HOW EMBRACE CREATIVES CAME TO BE AND WHERE WE’RE GOING…
People always ask me how I came up with EC and the steps I took to get where I am. Someone actually suggested that I “draw a map, a roadmap” so others can see how Embrace Creatives came to life. Oh, and although I’m the person who came up with the idea to connect artists and businesses in a community space, and build an empowerment movement for creatives, many people graciously advised me and answered my constant questions (and still do). Thank you to all of my friends and colleagues. You know who you are. ?
Okay, here we go!
August 2013 – Driving a U Haul packed to the hilt with personal possessions, my artwork and supplies, my Father, youngest son and I drove to Detroit from New Jersey. Once home and settled, I begin acclimating, networking, create relationships and volunteering for various organizations and non profits. A week later, my son flew back to live with his Father in NY. I had never been without my children before… A very sad and scary Time in my life. Although my parents and family were here, I felt very much alone.
April 2014 – Working with the Detroit Artists Market, a staple in the Detroit art community, I developed and taught my first art business workshops. There I met new creatives and learned what their challenges were. I realized they weren’t much different than East Coast artists! We all struggle with isolation, lack of business education, fear of success, financial concerns, lack of time, and so forth.
... continue to network, create partnerships and volunteer for various organizations and non profits as I waited to see what my “why” was going to turn out to be back here at home…
June 2015 – When the Exhibition Manager of a local, Detroit gallery asked me to find them new artists from a local fair, I had my “Ah Hah” moment to unite professional artists with commercial art buyers!
I immediately begin sketching out ideas on slips of paper and gather benefit options (based upon my Detroit Art & Business Institute offerings).
Needing outside insight, I met with new friends and colleagues from various art and design industries to share ideas and get feedback on what they would want in a professional art network. Research is something that I really enjoy so I hopped onto the internet and downloaded every report I could find on the challenges artists face with their practice and in business.
April 2016 – A friend from high school who works as the VP of digital marketing strategy in a large, local advertising agency brought me to her office where we spent the day working on the site map and the user experience. This was the first time that I had a digital expert look at my idea and she was impressed with what I had developed thus far.
…I had not yet begun to think of a name for my new connection website… Not even CLOSE to that stage yet.
Join us on this exciting journey.
ENROLL NOW and be part of our growth… 🙂
September 2016 – Because I needed help pin pointing my potential site users, I hired a marketing expert to ask me the questions necessry to detail various types of users and their characteristics. We worked together for about four months and during that time I searched high and low for a website name. I had five sheets of paper FILLED with descriptive words that I’d put together in various ways and checked to see if the name was ”taken”. Most of them were. I ended up purchasing four domain names but didn’t use any of them.
December 2016 – After speaking to a friend who mentored with Techtown Detroit, I was accepted into their tech incubator and we begin researching Tech companies to develop my website.
December 2016 – I received a Techtown BAF grant to help pay for a basic website design and I chose a web company to work with.
While speaking with the co-founder of the web company, and complaining that I’d been looking for a website name for about six months with no luck, he said, “How about Embrace Creatives?”… He thought that it had good marketing potential. I felt it was a bit too long but bought the domain name anyway. After a few weeks of speaking and writing it, Embrace Creatives began to grow on me and I settled with it.
Believe it or not, finding the name of my company, of the heart and soul of my empowerment movement was the most difficult part of the process.
January 2017 – First Techtown Mentor meeting. Begin in-depth Client Discovery with Artists and Buyers. I crafted an online survey that allowed me to question over 100 people in detail.
February 2017 – File LLC paperwork.
March 2017 – Work on EC MVP with Techtown. Using the client discovery research, we looked at all of the benefit possibilities and threw most of them in the Phase II bin. I wanted to launch with value but not overwhelm anyone.
April 2017 – The web design company created a full document with deep details about each section and its hierarchy. As an artist, I see via images, not words. I drew my site map but seeing it in detail using only text, it was a bit overwhelming. I had to transfer it into a visual guide to make sure it was right.
I made a point to let the web design company know that I wanted thumbnail galleries dispersed throughout the newsfeed so users could see images as they read posts. That was very important to me.
May 2017 – Received an in-kind, Amazon Web Hosting grant from Techtown. The size of the grant should give us about five years of free hosting even with all of the images we upload.
June 2017 – First Techtown Report to the executives to make sure EC is on track and has success potential.
July 2017 – The web company begins to build Embrace Creatives. They expected it to take about three months but it took double that and they didn’t add the gallery in the newsfeed. I regret not fighting for that…
November 2017 – Begin Beta Test with approximately six potential users, both artists and businesses.
December 2017 – This month was spent making changes to the website based upon the beta test responses and our own tests.
January 2018 – First EC Think Tank. I hosted my first art business gathering at Detroit Center for Design + Technology in Detroit. We gathered to talk about Clients.
February 2018 – Detailed my Business Model Canvas with Techtown.
May 2018 – Added quite a bit to my Phase II document because I could see what was needed in the future, both as fixes and as added benefits.
I created infographics and videos that show how to use the different areas of Embrace Creatives. I knew that I had to make it as easy as possible to use EC or no one would.
I researched art calls and grants to have a large list to upload. Until Embrace Creatives was filled with members, I knew I’d be searching for and uploading all of the calls, grants and jobs/gigs, myself. Ugh…
June 5th, 2018 – Embrace Creatives Soft Launch!!
July 2018 – First Mix With Maker event at Galerie Camille in Detroit. It was a huge success!
July 2018 – First revenue generated! An art call sold! Yeah, it’s not a lot of money but when people actually pay, you know you can be successful.
July 2018 – First EC Champions meeting! I’m blessed to have people who believe strongly in my mission to empower artists that they volunteer their super powers to support the EC Movement.
Still researching and uploading all of the calls, grants and jobs/gigs, myself. A few Classifieds and Art Calls have sold which is very exciting.
August 2018 – 200 members! We’re bringing on about three new users/day through social media and user referrals. No advertising.
October 2018 – I moved from my original Techtown Mentor, who worked with me on the tech stuff and business formation to a new Mentor that specializes in branding and marketing.
November 2018 – 300 Members!!! (Still with zero advertising dollars!)
December 2018 – Making a list of the tech items that need fixing and finding out that my timidness in not making sure I got my art gallery was the wrong choice. I decided to be more rigid and honor myself and my mission in a stronger way.
Although art calls were being sold, I decided to remove this area of revenue and made art calls uploads free. At this point, I felt it was more important for that area to be populated and strong than for me to make money from it. In addition,I removed Job/Gigs because I spend a HUGE amount of time keeping up with it and I want to use my time wisely. When more businesses join, and I see the need, I’ll add it back.
Our first-ever, EC Holiday Hoopla at One-Eyed Betty’s in Ferndale, MI!
I was asked to become an EC Showroom at the Midwest Gift & Lifestyle Show in Des Plains IL!
My web developer is going to look into adding an artwork gallery page for the new year. WOOT! It needs to match my budget.
New year, new ideas. If you THINK Embrace Creatives has settled into “what” we are, you’d be wrong. I’m still working with my Techtown coach and EC team to determine what challenges Artists and Buyers face and what product EC can offer to fill their needs and bring them value.
Engagement is WAY down and I’m trying not to stress. We’re still young and I’m still grasping what EC “is” to people… That’s the key question and I’m getting different but similar answers.
EC launched our first art call! We’re going to showcase artist’s work, online each month with the Best-in-Show being exhibited in a brick-n-mortar gallery somewhere in metro Detroit. This will give us the opportunity to promote more artists, makers and designers to buyers and collectors.
Embrace Creatives is now the CURATOR for the Woodward Gallery at the Detroit Center for Design + Technology/Lawrence Technological University College of Architecture & Design! *shhh… we haven’t promoted it yet but look for open art calls mid year.
Discussing the time and cost to fix the newsfeed and build a gallery page. Because I”m still not making money from EC, everything comes out of my own pocket. Lacy, our EC Ambassador is weighing in as she’s a UX/UI designer. Love our EC Ambassadors… they are super heroes to me. 🙂
EC has its first Mentor! He’s developed two, highly successful websites and he’s generously offering his time and experience. My goals = gain vision clarity and offer online value I can monetize.
February 2019 – I was asked to curate two rooms with 2 and 3D art from our EC community for a local, Southeastern MI collector-couple.
The call is going out for a multitude of mediums and a floor pieces. The couple will choose the works their interested in from a proposal I’ll develop and we’ll go from there. I’ve done a few private collector homes before and I’m hoping to expand our clientele to get more EC Artists & Designers private sales.
I’m working on getting a Gallery Page built and as soon as the site is updated, we can begin. I had wanted a Gallery at the beginning but I didn’t fight for it… The plan is that whenever an EC Artist Member uploads a Portfolio, it will be placed inside the Gallery page as well as their own personal Gallery. This will give Buyers and viewers an easier way to see all of the art that accumulates here. What should the viewer be able to search by? State? Medium? *comment below.
March 2019 – Our Mix With a Maker was frozen out! Father Winter decided to drop the temperature below 0 on the night of our event so I cancelled because just like working in our studios, safety comes first. Galerie Camille and I rescheduled the event for April 17th and anyone who paid for March is already “in” our April event.
I moved GROUPS into Members because engagement is still low and I didn’t want them in the main menu – lonely and unused. Members can still find them and if/when communication picks up, I’ll bring them back into the main menu. You know, this Roadmap isn’t just the shining, success of EC, it’s the REAL life growth with ups and downs, just like your own business. Learn from me that it’s a LOT of work and heartache to do something you find important, especially if you’re challenging and changing people’s mindsets at the same time, which I am. EC is a relationship building site, not a quick “like” and leave platform. It’s not just a gallery space but somewhere to ask questions, be a mentor and find buyers while at the same time, preparing yourself for success with those buyers you’re being introduced to. There’s nothing like this out there and I’m seeing resistance to being on ONE MORE PLATFORM… That’s okay, I’m working with my team and Ambassadors on an exciting project that will solve the “lo-engagement” challenge.
Look for “The A List” sometime in end-April or early May, 2019.