I quit my weaving contract job today. We had already pared our relationship down to a bare minimum, but now it's over entirely. Those of you who saw me burning contracts in the Samhain fire, that's what it was about - trying to save the simplest part of our relationship by killing off the others. It didn't work.
Ending all of our contracts is actually a fantastic thing. If we had gone forward, it would have taken me three more years to fulfill them and be successfully independent. With the new plan, I'll be independent immediately and financially successful on my own within this year. I will probably be at the income level that our contracts projected within a year and a half. All I've done is trade a slow, predictable plan for a fast, unpredictable one.
I gained many things from this relationship. Firstly, experience. I've woven over 1400 yards of cloth, giving me irreplaceable experience recognizing, fixing, and preventing the problems that can occur when weaving wide cloth. I am now an experienced production weaver.
Secondly, retail training and direct experience with customers of handwoven cloth. I now know what catches their attention, what they don't notice, and how to design cloth and merchandise to please them. I also know how to sell to them. My experience at Rennaisance Faires has taught me which sales techniques work and which ones don't.
Thirdly, the confidence that comes from real experience. I KNOW that I can design and weave beautiful cloth that customers will love and I KNOW that I can lead customers through the steps of falling in love with my stuff and paying me for it. I can tell them honestly that the cloth will last for decades and get softer the more it's washed. I've seen it. This confidence is priceless.
Deciding to quit this last part of our relationship is a long story, fraught with personal growth and interpersonal drama, but I don't think that my blog is the place for gory details. It's the place to tell my story, and I'd rather focus on the next chapter than to dwell on the last one.
Without a customer to pay me just to weave cloth, I will need to make a living solely from selling my own cloth. It's going to be a trick. I've got little money, some cloth, and some yarn. It will be a "shuffle puzzle" to move forward and end up with lots of yarn and cloth without going broke.
The first step will be to take the cloth I wove earlier this year and sew up attractive things from it. I'll be making scarves and shawls to sell over the holidays. I've got a few leads on low-entry-fee craft shows in Portland in December. I'll also be putting together a "help a faerie survive the transition to self-employment" fundraiser in Portland and, perhaps, San Francisco. I'd love feedback if any of you locals from those cities have ideas about where to peddle my wares during December.
Stay tuned! Things are about to get exciting - or, at least as exciting as they can for an independent weaver in the 21st century.