The March chat was about branding. The fast and furious conversation provided me with lots of food for thought. Part of it included some back and forth about indie vs. corporate and I found myself feeling a little
The idea of what is indie or corporate got under my skin enough that I started this blog post the very next day. Yes, that was back in March. Life continued on. There was dyeing to be done and stock markets to ignore. But every so often it would come to mind.
Then this morning Bette came into work livid because she's just learned that one of the big hand-dyed yarn companies has an Etsy store. "How is that possible" she asked, "That goes against everything I think of when I think of Etsy."
We got to talking. Who should be on Etsy? Is it only for indie folks? What exactly does it mean to be condsidered indie? We started talking about criteria. We came up with more questions than anything else.
Is it only for one person operations? Then you couldn't have a creative collaboration like Ann and Kay at Mason Dixon. To take it to the extreme...can you pay your kid to go to the post office for you and still be indie? Technically that would mean you have an employee.
What about the idea of using outside help? Can someone who is indie hire someone else to help them with advertising? Build their website? Or does it make more sense for the artist to focus on their creative work and leave the other stuff to professionals?
Does size matter? Is it about income? If it is, what is the threshold?
Could organizational scheme be part of the picture? As I mentioned, Lorna's Laces is a corporation, but we could just as easily be organized as an LLC or a sole proprietorship. That's just bookkeeping. Does it matter in terms of perception of the nature of a business?
What about distribution channels? Is selling wholesale different than selling retail? Some companies started out selling retail and then moved to wholesale. Some have done the reverse. Others maintain a presence in both.
Does it matter where the work is done? Is working from home different than renting space? But then you have to consider where someone lives. If an artist lives somewhere with a basement or lots of property and outbuildings, they could build a pretty big company from home. On the other hand, a city dweller might need to find outside space for even a modest business.
As we continued to talk, the discussion shifted a little. Has the reach of the internet changed the fundamental nature of how we look at business and of the people and organizations behind them?
Are small independent companies better? Or is there comfort in the reliability of a big name? Are we willing to pay more because we know the person (in real life or virtual life) who made it or harvested it?
The last thing I'm going to put out there is the question of whether or not we need to talk about some new definitions. Should we think about a new moniker for a company that might fall outside the realm of indie but isn't really corporate? Craft? Small-batch? Artisan?
Whew, there are so many questions and I'm not sure what the answers are. I'd love to hear what you think. Let's start a conversation.