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?
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?