Tuesday, 21 January 2014

In Response....

Today a blog post blipped up in my Twitter Feed that made my heart sink a little when I saw the title. I grimaced, nervous and then I clicked through and..... smiled.

Right out the gate I'm going to say I love Woolly Wormhead and have had the pleasure of working with her several times. I will continue to do so in the future and I chatted to her about writing a response to her blog post. I felt I needed to. After all, she was talking about a small part of what I do.

I haven't blogged directly about what it IS that I do before but rather, alluded to it in the hope I don't make anyone feel wary that I'm in the business of supporting other businesses. I've been cautious about mixing too much work and play but let's be honest, without A Playful Day Blog and Podcast (yup, I did just capitalise that), I wouldn't have that very job. So I decided it was ok to talk today. In fact I SHOULD talk about what I do because the topic is on the table for discussion it would seem. I once had a work conversation with the incredible Emily from TinCanKnits and she said very seriously 'never apologise for your work or what you do'. So here we go Woolly and Emily, this one's for you....

I guess you could say I work in marketing. I feel sick just writing that however. I don't like sales people, PR makes me nervous and that weird advertising for things like beauty products? Yikes. No thanks. When Woolly talked about selling a designer like a product, she was right. That leaves a weird feeling in my stomach and I get scared that we've forgotten the joy of being creative for creative's sake and that you can't own talent.

Allow me to explain what I do. I am in the very privileged position to work with several designers and dyers to support their business. I'm available to hire as a freelancer which means I balance precariously, respecting confidentiality and the sensitivity needed around developing new work and business. I prepare web copy, I help plan projects and collaborations, I technically edit patterns, prepare timelines, make introductions and organise via many, many, many, emails promotional things like Blog Tours and strategic releases. I work for other self employed people and I rely on them trusting that I can help.

Why do I do it? Because I love the indie world. I adore seeing someone achieve and there's a real Feminist streak in me that wants to shout about an industry largely made up of women, often mothers, being paid what they are worth. In an industry that is often trivialised by the 'hobby' tag, I want people to be shown the respect and attention that they deserve. It's not easy to do that for yourself. Being too close or not having that particular skill set can be a really common problem in creative industries and with my writing background, I was soon telling stories that I saw as a professional friend to these wonderful independent business women.

So what of that dirty word, 'Brand'? A brand can be an identity that you slip on to get you ready to push your business to the next level; like a game face you get on before you face the world. It can help those that are a little prone to hermitting deal a little better with being so visible in this Social Media dominated era. It can also help separate work and non work as the line can get so blurred when you're making your money from your passion. I am not a fan of censoring or veiling in any form though. Just redirecting the spotlight a little to make sure we're all looking where we should and leaving the person to deal with being a Mum or a part time researcher for example. What's more, when we buy from independent suppliers we, as consumers, often do so because we want something with more personality and more of a story. We want to invest in that person.

Do I edit people? GOD NO. I have been called a cheerleader, a mother figure, a best friend, a pain in the ass, a guide and a critical friend. I sit well in all of those because yes, if you're underselling yourself I can be a royal pain in the ass. It is often the case when I'm writing about the Creatives that I work with, that I get a slightly shocked reaction, when to me, I have simply written the person and their business as I see them. 'Really?', 'Is that me?' 'Oh that's a bit scary'. Then.... I rewrite it, tone it down and you know what I've come to realise? We almost always go back to the first edit and that person suddenly seems a bit more sure of themselves. It's not intentional on my part, more of a process I've watched and started to reflect on recently.

I do not however. sit well with the full on branding that sells perfection. I love to tell a story, that's why I write and it's the thing that pulled me in. I don't want to rewrite though. It's simply not my place or my inclination.

Rereading Woolly's post again as I wrote this response, I smiled and nodded as I've felt that pressure too. Why wasn't I blogging perfect pictures and joining the ranks of 'Mummy Bloggers'? I think it's largely down to the fact that I feel I'd be betraying how hard it all is: balancing work, learning to be a mum, still being a partner and a daughter and all the other things I was before and also? It's just not on. Ever. It pits you against your peers and that's just wrong.

So that's me. That's what I do and why I love it so much. I cheerlead other people and am happy to sit behind them, watching them be amazing. Because knitters are you know. I think you've heard me mention it before.....

1 comment:

Margaret said...

What an interesting job! I think what you're describing is far different from crass commercial marketing. There's nothing wrong with helping someone present themselves well. Good for you for finding a job you believe in and that you can do and combine so well with family life.