Starting your own handmade or creative business can be an exciting & scary thing. There are lots of things to research, many steps to take and a sea of information out there. It can be incredibly daunting, especially if you’re tackling it alone or that your friends & family, while being loving & supportive, don’t (or simply can’t) always offer the best advice or make you feel understood. Wouldn’t it be great to have a wonderful community of fellow creatives out there that can guide you, inform you, support you, help you & understand you?
Well, here’s a tale of two creatives that found each other through this wonderful community, nurtured a budding friendship through collaborations and ended up creating a wonderful new brand for a new handmade business!
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When Alison Butler of The Petit Cadeau blog first approached me to collaborate with her on an #OMHG guestpost a little over a year ago, I was an incredibly shy blogging & social media newbie. I had recently become a transcriptionist for the #OMHG chats (to my utter surprise) & I was so taken aback that someone wanted to collaborate with me (with glee, of course) that I actually had to read her email a couple of times. I happily agreed, the post was a community success, and thus began a wonderful relationship that we both have Jessika, Oh My! Handmade Goodness, and the wonderful #OMHG chats to thank for.
“One Thursday afternoon in 2012 during an #omhg chat, someone mentioned a virtual cupcake party (the general topic of cupcakes seems to arise during #omhg chats quite frequently, actually!) and I thought, “wow, it would be a great idea to have a virtual celebration like that”. I had a delicious recipe, but needed something else to make the post special. Geri was a regular participant at #omhg chats, and I knew she was a graphic designer, so I decided to ask her if she would be interested in creating some cupcake toppers to share – she said yes!”
Since Alison’s blog often focuses on gift-giving (The Petit Cadeau means “small gift” in French), I thought it would be fun to have her do a guestpost (my first & who better than someone I knew and trusted!) on my own blog with a wedding-themed paper DIY. She graciously accepted & offered a few ideas that she thought would work well for my audience, settling on the handmade wrapping paper post which proved to be very popular.
“Like many OMHG participants, Geri and I followed each other on Twitter, sharing virtual ideas and posts. In the Summer of 2012, I launched the Handmade Marathon on my blog – featuring 26 unique handmade products and the creative minds behind those handmade products (one for each of the 26 miles of a marathon). After the application deadline, I received a heartfelt e-mail from Geri apologizing for missing the deadline and wishing me luck with the project. While reading her e-mail, I thought, “how could Geri be involved”? I came up with the idea of a Christmas Wish List & Geri designed a printable that I featured at the bottom of each Marathon participant post.”
While Alison was busy with this awesome project, she touched base with me during the summer about a new brand for her blog. She had a lot of ideas which had been percolating for awhile, but was extremely busy with her blog, life & not quite ready to make such a big leap. I kept a tentative open spot for her in my schedule and suggested she take her time and let me know when she was ready. While I was new to the blogging scene, I’ve been a freelance designer for over 5 years, but Alison didn’t have access to any of my portfolio or past work as I hadn’t yet integrated it into my site. I can’t say how honoured I was that she would choose me for such an important part of her journey, as we had really only nurtured our relationship online and with our respective blogs as a base.
“I actually contacted Geri way back in June 2012 (before Handmade Marathon) to get an idea of her prices for a logo re-design. I wasn’t quite ready yet, but I was gathering information. It was a natural choice for me to approach Geri – because of our relationship through OMHG, and our collaborations, there was a foundation of trust and I loved the fact that she has “gone rogue from corporate” to work for herself. It just felt right. In December, I contacted her again and told her I thought I was ready to start the process in the New Year – I gathered inspiration – design elements that I liked from other logos/blogs and took a deep breath. Committing to a new logo and a rebrand was a HUGE decision for me. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I second-guessed myself – I knew that I really wanted to redesign, but I was scared of the unknown. Geri asked me to fill out a detailed questionnaire to bring some of my wild thoughts together. There was a LOT of positive self-talk – I wrote these exact works to Geri at the beginning of the process: “I have to say, this is a HUGE leap for me – moving forward with this really makes things REAL and I’m freaking out a bit, but also super excited. I know you’re going to do an awesome job, but it’s all just so unknown for me right now – a little scary and it means I’m actually moving forward with my business instead of just “planning” and “thinking”. EEK!”
We got started on Alison’s branding project fairly quickly and I have to say that she was a dream client. Even though she lives in Nova Scotia and I live in Ontario, the miles (or kilometers, for us here in Canada) didn’t seem to make a difference. We shared many emails & a few Skype conversations. She had clear ideas about what she wanted and she wasn’t afraid to ask questions or tell me straight up her opinion of things.
“Geri was really easy to work with. She explained things to me in ways that were easy to understand. She guided me through my thought process when I asked for help. I felt that she wanted me to be 100% happy with the end result – and I am! So far, the blog has been updated and redesigned using my new logo and branding elements, and I’m in the process of launching my online shop. I’m positively beaming over the feedback from readers about the new look.”
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I’m over the moon to have been given this opportunity and to have made such a valuable connection with Alison. Would the result of our working together been so successful had we not become so connected through our continued collaborations and growing friendship? I’m not so sure, but thankfully I don’t have to wonder!
I can’t thank Jessika enough for creating this wonderful community. Without her vision, constantly upbeat cheerleading & tireless commitment, Alison & I wouldn’t have found each other, or had a platform for which to further our collaborative efforts, ultimately leading to Alison making such a big leap of faith and furthering her plans of opening up her own creative shop in the summer. We’ve both not only gained a wonderful friend (we hope to meet in person very soon!), but have each ventured out of our comfort zones knowing that we had the support and integrity that is fostered within the #OMHG community.
Do you have an #OMHG story to share or an online connection that has helped you grow your business? Share with us in the comments!