We help people be better business people.
How We Think
What’s my ultimate dream job? If I could do anything (work-wise) in the world, what would it be? Can I earn a living (or at least some extra cash) by making the most of my creative talents?
These are the kinds of questions many people ask themselves when taking the plunge to start a DIY business.
There’s no hard and fast definition of what a DIY business is. The DIY business community includes millions of people working in a range of creative and business fields. We are designers, artisans, musicians, content strategists, Internet innovators, accountants, writers, photographers, cupcake connoisseurs, consultants and so much more.
Being a DIY entrepreneur means different things to different people, but there are a number of common threads banding us together, including creativity, passion, independence and community awareness.
Our first conference, aptly called the Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference, took place June 26, 2011. In September 2011, we hosted the Get Funding ASAP! (Or Maybe Not Just Yet) Micro Conference in DUMBO, Brooklyn. In December 2011, we curated and hosted a series of seminars about personal branding (aka storytelling) for artists in Manhattan (featuring former ReadyMade Marketing Director Kara Szalwkowski and former Domino Project Art Director Alex Miles Younger).
In March 2012, we produced the first-ever Speed Connecting NYC event at General Assembly, which sold out. The Creativity is Good Business event on December 4, 2012, also sold out. Read more about DIY Business Association events here.
Subscribe to our new monthly My DIY Biz Newsletter here.
Amy Cuevas Schroeder, Founder & Program Director
Amy got her entrepreneurial start in the mid-’90s when she founded Venus Zine, the magazine for women in music and DIY culture, in her Michigan State University dorm room at age 19. After about a decade of growing the publication from a cut-and-paste fanzine into an internationally circulated magazine with a starting budget of zero, she sold Venus and moved from Chicago to New York. Amy speaks and writes about the Age of the Artist as Entrepreneur, Branding as Storytelling, content strategy, empowering entrepreneurs, and has written for NYLON, Time Out, New York Observer’s Playground and others. By day, she works as a content producer for Etsy’s Seller Handbook blog. In her spare time, she blogs at thevenuslady.com and Instagrams as the venus lady, too. View her portfolio here. @diybusiness @amyschroeder | email: amy [at] diybusinessassociation.com
DIY Business of the Week Editor
Jenny is a 20-something who writes about food, travel, culture and technology like many other 20-somethings living in Brooklyn. Her work can be found at Mashable, Conde Nast Traveler and Time Out Chicago, among others. When not at work, she schemes about creative and/or startup projects, plans her next dream trip, watches terrible television and attempts to teach herself how to write code. @jenny_an | email: stories [at] diybusinessassociation.com
Eleanor is a Brooklyn writer, rock musician, educator and arts administrator raised in Maine. She blogs at killerfemme.com and is the author of Grow: How to Take Your DIY Project and Passion to the Next Level and Quit Your Job, which will be released in 2013 on Cantankerous Titles. Visit growdiy.com for more information. A proud holder of a master’s in public administration, she loves nerding out about business strategy for creative people and works to guide artists through the fundraising and professional development process. @killerfemme eleanor.whitney [at] gmail.com
With experience in the corporate, public and nonprofit sectors, Beth is a communications pro who loves to write, take pictures and tell stories. In addition to writing about creative small businesses for our “DIY Business of the Week” features on Mondays, by day Beth helps nonprofits in metropolitan Washington, D.C., share their work and management best practices in print, online and on TV. After hours you’re likely to find Beth blowing glass, exploring back roads via scooter or motorcycle, crocheting and learning new techniques in craft. She’s also embracing life as a DIY entrepreneur as crafter-in-chief of Wunder Around. @wunderaround
A Midwesterner through and through, Meghan spent time in London, Boston and New York before returning to her roots and moving to Chicago in 2009 after completing her MFA at The New School. She now does marketing and promotions for University of Chicago Booth School of Business and enjoys learning about the Chicago startup scene on the job. In her free time, Meghan volunteers for 826CHI, serves as a committee member for Share Our Strength’s annual Taste of Chicago charity event and chronicles all things glorious about living the Midwestern life on her blog, Back to the Heartland. Her work has been published in The Boston Globe and Yoxi, and she’s looking forward to highlighting small businesses from the heartland for DIY Business of the Week.@keedypants
Board of Advisers
• Christen Carter started Busy Beaver Button Co. in 1995 while studying at Indiana University, just after doing a work program in London where she met button-maker Mark Pawson, who showed her the ropes. Since no one was offering 1-inch buttons cheaply to punk bands and small DIYers in the U.S., Carter decided to start a button revival. She got a button machine and sent postcards to all the labels in her record collection announcing the company and immediately got customers. Since then, Busy Beaver has grown to make millions of buttons every year and continues to grow and help people spread their ideas through buttons. Click to read Carter’s tips for “How to Make a Plan You Can Stick To.”
Busy Beaver Buttons’ long-term BHAG: “A button on every person.”
Christen Carter’s personal, short-term BHAG: “Tour the country to share the history of expression through buttons.”
Christen Carter’s “more idealistic and even larger-vision” BHAG: “People respecting others’ opinions through meaningful interactions.”
• Sue Daly is co-founder and proprietor of the Renegade Craft Fair, a large-scale event featuring hundreds of independent DIY craft, art, and design artisans held in multiple cities around the U.S. She also owns a small boutique in Chicago, Renegade Handmade, that carries the work of many of the artists who participate in the fairs. Daly got her inspiration to start the fairs as a crafter herself (under the name Timber!). She was looking to join arts and crafts fairs in her hometown of Chicago in 2003, but couldn’t find a marketplace that welcomed the contemporary craft movement that was so prevalent online. So, in true DIY spirit, she started her own. The store was opened a few years later, offering a place where people could sell and shop handmade anytime. When she’s not thinking of other cities to add to the Renegade Craft Fair tour or finding new artists to carry in the store, Daly likes to hang out with her husband, Mat Daly, travel, be outside, and make new things.
• Mauricio Garcia is the Fellowship Program Manager at The Financial Clinic, an organization focused on building the financial security of working poor families and individuals. A native Detroiter and corporate convert, he has been involved in the New York nonprofit community for more than five years, providing program development, grants administration, and financial-management services for the likes of Business Outreach Center Network, LISC, and The Financial Clinic. When not do-gooding, Garcia revels in eating and writing about fish tacos, talking Detroit, and trying to be like Mike on the basketball court.
• Jenny Hart is the founder of Sublime Stitching, an embroidery design company she launched in Austin, Texas, in 2001. Hart is an internationally published artist, designer, and award-winning author of multiple titles for Chronicle Books (San Francisco), including 2010’s Embroidered Effects. She loves embroidery, naps, and travel. And embroidery.
• Samara Kaufman is a nonprofit strategist, innovation junkie, idea generator, and change maker. She is currently the Business Process Improvement Manager at Girl Scouts of the USA. She has been working in the social sector for more than 12 years to help organizations like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Jumpstart, and the Girl Scouts grow, thrive, and innovate. She loves to be with her almost-husband Brian in the great outdoors (and indoors, too!) and drown herself in art and live music. Samara always has something creative up her sleeve, so stay tuned.
• Dixie Laite, the Senior Editorial Director for MTV Networks’ TeenNick, has been working in (and watching way too much) television for over 20 years. Laite has put the “broad” in broadcasting for a host of TV and Web brands, including PBS, Oxygen, Oprah, AMC, WE, the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, and Nickelodeon’s digital channels for teens and preschoolers. She works with producers, marketers, and writers on branding, scripts, promo copy, and the occasional song. (Laite created, and wrote most of the songs for, popular animated hosts Moose A. Moose and Zee.) In addition to her television work, Laite has also been (among other things) an elementary school teacher, an advice columnist, a Web Evangelist (sounds quaint now, huh?) and a freelance writer for various TV networks, Web sites, newspapers, and magazines. Laite is also a recognized authority on retro femorabilia and is often the go-to girl for vintage vixenry. She has written articles on classic cinema, retro style, old-school sex appeal, and new-school relationships. She has been profiled in New York Magazine, the New York Post, Atomic, Bust, and Apartment Therapy. Passionate about the personal and social benefits to living life with a “broad perspective,” Laite is working on a blog and book about The Lost Art of Being a Dame. But mostly she spends her time flea marketing and hanging out with her dogs, parrots, and husband. Laite also works as an editorial and social media marketing consultant, and is known to eat more pancakes than is humanly possible. (She’s no slouch in the pie department either.) Read Dixie Laite’s column, 15 Minutes of Dame, about building the living crap out of your personal brand. @DameStyle
• Laura Strom is an independent freelance art director based in Brooklyn, New York. Laura got her start at The Chicago Reader and Venus Zine before working for Time Out New York, where she art directed photo shoots, conceived covers, and collaborated in the overall redesign of the magazine. Strom’s recent projects include assisting in the implementation of the full-scale redesign of Latina magazine, which was recognized by the Society of Publication designers in 2009. She also has developed marketing materials for Travel + Leisure and Saveur, page design for Elle Decor, and packaging, album art, and environmental signage for clients engaged in arts and culture.
• Andrew Wagner is the current director of Krrb. Most recently he served as the editor-in-chief/chief brand officer of ReadyMade magazine. Prior to joining ReadyMade in 2009, he served as the editor-in-chief of American Craft magazine. Wagner was also the executive editor and founding managing editor of Dwell magazine, where he helped push the boundaries of architecture and design journalism, garnering the publication the coveted American Society of Magazine Editors (ASME) General Excellence Award in 2005. In 1997, Wagner founded LIMN, the unorthodox design and arts magazine published by the equally unorthodox furniture and design company of the same name, and served as its editor-in-chief until 2000.Wagner was also the founding editor of Dodge City Journal, a magazine dedicated to documenting life in America’s under-explored cities. Wagner has also served as a consulting editor at Places magazine and has been a guest lecturer at University of California Berkeley, Southern California Institute of Architecture, California College of the Arts and Columbia University. His writing has been published in, among others, Azure, Blueprint, Breathe, Loud Paper, Vanity Fair, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Travel and Leisure. He has also penned the forwards for Princeton Architectural Press’ Handmade Nation and Chronicle Books’ soon-to-be-released Unhappy Hipsters as well as written chapters for Phaidon’s Vitamin Green series. @WagsisSticks