Celebrate Brooklyn! + Realizations of An Artist and Entrepreneur

I will be surprised if you don’t know this already because it is the only thing other than the NYC Marathon that keeps flying from my mouth, but last Friday, June 10th became the day that I became an official “market”  vendor with The {NewNew}. The “market” I am speaking about is Celebrate Brooklyn!, a music festival in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

You may be wondering why this is such a big deal to me.  The truth, the whole honest truth, is that I’ve never done anything like this before. Ever. If you can imagine, in the weeks and months leading up to this event, I was a combination of motivation, fear, frustration, excitement, more fear,  more excitement and creativity unlike anything else I’ve experienced.

I often talk about when I started this endeavor and how I had no idea what I was doing; I simply threw myself into being creative and designing. I also battled the whole concept of whether I’m a “designer” or not. I’ve since push past the whole “am I a designer” thing because I’m actually an “artist.”  I am not being an elitist or tooting my own horn, but I am an artist and I’d rather be an artist than a designer. So that ends that.

But now, two years down the road, following the path of an artist who dabbles in design, I have found my way to where I am. And I’m quite excited!

When I started this business, I had a sort-of-kind-of plan in my head. I was going to take classes, learn the details behind working in the Creative Suite and making my line (which I still haven’t done) that started this idea.  What I didn’t expect was that the customized aspect of my business would launch before I had time to make product.  I never anticipated that because it wasn’t part of my “plan.”

Now, I’m fairly new to being an entrepreneur, but when I think back to the days of my youth, I’m not really. Much as I collected scraps of my favorite wrapping paper and taped them to a wall in my bedroom growing up, I also used to sell things all the time. There were garage sales growing up in Cleveland Heights. I also signed up for one of those programs where I would sell stationery and paper items out of a catalog and send it to my parent’s offices to sell to the ladies. Then there was the summer that my cousins and I (in then uncool Williamsburg, Brooklyn) made cloth bags (yep, we were ahead of the eco-bag craze that is going on now) and planned a business.  The cloth bags required a pattern, fabric and sewing machines, but we mastered the pattern and at the ripe ages of 13, 11 and 9, considered how we could keep the business going. It didn’t last, but I believe it was then that the entrepreneur bug was planted.

I think it was also that bug that made me study marketing and business as a secondary field of study at the George Washington University. It is why now, I focus on branding and marketing as much as I do creating, designing, and making. But still, I gave up my business plan writing pretty quickly in an interest to throw myself into working. I figured it made more sense to see if I could actually make this happen before spending hours putting together a document that might say it could work, but would have no real basis on how it would work.  I do not begin to know which option is better, I just know what worked for me, which is why I tell everyone do what works best for you and stand firm behind it.

It’s is now, that I realize that I need to get my business plan in motion, especially as I think about my two year project goals. I’ll talk/share more about goals and the next two years later this year, but I like that my business has organically unfolded and developed to where it is. Which leads me back to Celebrate Brooklyn! and this past Friday night.

Last Friday night, I took a friend visiting me from Buenos Aires to Prospect Park and Celebrate Brooklyn! to see the concert in action and so that we both could see the stand of fellow Etsians and NewNewers products for sale.  It was exactly what I thought it would be, and more. Pictures below are not the greatest, but they show what I saw through my excitement.

When I dropped off my items a few days before the opening for Celebrate Brooklyn! I thought to myself, “how are these ladies going to get everything done?”  At that moment Friday was looming and there was so much work to be done. Naturally, things have a way of coming together so I shouldn’t have been worried.  Not to mention, the strong merchandising team that put the event together did an amazing job. I felt then (and still do) pleased as well as,  excited, happy, and overwhelmed at seeing my invitations and cards on display in various locations of the booth.

I was also really pleased to hear the responses of many of my fellow artists and designers, who told me how much they liked my product and was impressed with my work.

Now, I don’t have data for the day, but I do know that something like 12,000 people were in attendance at Celebrate Brooklyn! last Friday night. I don’t know if any of my products sold and I don’t know if anyone even looked at my products, but I know that I saw my products in a way I had never seen them before. I saw them not just as the creator, but through the eyes of potential clients.

I also know that I was heavily under the influence of Andrew Bird, the performer of the opening concert. He gave a spectacular performance!  Mix that with the heat and breeze in the air and the feeling of being in green space, it really felt like magic was in the air.  I’ve never seen him live before, but knowing his work, allowed me to hear him in a different way. It also made me more willing to pay $45 to see him in concert in the future.

I also know that my friend had a good time, which is exactly how I wanted her to end her trip. I wanted her to see what New York has to offer other than tourist traps and late nights wandering. I wanted her to experience a moment of awe, where you’re amazed that in a city as crowded and full as NYC, you can still stop and marvel at the beauty of simplicity.

Speaking of my friend, she hands down had one of the best reactions to my work I’ve encountered. The weekend prior, she and I had gone to my favorite coffee shop in Brooklyn, Root Hill, and took some pictures of my products for Celebrate Brooklyn!. As I took each set out to photograph, her face gave me some of the best feedback ever.  I should note that in Argentina, the stationery industry is nothing like ours, or in her words, “if you give someone a gift, they just say thank you. It’s rare that they write you a note”.  This is why I loved every giggle, gasp, smile, or kind word she made about my products. There were many, but what I really loved was when she said, “I love how simple and cute each of these things are.”

Regardless of whether I sell every item or not, when Celebrate Brooklyn! ends, I will have completed my first large scale “market” event. I will have created 130-odd pieces of ready-to-buy product. I will also have product that I know the requirements and time behind making each piece. Finally, I now have product that if I wanted to I can wholesale.

The best part is that I now also know how much more I have in me to make things that I want happen. I’ve always known this about myself, but Celebrate Brooklyn! has given me extra proof.

This weekend, my friend left, I started training for the NYC Marathon, and slept.  I slept almost 12 hours both nights. I am still exhausted, but I’m still oh, so excited.

This coming Friday and Saturday, I’m working the booth at Celebrate Brooklyn! I know I’ll be exhausted again, but this time I’ll have more to share about actually selling my products, not just the flurry of making them.

If you haven’t visited/attended Celebrated Brooklyn! yet, you should. You should also come see if my products are anything you’d be interested in.

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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