Friday, April 28, 2017

Camp Thundercraft: Urban Craft Uprising Creates A Weekend Camp for Small Businesses

Last month I went to camp...Camp Thundercraft! Because I am a fan of the Urban Craft Uprising indie craft shows in Seattle, I saw information via their Facebook Page about their new camp for small business owners/makers. How could I resist? 
The weekend event was held on Vashon Island (a short ferry ride from Seattle) at Camp Burton, a rustic waterfront camp with cabins and meeting facilities. When I got an email with my cabin assignment, I knew it was real. 

I had never been to camp as a child (apart from a wonderful Girl Scout overnight), so the only reference I had were scenes from The Parent Trap. I ordered a sleeping bag on Amazon and was giddy with the idea of meeting other makers.

There were 5 of us in our cabin and I really connected with the girls right off the bat. We seemed to chose the same classes and spent a lot of time together at meals or walking between events. It reminded me of the best times in college when our time was our own and we could talk face-to-face about the things on our mind. It was very interesting to me that although we are all very dialed in to social media, this group was not lost on their phones the whole weekend. We understood that this was a rare opportunity to connect and we weren't going to squander it.

On Friday night after a grand potluck dinner, we broke out into groups and talked about the highs and lows of business/making and discussed the tools we use to make life easier. It was terrific.

There is something reassuring about talking to other women who run their own small businesses. Filing taxes, iPhone credit card apps and business card font issues can almost be discussed with a glance. We've been there, done that. Our experiences were similar enough that we could skip the basics and really communicate about the solutions. It felt wonderful.

You know what else I loved? Encouraging others. My favorite moment was when a group of us admired someone's art collage and encouraged her to pursue scanning and selling it as a print (something that can be sold over and over) vs. selling it only once as an original. She was thrilled that we saw a larger audience for her work and we felt like we helped someone to imagine the steps to a broader revenue stream.

The camp had morning and afternoon classes available on so many different topics (wholesale and private labeling your work, product styling and photography, DIY business taxes & record keeping) that choosing just one each session was difficult. A plus is that the organizers have promised class notes & resources available online after camp, so we can always investigate something we missed. 

You know what else was great? We now have our own Facebook group. I can pop over there and remind myself of a name or business website with just a click. We can easily stay connected and share relevant information as we learn it. This type of connection helps us to remember each other and I look forward to attending the Urban Craft Uprising events and seeking out some of my new friends.

On Saturday evening, we took a breather from the din of conversation to enjoy some tea & macaroons (mine was tie-dyed!) while we reflected on camp and what message we wanted to come away with. We all wrote a note to our future selves on pretty stationary by Annie's Art & Press knowing that it will be mailed to us when we need a kick in the pants just before the rush of the 2017 holiday season. 
On Sunday morning, before breakfast in the main lodge, some of us took a cup of coffee down to walk along the shoreline. It was so very quiet and peaceful that I didn't want to leave. 

I could have had a session on planning and implementing a social media timeline while sitting here like a bump on a log. The irony of that is not lost on me, but it still feels like a great idea.

After losing power for a spell on Friday night, we really lucked out with the weather that weekend. Look at the sand dollar (above) that my new friend, Becka found for me to photograph. The tide was low and so many treasures were exposed. As a Michigan girl, the opportunity to see shells on the shore are only possible on a tropical vacation. Seeing them here so close to my new home was a thrill.

Since I am new to the Pacific Northwest, my main objective for camp was to meet creative people living in this area. Where do you shop for materials? What's it like to sell at Pike Place Market? I am not settled enough to take the world by storm, but I am ready to make some friends and start exploring a new normal. 

I really had a great time at Camp Thundercraft. I met some very interesting women (and one cool ceramicist named Sean), got my head around the phenom called Instagram and I left with a list a mile long to tweak and improve this creative life.

What more could I ask for really? Bravo, Urban Craft Uprising, I am your newest biggest fan.

P.S. Don't you love the fabric the top of this post? I toyed with the idea of making myself a travel makeup bag for Camp Thundercraft, but then I talked myself out of it. Mistake! Always err on the side of super cute.  

#urbancraftuprising #campthundercraft #vashonisland #creativelife #seattle

No comments: