I love this month’s theme because community is something I have been yearning for ever since I sold my retail store Rare Device last February. Like Lisa, I am building a new resource for creative freelancers and small business owners. It’s called Makeshift Society and I picked up the keys to a nice little storefront in San Francisco just a couple weeks ago! I wanted to talk more about why I am starting yet another business in the offline world just when my mostly online consulting business is maturing and taking off.
Photo courtesy of JetKat Photo
Way back in 2005, I opened my store in New York because, frankly, I was lonely. I was a jewelry designer working out of my kitchen and at that time you had to look a lot harder for your community – no Etsy, no Meetup, no Twitter. I found my people at the craft shows and markets I sold at, and it was a lifesaver. I decided to open a store to sell my work and the work of my new friends, and I made up the rest as I went along.
What I found, over the years, was that my favorite parts of owning a store were 1) working with creative people and helping them build their business, and 2) talking to customers about what great projects they were working on. Fast forward to 2011 as I began to do strategic consulting to help folks with #1. It was certainly rewarding but I found myself missing #2 quite a bit.
The more you participate in a community, the more you know, and the better you can help others by connecting them with likeminded individuals. I really want to help as many people as possible, and one-on-one consulting starts to feel really slow and limiting, and also lonely…so once again I am opening a physical space to solely help people move forward with their projects, and let everyone experience the value of participating in a very intentional community.
Photo courtesy of JetKat Photo
Why not do this online? I truly feel there is something about face-to-face interaction that cannot be replicated in any other way. We’ve come to a point, technology-wise, where we can have friends and collaborators all over the world, and have strong connections with people we have never met. And yet, when you do meet, it’s a magical thing. We’ve reached the point where we’ve found our people and now we want to hang out with them, too – to work together, to learn from each other, and to share resources (which may indeed include chocolate chip cookies). This accounts for the proliferations of offline classes, workshops, retreats and conferences in our world, I believe. Offline interaction adds a new dimension to online communities.
For me, my online network is like a favorite fuzzy cardigan – they are warm and comforting and always there for me. I treasure that. But offscreen relationships, while potentially challenging, are wonderful in a different way because they are potentially challenging. Getting out of your comfort zone leads to breakthroughs, and again, that is where the magic happens. Having multiple communities that intersect at various points and that serve different functions lead to growth, complexity, and creativity. My goal is to provide a point of intersection for the San Francisco creative community – and perhaps beyond, if I play my cards right.
What about you? How do your online and offscreen tribes differ? What do you learn from each community?
Come chat about cultivating on & offscreen communities with co-host Rena Tom at our #OMHG chat Thursday June 28, 2012 from 1-2EST! Click for more info.