When I was in business school I remember some of my marketing classes spent a lot of time teaching about competition. We learned how to distinguish a competitor, and then how to react so their business isn’t a threat. We were taught that competition was something to always be aware of so that you could keep your business safe from it.
I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was born, but I started my first legit business while in university. If you don’t know my Booty Belt story you can check it out here. It’s kinda funny and pretty unbelievable that it actually made any money! My first entrepreneurial experience taught me more than I ever learned in school, and I’m grateful everyday for having the courage to start at such a young age.
I have no idea where that courage actually came from. I grew up in a conservative household and wasn’t encouraged to take big risks at all. But, I’ve always had a brave little voice that continues to lead me to outstanding experiences when I choose to listen to it. When I don’t listen to it, I know in my heart I’m missing out on something magical.
When I first started organizing craft fairs I had no fucking clue what I was doing! I really didn’t. My jewellery maker friend and I thought up the idea one day, and it sounded fun so we decided to give it a shot.
The first show we ever organized was called Stop & Shop and it took place in Edmonton over 9 years ago in theatre lobby. We had about 25 exhibitors (who were mostly our friends) and our moms and dads worked the front door taking toonies. When I reflect back I seriously have no idea how we pulled it off.
But we did, and it grew fast. It didn’t take long before I knew we were onto something BIG. A few years in my biz partner and I split ways, and my brother Chandler climbed on board the craft train.
Make It has been growing and gaining momentum every single year. We have never had a dip in attendance, and that 25 exhibitor show is now at 275 in over 65,000 sq ft of space! When I stop to think about it, my mind is still blown at the crazy growth we have achieved.
If you know me well, or in the craft fair ‘scene’ you likely are aware of some of conflicts with other shows that we’ve dealt with over the years. Some are silly and petty, but there are a few that still disturb and annoy me if I spend time thinking about them.
One of the biggest business lessons I’ve learned, if you shoot out of the ground as fast and as strong as bamboo, people take notice. Some will congratulate and support you, while others will do everything in their power to take you out. It’s no different than the analogy of creating the tallest building by building it yourself, or tearing others down.
What I’ve come to realize lately, is Make It has remained successful because it isn’t actually a craft fair. Instead it’s a platform for creative entrepreneurs to make a living doing what they love. It’s a service that helps people turn their dreams into reality and do what they were born to do.
When I planned my first craft fair it wasn’t because I had any interest in becoming an event producer. It was because I wanted to be able to give my peers an opportunity to sell their work at a show that actually cared about them. My goal was to create a vibe that was fun, positive and allowed people to connect.
Make It has a heartbeat and soul. I didn’t realize this until we almost sold it last year to a large company based out of Toronto. I had a last minute change of heart because I realized how much I loved the community I served. Plus the heart + soul of Make It is connected to my own.
The reason Make It doesn’t have competition is because I don’t believe anyone is doing what we are doing. I don’t mean this in an arrogant way, I just haven’t felt what I feel at other shows. Plus I can see the energy and impact that surround Make It beyond the actual event.
This is also why we are about to have our largest Make It EVER next week in Edmonton! We have rented 2 halls at Northlands Expo Centre, making it the largest craft fair in Alberta. This incredible growth is despite the fact our competitor in Edmonton is enforcing a nasty exclusivity clause.
I’m not bringing this up because I want to rehash it, but to prove a point. When competition tries to take you out, they are using up their power and it actually makes them weaker. Because I don’t believe Make It has competition, I spend no time focused on what they are doing so we don’t waiver or wobble.
My goal is to strengthen and grow the Make It platform so it can support even more creative entrepreneurs. I’m so encouraged by all the young women (and awesome men) who I see stepping into their own and living their purpose. My life’s work is to be a role model and show more people that it IS possible to live the life they desire. Jeeze, if I can make money selling Booty Beltz anything is possible!
This has been a crazy year for me in many ways. If you have been following my blog for a while you have likely seen glimmers of it. I posted on Facebook a few days ago, next level isn’t about what you do, but who you become. This is the truth, or at least my experience of it.
The lesson here is to spend no energy or focus on competition because your brand is your heart + soul and no one can ever copy or steal that. Trust me I’ve been through enough ‘craft fair wars’ to know this to be accurate!
If you live in Edmonton or Vancouver I sincerely hope you’re coming to Make It! Both shows are jacked with some of the best artists, makers and crafters we have ever worked with. It’s incredibly flattering to see the calibre of Makies we are attracting. My heart swells thinking about how spectacular these shows are going to be.
Become who you’re meant to become. We will all be better for it.