Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Rushing the Gates

Gatekeepers can be scary.

We're super excited as Chris Guillebeau is launching his Unconventional Book Tour to promote his new book, and his stop in San Francisco is going to be at our favorite bookstore, Green Apple Books! We mention this, because a lot of what Chris has to talk about in his quest for world domination is that in the traditional method of doing things, there are lots of gatekeepers.

Gatekeepers are people who watch the gates of success and choose who gets to come in or not. Gallery curators/owners are gatekeepers. Juries for craftshows are gatekeepers. Buyers for companies are gatekeepers. These are the people whose job it is to filter through all the products and people who want success.

While some prefer to allow these gatekeepers to determine their path in life, Monkey + Seal do our best to limit the amount of say gatekeepers have on our success. We prefer to rush the gates. While no one is advocating bum rushing gallery owners, what we're talking about is either finding creative ways to bypass gatekeepers, or just set up our own gate and police it yourself!

Example: Say you want to get into a huge craft fair. Huge craft fairs are generally very expensive ($300 is pretty typical for a two-day show, Comic-con is more like $800-1200), and there is generally a jury that selects whether or not you get in. While saving up and making sure you have a great product to sell and what not, you may still not get in. What to do? Make your own craft fair.

While Monkey + Seal have gotten into some large shows and not others, last year we decided that we might as well put on our own show. Thus, along with other members of SF Etsy, we organized the 2009 Holiday Handmade Ho Down. We pulled in a couple thousand people into a nightclub, had 65+ vendors hawking their wares, and had a great time.

Granted, there were many sleepless nights, bouts of drama, and lots and lots and lots of work, but that event helped establish us as event organizers, and we were able to leverage that to create our own Paper Hat Productions in order to focus on another venue that has gatekeepers: gallery shows.

I will be the first to admit that organizing an event is tons of work. Tons, and tons of work. However, you're working for yourself and you get to call the shots, and that's really really cool. You're also held accountable for the show, for better or for worse, so with all the great opportunities, there's also a margin for failure. But as we say, failure isn't the end of the world, so what's stopping you? Go out there and rush the gates.

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