Realities of a Small Business Artisan
I've teamed up with designer and friend, Leah Yard, to give you an inside look at what it's like own a business and create art. I "met" Leah at the beginning of pandemic and we've kept in touch, encouraging each other in this crazy world.
We wanted to celebrate Human Rights Day from this angle:
Support the people, preserve the art, and help the environment.
There is such importance to giving an artisan a chance to create. By doing this, we are taking a stand against unethical forms of labor. I am so passionate about supporting people and their dreams. This woman has impressed me on both fronts: as an artisan and a business woman. She has weathered the pandemic storm and keeps producing beautiful works of art. While the world seems to be used to fast fashion, we aim to bring back the specialty that is buying from the person that designed and created the piece.
Keep it small and you are making a world of a difference.
We both answered the same questions and hope you enjoy our little "talk" on what it's like. Both of us do not shy away from truth because it is important for people to see all facets.
What is the biggest struggle (as an artisan/business owner)?This is such a good question, and a hard one to give only one answer to! My biggest struggle has been to ask for help when I needed it. Knowing when and what to outsource, how to delegate, and let go. It's such a challenge. So many people view asking for help as a sign of weakness, but it is the opposite. It takes tremendous courage to be vulnerable, especially in business. We all want to look like we've got it all figured out, but sometimes you just have to put your ego to the side, your guard down, your hand up, and ask.
How does it feel knowing you are creating something another person will treasure?Oh I love this. As silly as this may sound: every item gets run through a "goosebump test". Each new design we launch has to evoke excitement and joy. I actually do get goosebumps over new designs that I love. If it's not exciting, it doesn't make it into the collection. It's so fun to envision someone receiving their piece of LYD jewellery and experiencing that same giddiness.
How do you find support (for the good and the bad days)?I don't come from a close family, so I rely mostly on my partner and a small group of good friends. My partner, Kyle, has been my biggest supporter. He's also an entrepreneur so he can relate to the ups and downs. He's calm, patient, and logical-- everything I struggle to be on a bad day! For anyone who can relate to having a small support system, make sure you find other ways to get guidance. I listen to a lot of business interviews and read a lot of books-- hearing the experience of others who have done what you are trying to do helps to gain insight, clarity, and to put things in perspective. Sometimes we just need to know we're not alone.
What makes you unique in this space?Our focus is community. The last two years especially we've really narrowed in on creating a welcoming space online, and adding personalized touches to orders. I share a lot of behind the scenes ups and downs with our email list and on social media. We also launched a charitable collection to help vulnerable women in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. This project is deeply meaningful and has inspired us to find new ways to give back as we grow. At the end of the day, I want people to love our jewellery, feel fabulous wearing it, and feel even better about the company behind it.
How do you handle failures?Honestly, not well! This is an area I am really working on. I hate failing-- which is challenging since that's a gigantic part of business! It's so important to accept the failure as something to learn from and not take it on personally. For me, I have started allowing myself time to grieve the failure, and then revisit it with an open mind to learn. Sometimes just giving yourself a day or two to "lick your wounds" is all you need to come back and find the knowledge and growth within a mistake. Failure hurts, but it is the fastest way to learn. I am also careful about the language I use around it. "I failed" is very different from "I am a failure". We have to find the balance of owning up to the mistake, without taking it on.
How does Social Media play a role in your work?Social media is a fantastic tool to help tell our brand story, add fun, humor, and to let people get to know who's behind the collection. Having said that, I don't put all my eggs in the "social media basket"... It's a tool, but it isn't a focus. I share lots of behind the scenes and exciting new launches on Instagram, but the real heart of the business is shared only with our VIP's on our email list:)
What is your best tool in business and art?Consistency. It's so hard to just stay the course sometimes, but I really believe we underestimate the power of just constantly showing up. I have personally resonated with brands who have recognized the challenges of the last two years, but have just kept trucking along. You don't have to have it all figured out, you just have to keep showing up and trying.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
What is the biggest struggle?
Knowing when to let go and equally how to stay in my lane. I tend to take things personally and it can weigh me down. So when something bad happens, I have to remember to stay strong and stay the course. Stick to my lane and keep going.
How does it feel knowing you are creating something another person will treasure?
Kinda crazy and surreal. It's an honor to make something and have someone want it! I love that I get to produce something for someone else's enjoyment.
How do you find support (for the good and the bad days)?
I know what friends will be there for me in both situations. I hold onto those people and am honest with them where I'm at. I also try take the wins and the losses the same - neither are anything to hold too tightly to. I have a great little group that cry when I cry and get excited when I'm excited. They also tell me what I need to hear, not want to hear.
What makes you unique in this space?
I think we all bring something different to the table even if we are in the same "genre". We were made uniquely so we will put a spin on things because of that. I think my uniqueness comes from discernment and how deeply I feel for certain things/people.
How do you handle failures?
I cry, workout hard, and then figure out why it was a failure. Why didn't it work and how can I do it differently or let go.
How does Social Media play a role in your work?
I love people so social media let's the business get personal. It allows for friendship, support, motivation, and growth.
What is your best tool for motivation?
Only I can do what only I can do. No one else is me so if I don't bring it- no one will (at least not how I would)
What is the best advice you've ever received?
"Don't take criticism from someone you wouldn't ask advice from"
Art is subjective. Not everyone will get it and not everyone wants you to win. Whose voice do I believe carries weight? What are they saying? It's really helped me keep on track.