Happy Monday Y'all ! I was thinking the other day, " I really love this community." (remember all that talk last year about the community we, as makers, are a part of?)
Well, while thinking about how much I love this community, I realized there are a lot of folks out there whom I really admire, be it their products, work ethic, content, or simply their encouragement throughout the year. My admiration leads me to want to support my fellow makers, but how? Do I need a leather field notes cover from maker X? Or a strap belt from maker Y? Well, probably not, I sort of have the leather accessories covered on my end.
So, how do we do it? How do we support other makers in the same space as ourselves? Well, I have few ideas...
First off, lets go the free route! When was the last time you turned down some work? Maybe a custom job you didn't have time for? Perhaps something beyond your current skill set. Well, don't just shut someone down cold, pass along other maker's info. Me for example, I DO NOT make holsters, period. Well, guess what everyone wants? That's right, holsters. So what do I do, I have a couple makers that do great holster work, and I pass that info along. See, free!
You know what else if free? Participating within your community. Offer advise, take advise. Compliment others on their work and encourage one another!
Next up: I don't want to buy something that I already make....
Swag y'all. Check out those maker's swag sections. Hats, shirts, stickers, patches, whatever. I am a sucker for some stickers, and if you have ever been in my shop, you'd realize I may do a better job advertising for other Leather workers than I do myself with their stickers everywhere.
These products and items may not be big ticket items for the maker, but you are contributing all the same. Sure, I'd love to sell a tote today, or any day for that matter, but I'm also going to be pretty excited if I sell a $5 sticker pack to another maker in my space. Same goes for a t-shirt or a cap.
While these are easy ways for makers to support each other, it doesn't have to be limited to maker to maker. Supporting a maker in anyway, big items or small, does just that, supports them. Each little item helps to push a maker forward.
There are a ton of guys/gals out there I wish I could drop a few hundred dollars on each. But frankly, that just not in the cards for me. What I can do is to support who I can when I can. Stickers, t-shirts, or whatever. I'm going to offer a Saturday in the shop for a local guy to come hang out and work together and learn together. I'm going a add to my sticker collection, I'm even going to wear a tshirt around advertising another maker.
Last year, I tried to start buying from other makers. I've got stickers, small items like bracelets, and even a couple T-shirts. I plan to continue this throughout this year as well. I am also going to look toward other handmade makers in other mediums. I love knives, silversmithing, and more. There is a handmade guy/gal out there making whatever you can can think up. Skip over the big name jewelry store, or western wear store and find someone local or handmade to support. Chances are, you're going to get a better product and customer service than 99% of the big name stores out there.
When we, as a community support one another, we all win. So go buy something!
And remember, when buying handmade: Buy once, cry once.