Monday, March 23, 2015

Captain's Log: Interview with Marlo Miyashiro, Leader of Seattle Handmade

Hello Team!
Here we are, officially Spring and wrapping up Q1 for 2015!

SFEtsy has been super busy this first quarter and one of the really fun things we did was to host a watch party at CreativeLive Studios here in San Francisco.

We gathered together to watch our friend from Seattle, Marlo Miyashiro as she taped two courses (Etsy 101 and Etsy SEO) in CreativeLive's Seattle studio.
If you missed this meet-up, no problem, you can purchase and watch either (or both) of these classes on CreativeLive's Craft Channel.
We will be doing another meet up in April at CreativeLive, so stay tuned for more information about that very soon!

Hi Marlo! Can you share a bit about yourself?
Hello! I'm Marlo Miyashiro :) I live and work in Seattle, WA creating hand-fabricated sterling silver jewelry for my shop. I've been in the craft retail and wholesale business for a long time (20+ years) and these days I use all of that experience to help emerging artists start and improve their creative businesses with my work at and I'm also one of the organizers of Seattle Handmade (formerly etsyRAIN) - the Seattle area Etsy team (find more about our group at 

How did you become part of the maker community?
When Etsy started their teams initiative (originally called "Etsy Street Teams") I noticed a new meetup group online founded by a local craft maker here in Seattle. She had originally intended the group to be an online-only group but with a bit of persistence, I convinced her let us have our first in-person meeting. After a few more insistent emails wanting more events and meetups, she kindly asked me if I wanted to take over the group - and I quickly accepted the offer! That was in 2007 and I've been team leader / captain / organizer - and now co-organizer ever since :)

What do you find most exciting about working with Makers, Entrepreneurs and Artisans?
My favorite part about working with artists and makers has always been that moment when eyes light up and smiles draw across faces making it clear that they truly understand that their dream of creating their own business can transition from idea to reality. It's immensely gratifying to know that the things I help them with can bring them a bit closer to having a business around doing the things that they love. 

What do you find most challenging about working with Makers, Entrepreneurs and Artisans?
I think it is in the nature of creative entrepreneurs to question everything - it's what gives us our ideas and makes us who we are. With that curiosity comes a certain level of hesitation that can sometimes hold us back from finding our way toward our goals. 
There is a fine line between procrastination and patience and an even finer line between researching and learning. There's a tendency to want to have all the "for sure" answers before moving forward, but with creative endeavors that is rarely the case. As a consultant and mentor, my goal is always of provide compassionate and supportive advice rooted in the reality that growth and change can be uncomfortable especially just before the goal is reached.
Tell me about a special maker/artisian you’ve met while working on your business
One maker I truly admire is my team co-organizer, Kayce of and - she makes amazing stuff for kids and I'm continually in awe of her creativity! That's the thing that makes creative entrepreneurs and craft artists truly special - their insatiable need to create. Even if they aren't making their actual product, they are busy working on their company brand, updating their websites, improving their online shops, designing new products, researching new trends, keeping up with others in their field - all with one eye toward the future. 
The amount of inspiration and drive it takes to pull together a creative business is incredible. The most successful artists I know are always thinking, planning, and moving forward. It's truly impressive. 

How did you learn about SFEtsy?
I first heard about SFEtsy when etsyRAIN (now Seattle Handmade) was just getting started. There were many regional teams starting all over the place and I kept a keen eye out for the teams on the West coast. I finally met one of your former leaders, Steph Cortes at the 2011 Conference for Creative Entrepreneurs. Ever since then, I've wanted to figure out some way to connect our two teams for some mutual West Coast support :)

What is one of your primary goals for your business in 2015 and for SeattleHandmade? 
For my own business, I have some fairly large projects in the works for 2015 that I have been trying really hard to get off the ground for the past year but unfortunately things are taking much longer than I had originally anticipated. I'm not at liberty to say much more about that at the moment, but if any of my "big secret projects" come through, you can be sure I'm going to be shouting it from the rooftops! 
As for Seattle Handmade, we have a website revamp in the works that will give us an updated online forum board and betters ways to connect our members with each other. We are working on plans for some sort of Holiday Show as long as we can find a suitable venue for our show sometime soon. Needless to say, I am starting my year off with pretty much everything in the air so I'm just doing my best to keep my feet on the ground and pointed squarely at the future! 

What’s the one online tool you’ve discovered that can help makers propel their business?
The best online tool that I think all creative entrepreneurs should take advantage of is whatever social media community fits best with their business model. Whether that is Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or any number of others. Blogging fits in this category too, but only if the maker has the time and talent to create great content that fits their market. The more connections we can create for our businesses and the more diversified we can be in the way we present our work to the public, the better chance we have at weathering the storms of uncertainty that hit every small business at one point or another.

Do you have any words of wisdom to help makers in their businesses?

My best advice based on personal experience: It's fine to have big dreams and lofty goals, but nothing will ever get done without some sort of plan. Consider where you want to be in the next year, two years, five years, and maybe even all the way out to ten years. Use that creative imagination of yours to craft a plan that guides you in that direction. Revisit your plan regularly and make changes as your company grows. Get outside help and advice to make sure you are always ready for your next best thing. If making a plan feels like too much work, imagine trying to play catch-up when your business takes off because of some sort of fluke and you're not ready for it. Do yourself a huge favor right now and take some time to think about the future. It's totally worth the effort and will save you tons of stress in the future!
Thanks Marlo for sharing your knowledge and experience with our community!

Follow Marlo online:

If you're an Etsy seller in the San Francisco Bay Area, visit Our Team Page about joining SFEtsy!

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