Life after Make It!

jenna make it

 

It’s always a strange mix of feelings after I complete the last Make It show of the season. This time was particularly intense because we launched in Calgary for the first time in 6 years. The Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver shows were all 2 weeks apart so it was a crazy month for me.

 

The feeling I get when Make It wraps is a cocktail of exhaustion, relief and sadness. It’s kinda like when you host a big party and all the guest leave. You feel happy and hope everyone had a good time, but it’s also anticlimactic because you’ve worked so hard to prepare and then poof it’s over. This is even more intense now because my brother Chandler is no longer involved with Make It. Before we could discuss this peculiar sensation, but now I have to try to navigate it on my own.

 

All 3 Make It shows went incredibly well and actually exceeded my expectations! The Calgary show in particular surprised me in the best possible way. Relaunching was one of the most difficult things I have done in a long time. The last time we had a show there it only had 65 Makies and was in a community centre. This time we rented out the Big Four at the Stampede with over 175 booths!

 

About a month before Make It Calgary, I had a mini panic attack in my bath tub. I take a bath almost every night because I find I can do my best thinking in there because there are zero distractions. I’m also very lucky to have an awesome deep soak tub!

 

As I was laying in my tub, all these scary thoughts came flooding into my head that no one would show up to Make It Calgary and all the Makies would be so disappointed and my reputation would be ruined forever! I pictured an empty venue with pissed off looking faces and felt a flood of negative, heavy energy. I found it hard to breath because of the intensity of the sensations in my body.

 

All of a sudden a knowing voice told me that there was still time and I could turn it around. That’s when I switched how I thought about everything. I realized that my approach had been all wrong. I had been tapping into nervous, scared, anxious energy about all the things that could go wrong. When I gained awareness of this I was able to flip it, and instead focus on how responsive and supportive the people of Calgary were going to be towards Make It.

 

This lead me to the idea of personally emailing all the local Calgarian Makies and asking them to share the names of influencers they knew in the city, and how I could get in touch with them. The response was incredible and pretty much all of them wrote back with awesome advice. When I contacted the people they suggested, they were equally as responsive and super excited about Make It coming back!

 

Make It has grown to become what it is today because it’s a collaborative effort. This summer will mark the 10 year anniversary of my first ever craft fair in Edmonton! I can’t believe it’s been a decade already. It’s equally unbelievable to see how the support around the handmade community has grown.

 

Much of this growth is definitely because of social media. Back when we first launched Make It, Facebook was relatively new and Instagram and Pinterest didn’t exist. Crazy I know! Now social media is the #1 way that people find out about the show and I can’t imagine how we would survive without them.

 

How I promoted in Calgary was getting to know the key influencers that inform the public what’s cool, fun and hip in the city. To do this, I flew down a few weeks before the show and had several coffee and lunch dates with connected Girlbosses that understood what I was doing and why I was doing it. They were so supportive and gave me a ton of insight into tapping into the Calgary scene.

 

And it worked! We had over 10,000 people come out to the show which was higher than my goal. Not only did we have a strong number, but it was also the right type of customers who absolutely loved buying handmade and supporting our Makies. I don’t think I’ve ever received as much love and support during and after a show! It was amazing and I’m very proud of all the hard work everyone put into promoting Make It. As I mentioned it has always been a strong group effort that has made it possible.

 

The reason I’m sharing this story is because I think it applies to many businesses. When you are freaking out about how terribly things could go, flip it around and ask yourself instead who could help you succeed. When you’re an entrepreneur it’s easy to get into your own little bubble and think that no one understands our cares what you are going through. I’ve learned there are always people who are willing to support you in achieving your dreams…you just have to ask 😉

If I hadn’t asked the Makies for help, and then asked their contacts for even more help, I’m not sure how successful Make It Calgary would have been. Who knows, it might have flopped completely! If you’re freaking out about something remind yourself you don’t have to go at it alone.

 

As far as the weird Make It hangover I always seem to have after the shows are complete, I’ve learned through talking to friends who produce events and even TV/film that it’s a very common feeling. When you work so hard towards something and then suddenly it’s over, your body, mind and spirit go through a lot of adjustment. It’s like driving a super fast sports car and then slamming on the breaks!

 

If you’re a Makie, or a customer who came out to support Make It, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I would have never dreamed 10 years ago that this little idea of mine would actually become something BIG. I’m so proud of what Make It is today and it wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for you. It’s a platform that allows people to earn a living selling what they make and I’m grateful that people understand how important that is.

In our crazy digital age, there isn’t a lot of personal face-to-face connection. I think as a society we crave connection deep in our bones because it’s hardwired into us. When someone comes to Make It and buys from a Makie, they’re supporting someone’s dream and that can make more of an impact that they’ll ever know. I believe when we do the work we love and are passionate about, the whole world benefits. We become kinder, brighter and more alive. The feeling of a stranger giving you money for a product you made with your own hands is elating. I know this because I experienced it for many year before starting Make It.

 

The last few months have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. I’m relieved the shows were successful, but sad they are over too. Usually I spend my downtime travelling around the world, but this summer I’m going to stick around Vancouver and focus on finishing my book, making videos and taking care of my body. I think I’ll always have the burning desire to travel, but for right now it feels right to be at home.
Thank you so much for reading and for your ongoing support!

Jenna_Signature

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