July 22, 2010

Market-Based Creativity and Creating an Empire

Filed under: Growing Your Business — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 9:41 am


Leather Zipper Pouch by PressaRussa

Fellow bloggers Megan Auman and Tara Gentile are in the process of launching a new membership community for creative entrepreneurs called The Creative Empire. Details on how to join are in this post, where Megan and Tara talk about the first topic their community will cover: Marked-Based Creativity. (Side note: their community looks cool, definitely sign up for an invitation to join.)

I’m looking forward to Tara and Megan’s exploration of this subject, especially since it’s one that stirred up a lot of controversy here. One thing I’ve noticed being said around the blogosphere about my post is “Meredith thinks YOU have to choose between art and money, and that they are mutually exclusive”. I do think there CAN be a middle ground. It depends on two things: how far your vision is from what the market wants and how much money you need to make to be happy. I may not have made this super clear, but I tried to allude to that a bit earlier this week, and want to clarify a bit more today.

It’s not about me, it’s about you
It’s very tough for me to say what you have to do without knowing your business. When I wrote my post about art vs. money I introduced the idea of this concept based on my own experiences. I personally found success in catering entirely to popular trends. That is what worked for me. This has to do with two things:

1. I am more interested in financial success than creative freedom, and found I could get more of the former by giving up more of the latter.

2. My own personal taste is not what’s popular.

This doesn’t mean I hate the work my brand produces, truthfully it’s grown on me. We do sell some stuff that I wouldn’t wear, but we also sell some stuff I do like quite a bit. It might be stuff I would’ve scoffed at a few years ago, but it’s like that song you hear on the radio over and over, eventually you start singing along. We do struggle with finding the middle ground. It’s just that for us marketability is always going to win out over our personal taste if there’s a contest. Alright, enough about me, now about you…

Money
How much money do you need to make in order to be happy? What do you need to live on? Can you live on $30k/year? Do you need to make $500k/year to be happy? The more money you need your business to make, the more you’re probably going to have to compromise.

There’s no hard and fast rule and maybe you’ll get lucky, but most likely the more money you need to make, the more you’re going to have to cater to trends. Trends change. What you’re doing now might be selling well and it might be something you love. Consumers are fickle though, if you’re not willing to change your aesthetic to accommodate trends you probably won’t sell as much product when the public’s taste changes.

Your Vision
The more in line your personal taste is with popular trends, the easier it will be for you to stick to your vision and sell product. If you’re easily influenced by trends and this sort of thing comes naturally to you, you’ll probably always be happy with what you’re doing and money will follow.

If your style is completely off the beaten path, you may not be able to sell much of it. If you don’t need to make a lot of money, that’s a workable situation. If you need to make a lot of money, you’re going to have to adapt.

Alright, hope that sheds some light. As always, I love to hear your thoughts.

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2 Comments »

  1. hey meredith! thanks for telling people about the creative empire.

    do you think that part of your creativity is actually expressed in the way you’ve built your business? i know it’s that way for me. and for us, maybe that is the middle ground – whether we realize it or not!

    there certainly is art in business. creating a profitable, sustainable business is much like painting a picture – layer by layer, shadow by shadow. you pour yourself into.

    thanks again!

    Comment by tara gentile — July 22, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  2. Interesting thought, Tara. The actual business part of running a creative business certainly requires a lot of creative thinking and I don’t feel at all constrained in that respect. The compromises we make in our own creative business have more to do with aesthetics. Looking forward to seeing the Creative Empire develop :)

    Comment by Meredith — July 22, 2010 @ 10:28 am

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