The immense devastation in New South Wales, and so many other parts of Australia as a result of the wild fire is hard to comprehend. There seem to be no words to truly describe the crisis or the sadness. This devastation has resulted in the loss of over a billion animals, enormous areas of wildlife habitat, and has pushed entire species to the brink of extinction. Additionally, the human toll continues to rise as families and entire communities lose their homes, their land, and their peace of mind as these fires ravage the continent. As I stared at the news, I felt completely helpless as so many of us do during periods of large scale crisis.
As a proud Canadian, who has spent a large portion of my life in rural and northern communities and as a proud daughter of someone in the Ministry of Natural Resources, the threat of forest fires was always real, but never as enormous or overwhelming. The humanitarian and environmental crisis that has erupted during this years fire season, is something we all need to be aware of.
When we started our family sheep farm the first promise I made to myself as the new steward to 120 acres, was that I will always care for the land, love it, nurture it, make it fruitful, and devote the time required to do those things. My grandfather instilled the concept of being a “steward of our land” in me at a young age and maybe this notion can help all of us be stewards to more than our own land, but also to the entire planet. I’ve spent several days soul searching and trying to find some way that we can help, how I can help, and how we as a fiber community can make an impact. I walked along a beach until I figured out what small contribution I could make to this crisis.
That’s when I created the ‘Australia Collection’.
In today's world, everyone can have a brand. Everyone is a brand for that matter. With social media, blogging, and more and more opportunities for individuals to sell nothing but themselves and their taste in clothing, home decor, beauty products, etc in order to make a profit, understanding how to create a distinct and visually appealing brand is becoming increasingly important. And as makers, we are no different. We might be sitting on the couch with season after season of the Gilmore Girls or the latest serial killer documentary on in the background while we knit and crochet in stretchy pants all day, but we are still business owners with brands to market. If you want to turn your hobby into a career, you have to treat it as such, and that involves affirming that what you're doing is a real job with the same needs as any other.
I'm totally guilty of downplaying what I do and not feeling brave enough to proudly state my job (why!?), so know that this is a process and we are all growing and no one has it totally figured out. It's only recently that I've felt comfortable saying "I'm a knitwear designer" when someone asks me what I do (and I still have a tendency to follow that up with "but for like, hand knitting and crochet, not like real fashion"). It's so dumb. But behind the scenes you better believe I'm working my butt off, much more so than most people I know who have "real" jobs, to keep my brand going and carve out a space for myself in the fiber industry. And today I'll be sharing my strategy for brand development with all of you so you can get started on building your empires too!
I've always wanted a strong brand identity. The best compliment I can receive is when someone says "I immediately knew that was Two of Wands when I saw it." But in a world where there are only so many ways to knit a hat, how do you stand out in the crowd? I can tell you that if you're coming up with your own ideas, and making or designing things that match your own personal style, your brand will naturally have a mood and cohesive feel to it. So my biggest piece of advice here is to make sure you don't get caught up in what everyone else is doing. It's important to follow trends, but trying to keep up with every other maker and model your brand after another is not only going to be exhausting and unfulfilling, it will not give you a strong brand identity. If anything, trying to emulate another maker or designer is the best way to fail because it's the differentiating factors and what sets you apart from the rest that will make your brand shine and build customer loyalty and trust.
But what makes one brand different from another? Everything from the colors you use, the way you style and edit your photos, the audience you're targeting, the types of items you're selling, and even your price point will shape and define your brand. Even some of those things that don't seem like visual aspects of your brand still influence the choices you make in your marketing and thus become part of the aesthetic. So the first step in creating a brand is to develop it using these factors. I think the easiest way to do this is to answer the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW of your brand. Then each time you're making a decision when it comes to your brand, you can check it against these defining factors to make sure it is aligned. So let's get started!
Happy 2020! It's that time of year again! Resolutions, new goal setting, and outlining hopes and dreams! The OML team receives many questions on advice for tips and tricks about elevating your brand and reaching wider audiences. A common tool for both of these end goals is YouTube! Now we know what you're thinking YouTube is scary, right? Well, lucky for you - Anja from Peony and Thyme is sharing her tips and tricks to demystify YouTube for makers!
The Why and How of YouTube
Anja takes the time to outline the 'Why?' and 'How?' of YouTube for marketing, brand recognition, and audience outreach! She outlines helpful products to create videos and even lets you in on how much revenue she receives through YouTube alone!
Watch her video below, we so hope you enjoy it! Remember to share and tag us @ourmakerlife and @peonyandthyme
ps - Anja is taking over our OML IG on Tuesday January 7 to answer all of your Q's. See, YT is feeling less and less scary already, right?
Happy Making, and YouTubing!
Jake, OML Team
In this OML podcast episode, Jewell hosts and chats with Elizabeth Duvivier, founder of Squam Arts Workshop and author of Stories For My Sister. This compelling fiction read is set in 1993, and two sisters are about to spend ten days under the worst possible circumstances. They must learn to face the bonds that will ultimately make or break them.
Squam holds amazing retreats in the heart of nature for knitters, crocheters, artists and designers. Jewell and Elizabeth discuss how we gain strength as makers in embracing the creative journey, its complexities, the maker community, as well as how and why accepting relationships, friendships, hurt, misunderstandings, forgiveness and love makes us stronger and better.
I'll hope you'll truly love reading Stories For My Sister - you can grab the book for 20% off with code OMLsisterLOVE through October 18. Is there a maker in your life that you have a deep sisterly bond with? Share in the comments below!