This past weekend I teamed up with DaWanda to create Make It! Shop It! Blog It!, an event to celebrate blogging and small business! (You can click here to get a taste for what we did and I will show you a bag that I made in the video or watch the video over on YouTube here).
We had around 130 attend from Berlin and other parts of Germany and the weather was perfect for what we had planned: Two speakers indoors (Nicole and I) and a screenprinting workshop outside given by Nadja of Smil and Britta from Bloody Bunny (they are hosting another workshop next week for a fee if you’d like to attend, more info here in German.)
After we spent the afternoon indoors mingling, eating, listening to Nic and I, everyone then had a chance to step outside for a screenprinting workshop. All could select between three motifs: bees, clouds, or a sailor bear and each were given a cotton tote to screenprint on and to keep at no extra charge. I selected the bear, you can see my finished bag in this video. It’s really cute, thank you Britta and Nadja for the great workshop. Everyone loved it.
I was scheduled to speak first and was given a two hour time slot and I was a bit scared because I had no idea how I would speak for 2 hours straight from a podium before a sea of strangers. I was a bit scared but I didn’t want to appear nervous because that would only make the DaWanda team feel stressed and I saw no need to do that. I didn’t even write a speech, I only had a few notes that I had scribbled down on the train ride there. I guess I didn’t expect a stage, a microphone, so many people to REALLY show up. When I arrived and saw the huge room full of chairs I became a bit tense! Lucky for me, I have a technique for calming my nerves which I used many times before going up on stage and they worked because the moment that I started speaking I was completely myself and felt like I was before friends. I couldn’t believe all of the smiling faces as I looked out at so many, men and women together, all there to learn more about blogging and how they can use a blog to expand their business. Yay!
Nicole from Luzia Pimpinella during her lecture on blogging and how she uses her blog to connect with customers and grow a small business as an independent designer.
I observed many taking notes which made me want to keep talking because everyone was really focused on what I had to say. I was so impressed by that, it gave me the courage to continue. Funny thing is, I wasn’t alone because I asked the audience a lot of questions so it became more like the way I operate this blog — a discussion — I throw ideas out here and then all of you jump in and comment. My talk was structured in a similar format. This is how I love to approach public speaking — getting as many in the audience included as possible because it helps steer the topic in the right direction so that I was able to spend time on points that the audience truly wanted to hear. I once gave workshops and lectures when I worked in the corporate setting but that was several years ago so I wasn’t sure if I could still draw from past experience and count on it to see me through… but public speaking must be like bike riding because if you have done it before and stop for awhile it seems like doing it again isn’t such a problem. Funny how my background helps me out now as a small business person. That’s why I never doubt the path I’ve followed in my life because all roads brought me to the point where I am today just like so many of you and so one cannot regret past career decisions. It seems a skill from an old job, no matter how much you thought you’d never use it again, can be a valued and needed skill a long way down the road.
What did I talk about? Well for one, I gave tips on blogging and promoting products through a blog, from writing on a regular basis, keeping your content fresh and positive, putting your store widget on your blog, the importance of responding to comments left on your blog, sharing your inspirations with readers, how to handle days when you have nothing to blog about, visiting other blogs to leave sincere comments, not letting the copycats (people who copy your products) get you down, being patient and not sticking too closely to your stat counter, approaching larger blogs to see if they’ll talk about your work, sticking to a theme (don’t veer off of your blog topic too much), carry business cards to promote your business and your blog, and the importance of taking crisp clear photos of your products that are true to color to post on your blog. You have to know that these tips are truly new and exciting to many in attendance because blogging in Germany within the craft community is still new and maybe it’s at the stage where American craft blogging was back in 2004ish. It felt exciting to speak to a crowd that was so enthusiastic and excited about breaking into the world of blogging.
We also discussed a bit about photo copyrights, and I was so pleased when my husband Thorsten raised his hand to share the research he has done on the topic being a photographer himself. Thanks, Tee!
Note: For all those who are interested in learning more about blog photography and copyright law in both the U.S. and Germany, Thorsten pulled together his research for you in a PDF file that you may download here. It contains plenty of links and should answer your questions on this topic.
I also mentioned to everyone that I would provide a list of some of the larger blogs that you may want to contact to see if they’d be interested in writing about you and your business. I have so many in mind that I do not know where to start, but since I mentioned Apartment Therapy in my lecture I’ll begin with them. A few others that I personally have had write about me in the past that I also read and respect are: Creature Comforts, Oh Joy!, Bloesem, Style Files, Emmas Designblogg, oh and perhaps this may be a great resource: Check out the international design blog slideshow that I pulled together for Domino magazine online. You can contact those lovely bloggers, too!
I want to thank DaWanda for teaming up with me, accepting my offer to do an event like this in Germany in the first place, and for giving me an opportunity to meet many creative and lovely new people. I have had this dream of pulling together a function like this in Berlin for over two years now so to see it come to life for me was a huge dream come true and meant SO MUCH on a deeply personal level. I also must thank and recommend the Gotischer Saal for events if anyone is looking for a place to rent in Berlin for a function. The building is beautiful and the couple who run it couldn’t be sweeter.
For those not in attendence, DaWanda taped both of the talks and will turn them into a podcast so when those are finished I will blog it with a link so you can listen in.
(photography by thorsten becker)
Big news from eBay today… I was pleased to receive a press release this morning announcing the launch of eBay site World of Good. The products offered on the site have a positive social impact on the people who create them and also on the environment. Many products are fair trade certified, made by impoverished artisans or farmed by small farmer cooperatives in third world countries. Most are created from recycled, reclaimed and/or sustainable materials. Some products are considered upcycled meaning new products have been made out of partial or full materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
The image quality isn’t that great, but I also really like this wool felted runner. It would look great in a long hallway, very graphic!
As you can see, World of Good offers items that range from rugs to baskets and boxes, furniture, and beyond. Yay for eBay! It’s great to see such a large influential company extend themselves in this direction.
(images from eBay World of Good)
If you ever need to pull yourself out of a creative rut, hit an outdoor fabric market (see bold text at the bottom of this post and then the comments section to find local markets in your area) like I did this weekend. I had one of those weekends, you know the kind… every twist and turn is eventful and fun and the housework doesn’t get done, dishes are stacked high, but at least you had a weekend to remember. Friday was busy, Saturday was amazing (more on the decor8/Dawanda event later!), and Sunday was spent here in Hannover with friends at an outdoor fabric market and then at a really gorgeous Autumn festival. Remember when I was in Amsterdam and how I told you about an textile market that I had stumbled upon by accident? I remember on the train ride back home how I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because I thought Hannover didn’t have something like this. I was WRONG. Here’s proof.
Twice in the Spring and in the Fall all those amazing textile dealers come from the Netherlands to visit us here to share their wares and yesterday was their first Autumn show. I took a few photos to give you an idea of what I saw. In addition to dealers from Holland, many Germans were there with fabrics on bolts, ribbons, patterns, books, buttons, even Bernina had a tent with sewing machines! I didn’t see ANY Amy Butler or fabrics from Free Spirit so if anyone in Germany has these textiles I strongly encourage you to find out how you can be a vendor and come to Hannover to introduce these American designers to markets like this one because it was PACKED and everyone was going crazy shopping… No one sells Amy Butler or Free Spirit fabrics in this entire city so having access to them at this fabric market would be a great way for you to expand your business. They’d definitely be a hit.
All of the fabrics are brand new, but unfortunately no one sold West African prints, Batiks, Indian prints, and nothing vintage. I would LOVE to see a vendor with batiks also take part and maybe even a few vintage textiles dealers if the fair owners allow it because I think the one thing the market lacked both in Amsterdam and in Hannover were ethnic prints, British textiles, and American designs (like Amy Butler). I did love that the market had tons of Tilda fabrics designed by Tone Finnanger from Finland (which I happily purchased, you can find them here). I blogged about one of Tone’s books last year in my post about books I found in Germany that I love, but I’d like to let you know that Tildas Hus is now in English in case you are interested). I also spotted loads of brightly colored felt, and some amazing buttons and trim. It was like a fabric and notions candyland! A total crack market for fabric junkies… I noticed many stumbling about with eyes glazed over in a bit of a trance like a true junky… drunk from the tactile and visual inspiration. I was in a bit of a daze myself after the first hour but I found some beautiful things and met a ton of great people so I’m very excited to know about this market and that I can hit it again in November. I have to add that I was so happy when Ingrid from YIPPIEYEAH! showed up to say hello. She was such an inspiration to me when I met her last year so seeing her again was so nice.
This is the booth (above) of Tipp Tapp Stoffe in Germany (they have an online shop), it was there that I met the friendly Anne (she has a blog called Gretelies) and purchased ribbons and an iron-on decal. I nearly fell down when she told me that she reads decor8. It was so random, I never expected her to know me. I think the world just keeps getting smaller and smaller through blogging, don’t you agree!?
I met the super sweet Nic from Luzia Pimpinella at the decor8/Dawanda event on Saturday (she gave a great talk about her personal journey as a blogger) and it was there that she gave me a charm for my purse that I immediately clipped to my bag. I was pysched to find some of her ribbon at this market. Here is the charm she gave me:
Nic had told me that she also designs ribbons for a large company here in Germany, so when I was at the Hannover fabric market (technically called the Hannover Stoffmarkt) and found many them I was over the moon with happiness! If any fabric manufacturers or designers are reading this, you have to consider selling some of Nic’s trims in your shop because the world needs Nic! Her trims are delicious. Here is a sampling of some of them below. Not all that I’ve wrapped around this postcard are from Nic but at least half of them are, the rest are Estio Lindo ribbons by German textile company Stenzo (find Stenzo fabric for sale here). We are talking cuteness overload.
Nic also has a wildly popular Dawanda shop where you can order her trims and handmade products online. I cannot wait to do some fun things with my new fabrics…
The above silks were scooped up for home-related projects, a bit more grown up than the red and blue cuteness above. The top piece is vintage from Petra, a local designer who owns a shop and atelier here called Rani Pink. I visited her studio yesterday after the fabric market and purchased it from her, she has stacks and stacks of gorgeous ethnic textiles so if you see something you like in her shop just ask her, “How much!?” like I did and if she doesn’t already have it reserved for a customer it’s yours. Petra has an inspirational blog which I’ve just made the decor8 blog of the week starting today.
If you’d like to see more photos of this market, click here. My photos taken above were right at opening so few were present. If I had waited to take photos later, I would not have been able to because the aisles are so packed with people you can barely move. Tip: Arrive early like we did!
The next (and final) fabric market here in Hannover this year is the first Sunday in November. If you are local and would like to meet up with me there, just let me know. I’m always looking for shopping pals and to make more friends in Germany.
I’m curious to ask you… do you have fabric markets in your town and if so, can you link to them in the comments section below? I think it would really benefit readers to have this post as a resource for either when they travel to new cities or to simply learn about local markets. Thank you!
(images taken by holly becker for decor8)