Those of you who have browsed my website lately will have noticed that I am changing my website around a bit. It is the result of a rather tumultuous year for Märchenhaftes Sticken. What was I up to in 2018? I started the year with a renovated studio. It provides a much better working space for me and for teaching embroidery courses and workshops. Early February, I attended my second high-end craft market. It was such a success that I vowed not to attend another one for the rest of my life...
Instead, in May, I was invited to join local artist Marion Werner for an intimate art exhibition at her home. For the entry fee of two batches of mini-muffins, I had the time of my life! With hindsight, I can now say that this event steered my stitching career in a different direction. Away from craft and towards art. It is like growing up, as it comes with growing pains. It proves to be hard to claim the new identity of textile artist...
Financially it wasn't a good year for Märchenhaftes Sticken. I barely hit the €10000 mark for my turnover. Normally I am just short of €14000... Ough! Unfortunately, I can't quite explain the financial down-turn. I tried quite a few new things this year to generate extra income. I published a crewel pattern and instead of putting a fixed price on the download, I asked people to pay me through PayPal what they felt the pattern was worth. The pattern was downloaded quite a few times, but I received no payment... Nevertheless, I thought that my PayPal donation button would generate a modest income from all the people who ask for embroidery advice, but don't need anything from my webshop. It is an excellent opportunity for them to not feel guilty as they are being able to express their gratitude financially for the excellent service they have obtained from me. Think I am dreaming? Not all the time :). It worked twice and I am very grateful to these kind and generous persons!
Another potential extra income generator was my first ever downloadable ebook and accompanying material packs. It was great fun to research a little known silk embroidery technique from 17th century Italy. However, I had hoped for a slightly better reception of the ebook: I only sold 10 copies. Is it because my readers/groupies/followers are not interested in these kind of things? I don't know. There were 84 people who entered my competition to win a free copy...
A total fiasco so far: my online embroidery classes. After having been badgered for years by many people in the embroidery community, I decided to bite the bullet. I invested €611 in software, a video hosting platform and a camera stand. As I turned the projects I was going to teach in China into these online classes, I at least did not have to invest extra time in developing and writing up new projects. Sadly, I have only sold two classes. Interestingly, my gut feeling has always told me that online classes will probably not be successful for me. People think I can offer them real cheap. After all, I am a one-woman-show so I should be much cheaper than let's say Craftsy. After all, they are the real professionals with big studios and a crew. I am only me. How come I cost more? Because I cost them on the bases that I would probably sell no more than 20 classes a year. They cost them on the basis of thousands...
Social Media was not my friend this year. After putting an enormous amount of efford into building up an Instagram following, my account got hacked when I was just short of 1000 followers. As I received no help from Instagram/Facebook and after hearing more and more data scandals regarding Facebook, I quit all Social Media (bar Pinterest). You wouldn't believe how many more hours my days suddenly have...! And just like all other bussinesses that deal with the data of Europeans, I had to make my whole business GDPR compliant. Not fun. And expensive too.
For me, 2018 was all about traveling in the name of embroidery. In the spring we went to Crete and by chance discovered the beautiful goldwork embroideries at Moni Arkadi. In early September I spent a few days in Vilnius with fellow embroiderer Agne. We visited a beautiful exhibition on embroidered vestments. And then there was my trip to China in October/November. I had a blast teaching a very diverse group of lovely students European embroidery techniques. Very satisfying!
So what is in store for 2019? Teaching-wise, I will concentrate on my five-day embroidery courses. They are my preferred teaching format. Online classes have not proven to be successful and one-day workshops don't work very well either as people do not like to travel for such a short event. Of the four workshops planned in 2018, only one took place with two of the possible six students...
Likewise I no longer offer Work in Progress Saturdays. This is, like the online classes, a good example of the disperity between what people say they want and what they are prepared to invest in. On the advice of my students I started them two years ago. I was hesitant to start this endeavour as I knew people would not have the discipline to put at least some in their calendars and stick to them. Instead, the Saturdays started to move around at short notice. People pulled out at short notice so that I was forced to only run them when I had a minimum of three students. The end of the story? It ran only once this year with one student. Part of being a profesionall is that you do pull out of projects that don't make sense financially.
My biggest challenge for 2019 will be my first-ever solo exhibition at the end of August. You will probably see lots of new work on my blog as I will need to fill two exhibition rooms. Furthermore, I want to concentrate on my blog. It is a lovely way to journal my own journey. And I love researching historical embroideries! Wishing you a happy new year and I hope to 'see' you next week for a blog post on a special Christmas gift I made myself.
Jessica M. Grimm
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