Saturday, 16 September 2017

A Mum Who Draws #1

"Then it dawned on me. Have I been sort of hiding?! Have I been waiting for a 'better day?' "

April Showers

I'm sitting in the front porch at a little table that I'm renovating. It belonged to my grandma and is covered in sheets of paper with my daughter is drawings on. It is raining outside. True 'Manchester' drizzle. My little girl is standing at the top of the drive in the rain. But, despite my best efforts to advise her that we should wait for a 'better' day, she's not perturbed.

"Come and buy a drawing!" She calls. "Drawings for sale. They're one of a kind!" 
I think we have a natural sales woman here!

My heart is bursting with pride at her guts and natural enthusiasm. She is only 6 and so brave to put herself out there! Would I do it?! Am I trying as hard as she is?

The one problem is that she hasn't made a sale...yet. Charlotte's showed up but where are her customers? It's Good Friday. People are lying in. People are tired. It's raining...many factors are at play.

On reflection, what a good example of the pit falls of business.

If you're struggling to maintain a steady flow of customers maybe it's because the conditions aren't right? And also if they don't know you're there how are you going to sell to them?

So, after about 20 minutes and hearing "I'm getting FRUSTRATED now," from the top of our drive I felt it was time to gently explain that maybe there was a reason. That it wasn't that people didn't LIKE what she was selling. Actually there WAS no one there to like them.

I suggested that when it was nicer weather we would set out a stall at the top of the drive with a nice table cloth and some bunting and we would tell the neighbours we know well.

Light bulb moment! There are some (common sense) but actionable points I can follow in my own work.

Firstly, be more VISIBLE.

Secondly, make your work more ATTRACTIVE - i.e. know your target market.

And thirdly, and perhaps most importantly - MARKETING/ADVERTISING.

Then it dawned on me. Have I been sort of hiding?! Have I been waiting for a "better day?"

I couldn't have asked for a more vivid illustration of how it sometimes feels to be carving out a living as an artist than what my gorgeous daughter was showing me. The childlike optimism of creating. The knowledge that you have something important and special to contribute and that you're part of a larger, creative community.

Sometimes it feels like you are standing out in the rain shouting 'Buy my work. You won't regret it!' Whilst you and your work become steadily soggier! ;)

Now, this isn't intended to be a rant or a moaning post. I don't want you to feel sorry for me, or yourself (if you're on your creative journey) I think it's just a really good example of not giving up and made me question why, as adults, can we be so fearful?

So thank you beautiful daughter for giving me a wakeup call, a reminder to get my welly boots and waterproof on. To slip the illustrations into a water proof pocket and stand there anyway!

I guess you never know who will walk by?

I've recently set up a facebook group called Create, Make & Shine, for women wanting to reconnect with their creative roots. I will be teaching and offering free and paid resources and group programs there. It's a supportive space, where women are exploring the possibilities around their creativity and creative careers. We would love to see you there!

Fi x

p.s. We quickly got inside to avoid the worsening rain. Charlotte was fine after a cuddle and a hot chocolate and, of course, we are going for round two when the weather improves/we send flyers to the neighbours! :) We'll keep you updated!

(All content copyright Fiona Meakin 2017. This is an excerpt from my blog series 'A Mum Who Draws.')