Hi. I’m Kate Gatski, also known as the thesteelfork. My husband Ben and I make folk art sculptures, farm tables and home decor pieces with reclaimed farm machinery. You’ll find me on a hilltop in rural Pennsylvania. I am a second-generation crafter with a fascination for the business side of handmade. It recently occurred to me that our success may lie in our circumstance — we are natural makers of mystery.
These days, the handmade world is awash with business advice. I sense a certain struggle for definition; who are we and how do we market that? The idea of selling “our story” often pops up. While I am all for a story, I can’t help but wonder if that’s really the answer. After all, can’t anyone tell a good story? Big, small, made here, made there?
In the spirit of the season, let’s consider the power of our own mystery. Let’s throw some garlic around our necks and go dig up our own suspense. Let’s turn our everyday chatter into something gripping — something that will have them diving for their wallets and leaping for their clickers. May I suggest we begin at the scene of the crime (I mean craft)?
“Some days it is all about funny little monsters, others I am covered in clay. Sometimes, I feel very Marie Antoinette and others I feel like I am in a strange land where unusual creatures lurk,” says AFancifulTwist.
Your place is heavy with intrigue. Let’s use it. In this creative locale of yours, what do you hear? Is there a window? Are you sitting, standing or moving around? What interrupts you? What surrounds you? What tools do you use? What does your safety gear look like?
Isn’t it true that all works of artistic genius leave room for their audiences? Well-crafted novels, catchy songs and singular works of art are the means by which our imagination can run wild.
In the words of Seth Godin…
“Great stories are subtle. Surprisingly, the fewer details a marketer spells out, the more powerful the story becomes. Talented marketers understand that allowing people to draw their own conclusions is far more effective than announcing the punch line.”
Sounds like a mystery to me.
Let’s think about, “Who done it?” Who got you started on your crazy artistic adventure? Do you work in the black of night or the broad daylight? Who is your accomplice? What drives you to madness?
“I’ve made peace with the fox. I’ve even forgiven him for hunting my favorite orange feline,” says tundradear.
Use the details of your life to create a mystery. Consider wrapping it around your posts, tweets, descriptions, images and whatever else you use to promote yourself. Use your senses to describe your place; what do you hear, smell and touch? It takes a keen person, like yourself, to notice these things.
Is that you? Are you the one with the shop full of canary yellow and persimmon prints? It just so happens that your mom had a thing for Harleys and the dark side. Or perhaps it has something to do with your children who delight in fairy tales each night? Or was it the walk through meadow wildflowers in the gloaming?
“I am crazy about wool: its softness, warmth, the way it can be used to create different forms and ideas,” says Juliani.
This is why you’re going to be so successful. You provide just enough information for your customers. You understand that it is the whisper, not the shouting, that brings people closer. You are in touch with your authentic self, and you aren’t afraid of it. You understand visual balance. Your images are simple and stunning.
You’ve got the tools to make some mystery right there beside your cauldron and sharpened knives. I suggest that we revel in this season and how it so naturally fits who we are as creators. Any good marketer can tell one heck of a story. What you have is even better, and more powerful. It is the mystery of the creative you.