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Upcoming Workshops

Establishing Your Brand
Parisoma
Wednesday, May 16
6 - 7:30 pm

200 Yards

@ Moxi Salon
Opening Reception
May 5, 6-9pm

@ Rare Device
Submission Deadline
April 30th

 

"My meetings revolutionized my business because I allowed myself the time, under the guidance of Lightbox SF, to ask myself some really hard questions."

“They helped me so much when it came to pushing my ideas to a new level. They always came with examples to look at and people to talk to and really pushed me out of my comfort zone so I could do more and more. I highly recommend them!!!”

"I would recommend Genevieve for overall plan development and artist marketing to anyone that has a creative idea, the mind of an artist and loves the web.”

"They are always there for me with words of wisdom when I'm feeling a little lost or need help with the next step in my jewelry making company. They have been a huge help in my business!!"


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Monday
Jan302012

Creating Space - Writing Your Own Permission Slip

Chris Guillebeau hits the mark again. I love this video on fear, settling into change and giving yourself permission to do things your own way.  You have the choice to sit back and let things, good and bad, happen to you, settle into mediocrity or you can fight for something more meaningful and profound. I would invite you to join me in making a difference by listening to your fears and your true desires. As I always warn you we must be ready for possible hurdles and disappointments. When we are scared or angry, we need to tap into our personal support systems and rhythms of self care. If there is anyway that I can help support you and give you the courage to move forward I will here or during our Creating Space sessions.

Hope you enjoy the video.

Make sure to stop by on Friday for the first of our Friday Interview Series.

Wednesday
Jan252012

Creating Space - Saying Yes To Saying No

Genevieve and I had the great pleasure of spending time with Debra Baida, owner of SF based business Liberated Spaces. Deb is a professional organizer but also so much more. Her goal is to help her clients remove any obstacle, physical or emotional, that is hindering them from living a more conscious life. She is right up our alley! Deb's an incredible woman and I am so excited to establish a new friendship that will enhance our business, Creating Space and my own personal growth. Yay for new friendships and connections!

We had many great discussions yesterday but one that really stayed with me all day was about the power of no. Using the word "no" consciously and positively is one of the ways that you can control the rhythm and flavor of your personal and professional life especially when your universe seems offbeat. Saying no just takes a some conscious thinking, reflecting, confidence and forgiveness.

If someone offers you a new project, take time to really assess the time, effort and return. Maybe the monetary return is not great but will it enhance your portfolio? It is a friendship that you really wish to establish?

What does your "gut" say? If it doesn't feel right, then why? Is this feeling based on fear or does it really not fit.

How does this project or decision fit in the grand scheme of things? Does it relate to the life you are trying to lead or is it completely off course?

Give yourself ample time to think about it. Take a walk, ask for 24 hours to decide and discuss with a mentor or friend that understands your larger goals. Then proceed with confidence and kindness, knowing that you are following a well thought out, well loved path. There will be plenty of times to say yes.

Tuesday
Jan242012

Find Your Niche

found on pinterest via marcia westRecently I wrote about the Power of Niche and made the argument that appealing to a smaller but clearly defined market is makes marketing your business much easier. But what if you don’t know who your niche market is?

Here are five steps to finding your own niche market.

Do what you do best

Start with the easiest thing first. What is it you do best? Pick one thing and specialize in it. You don’t need to pick one product, but you do need to focus. If you knit, you might choose to make scarves and cowls, not scarves, cowls, sweaters, hats, mittens, and booties. If you’re a seamstress and you love making pantsuits, do it! Make 5 different versions in different colors and fabrics, but rock the pantsuit.

It’s much easier to be known for making one kick-ass, stand out thing and offering a few variations than doing a little of everything.

Be who you already are

What is the talent or skill that you’ve chosen to build your business around? If you’re any good at what you do you’ve most likely developed a style, approach or perspective that is all your own. Maybe you’re a master crocheter who does amazing lace work, but you just can’t abide by the standard white and off-white of lace. Rock a bright, bold palette of purple, red, green and blue instead.

Doing something unexpected or with a little twist is the easiest way to be remembered. So follow your gut and let your freak flag fly.

Solve a problem

Every time you wear those flowy, but fitted pants you made do people always ask where you got them? Do you often hear your friends say if only I could find... Make it happen. Chances are more people are out there looking for that same solution and you know just how to solve it.

Design the perfect stylish, but useful messenger bag for the young career woman who rides a bike, I know I’m still looking for one.

Don’t try to be something you’re not

Or sell to someone you don’t understand. Just because feathers are all the rage right now doesn’t mean you need to use them. And even though everyone on Etsy seems to be selling to ironic, young hipsters, you don’t have to.

By sticking to what you know and like and a market you understand you can communicate in a more authentic way and give your customers what they really want.

Be aware of who’s already buying

Take note if you suddenly see a surge in purchases from the mid-west. It might mean you got coverage in a popular local blog, but it also might mean you’ve tapped into a group of young girls dreaming of a California lifestyle and your breezy beach inspired glass and shell necklaces make them feel one step closer.

Tap into what’s already working to define your niche even further and give them exactly what they love.

Who is this person?

Now that you’ve taken the time to really define and narrow your offering ask yourself who is the person that wants this and why. There’s your niche market. Do they love your brightly colored dollies because they have a thing for grandmas and all things turquoise? Or do they own one of each of your pantsuits because they are a lazy fashionista?

The more you know about why your customers buy your product the easier it will be to more people who need exactly what you’re selling.

How do you describe your niche market?

Thursday
Jan192012

Creating Space - Telling Fear To Hit The Road

One of my favorite reads has been Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. My copy of this wonderful book quite possibly did not survive the fire and man could I use it now. I have searched on line for some of my favorite lessons by Bayles and Orland and wanted to share them with you today. The messages are simple but sweet. I'll leave them for all of us to ponder. I hope that you love them as much as I do.

 

The poem in the head is always perfect.

Making art is chancy — it doesn’t mix well with predictability. Uncertainty is the essential, inevitable and all-pervasive companion to your desire to make art. And tolerance for uncertainty is the prerequisite to succeeding.

Try an insulating period: a gap of pure time between the making of your art, and the time when you share it with outsiders. (So it's not reflecting on *you*, just on the work that's in your past.)

When things go haywire, your best opening strategy might be to return — very carefully and consciously — to the habits and practices in play the last time you felt good about the work.

"When my daughter about seven years old, she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her I worked at the college — that my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, “You mean they forgot?”" — Howard Ikemoto


The people with the interesting answers are those who ask the interesting questions.

Thank you Derek Sivers for sharing your favorites and mine

Tuesday
Jan172012

Is Your Focus In The Right Place?

image by Andy Goldsworthy found via elemenop.tumblr.comI often have a to do list a mile long. Most of the projects are those that I want to do in a perfect world, not necessarily things that need to get done. I suffer from idea overload on an almost daily basis and everything gets written down.

A couple weeks ago in my New Year’s planning and scheming mode, I sat down with my husband to look at all my projects and decide which ones deserved immediate attention and which ones could be shelved for some indeterminate future date. However our planning session ended up going in an entirely different direction.

Instead of letting me describe all of the projects I wanted to undertake and how they would help my business he asked me what my one biggest goal was. The answer was simple, more revenue. The he advised that instead of putting my energy toward building new, untested services, I focus on what's already working and look at how I can ramp that up.

His simple advice struck home in an unexpected way. I wanted to build more revenue, but instead of focusing on selling the services we already had I was imagining all the new offerings I could package. I was defaulting to the area of business where I’m most comfortable, the brainstorming, idea generation part. Not the execution to the end part.

I suspect many of us suffer from this, if we aren’t getting the results we want right off we look for new ideas instead of fully testing the ones already in play. We certainly hadn’t maxed out our potential client hours and we still had clients returning and new ones inquiring. However I wasn’t actively selling our services, instead I was looking to offer new services in the hopes the additional revenue would come from these.

More importantly than my lack of follow through he showed me that my projects weren't inline with my goals. To bring in more revenue we needed to sell what we had already tested and knew. Diverting my attention and resources to develop new things would distract me and wouldn't bring me any closer to my goal.

The New Year is a time of grand ideas, big dreams and getting it all out there. I encourage that wholeheartedly, but when it comes down to really getting to work look at what is really important to you and honestly assess if all your ideas are really in line with that result. If not it doesn't mean they're bad ideas or have no use, it just means that you might be putting your energy in the wrong place and sabotaging your ability to achieve what you really want.

I want you to ask yourself what's really important to you right now, then look at where you're putting your energy. Are these two things in line? Do your projects really support your goals? Does your to do list get you a little bit closer each day? Or are you distracting yourself with easy, comfortable work?

What can you do right now to get one step closer to what's most important to you?

Friday
Jan132012

Friday Favs - Interviews

I am happy to announce that the first Friday of the month will be devoted to a studio visit and interview with local artists. I am looking forward to sharing my new discoveries, new friendships and beautiful work. Now would be a great time to bookmark our site and add us to your daily reads so you don't miss out on this great experience. Happy Friday!

Friday
Jan132012

Simple Living Pledge - Kanelstrand Blog

We are so happy to be participating in this incredible Simple Living Challenge led by Sonya of the Norwegian based blog Kanelstrand. The blog is full of amazing ways to live a more conscious, healthy lifestyle and for the month of February she is asking everyone to join her by taking the  Simple Living Pledge.

All it takes is to agree to works toward a simpler, more happy life. Doesn't that sound grand?

"I pledge to live a simple life through: - decluttering; - using less; - learning to be sustainable in all aspects of life; - slowing down and finding joy in little things; - reconnecting with my inner self; - spending more time with my loved ones; - elevating experiences above possessions."

She has currently over a 150 people from all over the world participating and I will be guest blogging on her site as well. Jump over to her beautiful site and sign up to join me in this beautiful adventure.

Tuesday
Jan102012

Our Legacy

from it starts with - sarah k peckRecently it came to mind that I wanted clients who worked with us to feel like members of a select group. This is not to say that we would be exclusive, but more to say that once you worked with us you began to look at your business in a totally new way and only those that had also worked with us would get that shift. Writing it out now sounds pretty amazing actually. I can't say our vision is really that revolutionary, but I do think running your own craft/art based business means making a shift in how you see yourself, your product, your time and business in general.

This thought process started when I was listening to the audio version of Art Of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau and he talked about legacy work. What do you want to leave behind? I had truly never thought of any “work” I did in those terms, mostly because I didn’t see the work I was doing as life changing and that’s what I thought legacy meant. However, Chris’s words changed my mind. So I began to think what I wanted to leave behind, what I wanted to be remembered for.

The short version is that I want every creative person to know that they are capable of creating a business based on their talent and/or craft that will sustain them and the lifestyle they desire. I want people to know this because of the knowledge and advice we pass on and how they see us live our own lives.

I've written about our philosophy of business before and that really hasn’t changed, but I want to elaborate so that you understand more what this legacy is we're trying to build.

First we believe in story. Each one of you has one and whether you believe it or not it's interesting. Your story is what sets you apart and makes you stand out. I don't think any of us would argue that the handmade market, the arts and crafts market, is crowded. There are hundreds upon thousands of other crafty people out there making witty t-shirts, stunning silver jewelry, the most fabulously luxurious bath products, and the softest hand knit hats. It's the way in which you do what you do, the path by which you got to this point that is going to make a customer choose you over the other options. You don't need to corner the market on witty t-shirts, you need identify how yours are different and why that matters.

Then you need tell the people who care. We believe in social media and creative marketing as your most indispensable tools to reach this end. Once you have your story you need to determine who will be most engaged, excited, or amped-up by what you have to say. Then you need to tell them. You need to tell them over and over again in every possible way you can. This means finding them on Facebook and Twitter, appearing at events that your people go to, and writing or being written about in the blogs, newspapers and magazines that they read. This is what many call marketing, but I like to think of more as making friends. Doesn't that sound much easier to do?

The most important part of all this and where the legacy thing comes back in, is that you can't do this alone. Well, you might be able to, but it's so much easier and more fun when you've got a group of like-minded people around you to help generate ideas, pick you up on bad days, support you through the rough patches and celebrate the successes. We want to teach you the first two points, but we want to create the third and make it accessible to all who even have an inkling of entrepreneurial direction. We want to provide an environment, at first virtual, but eventually in real life, that gives you all the inspiration, support, knowledge and motivation you can handle. We want you to be a part of the Lightbox club.

What we want to leave behind is a group of people who've been able to make a shift and think of themselves as entrepreneurs and doers, think of what they do as valuable, think of their time as worth money and not to be squandered, and think of business as something they’re good at. We want to empower creatives to take over the world.

What's your legacy going to be?

Wednesday
Jan042012

Creating Space - Inviting The New Year

I contemplated writing about my recent tragedy but I sat here for an hour looking at the screen, reflecting on my need to be honest and open 100% of the time and couldn't think of another topic to write about.

I lost my new home in the awful fire that broke out on Dec 22nd at Pierce and Golden Gate. I fortunately was already on a jet plane to see my family and from the efforts of friends and other local heroes, my cat was saved as well. My apartment is one of three with very little damage but I have lost my home that took so much effort to find and almost everything I own is being held hostage by the city due to high levels of lead and asbestos in the building. I do consider myself lucky that both my pet and I are ok and that there is a chance after paying a lot of money to clean my belongings safe I will get some of them returned. I am so saddened by the loss that others also endured.

I want to be the one that screams out "these are only things" but I can't bring myself to do it. I have spent the last several months talking to you about opening up space around you to make room for new but now more than ever I feel like I truly understand what I was really saying.

I, like you, have worked hard for my things. I save pictures my niece has sent me in the mail when she was a toddler and my walls are covered with local art from all the incredible people I have met over the years. My baby blanket that my mother sent me when I traveled across the country to live in a big, scary city where I knew no one has lived in my dresser for almost two decades. My home has always been my palace, my safe place and although the whole lot is probably worth less than what some people pay in monthly rent here, I have carefully chosen what fills my space.

When I say de-clutter, I don't mean throw everything away and start fresh. I mean carefully select what is in your life. Respect the objects you have - someone spent a lot of time making that glass and surely you worked hard to buy it. Want to throw away your television because of all the trash on TV is soooo distracting? When did you lose control of what you watch? Why can't you let go and relax and watch one of the many amazing programs that a group of really creative people developed. You are in control of what you choose to have in your life and also make the decisions on how you treat everything.

Now more than ever am I aware of how forunate I am to have let so many amazing people in my life. This was not always the case. My family is insanely supportive and their love and my acceptance of it is what has helped me to decide the quality of friendships I wanted in my life. My friends went above and beyond when my family and I were helpless over 2000 miles away and someone I just met couldn't sleep knowing my cat was in the building and got 5 fireman to go in and save him. Construction workers, I am told went into the building and removed doors to save people and pets. The fire department, the Red Cross, the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association.... all so amazing. My friends that are opening their homes to me - there are not enough words.

Tragedy and saddness (your own or others) are great times to really get to know yourself. Remember this is the season of inner work and reflections. What kind of life do you want to live? Is your life full of people that inspire and support you? Is your home and studio filled with things that make you smile and feel comforted?

Take the time this week to really value your space and start thinking about how you can really make it special. Cherish what you have and the people that have touched you.

Next week we will get back on the topic of fear. Meanwhile, if you haven't signed up for our mailing list we are offering a little, special treat. Click on the link to the side to sign up and discover new ways of welcoming 2012.

 

Tuesday
Jan032012

Be A Turtle

photo by Elle MossHappy New Year!

I'm feeling that beginning of the year buzz. I've got a million ideas floating around in my head and I'm anxious to get started on them all. However I'm going to take a cue from the turtle and the hare and remind myself that slow and steady wins the race. I'm consciously holding back and going slow and I urge you to do the same.

It is often our tendency this time of year to hit the ground running once our vacations are over. We start eating healthier, add in an hour of exercise 3-5 days a week, focus our energy at work on building more revenue or launching that new product line, and then there's the promise to read more, knit more, cook more, start meditating, keep up with old friends... We've set ourselves up to fail. We can't make all those changes at once and expect them to stick. It's natural for us to resist change. Making new habits is hard and breaking old ones is even harder.

Instead of diving in head first, piling everything into your life at once, pick one or two goals to begin to work on each month. January can be about preparation, research, and generating concrete plans. It can be about laying the ground work - buying a new cookbook, getting the gym membership and new running shoes, sourcing new materials or tools. You are making progress, but you aren't burning yourself out. You're making changes that will stick. Then in February you learn more about production or selling or try a new exercise. You call one old friend a week.

You will see things are happening, you'll feel a momentum begin to take hold. We all want to be better, have success and happiness, but that doesn't come from changing your whole life in one day, it comes from incremental changes that support each other. Think of any major goal you've accomplished in your life, did it happen over night or did you struggle long and hard, planning, failing and go at it again differently? I suspect the later. So think of all the changes you want to make this year and start slow, give yourself the whole year or as much time as you can, and be gentle in your expectations.

Don't jump in and expect everything to fit perfectly. Build your new life with intention and compassion.

Share the goals/resolutions you've made for yourself below. We can't wait to hear about the journey.