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An Alternative Marketing Approach: The Importance of Intention in Making Our Craft

11 Oct

Intention & Handmade Products

The secret behind a successful handmade jewelry or crafts item, artwork, or design, is a well-perfected intention, and a great amount of curiosity and love. This, I believe, is the reason why some of my work gets sold, and some items stay unsold no matter how I lower the price or re-package the product.

Intention, I believe, is the secret ingredient behind everything in life. Intention, not the one we convince our selves we have, but the actual innermost motivation that makes us nice to people, sociable, active, or none, is what really matters.

I have had around two years to witness and measure the influence of intention on marketing my handmade products and designs.

I will tell you one thing that is a solid truth, discovered during endless hours spent at craft-shows: People buy the items I most love. The products that I made as “replicas” – of pieces I first made with love, curiosity, a sense of adventure, and an open-mind – barely made it into a customer’s handbag!

All my “firsts” got sold, while many unloved replicas, are still stuck with me here in a box, a drawer or a craft-show display unit.

In the middle of noticing how intention affected the way people and customers were attracted to my products, I started realizing all my favorite pieces are getting sold, and I am getting stuck with the “replicas,” the soulless ones, the pieces I made while I was imitating the “mother” piece, the first-born baby, the handmade item I made with great love, and care.

Those first pieces were full of soul because I was shaping them for the very first time, entering the realm of “creativity,” and taking great care in choosing the beads, the colours, the form.

The replicas, however, are pieces that I made with no sense of adventure, with a little bit of boredom looming over my head,  an obvious lack of enthusiasm, and most importantly, were made in a factory-like mode!

What did I do when I realized my favorite pieces are almost gone? I started hiding them; grounding them and not taking them to the first day of the craft show I was participating in. My sales would suffer… so next day I bring some of my favorite pieces and mix them up with other pieces, and lo and behold, they get sold almost instantly!

There is a particular ring I loved so much, but I didn’t think it suited the market I was selling it to. Guess what? It’s gone, although it’s quite eclectic, and the people over here love a uniform, mainstream kind of style. But it got sold, and people started asking for similar eclectic rings; people who didn’t look like they would ever sport a ring that looked absolutely out-of-the norm. And I sold in huge numbers, because each ring was made with a great sense of curiosity, each one was an experiment on its own, no replicas, no boredom, but a heightened sense of curiosity, with a big pinch of love. I have sold all the “good” rings. Each one of them.

Did you know that “factories,” especially those producing accessories and apparel, mobilized machinery for only certain parts of the process, while the rest of the work gets done by people? Which means it’s partly handmade, yet, these products do not carry the glory and the vibe of a handmade item made by an individual, creating his/her products in a factory-less setting.

This means, every-time I entered a factory-like mode, the items I made by hand, did lose part of their soul. They were never attractive to buyers, although, they looked exactly the same as the “mother” item I made, and which got instantly sold.

An Alternative Marketing Approach: Sincerity sells!

Intention, is this covert motive that we hide behind our words, artwork, lifestyle, and even the way we dress. Even when we are vocal about what we think, or want other people to believe, is our intention, still this doesn’t mean that our innermost is necessarily on the same page. An example: A man who acts humble, only his intention is not the true nature of humility, but to impress people and attract flattery.

Another example: An artist who paints with the intention of scoring fame, while using his/her God-given talent for this mere purpose, and not for the higher purpose of actually journeying through the endless realms of art and self-discovery… for art that does not involve self-discovery, and a real search for answers, and a mechanism of change, is probably a form of artistic hypocrisy.

I have fallen into the traps of false intention so many a-times. And have grown to actually hate the very product of my hand that I created with a false intention.

This, people, feel

Customers’ eyes immediately wander towards the “good” items, the loved items… while no matter how hard I try to sell them a truly gorgeous earring, they will not buy the one I’m holding, they will buy the “original” piece or design I created first.

The most important and challenging lesson that I learned ever since I started my crafting journey is how to “perfect” my intention, before actually perfecting the handmade item I was working on.

I started asking myself questions like:

“Why am I working on this?”

“Am I waiting for applause from an audience, or am I working on this out of pure love?”

“Am I motivated? Do I feel like doing this, or am I just ‘finishing’ work like a factory?”

I realized, over the course of time, that handmade work, a painting or a design, are “deeds.” There are “good” deeds, and there are “bad” deeds.

Good deeds come from a place of love.

Bad deeds come from a place polluted with insincerity. When I switch to a factory mode and create pieces just to “finish” the work, I am being insincere. Whereas when I am putting all my attention, enthusiasm, and commitment into my work, I am positively being sincere.

And sincerity sells, exactly because we didn’t have the intention of selling when we made the ring, the painting, the design, or the article.

When we don’t have the intention to impress, to sell, to convince, and concentrate only on the process of creativity, we bring to life a product that stands out, attracts, and can sometimes become legendary.

I have seen many artists who worked so hard at getting famous, wearing certain clothes to accentuate the fact they were artists, wrapping themselves in suffering to deserve the title, artist, yet they never make it past the limited circle of like-minded artists and sufferers. Why? It’s insincerity.

On the other hand, you see artists who become eternal legends. Why? They were busy making art, they had no time cultivating fame. And for that very reason, their work became immortalized.

To work within sincerity, every day, on every item, one needs to cultivate an inner observer that knows when things are getting spoiled by other intentions and thoughts.

I pray that I would reach a level of sincerity in every item I create, and that my deeds, whether as handmade products, paintings or designs, will be “good” deeds, fueled with love, sincerity and commitment.

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Let’s help revive the golden rule

17 Apr

This is the first time I go off this way and speak about something completely different from handmade crafts and similar stories. A dear friend of mine asked me to watch this video by Karen Armstrong, dubbed “let’s revive the golden rule,” and I thought it was a video to be shared.

I’m not going to say much. I will let Karen Armstrong do the talking.

By the way, she is the author of a book called “A History of God.”

If you like this video, please share it; let’s create a domino effect.

With love,

Karboojeh

Naturally Homemade: Grandma’s alum recipe instead of commercial deodorant

30 Mar

Pic via jasminechemical.com

When I was 17, my grandmother told me to stop using deodorants since they blocked the perspiration glands.  Deodorants are dangerous to our bodies… nature has always offered us ways to beautify and clean ourselves. Why not use alum (i.e Shabbeh – شبة) instead?

Alum is not short for aluminum. It’s a natural stone, that once crushed into tiny crystals can be your personal hygiene’s best friend.

Pic via ehow.com

Aluminum, on the other hand, is a harmful component that is used in many of the manufactured deodorants out there!

Grandma, may she rest in peace, told me that over time the blocked sweat caused by commercial deodorants will accumulate under the skin and rot, and I will start to really smell, which means I will need more deodorant to cover it up. Ultimately this blocked perspiration is a form of toxin that is locked within the body… it will harm it.

As a nature-lover, my grandma hated manufactured cosmetics, and always opted for natural remedies to fix everything. She had great insight and respect for the ways of her grandparents. She didn’t need a scientific report to tell if unnatural cosmetics were harmful or not, she knew it innately. And I believed her.

Pic via dipity.com

Alum talc-like deodorant

My grandmother’s basic alum recipe – You can use this recipe like you use talc:

  • Crush some alums until they become a bit rougher than talc (if they’re not already crushed) – about 7 tablespoons of it (or more if you like).
  • In my part of the world you can buy already crushed Musk powder, which is then added to the alum (let’s say about 1/2 a tablespoon), and it gives it a celestial smell. You can check out your area for any oriental shops & ask them if they have it.
  • Mix the two well. Place  the powder in a clean cosmetics container with a lid, and use a cotton pad, or one or those fluffy pads used for applying powder facial foundation.
  • After taking a shower, fluff your underarms and any perspiration-active areas with this mixture.
  • P.S. If you have been using artificial deodorants for a long time, be patient while the body cleans itself. At first you might think the Alum-Musk mixture is not working out because you are basically smelling, but that’s because all the blocked perspiration is now to free to leave your body. These toxins have a bad smell, but after a while when the new perspiration is now dancing with the alum you will smell fresh and quite different than before.

Alum sprayer

Pic via realsimple.com

My grandma’s great grandmothers, back to God-knows-when, used alum and they always smelled superb. In fact if you have a sensitive nose you can always tell the difference between a modern home, around the Levant where I live, and a traditional home that uses natural soaps, alum, rosewater, and all the natural scents & cleaning materials that really make everything smell better.

Another simple alum recipe is making your own alum spray:

  • Crush the alum crystals
  • Mix them with water in a bottle sprayer
  • Spray your underarms, feet, and any sweat-active areas, right after you shower.

Alum with essential oils

You can always experiment with creating your own scented alum powder. If you have a good quality rose/musk/jasmine essential oil, you can:

Pic via ashitherapy.com

  • Crush the alum…
  • add a few drops of essential oil to the alum crystals and mix well
  • use like you use talc.

An Artisan’s Tipping Point: The Critical Mass of Crafting

26 Mar

Thoughts By Karboojeh Handmade

Today I entered my craft room and made something I didn’t know I was able to make. It was my first draft, but it looked like I knew what I was doing. I finished the project at hand & it looked too good to be true! That’s when I knew I reached the tipping point of my skill as an artisan.

The Tipping Point - via widro.com

Have you read the book? The Tipping Point (by Malcolm Gladwell)? Well, you should. This book is probably the most cross-cutting, cross-sectoral book you could ever come across. It suits everyone: cooks, artisans, managers, high-up executives, students, mothers, crafters, teachers, pilots… everybody!

I watched the Tipping Point law work for me when I was a musician, and now that I am crafting, I am seeing it happen all over again.

What the tipping point is all about boils down to one thing: When you build up a skill, a project, a campaign, a life together, etc… it starts at the bottom of the hill, and as you go up it becomes harder, and it gets too tiring as you push up your know-how: you read, learn, attend seminars, learn, err. It’s like pushing a huge mass up the mountain… until you reach critical mass; the mass enough to bring your up-hill snowball rolling back down, easily and smoothly. That’s the Tipping Point… when it basically tips.

The darkest hour comes right before the dawn

let’s linger a bit here and talk about what happens before it tips, before the ball starts rolling when you reach critical mass and become a pro. You basically have the hardest time of all times; you put all your frustrations & energy into what you are doing but you feel insufficient – not there yet. And you feel a bit lost, and aimless – “where am I going with this, I don’t see results?” You feel like you’re reading all of these tutorials (books, papers, etc), and you are completely lost as to where to go from here. As an artisan, you spend hours on Pinterest, pinning things that are relevant to you, to your dream project, but you don’t know when you will be the DIYer you want to be!

And then one day you walk into your craft room (office, kitchen, classroom, etc), and you just do things like a pro. “Where did this come from,” you ask. “Last week I sucked at this, now I’m putting this beautiful thing together… effortlessly?

Yep… that’s the tipping point.

In spirituality, there’s a metaphor that is based on the fact that the darkest hour at night comes right before the first streak of dawn; just right before the sky cracks open with a slight, thin thread of light. That’s the most difficult hour for us as people journeying through life. Right before any dawn on any level: work, love, spiritual growth, psychological maturity… there comes the darkest hour.

But after that very dark place comes the tipping point, the dawn.

P.S. If you’re in a place of uncertainty right now, brace yourself, be patient… the tipping point might be just around the corner.

 

 

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