In addition to being the Proprietress of Underground Crafter and a Digital Content Creator member, I’m also an Assistant Professor in Management and Information Technology at St. Francis College. This summer, as part of a research project I interviewed eight woman who own sewing-related businesses to learn more about how they approached their companies during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. If you’re like most AFCI members, 2020 isn’t anything like the year you had planned for your business back in 2019. From speaking to these women, following industry news, and reading the results of the two surveys the Strategic Sewing and Quilting Summit conducted in April and September, I’ve put together three recommendations that can help all AFCI members navigate uncertain times.
Network Virtually with Peers
Research over the past five years has demonstrated that business owners who seek advice and interact regularly with other entrepreneurs online have better business outcomes. Networking online through groups like AFCI’s See You at Creativation can keep you connected to industry trends and provide you with quick access to resources. The best networks seem to be those that include businesses at multiple stages, including companies that are older, the same age, and younger than yours. This allows you to share advice and also to seek advice since you will find peers with businesses at different stages of development. This reciprocal “give and take” can help all the entrepreneurs in the network. If you don’t own your company, don’t worry! Networking has many great benefits for managers and employees, too.
If you haven’t already embraced the power of video for your business, now is the time. Consumers, including older customers who were previously reluctant to engage with livestream or on-demand (pre-recorded) video content, have accepted that video is part of our lives now. Since most crafts, hobbies, and creative products are visually appealing, video is a great tool.
If you’re nervous about jumping into video yourself, consider a collaboration with a member from the Digital Content Creator or Designer sections. These members often provide freelance videography services.
Don’t Forget Self-Care
Many businesses in the creative industries have grown rapidly during the pandemic as consumers spent more time at home and with family, while others have contracted or experienced crises due to the pandemic. During growth or stress periods, it can be easy to forget to focus on yourself and to put most of your energy into your work or your business. The entrepreneurs I interviewed with the most diverse coping strategies were also the ones that were able to respond quickly to new opportunities. Caring for yourself is a big part of maintaining motivation and confidence, both of which are critical for growing your business. Some self-care ideas used by the business owners I interviewed included practicing yoga and exercising; regularly communicating with friends and family using Zoom or other conferencing services; making masks to donate or participating in other volunteer activities; praying; talking to a therapist; and cooking or baking. I’m sure you can add more to the list!
I shared these three tips to help you and your creative business during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, networking, developing and sharing more video content, and taking care of yourself will be helpful to your business any time.
Marie Segares is the Proprietress of Underground Crafter. Her patterns have been published by Crochetvolution, Crochet World, Entwine, Galler Yarns, I Like Crochet, I Like Knitting, Inside Crochet, KnitCircus, KnitCrate, Kollabora, Love of Crochet, Love of Knitting, Pom Pom Quarterly, Yarnbox, and the Quick & Simple Crochet booklet series. She is also a Craft Yarn Council Certified Crochet and Knitting Instructor (Level I) and Certified Crochet and Knitting Teacher (Level II). In addition to private lessons, she has also taught through the Barnard College Mini Course Program, the Adult School of Montclair, the Brooklyn Workshop Gallery, the DC37 Saturday Activities program, the Finger Lakes Fiber Arts Festival, Michaels Manhattan, the Mount Vernon Hotel Museum, the North Jersey Fiber Arts Festival, and the Queens Public Library.