I have spent a lot of time in the last little while thinking about opportunity. It is amazing to me that the decision to start my little craft business fifteen years ago would provide me with so much in rich experiences. To date, I have met so many amazing people and travelled the world, yet this feels like just the beginning.
In the time that I have been doing the major craft shows, a period of well over a decade, I have had the opportunity to spend time with literally thousands of incredible people – mainly women but also some noteworthy men. I have learnt that everyone has a story, a history that has shaped their present and can dictate their future. In the fleeting time we often have, I have been truly honoured to hear the stories of many. The wisdom and experience in these stories give colour and perspective to the human condition and shapes my creative expression. I love that I can intersect with so many and hopefully leave a little mark behind. There is nothing so exciting as someone telling me that they did a class or workshop with me or asked me to explain something and they then went on to use that skill, knowledge, or media in a way that made a difference to them; whether winning an award, getting a great score in their textiles class or being able to capture a meaningful moment or experience. I love that I have the opportunity and ability to inspire and teach.
In my International travels and the events that I have planned, I have met and become friends with some of the most remarkable and inspirational women. Friends who challenge me to fulfil my potential, give me measures to aspire to and drive me to stretch myself and push beyond my boundaries. I am so fortunate to have all these voices behind and within me and their support going forward.
In 2014, I attended 18 craft shows, taught in two of the most prestigious International quilt events and ran three events. Teaching at Birmingham and Houston was an honour beyond words and I will always cherish having been given that opportunity as it is rare and precious. Putting that aside, 2014 was a hellishly busy year. So while doing all of this, I was actively downsizing and cutting back. I knew that being this busy was preventing me from seizing bigger and bolder opportunities. With opportunity, you also have opportunity cost. While doing one thing, you can not be doing another. When doing too much, the risk is that much is done badly. It is easy to get into a groove or rut, to do what you did last year because it is known and safe. By doing so though, a door is closed to other things. 2015 must change that: to break the cycle, to do less better and to seize new opportunities. As I worked through 2014, I chose not to rebook most of the major craft shows preparing to see what door opened when the comfortable one was closed. So far, two months in, I have not been disappointed.
This year, I intend to do a lot more on a local and regional level, a lot more online and hopefully continue to build my International presence. The opportunities seem incredible and accessible. It is also time to give back to those who supported me for the last 15 years and this blog will be a critical vehicle for much of that.
I have four events coming up this year with some wonderful International guests. The two Modern Quilt Conventions with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr in Parramatta and Brisbane in June are filling fast. I am excited to be bringing this style of event and these leaders in their field to Australia. My Retreat in Canberra and the Mixed Media Mayhem in Brisbane with Lesley Riley and Liz Kettle in September will be so much fun, I almost don’t care if other people come (kidding, please come). Interwoven between these I am doing a number of the smaller Regional shows with the Craft Alive crew.
Ten years ago, I did three Craft Alive shows and vowed to never contemplate them again. It took me over twelve months of watching very closely to determine that I would give them a go again. Ten years ago, the shows felt jaded, tawdry, not craft oriented and definitely not for the quilters. I was surrounded by people selling finished goods, fudge, leather cleaners and special tools for painting my walls. Now all of these are valid products which need an appropriate market. I am all in favour of nice fudge and having embarked on renovations, some of those painting tools would be more than useful, but this market as it stood was not one I belonged in. With a change of management and a fabulous enthusiastic and youthful team they are demonstrating that they can deliver a vibrant, varied and balanced show. It has been a revelation to me how relaxed the environment is and how wonderful it is to have more time to spend talking to the people who come to buy from us. It would be a mistake to assume a small show is not a good one. It is also noteworthy that most of the exhibitors that I have shared these events with are ones many have grown to love at the major metropolitan shows. These regional shows bring some of the same great exhibitors, the same great products and the education and information that is hard to source in the regional areas. Most importantly we come to you.
Over time, I would like to extend my stay in some of these regional areas and run workshops or classes for groups and guilds. This is one of the exciting opportunities in the future. Let me know if you are interested.
My events and my involvement in the country shows are opportunities that I have controlled and planned. It is the opportunities that I did not see coming, have not planned and are growing every day that have me the most excited. Many are still in the embryonic stage and will unfold over time. Some will not eventuate or will be pushed back for later years, but what is certain is that by closing the door of the familiar and comfortable, by standing on the cusp of the future, I am truly just at the beginning.
I hope that you will continue to join me on this marvellous adventure.