Out of disappointment, hope radiates

After the Oktoberfest at Mashpee Village last weekend I had HOPED that I would be effusive in my summary of the day. It was supPOSED to be a banner sales day, a day engaging happily with customers and fellow vendors; I thought I was prepared. I wasn't.

So I spent the past week nursing that disappointment and re-thinking. By re-thinking I mean that I considered abandoning the whole "#handmade" "#shop local" concept and with pursed lips and perfunctory handshake, walk away from it all. (I'm not that abnormal; others have over-reacted thusly. . . or so I imagine.)

Re-thinking, however, did involve some healthier actions. Two days of wallowing was sufficient to get me to the better place. My better place had me looking at my products holistically, critiquing my website, reviewing the (inadequate) ways that I had been trying to "get my name out there", researching like businesses and businesses with like-minded missions, and reflecting on where I wanted Joy Handbags to go and what I wanted - and want -it to BE. Most critically, I dwelled on my brand identity, or lack of clearly-defined brand identity. It has taken several conversations with my younger daughter for me to authentically embrace the essential nature of brand identity. If I'm struggling with it, undoubtedly my customers and followers will continue in their own uncertainty. It should be easier than I'm making it; I have no difficulty gravitating toward websites and businesses whose brand identities and mission statements reflect my own values. My reluctance, I believe, has its roots in my dread of posing as something I'm STRIVING to be (but haven't quite mastered), and my ethical concerns: I don't want to co-opt others' work. It's very hard, though, (isn't it?) staying true to oneself, yet realizing that what I offer is not all that unique. (You, too, would conclude that it's not AT ALL unique if you spend an evening catapulting yourself from one end of the web universe to the other, studying with no end in sight the triangulated and pinpointed destinations of vastly creative web search queries! Such an exercise is reason enough not to engage in masochistic rituals. And that is my gratuitous, yet no less viable advice.)

Most of that last paragraph will likely cause the successful entrepreneurs out there to knowingly cluck in disapproval. (What chance does Joy Handbags have of making it if the owner herself trumpets the absence of her uniqueness?) Accuse me of a tendency to fall on my sword, but no one should draw the conclusion that I'm just someone trying to muscle my way into the makers' market. I've been making stuff nearly my whole life, I'm skilled and somewhat of a perfectionist, and textiles just excite the hell out of me. Admittedly, I have a lot to learn about marketing. . . and I could be a tad more organized. . . and a little less distracted. . . and more knowledgeable about things like SEO and hashtag whatever.

The real take-away from last weekend's dispiriting experience is that it was an opportunity to learn in very specific ways. Yes, I did wallow for a couple days and self-pitied, but I was completely fine with that; I was serene in the knowledge that my dismay would subside naturally. I'm once again energized, and this time I'm armed with a list of focused tasks. . . if only I could remember where I placed that darned list! (Just kidding; it's right in front of my keyboard.)

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