The they perspective can drain a lot of energy from what was once a pleasurable pursuit - as I know - from experience. I refer to those years as "my prostitution phase", the one in which I sold my creative soul trying to figure out what they wanted, so I could give it to them, hopefully at a price that meant I could actually make a living too. That's an interesting combo. It can work - Kat Wise, Natalie Chanin, and Palnitska come to mind - however there are considerably more artists who struggle than ones who are successful. A search for women's clothing on Etsy this morning came up with 671,252 returns.
Let's talk about these coats. I've spent two weeks making five coats. If this were a job, we'd look at it as 2 weeks times 5 days times 8 hours per day times BC's minimum wage of $10.25 equals $820.00 divided by 5 equals $164 per coat PLUS supplies. But it's not a job, and what it really looked like was 11 days times 10 hours per day times $10.25 equals $11,275.00 divided by five equals $225.50 per coat PLUS supplies. And then they'd have to sell.
This is a similar scenario to when I was creating textile art. I would make the pieces, mount them on painted canvasses, pay to ship them to the gallery, sometimes share in the exhibit costs plus pay a gallery fee IF a piece sold, and then pay to ship the unsold pieces back. After a while, it wears out your creative soul to hear that "they" loved your work. Loving your work is not enough. That product was produced to sell. That activity is a business. You want to be loved with a check. The bottom line is that a business that makes money is a success and a business that does not make money is NOT no matter how beautiful your work is, no matter how high your skill level is, no matter how much "they" loved you.
Over the years I have come to understand the attitude of breaking even. It used to frustrate me when artists wouldn't price their work at a level reflective of the time, money, and energy put into it but years of creating has evolved that perspective. I've softened. Now, I just want enough money to buy more fabric to keep creating and I've realized that only 5% of artists are self supporting and that only 2% of the economy in my community is spent on original art and that money is divided among ALL artists predominately those painting nudes, trees, and flowers in acrylics. I'm not bitter. I'm just a lot more realistic and far less starry eyed than I used to be. I'd rather float along on a gentle current that fight to swim upstream.
I've said this before - several times - so bear with me because it supports my point. The first time I read Malcolm Gladwell's book The Outliers, I was impacted by these sentences - which I'm paraphrasing - it's not that you weren't good enough, or that you didn't try hard enough, or that you didn't want it bad enough, the stars simply didn't align. I'd invested over twenty years building up a career first in quilting and then in textile art and my work was - finally - receiving artistic merit and being exhibited in several high end galleries. And then the economy went for a bust. And that was the end of that.
The second time I read the book, I was impact by the fact that not only did the stars need to align, but anyone who became successful did so with the help and support of one or more people who believed in them and helped them to connect the dots - the six degrees of separation thing. When I think back on the areas in my life where I've been the most successful, that is so true that I've come to see that identifying the people in your life who will assist with dot connecting is a critical element of moving forward on any goal. It's is draining to pioneer every battle completely on your own.
For the past several weeks, I've been praying for a way to generate significant cash flow using my current skills and abilities. Since I have no idea how God is going to answer that prayer, I wanted to be aware of any opportunities that might present themselves - which means that after the positive response to the coats I researched their marketing potential. Yes, there is a market somewhere, in some city, where some people have enough money to pay what most of us would consider a high and ridiculous amount for a little girl's coat but I do not know that market, those people, or that city and I absolutely do not have the energy to fight that battle alone. I did send out some emails requesting help from people who might be able to connect the dots because it never hurts to ask. None of those emails have been answered so far which I'll take as a sign because...
... while I'd be happy to sell them, I didn't make the coats to sell. I made them for two reasons - to maintain my sanity in the middle of an ongoing and stressful situation and to explore interpreting the same basic shape in numerous ways using what I had in stash. And from that perspective, they have been highly successful. I have an endless flow of ideas and several starting points already lined up to sew more versions in the future.
We each have many things we love to do. I especially love to be creative by sewing, to write about creativity, and to teach others about being creative. In contrast to the unanswered dot connecting emails regarding selling the coats, I received another email yesterday about the possibility of teaching an on-line creative clothing workshop. THAT would be fabulous. It's similar to work I used to do and absolutely loved with a shift from quilting to clothing which is exactly where I am at right now. And perhaps this is my answer to prayer and if it is, it would be fabulous because I know myself and I know that I get completely energized about putting together and facilitating workshops and completely drained by creating pieces to sell that don't. I love teaching.
SO... I was asked to test my market. Right now, the blog is my market since any contact lists I have from my previous work are in the area of quilting not fashion sewing. If you've never commented before, please comment - or if you'd prefer to send me a private email, my address is myrna AT myrnagiesbrecht DOT com. I would REALLY appreciate feedback. If you were going to take an on-line class with me, you would like it to be on the topic of ______ or ______ or ______? THANKS.
This coat is somewhat familiar in that I've made two other versions from a black and orange combination of this same fabric which - incidentally - I gave as gifts and did NOT receive a thank you note from either recipient but that's another conversation for another time. The fabric is delightful. One of those amazing finds - a wool blend - for $2.00 a meter - in the bargain center. I sewed a coat for myself in June and use the remnants to make this one. There's enough for another version. YEAH.
The fabric is reversible. Well... actually... the brighter side is the right side and the darker one is the wrong side but it's one of those fabrics where you can make great use of both. In the past, I've used the dark side for all of the main garment pieces and the light side as accents. This time, I showed off the design lines of the raglan sleeve by using the lighter side for sleeves and I alternated the ruffles light, dark, light.
This is the span of the pattern without the godets. It's just over half a circle. With the godets, another 16" is added which is almost another quarter of the circle. I've decided to add 1" to each side of the center front, center back, side front, and side back pieces and eliminate the godets as it's much neater to sew the garment without them.
The color combination came from the selvage which had a lovely fuchsia thread securing it. I used fuchsia thread to zigzag the edges of the ruffles, bows, hem, and collar edge and used the same buttons as from the third version. It - the project - the five coats - were VERY fun to do which leaves us with...
... what to do with these little coats. I've shown them to a few people and that's the first question they ask right after they clarify that my grandchild is indeed a boy and not a girl. The coats have fulfilled their purpose and now they'd be fun as part of an exhibit and I may explore that opportunity with a local gallery. I also think they'd be great illustrations for an article or a talk - say at a high school or sewing guild - to inspire others to be more creative with their sewing. And - if I could sell them - I would and buy more fabric and keep sewing so if you're interested, let me know. The prices are $75.00 for version four, $100 for versions one, two, and five, and $125.00 for version three PLUS shipping. As you know from the breakdown above, that's a good price. They are all size three with a 22" chest.
Thanks for sharing this coat journey with me. I'm looking forward to your feedback about which classes may be of interest. The possibility of teaching is most likely slim at best but it is a possibility and the answers will be extremely helpful and greatly appreciated and the data necessary to support any workshop proposal.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - realism