Let's Talk Business - Part One - Passion

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hello, so good to see you here! I've carved out this little space in time for us to meet up and chat about all things business-y. Last week so many of you shared your business related questions and concerns (more? keep them coming!)  I'm always amazed at the sheer resourcefulness, drive, and ingenuity in our creative community. Your questions were so thoughtful and since. Thank you so much for trusting this space to share them. 

Where to begin? Well, the questions ran the gamut from pre-idea to growing business to identifying target markets to building brick and mortar shops. Wowza! I'm hoping to throw out a few things today and hear your thoughts. Tell me what resonates, let's discuss and hopefully we can grow together. 

Over the weekend, I began collecting information, brainstorming and lining up guest posts and I thought, you know, many questions can be addressed....or at least layers of concerns can be peeled back if we start where I often encourage others (and myself!) to start - by reassessing your passion.  In fact, the whole first chapter of my e-book dives into identifying your core concept. Because that has to come before anything and remain the focus as you grow.  Have you identified your passion?

When we try to decide where to take our business, how to grow, ways to improve - it's often so easy to forget our core concept and think about what we think we should do, or could do... or even more tragically, into the messy realm of worrying about what will people buy. You know what I mean? 

There was a time when I lost my focus...and lost passion, Here's the ultra quick version (of which I've gleaned mounds of business-y lessons) :  I began by making handbags. People loved them. Everything grew from word of mouth way back in 2006. I was teaching and it was my hobby. Later, I decided to open an Etsy shop for extra cash flow. My handbags and clutches did very well. But I made a big mistake. Huge.  I began sewing just about everything. And then selling them. With our new baby came lots of handmade bibs, cloths, blankets, etc...and you know what I did? I made more and put them in my shop.  And they flew off my virtual shelves. They were in several baby boutiques. But there was a problem. I wasn't the slightest bit passionate about it. (except when I made them for my own little bebes!) The sewing was easy, there was no challenge...and I just didn't feel it.  What was there to market? It would be so inauthentic for me.  So, eventually, I made the switch. I refocused only on my handbags and clutches and it was the single smartest thing I've done for my business.

Can anyone relate to this? Similar experiences?

When a business owner has passion, you can feel it. You can share it. You want to be a part of that.  Which businesses & creative folks with passion overflowing come to mind?

When I think passion, I immediately think of Noisette Academy, Oh My HandmadeRifle Paper Co., Sarah Jane Studios...

What am I passionate about? Hmmm, let's see...Well, I'm completely passionate about drawing sketches and figuring out my own patterns. I like the trial & error, make it work kind of approach. I don't do purchased patterns. There is something incredibly satisfying about making something that is completely mine. From sketchy rough draft to refined finished bag. And I'm passionate about making items that people love...and love to give. Those 'behind the scenes' stories really get me. Like the husband who contacts me to create the perfect gift for his wife. I love that. And on the other front, I am madly, crazily passionate about helping others shine. I love nothing more than working with other folks to forge their own success. That's why I taught and it's why I now coach other businesses.  Outside of business life....I'm passionate about my two boys.  They make getting up at 4:30 so worth it.  (they don't make it easy, but they make it worth it ;) 

Now, your turn. What are you passionate about? Does this translate into business? Are you letting your passion drove your business growth and decisions ? Let's chat!

{lovely print from Unraveled Design}


Daffy's Dream said...

wow! wonderful post!. I learned sewing from my grandmother and mom. For years I sewed my clothes, then it was easy and there was no challenge. Then I found my passion in making handbag and clutches. Now I enjoy making from the draft sketch to the final product. I love making different pattern and various color combo.

allisa jacobs said...

Daffy - thank you for sharing your story! Sounds like you can relate to the "sew everything" temptation :) I love hearing that you've found your passion! Do you think this is translating into your business? I think it can be hard to keep the focus at times. Love hearing your thoughts!

Have a lovely day & thanks for stopping by to chat :)

Tania said...

When thinking of people where the passion seems to overflow I immediately thought of Sarah Jane Studios. She does a wonderful job, pursuing her dreams and combining it with motherhood. There are 3 out of the 4 you listed that are on my list too. Perhaps I should check out Rifle Paper as well :).

As for my own passion: I think it lies in creating handmade decorations and stationery. I created birth invitations for my children and have gone all out on their birthdays with themed parties. It wasn't necessarily to keep within a certain budget (you can get cheap banners and baloons at just about any supermarket), but more that I was able to create something with my own hands, with my own vision and knowing that it made the occasion extra special because it was handmade with love.

I think (well, I speak for myself and not my children now) that it makes the memories stronger. When I see their birth announcements or pictures of their parties I remember creating the decorations or sewing their costumes (yes, that comes with themed bday parties...) and it all comes back. That special feeling that I made a difference that day. And of course it also nice when I see their smiling faces or get compliments from other people :).

I'm trying to put all of that handmade love into my business, to make someone elses celebration just as special like they've always felt to me. Since I've only just started my business I need some more time to find out what makes me truly happy, if I have to narrow my niche down even further. For now it feels good and I even came up with a tagline last night (you know, when you actually should be sleeping and then get an overload of ideas in your head...). I think, no I believe I'm off to a good start.

It was lovely to chat, I'll see you next week!

allisa jacobs said...

Tania - Thanks for sharing your passion! Creating something for our children that we can look back on later does have such a magical place in our hearts...I agree! Look forward to talking about niche even more, it's a concern for many folks. Many times, the actual zest, drive, passion, and energy we share can become just the niche we need :)
Best to you on your journey!
Look forward to chatting more next week.


Isa Maria said...

Thank you so much for including Noisette Academy in your great list! Passion drives everything I do and has been the driving force behind the change in my business model from doing client work in an agency setting to starting up the Academy teaching others how to gorw their businesses, infuse heart into their marketing and follow their dreams! I'm excited about the change and I hope my passion for helping others continues to come across. Such a great post! Thank you :)

allisa jacobs said...

Isa - Your passion totally shines through..and makes you so remarkable! I love working with you, your spark is so contagious. Thanks so much for sharing the switch you made in your business.


ElleSee said...

I love to draw. In the beginning, I made the huge mistake of putting random stuff in my shop just to fill it up with things. I have since started letting the listings that I am not happy with expire, and am trying to put things up for sale that I am the most happy with. I recently made the decision to sell only small art prints (3.5x5 only) because I personally only like small art prints (no larger than an 8x10). So, in a way, I guess I am letting my passion drive my business decisions. I think it's so important that if you aren't happy with it, why would anyone else be?

allisa jacobs said...

ElleSee - Love your focus, "if you aren't happy with it, why would anyone else be?"

You know, I love small art prints especially as well. Look forward to seeing your business grow!

Ooh Leela! said...

I am passionate about many things, business and dogs included.

I opened my Etsy shop a year and a half ago and like many of you started making a little bit of everything. Dish towels, cappuccino mix, coffee sleeves, you name it! Naturally, things got pretty confusing. I let my emotional attachment to the things I made get the best of me.

Being able to start my own line of pet apparel and accessories was always on the back of my mind though. But I needed to get more confident behind my sewing machine. I took lots of garment construction classes and took the plunge late last year. My shop is still lacking coherence, and I am looking forward to fixing that!

I can see that as I get better at what I do, so does the way my passion shine through.

Great blog post Allisa, thank you so much for putting it together and sharing your knowledge and experience.
Looking forward to next Wednesday!