“I love making stuff.”
“I have a passion for craft.”
“I need to express myself.”
These are worthwhile pursuits. And I say, “Get to it!”
These statements are killer reasons to explore your artistic side. To get creative. To see what your own two hands can do.
But they are not good reasons to start a business.
Your passion for craft, art, design, and creativity is pure motivation. It’s fuel for your soul. But it doesn’t mean that opening an Etsy store will change your life.
The new arts & crafts movement is built on a huge vision. Led by Etsy, Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Sublime Stitching, and other companies ahead of their time, a world is being built based on quality over quantity, craftsmanship over automation, and originality over sameness. This world is beautiful, a little strange, and always new.
[My vision for Etsy is,] instead of having an economy dictate the behavior of communities, to empower communities to influence the behavior of economies. In my mind, Etsy’s ecosystem is about empowering and supporting these very small businesses. That goes well beyond just a marketplace.
— Rob Kalin, Etsy CEO via the Wall Street Journal
The vision of this world is the “why” behind movement. It’s why it’s caught on so fast. It’s why people care so passionately about it. It’s why people are willing to spend money on things we might not have even considered buying 10, 5, or 2 years ago.
And it’s all about you.
The movement and the businesses leading it are focused on a bigger purpose. It’s not only about their passion and certainly not only about their profit. The purpose of this movement is to build a whole new economy, way of doing business, method of consumption, and manner of operating in the world.
While it may sound idealistic, I’m concerned about the number of designers, makers, and artists that seem focused so completely on what they want for themselves in their business: a creative outlet, a way to stay home with the kids, a side business, a way to get rid of some of those extra craft supplies. These are wonderful results to be striving for, goodness knows I’ve worked towards all but the last, but they don’t inspire action.
I don’t think these fledgling business owners are self-centered. They just haven’t been pushed to have a dream for anyone but themselves.
Products with a clear sense of WHY give people a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. Remember, people don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.
— Simon Sinek, Start With Why
My argument here isn’t actually a marketing one. I don’t write this post as a business coach. I write it as a consumer.
The lack of vision shows up in telling ways: blindly following trends, putting faith in outside parties, not accepting challenges, copying others designs, or settling for last year’s tactics.
I’m not interested in why you’re doing this for you when I stand in front of your craft show booth or when I’m perusing your blog. I’m interested in what you want for me. I don’t need you to cater to me, I just want to know what I’m buying into. If I buy from you, I want to become a part of your vision.
I need to at least feel your purpose. I want to melt into your vision and become something bigger than myself.
Is that a lot to ask of a tiny business? A fledgling product? It sure is. But there is an overabundance of stuff that demands it. I demand it.
There is always room in the market for one more business, product, or passionate person with a clear sense of WHY.
Meaning. Vision. Purpose. Intention. Aspiration.
Sell me on those and you’re well on your way to making me want your stuff.