I have a story to share with you today. A little while ago, Laura Cole, of Laura’s Beads in Florida, contacted me. She wanted to propose a rather brilliant idea. Designer and shop collaboration for an in person bead-along.
I will elaborate on what that means in a second. But in case you don’t have time to read the full blog here, let me just cut straight to the chase. The first of these in person bead-along sessions will be taking place at Laura’s shop and you can find all the details at this link.
This is the project of mine that she selected for this session, and I am honoured that she contacted me…
Now, if you do have time to read on, let me explain a little more…
Why this concept makes sense
This concept is really about physical bead shops and designers working together to help one another. After all, the services that each of us provides complement each other…
Designers create projects you can make with beads…
Shops sell the beads you need to make them.
Yes, there can be crossover. For example, a shop that is run by a designer where the shop owner designs enough projects to keep their customers coming back for more beads. Or, a designer who also sells beads or kits to make their designs.
But, as I have discovered in the past, both selling beads and designing projects are full-time jobs. So, when you try to combine the two, it’s pretty tricky.
I found I would be spending so much time putting together kits or bead orders that I didn’t then have the time to design new things. Or, if I focused on the designing, then I ended up with irate customers who hadn’t received their orders when they wanted them!
It makes much more sense to separate things out. Yes, I could have looked at employing someone else to put together kits and bead orders. But I found myself in that space where I didn’t sell enough to cover the costs of another person’s wages.
So, for me at least, it makes a lot more sense to collaborate with shops.
How does an in person bead-along work?
Naturally, there is a lot of flexibility with this concept. So, I’m going to share how Laura’s in person bead-along is going to work.
Laura’s Beads has a lovely teaching space within the shop. So, it makes sense to find a way to use that at times when there is no actual class happening.
Laura is inviting people to come along for a session where they can spend a couple of hours beading a project that she has chosen. Everyone will need to purchase their own copy of the project tutorial – direct from the designer. They will buy their beads from Laura, and get to sit and work together on the project.
So, it’s not a class, in the sense that nobody is teaching how to do this. Every individual will be following the written tutorial and working at their own pace. But as you’re working in a space together, you’ll have other people on hand to consult if you want. More importantly, though, this is a social event.
We’ve all been enjoying bead-alongs together during lock-down. So, why not take the idea into the real world as well? This isn’t a ‘replacement’ for virtual bead-alongs. After all, one of the greatest joys of those has been discovering that we can get to know and bead with buddies from completely different parts of the world!
But an in person bead-along is a great way to meet beading buddies from your local area.
The future of beading?
So, Laura has chosen my project for this month’s in person bead-along. But she will be choosing others for upcoming months, and I daresay, working with other designers.
I could have just agreed to the proposal and done nothing more. But I wanted to give a shout-out to the idea, both to thank Laura for helping to support my work, and also to share this as a potential model for other shops, or even beading groups.
It feels like a win-win-win for all concerned.
The designer is selling their tutorials. The bead shops are selling beads and making use of an existing space (and we all need our bead shops don’t we?). The beader is getting to try a new project, perhaps discover a new designer, and also getting to meet other people with a similar interest.
The beauty of the scheme is that none of it involves any additional work or cost on the part of anyone involved. But it really brings beading back to the community.
So, personally, I would love to see this concept take off. And, if you are a group or a shop interested in this idea, I am very happy to work with you!
Now, any local Floridians (and I know I have a few who follow me), please go and check out Laura’s bead-alongs. Here is that link again…