By Amy Cuevas Schroeder
That’s how Danielle Maveal thinks about empowering creative DIY businesses.
In September 2012, the Brooklynite started Creative Little Beasts, a newsletter and podcast that “delves into the strange minds of creative entrepreneurs, weirdo small business experts and other inspiring beasts.”
Maveal’s name is synonymous with the Etsy entrepreneurial community. She worked as Etsy’s Seller Education Lead for five years, blogging in Etsy’s Seller Handbook, managing the Etsy Success Newsletter and organizing events.
As our DIY Business of the Week, Danielle talks here about her Etsy evolution, the psychology of being a maker and campaigning to find her lost dog, Myrtle.
DIYBA: Why did you leave Etsy?
Danielle: It was hard to leave Etsy, and in some ways it’s still my family—especially because I moved to New York for the job. Etsy admin and the Etsy community have been my whole world for six years. When I left, I knew I’d have to build up a new support system and a new identity.
When I started at Etsy, I was timid, sensitive and insecure, but now I know I have a powerful voice and that I am here to facilitate change in the world.
The freedom I had at Etsy for the first few years allowed me to really live up to my potential as an educator, writer and communicator. I am fearless, and I will take on any challenge—perfect for a start-up environment.
For example, I didn’t ask for permission to start the Etsy Success newsletter—I just set it up and decided I was going to write it. I grew the newsletter from 0 to 800,000-plus readers. I was so honored to have such an opportunity and platform. I always felt that I had a great responsibility to not only educate but to motivate through this newsletter.
Many artists have the knowledge, skills and information they need to succeed—but what they’re missing is the belief in themselves, and they need someone, anyone, to say, “I know you can do this.”
How are you leveraging your Etsy experience now?
I don’t think about it! I know I have some Etsy sellers who still want to hear from me, and I love that. I also have had an amazing response from other really interesting start-ups who want to pick my brain.
I want to add to those who are listening to me—I want to reach musicians, comedians, more fine artists and designers. It feels icky to say, “Former Etsy Admin,” but I know it will get me more attention, so sometimes I throw it in there. I’d like to be known for being a force in my own right. I think that will happen if I keep plugging away at it.
What are your goals for Creative Little Beasts?
I have none. Talk about the cobbler’s children having no shoes, right?
But, really, I want to do things differently, and I’m allowing myself the space and time to come up with a path that will help me reach as many people as possible in an innovative way. There are so many blogs, newsletters, conferences, ebooks, coaches and experts out there.
What do people really need, what will they really pay attention to and what will really motivate them to succeed? There’s something else that can be done, I know it. I’m waiting to have that big lightbulb moment. In the meantime, I love creating the podcast, and I think it can be a great way to reach people, especially artists and crafters who are working in their studios and don’t have time to read another blog post.
In an episode of the Creative Little Beasts podcast, you talk about how sometimes in the DIY community, we tend to be too controlling with our work—why is this? Is this because we feel like we have to do all the work ourselves? How do we take a better approach?
I think we actually put too much weight on the actual making of the work and not enough on the design or the idea.
We become so precious about every little stitch that we undervalue the design and ideation process. When you do this, you think all the value comes in the making. Don’t get me wrong—handmade objects are beautiful and there’s definitely a place for work that’s entirely handmade by one person. But often it’s just not a good business decision.
Hiring an intern or someone who is an expert in one part of the process, can help you become more efficient. You can also learn a lot from teaching an intern or working with someone who has experience.
You’re on a mission to find Myrtle, your 9-year-old chihuahua that went missing on October 6 while you were on vacation.
The Find Myrtle Facebook page has over 1,100 followers, her story has been shared by Neko Case, The Mountain Goats, Horatio Sanz, Alyssa Milano, Newsweek, Good Morning America, Time Out New York and L Magazine.
People are asking me what I’ve done to get all these people paying attention, but I really think her sweet and strong spirit shines through in her photos and people want to help her. I hope she finds her way home to me soon. My heart is so heavy without her by my side.
On Mondays, DIY Business Association features a stand-out self-starter as our DIY Business of the Week. If you or someone you know is rocking an awesome small business in art, craft, tech, food, media—you name it—we want to know about it. Tell us about your DIY business on the DIY Business Association Facebook wall, or email email@example.com with a short description and links to the DIY business website and social media.
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