I have something to say…
I guess you would say that Desert Vista Dyeworks has been a success story. I started very small with $100, 1 bag of yarn and 3 jars of dye. I have built a business that has supported my family, sent a kid to college, paid my bills, afforded me the time to travel, and allowed me to buy lots of other people’s yarn. I pretty much mind my own business living out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert, I am not a member of any groups or cliques that wield any power or influence in the Knitting Community. What I do have is a great group of friends - in person and online - and even greater group of customers, many that have been with me since the very beginning. It has been a great experience! I am a very lucky woman, but I have something to say…
Granted, this is something that has bothered me for quite a while, but it is now getting so out of hand I felt the need to speak up. Not so much to vindicate my feelings, but to make others aware of what Creatives in our Community are being asked to give away for free with the promise of exposure.
This week I was asked to provide content for a podcast. At first, it sounded like it would be fun. This content would include a demonstration of my dyeing process. When, I mentioned that I could create a custom colorway I was informed that the podcaster would require 10% of the sales of that colorway. I was being asked to share 13 years of my dyeing experience with no form of payment and then I would need to pay them for the “privilege” of creating and dyeing a custom colorway. I did some research, I discovered this podcaster was highly monetized throughout their business model. After much thought and discussion with other Creatives (dyers, designers, product makers,) I declined.
Are you watching and subscribing to monetized podcasts? Are there Creatives providing content for that podcast in the form of interviews, demos, and donated products? Are the podcasters/YouTubers/Influencers paying for these services? You should ask. If you think that payment in “exposure’ is fair, I don’t know any one that can pay their bills with “exposure.”
While I have your attention I would like to talk about a couple more instances in which Creatives are asked to donate products to make other businesses successful.
About this time each year, I start getting form letters via email (one year I received more than 25) from retreats and events. In most of these my name or business name is never mentioned but they would like some donations for prizes in order to make their event successful. Creatives incur the cost of these donations, as well as, any shipping costs and most of the time I have never received a thank you or even know if the item has arrived.
People ask why I am never a vendor at any festivals. The main reason - it is too hard to break even, let alone make a profit. Between the cost of travel, hotels, food, booth fees, donations to the event, shoplifting, lost or damaged goods - it is damn near impossible for smaller companies to be successful.
I love my business model of giving away yarn to those that either help create colorways, share their Finished Objects on Ravelry and post pictures on Social Media. I love dyeing yarn and donating money to a good cause. I love it when someone tells me a story of how a colorway relates to a childhood memory, a family member or a vacation. I love that some of my colorways make people happy.
I don’t love that I am made to feel like I have to give away some of my business so that other businesses can make a profit. If your business can only function with free content and donations - I ask - are you really a business?
I have been at this for so many years and have been called one of The O.G. As I mentioned before, I will be celebrating my 64th birthday in July. I have no plans on hauling dyepots around in my 70s so my time in this Knitting Community is winding down. How about we don’t treat the next generation of Creatives as if they can only be successful with the help of podcasts/retreats/events. In actuality, podcasts/retreats/events only exist because of Creatives.
We can do better.
I had something to say…
And I said it.