How do I compete with the high street?

How do I compete with the high street?

Above: 1890s corset by Michelle Fitzgerald. 3-part tutorial at FoundationsRevealed.com On Friday night a disgruntled ex-Member complained that Foundations Revealed should be more like Craftsy, the crafting giant snapped up by NBC Universal this year.    How the hell do I compete with that? Craftsy is full of gorgeous HD video classes for bargain basement prices. It has a fancy, big-budget interface. Twelve million users share the cost of producing classes on all the most popular pastimes – quilting, knitting, baking, drawing, and so on. Foundations Revealed is an archive of 1000 articles on corsetry and historical costume making, available only by purchasing a monthly subscription. It has an interface that is showing its age, funded by seven hundred Members. I’m sorry, I replied. We have to do what we can with what we have.   Unfair though the comparison may be, she still has a point. How DO we compete in a Craftsy-led world? It’s easy to see how fast a little guy like us could be swallowed up by the Goliath of the “edu-tainment” world. We’re doomed! What to do? Here’s how: we specialise. We geek the heck out, and look for geeks like us. We go to depths of delicious nerdiness that Craftsy can never hope to match. We go an inch wide… and five hundred years deep. This is why Your Wardrobe Unlock’d has not worked.   “Dear Cathy, I have to ask you this… where is YWU going to? Everything is pointing towards Foundations and corsetry and I’m just not going that way… so would it be too intrusive to know what are your plans?” I’ve been asked this a few times...

Don’t Stop Learning

This week I’m away at a conference that’s all about running a membership business. But why on earth would I go all the way to Canada to learn about something I’ve already been doing successfully for ten years? Let me explain…...
Now Leaving: Comfort Zone

Now Leaving: Comfort Zone

And so to England, where I’m rifling through a pile of notes and a pile of mail. I had an intense and fabulous trip to California.

Three educational events in two months have helped me build something that matters more than ever. (Investing in your continued education: never a bad idea.) All of them blew my mind, catapulted me out of my comfort zone and demonstrated just how possible my plans are – IF I dare to keep moving forward, no matter what anyone else might think. The first two were joyous, but the last was challenging. It was a training for… public speakers.

Create Something That Matters

Create Something That Matters

So no matter how small you believe you are, no matter how broken the world has left you… if you feel deeply and feel drawn to create, create something. Create something small. Create something beautiful. Create something that matters. I promise to help you all I can.

How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

How Well Do You Know Your Customers?

Finding customers and selling to them is not just about tracking them down and talking at them until they buy. (If you’ve ever been cornered by a pushy stranger at a party, you’ll know exactly why that’s not going to work.) You may have some idea who to talk to now, but if you want to build a relationship with them, a relationship based on trust that leads to a “yes”, that conversation needs to be a two-way street.

How to Find Customers

How to Find Customers

You know you’re doing great work. In fact, you’re working your behind off to get your creative gifts out into the world, but the world just isn’t buying. That’s frustrating, because it’s not as if you’re not giving it your all. You’re giving it your absolute best. How do you find actual customers? Is your work not good enough? Why will no-one open their check book? What is the magic formula for going from “One day I’ll buy something from you” to “When can you fit me in”?

The Courage to Act

The Courage to Act

As creative people, we all feel the insatiable urge to make. We all know those moments when the muse strikes and we plunge into that exquisite, manic place of frenzied production.

Less pleasant is the place of fear we also all know. The place where the time has come in which we *must* create, perhaps the place in which we decide to take our creativity forward into the world and ask for money in return, and fear grips us: the fear of failure. The fear of exposure as some kind of fraud. The fear that paralyses. The fear of being seen. When fear grips you, how do you move forward?

How to Know You’re Good Enough

  When people think about starting a business, or an ambitious creative project like the Peacock Dress, they sometimes ask me, “How do I know that this is possible? How do I know that I have what it takes? How do I know that I’m good enough?” Well, there’s an assumption in that question that somebody else has to give you permission. The successful creative says, “I don’t actually care whether other people think I’m good enough or not, I’m going to figure it out,” and that’s the key. Being good enough is not a static place. Having what it takes is about a constant process of learning, and improving. You’re good enough if you’re committed to constant improvement. You develop the skills that you need on the way. You trust in your ability to figure it out when you haven’t got it all figured out. And in the end, the point is not to pull it off perfectly, the point is to go on a journey, and to share the journey, and to become better at who you are and what you do. Do you have what it takes? If you’re willing to stand up, self-select for this project and go on a learning journey that might lead to unexpected places, then you’re absolutely “good enough”. Watch the video above for the full version!   Want more training? Join Cathy and her team of experienced makers at Your Wardrobe Unlock’d and Foundations Revealed to learn more about how to make historical clothing and corsets! Like this episode? Please share it! Please share or subscribe to my YouTube channel...

How To Follow Your Dream

Once upon a time I promised to make an extraordinary dress in return for raising a lot of money for charity. The dress isn’t completed, and now it’s five years later. There have been two failed attempts, and it’s time to try a third time.

I’m not done yet. But what do you do when you have a vast, ambitious dream that intimidates you – so much so that you hardly have the courage to even begin it?

The answer is to come back to the beginning and rediscover the inspiration that started you off on this path in the first place. As a great man once said, throw your heart over the fence, and the rest will follow…

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

When Cynthia Settje walked down the Red Carpet on Saturday night at Costume College, the Los Angeles costume makers’ conference, I was standing next to the person who made this video, so I’m the one you can hear cheering louder than anyone, right into the mic. (Sorry, Ali.)

Luckily the video stops after ten seconds, so you can’t hear me literally losing it in public, bursting into overwhelmed, happy tears as I thanked Cynthia for giving us all this wonderful gift.