Hello Etsy, what a day!
We had it all today, in so many ways. I was up early this morning, knowing it was quite a long drive to the Hello Etsy venue in Eindhoven. I had to skip my second coffee, and left by 8am. This is a Saturday, so that was hard. The adventure started with discovering we had experienced our first frost of the season and the car had a thin layer of ice over it. So it wasn’t just me, it really was cold. My winter coat was abley assisted today with my no-knit mohair corespun scarf, I can see now its going to be standard dress for me this winter so soft! I didnt worry about the frost then, only until the windscreen was clear and I could drive off, on my way to what I hoped would be a day of networking and sharing the knowledge of some interesting speakers.
I have to say, it was actually rather nice to be out driving through the crisp dutch morning, the sun was not long over the horizon and the landscape was dressed in that wonderful soft light that we never see in New Zealand, the one that forms the basis for so many of the old dutch masterpieces, it intrigues me that it is really like that in real life, a low mist hovering over the flat uninterrupted fields, the sky changing from a pale gold to a pale pink and then a silvery pale blue sky above.
There was also, thankfully, not too much traffic on the road and my trip to Eindhoven didnt take me more than and hour ten. Long enough to wake up and be wanting coffee number two and regretting not bringing my thermo-mug..
I got there in time, in time to get myself a cup of coffee, pick up my free Hello Etsy WoolWench Moo cards (Yes I do <3 Moo) and get a nice seat up the front (cos all the others were almost taken by then). I introduced myself to the person sitting next to me, she told me her name was Janine and she had come all the way from Canada for this event! At my gasp of admiration she added that actually she was one of the speakers and Etsy had flown her over for it. Ok I had thought she looked familiar. I realised then that I had been lucky enough to have plonked myself down right next to THE Janine – the editor of the truly awesome ‘Uppercase’ Magazine. She told me she was really nervous about the speech, which made her instantly less intimidating , we made a little small talk and then the event got going, first with Matt Stinchcomb, Etsys VP of Brand and Social Responsibility – interesting job title! He was funny, confident, what you would expect for someone who was a founding member of this company.
Next up was Janine – she gave a fantastic speech, with beautifully prepared presentation slides and video content, matching a wonderful tale of her life, from young girl hand making books and magazines and lending these out of her own handmade library to family and friends, through a career that did not take straight path, to to motherhood and the birth of her current business venture with the Magazine. Somewhere between the childhood entrepreneurialism and the magazine there was also a book on William Shatner – seriously cool and various metamorphoses in career paths – this was in itself an inspiration. Its very easy to see successful people and imagine that they achieved that success in a fairly linear, and fast way – totally unlike our own meanderings, changes of direction, trials, errors, and hiccups. But hearing Janine’s story was like a mini-revelation, real people dont always take a direct route to their current states, its not always the case that they are driven by a single image of their future or goals with a defined path – sometimes these things take time to really evolve, and success is usually to be found exactly where you are right now. I am sure if Janine had been here to talk to us a few years ago, at the time when she had her bookstore and was publishing her books, THAT would have been the success story she would have been telling up about. Instead today, she was telling us about her current success story, the one in which she closed down her studio shop and started up the magazine. Maybe we need to re-look at our own situation right now and remove ideas of a linear route to ‘success’ towards which we are always striving but never reaching, and replace it with a view of our paths as a complex pattern of constantly evolving ideas, in which we can be successful at every step, and to which there is no finite end at a single point.
The next speaker was Professor Jeff Flynn-Paul – an historian who has specialised in global and economic history. I wasnt sure how this talk was going to be, but I was quickly pulled into it as he talked about the importance of small businesses and entrepreneurship as being instrumental in bringing about social change through the spreading of ideas and diversity. He talked about protectionism, over regulation, and bureaucracy as barriers to these and brought up some examples that made me chuckle and a number of dutch people a bit.. well.. pissed But he knew it would, and he made a point. He was incredibly interesting and I will for sure be looking for his next book and his work on entrepreneurial networks in Europe.
I also thoroughly enjoyed the talk given by Diana van Ewijk, it totally reinforced everything I have been thinking about finding your ‘ness’ the unique ‘you’ that you can express through your work, your interactions, and as I described in my photography e-book, your photos too. She was a great speaker, down to earth and totally relatable, she has a website too (in Dutch) called MamaMarketing
There were also a couple of Etsy panel discussions, which contained some interesting stuff and lovely people, however I did get the feeling, that for Etsy sellers, just like anywhere else, its a case of who you know rather than what you make. But thats a whole ‘nother post and not at all related to the great speakers and the very insightful and motivational stories they shared with us.
But, the total highlight for me, and I think for many others, was the speech given by Satish Kumar, the editor of Resurgence magazine. And let me just say this now, if you watch nothing else from the Hello Etsy event, you really should watch this man! Utterly inspirational at a profound level. He talked about the four main areas we need to get right to make this planet a better place, and he talked about economies and ecologies, what they are and how they work. He also explained why he thinks artists, crafters, ‘makers’ are getting things right, and what we can do individually to help this planet. It was a brilliant speech, and I would love you to watch it too and feel even a little uplifted by the insights he shares. Remarkably, he is 78 years old, this means he has had a long time to think about this stuff and figure things out
I drove home really happy that I had attended this day. As I left I saw the sky turned pale and silvery pink to pale blue again, and a full moon rising over the old brick chimneys of Eindhoven. Traffic was light and I had the radio blaring, lights were coming on all along the motorway and surrounding towns and cities, and I once again marvelled that I was HERE, now, doing things like this, something I never dreamed I would be doing as I was growing up in small town New Zealand! Mr Kumar had described how he had surprised an American met on the Khyber Pass during his walk to the US. I think its also interesting how we can even surprise ourselves with our own journeys eh.