!!!! Brilliantly said!!! I am off to retweet and help get the word out. Thank you, Tara, for giving all of us Indie biz women (and dudes) such a beautiful, articulate voice.

  17. Thank you so much for writing this great letter. I hope that Oprah does get this, and gives our little corner of the world some exposure. I’m off to retweet this as well. xo

  18. Beautifully worded and spot on!! Thanks for being the voice of the brilliant & creative minds of the women (and dudes) of the world to the forefront!

  19. Every once in a while, somebody happens to have the appropriate drive, inspiration, and charisma to pull something like this off. A blessing on your head for writing this on our behalf, Tara, and for everything that you do for HaNdMaDe.

  20. This is AWESOME Tara. You’ve taken the idea of marketing outside our niche to the extreme! Thanks for being the ambassador for all of us!

  21. nice work tara! loving this letter :)

    i gotta echo jessica – hoping you also submitted this directly on her site. i’ve heard that etsy has not been featured yet on oprah and i gotta say it’s time!!

    crossing my fingers that a trip to chicago is in your near future with a lil stop by the harpo studios so you can represent for us all!

  22. A++++ to you, Tara. What do you think of a letter writing campaign to Oprah? Was your letter e-mailed? Supposedly that’s how Martha Stewart started to notice Etsy sellers. I am concerned since Oprah is leaving the airwaves, isn’t she?
    Regardless, thank YOU for your efforts.

  23. Thanks for this letter… would like to see those of us who repurpose vintage items included by Oprah, too. We’re doing what we can to save beautiful vintage pieces AND the planet by giving them a second go at life.

    Good job… best wishes!

  24. Tara… thanks for this letter. I would like to see Oprah also include those of us Etsy sellers who repurpose and resell vintage items. We’re doing our part to give these treasures a second go at life… and save the planet in the process. Thanks again! Good luck… and best wishes!

  25. Tara, you are so inspiring!!!

    I have been following your blog for a while now and it has been such a blessing. There are days that I feel all alone in my way of thinking and then I read your post and it lifts up again.

    A phrase that has become my mantra is to ‘LIVE Consciously’ and this I feel is what you are describing in your letter to Oprah. I make totes with that phrase on it and they have had such a great response by people in all walks of life… I think people are growing tired of the absent minded approach to living that we have gotten used to in our consumer driven society.

    Thank you for speaking on behalf of indie crafters from all over the world… even all the way over here in Australia!

  26. I love what you’ve written and you’ve addressed some really big problems with consumerism today, especially as it relates to the independent producer. I know that celebrity endorsement is a quick ticket to fame, but we, as producers, need to address the problem from a sustainable point of view that doesn’t require the quick fix of a famous person. Reeducating consumers about quality, and having all of society value individualism through purchasing and displaying one of a kind, or unique goods would be a start. We need to make having something original coveted as much as the mass produced designer hand bag.

    How do we do that? By quitting our media driven addictions and desires to fit in by being the same as everyone else, perhaps.

    1. Hi Roberta – I agree that celebrity endorsement is not the ticket to long-term growth & the reeducation of modern society. But Oprah isn’t just any celebrity. She has actually reeducated a large part of society. She’s taken things from trendy to normal.

      Indie craft has done an amazing job of building a movement. But we’re at a tipping point – and we need someone mainstream to tip us over so that we can reach a new segment. Some people just won’t listen until they hear it out of the mouth of someone they trust.

      I think Oprah is the perfect fit.

  27. Are you familiar with the saying, ” from your lips to God’s ears?”
    Well, ” from your pen to Oprah’s eyes!”
    Warmly,
    Grace

  28. Hi,
    Brilliant idea and it will not just effect Indie designers in America, but all over the world. Oprah is huge everywhere and her Empire extends across the universe. If she took this idea on board imagine the ripples………
    Thank you

  29. Oh wow I was just thinking about this the other night while watching Oprah and there you are actually ding it! Well done you and thank you!

    BTW I am a brit and it certainly would help all over the world, we just need to make handmade mainstream.

  30. Big Box stores are struggling (exception would be Wallmart). But, as more and more people have the “Coach” products of the world ,the people who thought they were so elite being the only ones who could afford them are looking for originals. In smallish numbers now but the tide is turning to bespoken goods. Your wish just may come true and Oprah could be just the push the world needs! Bravo!

  31. Tara, once again you are an inspiration to all of us indie designers and store owners. What a great, well written letter. Thank you so very much for always being a supporter!!

  32. Hello, Tara,
    I recently discovered your lovely blog – and I am 100% behind you on this! Not beeing from USA I hope you will post a follow up if there is any response from Oprah.
    Handmade rules!

  33. what a nicely put, well written sentiment! you’re on to something there… we’ve already got Martha Stewart on our side! Did you see this month’s issue of MS Weddings? A whole page dedicated to etsy sellers. bravo!

  34. Thanks for the letter to Oprah, Tara.

    Personally, I’d like to have a studio day with Oprah! She’s so open minded to new experiences, i imagine she understands the passion behind indie creating! Making things with our own hands makes us appreciate hand made so much more, even that which isn’t our own medium.

  35. Fabulous! Oprah is definitely a game changer and I can only imagine what would happen in the hand made/ indie biz world if she got behind it like she has texting & driving. Thanks for your boldness, Tara and taking us along with you on the ride!

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  37. Thank you for posting this, Tara! You’re right on about our consumer culture and valuing quantity over quality. When high profile folks like Oprah started changing the dialogue, that’s when the majority of folks are going to listen.

  38. OPRAH BABY! You want us! You really really want us! We are the indie spirit! We are the vibe of reality rushing through the world. Please look at us! We are shining here! We are instilling the entrepreneurial spirit in our children! We are saving the earth! We Love you woman! xoxoxox
    http://www.littlealouette.etsy.com
    xoxoxoxox as ever, Amy

  39. I agree 100% that Oprah has an unprecedented ability to mold opinions and shape buying patterns! Been saying it for years, “when Oprah finds me”…but I’ve never tried to get her attention…good for YOU!

  40. Here’s to quality over quantity and bringing the manufacturing/making of ourselves back home. Maybe Oprah will hear your call, I certainly hope so!

  41. This is fantastic and I could not agree more! My motto has always been to “support the locals” and that can reach from one side of the country to the other! As we have seen today with NateDay our design community can make things happen!

  42. I LOVE this idea. I think all of us bloggers should write an open letter to Oprah and encourage her to explore independent businesses.

    Indie businesses not only do so much for our local economies, but each has a unique and interesting story to share.

    There are stories of hard work, stories of diligence, stories of creativity and responsibility, business tips to be shared, mentoring insights to be gained…it would be a win-win for Oprah as the sharing would be GREAT entertainment, information and advice for all her followers.

  43. Huge applause, Tara! Quantity over quality has become such a huge part of today’s lifestyle. Why buy a well-made piece of clothing by someone treated fairly in my community when we could buy 5 that won’t last very long and were made by people treated horribly in a land far, far from where I live? Hmmm – WHY?
    I would love to see this movement grow with such a beautiful, powerful woman!
    Katie

  44. I had just read an article the other day about how men don’t “get” Etsy and handmade and don’t care where the product comes from. I think we all should start caring more about these things and people like you are making this happen, step by step. This is a wonderful initiative, I hope this letter will reach its target :)

  45. I’m so glad I found your blog Tara – it is truly inspiring! And this letter to Oprah is just what the creative community needs. Big thanks for championing this “cause”.

    I think we also need to let her know that by promoting meaningful ways of consuming we’re also promoting the idea that each and every person can find ways to lead active creative lives. The craft community runs deep (from sellers to instructors to bloggers to mindful buyers) – let’s hope Oprah hears all our voices!

  46. hi tara.
    you are creative with words which makes them inspirating. this is also excellant because you did not pick a common topic. you are different.
    i love you work and well done.

    p.s. did you get a reply from oprah.

  47. Glad I found your site Tara – some interesting articles.

    I was just wondering – did you get a response to this letter? It would be good to have a response … 😉

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