Green Stockings Craft & Design

October 15, 2012

A “How to GreenStockings” Exercise

Filed under: Crafting — Tags: , , — GreenStockings Craft & Creative Events @ 7:55 PM

Another great post to reflect on from Oh My Handmade Goodness! This one originally came in the context of a discussion about a crafter with two really different Etsy shops, and wondering how she should proceed. Keep both? Drop one? Integrate her brands? In trying to help her decide which products where the best for her to go forward with, this advice was given:

Create a chart with 4 columns. In column 1 write down each type of item you sell (eg. paperweight, paper wreath, necklace, pin cushions…).

In the next column, I want you to jot down how much you would love to spend 4 hours working to create this type of item, on a scale from 1 (meh) to 10 (my favorite!).

The next column will help us understand what these products are worth to your business. Mark down the number of items you would have to make and sell to reach a $100 profit.

Final column: mark down how long it takes to make one of these items.

This question, and this format of asking this question, seems REALLY useful to me – slightly less because I don’t have a pre-set group of items to sell. Sarah of Create Studio has a really interesting approach to stocking her Etsy shop: she’s planning a different line of items for each season, so that she can figure out what’s profitable, and what’s popular, and what she can stand making over and over again.

Out there… that’s where my goal went!

I’m looking for what I can make to sell at craft fairs and such – last year at this time, Bear and I sat down I made an initial plan to be ready to do at least one craft fair this winter. Well, that’s gone out that window over there labelled “pregnant and working full time” – a little bit of it flew out of the “I forgot that I’d set that goal for myself until just now” window, too

This was ever so slightly hit home when I discovered that a 14 year old friend is going to be selling at her first juried craft fair this winter. I don’t think I’ve actually made enough stuff that I could sell at a craft fair this year, even if I’d stockpiled everything I’d made all year, and not given it away – it would still amount to about 3 pairs of knitted socks, a pair of mittens, and a few shawls.

I’ve been working really hard at the Social and Local parts of my branding words this year. I organized two knitting meet ups this summer, and launched a shawl ministry at my church. So I can’t feel totally sorry for myself! I think when I do sit down and do this exercise for real, I’ll need to include my event planning part of the “business”!

More How to GreenStockings: Logo & Visual Branding

Filed under: Crafting — Tags: , , — GreenStockings Craft & Creative Events @ 7:06 PM

Is this the new GreenStockings logo?

So I missed it again, another Oh My Handmade Goodnes! live chat!! Maybe there’s something about Thursday at lunch that’s just busy for me? Maybe I just always forget that that’s when it is…

The topic for this past Thursday’s chat was about logos & visual branding (something I’m thinking about! I’ve touched on it in my last crafty business post More How To GreenStockings: 10 Adjectives for my Brand).

You can see the full round up of the twitter chat highlights here. They talked about a bunch of things; the thoughts that most resonated with me were:

anile great logo = unique, personal but accessible, versatile, adaptable, also will grow with you – not limiting
designcoyote A great logo makes a statement about your brand. It is consistent, visual, & portrays who you are in a single graphic.
perideaudesigns a logo conveys visual feelings, intentions and a story.

The next OMHG post about using a Visual Brand Tool Box was great, too – lots of good stuff, but a slightly disappointing premise:

First step is to have a clear brand strategy. Your brand strategy needs to go beyond your mission, vision, and values: it needs to evoke emotion and connect with your target audience.

Once you know your brand strategy you then take that strategy and make it visual.

It would be great if there were any sort of connecting information between “first step is to have a clear branding strategy” and “once you know your branding strategy”… but, you know, you work with what you got in free resources!

“Work with what you got?” THIS CALLS FOR A MUSICAL INTERLUDE!

/MUSICAL INTERLUDE!

Right. Logos.

Part of the reason I posted this video is that I love the visual aesthetic of the drawing animation over the video. Also, wicked headpieces of forested things.

The Visual Brand Tool Box article has a number of really good ideas, too:
– choosing two typefaces: one for the header, one for the body text;
– choosing 3 to 5 colours for your brand: one main colour, and a group of accent colours;
AND
– 3 different kinds of photographs! this was a revelation to me (because there are categories! with names!) – and an excellent tool for me to think about. So far, I’ve not taken many pictures of my work, since I’ve not been selling it, and thus haven’t needed to advertise it. What photos I have taken have been mostly as blank as I can managed (no busy background, as neutral as possible, just the craft in the image), but as a result haven’t been the most stunning of photos. Most of my craft photos tend to be of knitting, and are visible on my Ravelry projects pages .

So, how do I relate this information about logos to my branding words from my last post: Sexy Cute Handmade Social Feminist Local Knit Ethical Upcycled Colourful?!? (I’ve dropped Durable/Sustainable from the list – I think it’s covered by Ethical, Handmade, and Upcycled)

Somewhere in the (ever less disastrous!) disaster of our apartment there’s a designer’s visual thesaurus, which I think is a neat idea – it’s like a word thesaurus, but for each listing, there’s a series of images to jump start your ideas. Somehow though, I doubt that the words on my list would actually appear there. I don’t think upcycled was a word when the book was published.

My instinct tells me that an illustrated logo/visuals or typographical ones are going to be more effective for what I do than a photo-based logo/visuals, and I especially like the recommendation to have a group of icons: I think Mad in Crafts does this pretty well. I think the handmade market place is more attuned to illustrations, especially if one of my brand words is “cute” (in the Japanese kawaii sense, not as much in the Disney princess sense).

My next job is to do a word-association with my branding words. I need to embed them in my brain, so that whenever I’m thinking about my brand, I’m thinking about: Sexy Cute Handmade Social Feminist Local Knit Ethical Upcycled Colourful!

October 10, 2012

More How to GreenStockings: 10 Adjectives for My Brand

Filed under: Crafting — Tags: , , — GreenStockings Craft & Creative Events @ 9:00 AM

So I missed another #OMHG chat party last week (link is to the round up blog post), and it was, of course, something that I’m thinking about: branding (I won’t lie, I’m not thinking about it a lot, the only thing I’m thinking a lot about is the baby… but I think I’m going to be relying on my church involvement & my crafty business adventure, however small it may be, to keep me sane while on maternity leave).

The lovely Moxie Pear provided a work sheet version of the branding questions that you can grab from the chat party link, and while I feel it’s a little premature for me to fill out the whole worksheet, I’m going to at least tackle the first question: what 10 adjectives would you use to describe your business?

Hmm… 10, eh?

I can handle 10, right?

Ok.

sexy, cute, handmade, diy, social, feminist, strong, local, hand-knit, ethical, durable/sustainable, upcycled, colourful.

Is that 10 yet?

No, Katharine, that’s 13.

Ok: sexy, cute, handmade, diy, social, feminist, strong, local, hand-knit, ethical, durable/sustainable, upcycled, colourful

Ok, we’re down to 11. I can live with 11. I’ve never been very good at following the rules.

So: sexy, cute, handmade, social, feminist, local, knit, ethical, durable/sustainable, upcycled, colourful.

I scrapped diy, since I figure it’s covered by upcycled and handmade; I scrapped strong because I like the idea of empowering women & girls through hand-making, but I feel like that ideal is covered by feminist, social, ethical, and sustainable; I scrapped the hand part of hand-knit since 1) there’s nothing to say I’ll never get a knitting machine (not any time soon, but never say never!), and 2) in the context of the rest of these words, I think that it’s pretty obvious to me that knit here means hand-knit, and it’s cleaner this way.

Sexy Cute Handmade Social Feminist Local Knit Ethical Durable/Sustainable Upcycled Colourful

I like it.

The other questions asked are: Do you feel that your current brand matches the adjectives above? | Pull out everything that has your logo on it and lay it out in front of you. Do you see a cohesive look that matches the style of your products? | What is the story story behind your business? Are your customers aware of your story? | What feeling do you want your customers to experience when they receive your product/service?

The first question: “do you feel your current brand matches the adjectives above?” I feel I can answer: no. I have no brand, I haven’t managed to corral everything I do under one brand, so my brand has no customers, and thus, no customer experience.

The second “Do you see a cohesive look that matches the style of your products” is harder to answer, since the only thing that has my logo on it is my business card, and I have no products for it to match.

The third, about the story behind my business, is part of the reason that I really want to put “feminist” in my list of words, and why “strong” was part of my original list.

Bluestockings was a term dating from the mid-1700s for an educated woman (or in some cases, a non-gender-specific educated person), and a name which was adopted by a literary society focused on women’s education in the late 1700s and well into the 1800s (The Blue Stocking Societ). It developed an ever-so-slightly derogatory meaning in conjunction with the American women’s anti-slavery and sufferage movements centered in the Boston area (to call someone a “Boston blue-stocking” was at once a recognition of a woman’s education and liberal views, but also a put-down for having those thing).

The Red Stockings were a group of Marxist-Feminist lesbians in the 1950s. They opposed the approach of the Matachine Society, one of the only American queer rights groups identified in the pre-Stonewall period – the Matachine Society focused on establishing the American homosexual in the public as a conformist, middle-class, well-dressed non-deviant, whereas the Red Stockings were already committed to women’s liberation as part of the global end to repression of the underclass.

I chose the name GreenStockings – originally for a one-issue ‘zine I made some time in the early ’00s, and subsequently for my crafting operations – because I like the idea of connecting the (primarily female) crafting and diy explosion of the 21st century with previous ideas of women’s and queer people’s liberation. I’d like to extricate making and creative satisfaction from the strongly traditional stay-at-home-mom, June-Cleaver world where it has so comfortably taken up residence*, and develop its role in a more feminist, diy context**. I’d like to be part of bringing about a new ownership of women’s identities. I think making things – for your body, for your home, for your family – can do that. I’d like crafting to be about reclaiming women’s spaces from the highly commercialized, and to be about a way for women to engage with each other and share skills in order to undermine the hold that the mass market has on women as the primary purchasers in the home.

I think I need to find the spot on the website for the “story” behind GreenStockings. I’ll leave the fifth question be for now, I think.

*I’m well aware that lots of stay-at-home-mums identify and practice their parenting as feminists; I’m also aware that for most of the popular craft bloggers I’ve come across (who are 90% stay-at-home-mums***), the choices in aesthetic in branding and in product are deeply traditionally feminine, and deeply concerned with very traditional feminine aesthetics (pink things! cupcakes! frilly dresses for their daughters! glitter!). Obviously none of these things is anti-feminist, or even non-feminist. There is nothing about cupcakes or glitter that furthers women’s undervaluing in our society, or promotes rape culture. But does it have the cumulative effect of allowing our casually misogynistic culture to be able to more easily dismiss handmaking (and especially women’s handmaking) as a hobby, or as something of no social consequence? I think there’s an argument to be made for that.

**I’m also well aware that there is lots of political, feminist crafting and creativity going on, I just don’t see it a lot on the internet. I’d love to be able to carve out a space online and in my city where that kind of attitude towards creativity can flourish

***This is my unofficial survey of the bloggers I read/am aware of – anyone have stats/anecdotes to contradict this?

September 28, 2012

How To GreenStockings

Filed under: Crafting — Tags: , — GreenStockings Craft & Creative Events @ 7:01 PM

I’ve been thinking a lot about my “brand” as a crafter – I know I’m not in a position to make a full-time, no-day-job go of crafting (yet?), but I do think it’s probably advantageous to have my volunteer/fun crafting adventures in some way incorporated under the GreenStockings heading. I’m presently organizing a knitting & handwork group at the Unitarian Church of Montreal (www.ucmtl.ca) where I’m a member, and I’ve organized a series of knitting picnics for local crafters.

Parts of my “branding”:

– At the moment, the closest thing I have to a logo is an outline of a pair of socks, and it’s green. Real creative, eh?
– My business cards are self-printed, and stiffened with cut up birthday/holiday cards – I REALLY like this as an aesthetic, and that the cards are handmade and unique.
– My website is crap-tastic (I would much rather it be craft-tastic!); I like the simplicity of the layout and the colours, but would like to somehow have a cover page AND display the recent blog posts – my current layout can’t do that.
– I haven’t found need for a Facebook page, yet – I don’t have enough content to make it worth it.
– I hate my twitter handle, but someone else stole mine, and has only tweeted once. Poo. My current handle is @GreenStockCraft, which has lead people to erroneously assume that I have something to say about environmentally-savvy investing.

What will make my “branding” better:

– Choosing what I want my crafting life to be about, exactly.
– Choosing a consistent aesthetic for my work (will this ever happen? I don’t have a consistent aesthetic for my house, or my clothes (well, maybe my clothes, my husband would say my clothes aesthetic is “weird”), or my finished crafted items.)
– Creating a blogging plan that will give me some sort of a route to plan what I want to be about.
– Choosing a logo that I can use both on printed material, and as a stamp on fabric items, and on things like labels on finished items. Since I am a craft nerd, I just picked up a Speedball Quick linoleum stamp carving kit, with the idea of making a stamp of the logo I choose(?, figure out? design?). This means it’s got to be super simple, not too intricate, and work in only one colour.

Thoughts about what my crafting life is about:
– Knitting
– Organizing knitting/crafting events
– Sewing (sewing has seriously dropped off since I have moved out of my parents’ place – I don’t have a large expanse of floor to lay out fabric pieces, nor do I have a basement to hide away in, instead I’ve got the living room, which is the hub of activity in our house, and so I tend to avoid it.)
– Paper craft, very rarely (though there is an opportunity to work with Jen who is the scrap book lady extraordinaire)
– Small items crafting (small things made from felt, with googly eyes… you know the ones. Again, I used to do a whole lot more of this, and since I now have to store it all once I’ve made it, I don’t do so much of this any more, either).
– If my actual blog posts are anything to go by, a lot of my crafting life is taken up *thinking* about my crafting life. Ahh, day jobs.

That’s my thoughts so far! More to come!

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