The need for a Do-It-Yourself-Together community snapped into clear focus for me at the first Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference
Story & Photos by Lesley Ware
Granted I’m biased—both as a conference junkie and a DIY Business Association blogger—I enjoyed every moment of the first Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference on June 26.
The morning began with networking with forward-thinking dreamers and innovators from around the country, all of whom were surprisingly alert for a Sunday morning.
The DUMBO Loft buzzed with excitement as groups of attendees clustered and mingled. I eagerly began to jot initial reactions. My eyes were first drawn to the circular tables covered in hot-pink tablecloths. Each table had a handmade centerpiece; the one at my table was a reused mason jar, neatly wrapped in teal yarn, with multi-color yarn flowers inside of it. The combination of colors blended well with the pinstripes in the vintage dress that I wore. I grabbed a cup of coffee and jotted in my notebook, “This is the perfect conference for me.”
The event kicked off with a warm welcome from DIYBA Founder Amy Schroeder. Amy expressed the need to advance the work of individuals working to make a living doing what they love. During her college years, Schroeder founded Venus Zine, which has bloomed into a fanciful source for coverage of women in music, art, film, and fashion. She’s no stranger to DIY culture or celebrating and promoting the work of indie artists. Schroeder understands the craft of building things that last.
After Schroeder’s address, the conference shifted into two plenary sessions, beginning with Jessica H. Lawrence and Marcos Salazar. The two ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment) warriors introduced big ideas for creating new ways of work and maximizing creativity.
The second session, “Increase Your Income,” was all about The Benjamins. The sessions inspired me—dispelling old-fashioned notions of what work should look and feel like.
After the plenary, it was time for a little informal networking over lunch with affinity groups of like-minded conference attendees. I walked around in search for the table that best fit my interest and joined a lively group of fashionistas. We swapped tips to better our blogs and social-media platforms over sandwiches and soft drinks.
When lunch was over, conference goers were able to select a track, one for visual artisans and another for the music industry. I packed up my belongings and joined the crafty crew for the short walk from the DUMBO Lofts to the Etsy Labs. When we arrived, I scribbled a note to remind myself to register for the next open craft night. From adhesives to sequins to zippers, Etsy Labs seemed like an optimal environment to start and finish a snazzy DIY project.
During the “Art and Craft of Commerce” panel, I snapped some photos and took notes on the inspiring stories from a panel of women who have successfully carved a path, leading to their dreams. Each of the panelists—Modcloth CCO Susan Gregg Koger, Etsy Education Coordinator Danielle Maveal, and Lauryn Ballesteros (Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for The Domino Project)—shared how they got started, lessons learned, and happy accidents sparking their success.
When the session concluded, there was time for dialogue and more coffee. It was refreshing to be part of a community where ideas were generated, exchanged, and then cross-pollinated. The amount of information that I was able to glean from the plenaries, networking lunch, and the breakout session exceeded my expectations. I imagined what my life as a fashion blogger and creative consultant would have been like if DIYBA were around when I started blogging three summers ago.
The need for a Do-It-Yourself-Together community snapped into clear focus for me. I left the conference with a renewed sense of my ability to move forward, as an independent worker, in a sometimes-hectic creative world. Recharged and energized, I’ve since been completing a long list of to-dos related to my business aspirations. I’m certain that my best days as a DIYer and conference junkie are ahead of me.
For additional coverage of the Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference, check out the post-mortem.