June 02, 2018

LinkedIn buy and sell group for Indie Fiber Artists and Those Who Love Them

     I have started a LinkedIn group for indie fiber artists and those who love them.  You can find it here, https://lnkd.in/dTdrQcf.
     It is meant to act like a classifieds, with postings of "for sale," "in search of," and "free offer."
     I know the fiber arts community doesn't use LinkedIn that much.  And it's a bit of a bother, signing up for another site or downloading another app.  I only signed up years ago because a family member strongly urged me to be there.
     I chose LinkedIn because the platform functions well and it's meant for business.  Compared to Facebook which is meant for cat photos.  (Nothing against cat photos.)  Or Ravelry which is meant for knitting project management, knitting pattern sales, and knitting discussions.  (Nothing against knitting.)  On LinkedIn you can easily see who someone is, how to contact them, and what they offer generally for goods and services to the public.  You know they're open for business.  And the group page lets you discuss what's going on in the field.
     These are the guidelines for the group:
To participate you as an individual must offer to the public your own work which is traceable domestic (U.S.) in-house fiber (wool, cotton, linen, hemp, etc.), plant-based dyes, fiber arts services (milling, knitting, weaving), fiber arts instruction (books, classes, blog posts), fiber arts tools, fiber arts research and development, or fiber arts themed fine arts (original drawings, paintings).
Or be a buyer of the same.
Or be a professional (in the U.S.) who offers to the public products and services that fiber arts micro businesses really need (graphic design, vendor spots at wool festivals, artist residencies, etc.).
     It comes out of my personal experiences as a buyer in search of traceable, undyed or naturally dyed clothing.  That's been a somewhat fruitless quest so far and I'd like to make it easier for people like me who want a wardrobe of artisanal clothing without having to throw a few thousand dollars a year at the problem.  Or who at least want to know if that's what it truly takes.  Cloth with a story, terroir.  Stunningly beautiful cloth, eco-friendly and humanely raised.  I'd say local cloth is where local food was twenty years ago and the movement needs help to reach a tipping point.
     It comes from my experiences as a handspinner of wool yarn, wanting to buy obscure products like dried Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) which is a moth repellant.  I don't want to grow it.  I want to pay someone to do that, and order by clicking a button.  This is just an a example of the niche needs fibre artists have, and we are willing to pay good money to have them met.  Handspinners get up to a lot of stuff, growing indigo, raiding mulberry trees to feed silk worms, spreading the good word about wool.  We buy many goods and services, and not many businesses cater to us.  We rely on the secondhand market, each other, and our friends and family for some needs, like help with social media and advice on fibre arts techniques, and that doesn't always do the job.  (It's still pretty good, though.)  I never did hear how it went with all the fiber flax seeds I gave away to friends for their private research, and I really wanted to know.
     It comes from some comments friends and strangers have given me lately, how much they value the attention, encouragement, and information I've given them regarding their work.
     And it comes out of my experiences as a micro business owner selling sterling silver yarn-themed jewellery.  I buy products and services and education for DIY solutions in order to do my production and marketing.  I am doing okay on production since I'm able to make and source what I want to, mostly, and I'm ahead of customer demand.  Maybe I'm ahead of demand because I'm making things people don't actually want to buy?  Notice I didn't say need to buy.  The fibre arts are not about need, they are about desire.  Anyway.  I choose to think my need is to get found in order to get sales.  Advice is welcome!  I am not alone in that need, I've observed.
     I think we need to get found and find each other better than we are doing.
     Will you consider joining me on LinkedIn?  And talk about this topic with others wherever you are?  Thanks.
     I know LinkedIn is probably a long shot.  Our demographic is on Facebook and Ravelry.  But again, the platform is for business.  Plus, Facebook and Ravelry are Balkanized, with a group here and a group there dedicated to one seller and that sort of thing.  Ravelry is good about showing you all posts but Facebook's newsfeed is not.
Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank.
Proverbs 22:29 NIV

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