When I opened The Confident Stitch five years ago, I was certain that I possessed the skill set required to run a successful business. I knew how to choose fabric, teach sewing, budget, build spreadsheets, and write blog posts & press releases. And, for those things I wasn’t as knowledgeable in – graphic design, branding, inventory tracking, photography – I was confident that I would find professionals and employees to assist me. I thought that this was enough. That just by having an abundant love for sewing and fabric, I could build something awesome and that people would buy what I had to sell. I was wrong.
It turns out, loving something isn’t enough – you need to figure out how to let people know that you love it. In other words, promotion is really important! And, figuring out where and how to promote is difficult when you have a business that is both local and online. I wish I could title this blog post, “The Secrets to Successfully Marketing The Confident Stitch,” but I can’t. I am still in deep learning about how and where to invest my marketing dollars. Every year, I not only find some good ways to spread the word about The Confident Stitch, but also waste money on things that don’t work.
Sign Me Up
Because I’m still learning, I spend a lot of time hoping, which has made me a believer in “signs” when I never used to be. I still don’t act on my horoscope, but I pick up every penny I see on the sidewalk because it could be my lucky penny.
As I was walking to work a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon some serious signs. My route from home to the shop takes me past an apartment building that – as is common in a college town – sees lots of turnover and, undoubtedly, many interesting stories.
One day last week, on the sidewalk in front of the apartment building, I found a refrigerator magnet. It said, “Incubate.” Definitely a sign. That’s what I’m trying to do: incubate a new business! I picked it up and put it in my pocket. The next day, there was another magnet in the same spot. “Lust.” Hmmm. Better pick up that one, too. On the third day, yet another magnet said, “Say.” I continued to check the spot for the next few days, but that was it. No more magnets.
Incubate. Lust. Say. Hmmm. What could it mean? I was most likely intercepting someone else’s romantic message, but I didn’t care. I felt like Nancy Drew uncovering a mystery no one else could see via cryptic clues in the want ads or the linings of old luggage. What were the magnets trying to tell me? Here’s what I decided:
I DO want to “incubate lust, say.” The Confident Stitch feels like an incubator for how to run a small business that is both in-person and online. We have one inventory, but two inventory systems that talk to each other. We started out teaching in person, and have now ventured into Facebook Live and a YouTube channel with tutorials for anyone, any time. And, we advertise locally, but also through our newsletter, blog, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.
We also – in an enthusiastic and focused way – feel lust. A lust for fabric. Lust for uplifting and empowering others. Lust for making the world a better place. The Confident Stitch’s passionate belief in sewing’s power to heal is what separates us from Amazon and Fabric dot com.
And, the third magnet, which seems like the most innocuous one, is actually the most important. We need to SAY what we’re doing! I recently took a great 10-week marketing class from Missoulian Micah Larsen, and I will be implementing what I learned over the next few months and years. The class is called “How to Hustle” in case you need to up your marketing game, too.
The magnets make a fun story, but The Confident Stitch is thriving because I have been metaphorically picking up magnets (i.e. hiring great people and pushing myself to try new things) for the past five years, and my hopeful plans are actually coming to fruition.
You can count on the fact that I am passionate about what I do. My team and I are working everyday to create an inclusive community that uplifts people through all types of sewing. We are also creating unique products and services, such as our innovative quarterly Swatch Service, our virtual shopping service, my interviews with makers near and far, and the upcoming “12 Makes of Christmas” (beginning December 8th, 2020!).
Thank you to all who have supported, grown, and learned along with me these past five years. Here’s to five (or twenty-five!) more.