Handmade Philly MeetUp: April!

Handmade-Philly-Flyer_MeetUp

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Meet The Brainstormers

Meet the Brainstormers…….This blog report comes from my notes and observations at the first meeting of The Brainstormers. Obviously everyone has their own perspective so details may be missing, but I do plan to get the facts straight.  Those of you who were also there can correct me in the comments! 

So we all met last week at the Steel Pony studio (www.steelpony.com) of Joanne Litz and her business partner/husband Dennis Wolk. What a gorgeous studio! Located on Reed Street in South Philly, I was mostly worried about finding a parking space on those narrow car filled streets.  But, hooray, there was an open space right across the street.  Of course I find out later that there is a free parking lot next door…  Note for all coming next time – free lot!

Once we felt everyone had arrived, we gathered at a rectangle table and began by introducing ourselves, our craft and what we hoped for and wanted out of the group.

Dennis, Joanne, Jeanne, Nicole

Jeanne Lombardo is the owner/artist of Intuition (www.jeanne9775.etsy.com), whose tagline is Funktional Art. She’d love to have a consignment shop someday and currently works in a commercial design firm by day.  

Nicole Bruno owns A Stitch in Design (www.astitchindesign.com) (Note from Nicole: PLEASE don’t look at that site!! It needs to be updated big time!).  Nicole is an accountant with an MBA and loves to sew, quilt and make items to give away as gifts but is at a point where she feels it’s time to focus on the selling.

Dana Henry was at one time a writer for Grid, a Philly magazine working towards a sustainable Philadelphia. As a freelance writer she looks at the workshop as a way to possibly put together a guide for small art/craft businesses to help them with their marketing plans in a writing style that is not business speak.  Something more like “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World” by Isa  Moskowitz (http://vegancupcakes.wordpress.com). 

Ruth Schanbacher (our fearless Handmade Philly leader) talked about the history of Handmade Philly and how her interest lies in education and positive promotions for artisans.  Manufactured Dissent (www.manufactured-dissent.com) is an online magazine she created in 2007 for artists although she admits to not keeping it up lately.

I was next, Jan Cohen (www.thejmccollection.com) and spoke about finding my brand with the handbags I make.  I try to never buy any new fabrics.  By rescuing decorator fabrics from the landfill, constantly hunting down finds at Goodwill, Salvation Army and yard sales, I’ve “gone green”.  “Restyle ~ recycle” is on my card but how to make that new or different from ALL the others who are doing it also.  And yet, it is a popular but important theme……..

Next were Rachel and Jennifer representing Square Peg Artery & Salvage (www.squarepegartery.com), a handmade crafts and arts consignment shop at 108 South 20th St.   Rachel is the owner and likes to stay behind the scenes while running a tight ship.  She says Jen came by one day, introduced herself and seems to have never left!  A massage therapist in one part of her life, Jen is also a creator of soap products using all pure ingredients.  She says if you take each element out of her products they could all be eaten separately…….but probably not recommended. 

Jan, Jen

Dennis talked about his new line of handmade, hand sewn leather bags called Journey Bags (www.shopwearableart.com).  He and Joanne have run Steel Pony for 17 years but in the last few years because of the economy, upscale wearable art has been harder to sell. They’ve done outdoor events, they’ve done indoor events.  They’ve had sales people but mostly now sell wholesale.  Joanne is starting to think about forming a co-op of artists who all have a vested interest in the business.

A really great, wide range of people, backgrounds, education, interests kept us talking and drinking wine (with healthy munchies) for over 3 hours until we decided that we’d meet again in April. We chose the last Wednesday of each month to brainstorm and figure out how to make it all work.  We decided to select business points from the agenda and have each member of the attending group sign up for one or more aspects that they feel they need help with.

healthy munchies!

Dana

We also agreed to allow a few more people in to round out the group a bit more, but wanted to keep the group as steady as possible. Workshops, books, shows, sales, business cards, photos……..all was brought up and dissected.  We definitely acknowledged that we might start with one theme but on any given gathering anything is open for discussion. 

And there was lots of laughs too as we got to know each other and found it comfortable to talk to other people who share your own ideas with a feeling that we were creating a great opportunity for all of us. We hope everyone can benefit from these brainstorms!

‘Til April 28th at 7:00.