Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Chat Is Back … and That’s How This Whole Thing Started


Just over five years ago I moved “home” to Los Angeles.  While I grew up here, I had spent the last 20 years living in London.  I was working as an executive producer in the entertainment industry and had a fabulous career – I was very lucky with both the people I worked with and the places I had travelled.

After 25 years of working in showbiz, I had had enough.  I needed a new challenge, but wasn’t quite sure what that was going to be.  Going back to college to finally finish my degree was on the list, and perhaps further studying alternative medicine as I was always very interested in that.  Or maybe business law, I had studied that in London in night school.

I’m a believer in everything happens for a reason.   Soon after I arrived back in LA, I got a call from Ryan Seacrest’s producer.  They were putting together a new show and needed some help.  I agreed to do it for a couple of weeks just to kick it off.  I had sworn off of showbiz, remember??!  I so enjoyed working with Ryan and the new challenges his show gave me, that I signed up to stay on as the supervising producer of his national show.

The very first day I was an employee, so the very first day of having insurance, I was wheeled out of the studio in an ambulance.  A long term illness hit me flat out and I believe it was waiting to do that until I was home with my mom.

It’s a long story about hospital stays, surgeries, etc .. but the final outcome was pretty devastating.  I could no longer keep up with the hours and pressure of that job and had to leave.   While the doctors were trying to figure out what was wrong, I got out my crafting supplies and started making jewelry.  A friend suggested I sell it on Etsy.  I hadn’t heard of it, so checked it out and opened a shop that day.

It was a life-saver.  Ok, not so much life, as mental.  I was too ill to have a normal social life, I couldn’t go running around local restaurants and bars with my girlfriends, so it was pretty lonely compared to what was very recently, a busy life.

What I found at Etsy was not just a sales tool, but a community.  I soon found the chat-rooms and they were my new social life.  What a fabulous thing!  To be able go online day or night and find like-minded creatives – especially as many of them were in similar positions to me.

I can’t even count how many hours I spent chatting away, meeting new “friends” and selling my jewelry.  It took the loneliness out of my life.  Then one day, Etsy announced they were closing the chat rooms.  To say people were devastated is an understatement.  Where would I spend my time now?  How would we stay in touch?

Having been a life-long crafter, a business-woman, and someone who hadn’t known what next direction life was going to take me … a spark went off in my head:  creative small business owners NEED a supportive community.  And there weren’t any others around.

When I began to feel better, I did a short consultancy at The Home Shopping Network.  I learned a lot in my time there and one thing stuck out: if people at home are watching moving pictures of products and buying them, why can’t we do something similar for small businesses?  This is where my business and production background met and that earlier spark turned into fireworks.

And … that’s how this whole thing started. The CraftStar: an e:commerce site for creative small business, based on community and a production platform.

I can’t emphasize enough how important COMMUNITY is to the success of us small businesses.  We talk a lot about it in our LIVE broadcasts on The CraftStar, and from the emails we receive, we know people agree.  Community comes in many forms – social media, the live events we do, and the groups you may participate in.

I still miss those days of the Etsy chatrooms and how fulfilling they were … and annoying at times when that little hamster wouldn’t let you in a full room!  (anyone who participated in the chat there will know what little critter I’m talking about!).

But … there’s no reason to miss them, as we can recreate them.  We have an even more sophisticated style of chatrooms on The CraftStar.  We can have as many “rooms” as we want, we can share and show off listings with links and images … and most importantly, we can be there for each other!! 

So, we’re going to start taking more advantage of this part of The CraftStar site.  While you can chat whenever you want, The CraftStar team will be setting up regular rooms on Wednesdays (Noon PDT / 3pm PDT) and Fridays (4pm PDT / 7pm EDT) to chat away!  You don’t need to be a seller on The CraftStar to join us, you just need to sign up to access the full site.

We look forward to getting to know you, seeing your latest listing beauties, making new friends, and answering any questions you may have!


So, please join us tomorrow and tell your crafty friends – the chat is back!

With Best Wishes,

Bethan
Founder / CEO
The CraftStar


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