Let me share a personal story…
The Afghan Story
When I was about 12 years old my Aunt taught me how to crochet.
My family used to go to this beach cabin on the Oregon Coast in late Summer and it sort of became a tradition when I was growing up. And since this was the Oregon Coast the beach is quite different there than here in Southern California sometimes it was a bit overcast. And of course there were days that we would spend on the beach, digging holes and building forts and flying kites and having picnics, but one of the things I really enjoyed on this annual beach trip was sitting in the cabin doing crafts. I’m not sure why there always seemed to be a craft to do, I think that my mom, knowing that we were introverts she probably wanted to make sure we had things to do so we would stop at the craft store on the way and pick up some beads or sticker books or something that we could work on in the downtime. One year we really got into making these beaded geckos as keychains and we spent the entire week anytime we were in the cabin we were working on these keychains, we probably made like 50’of them. And that started this tradition of crafting on this beach trip. There was something about Spending the afternoons in the cabin with my siblings just crafting away that felt so cozy. those times were very close to my heart.
So anyway, one year when I was about 12, my aunt who is the coolest, taught me how to crochet. I knew that she had made these beautiful afghans when she was a young girl because my parents had one that she had made for them as a wedding gift. It was this huge afghan that could cover our entire family of 5 on the couch. And it was the most loved blanket … we had it for years and every time we would watch a movie we would grab this blanket and cuddle up under it. It had holes galore and had probably been washed a million times but it was just the best blanket. I would think, “how cool that my aunt made something for their wedding gift that they still have.”
I had watched my great aunt crochet (who also used to come on these beach trips and bring her projects with her – it must be a thing in my family) and I was always so fascinated. So I spent that week at the cabin learning how to make a wavy pattern afghan. my aunt would start it for me and then show me how to make my stitches even, I would make a few rows and then the edge would be crooked and my aunt would fix it. So by the end of the week I had made this sort of clumsy piece of crocheted blanket and I really wanted to keep practicing so my grandma (who always encouraged my pursual of the arts) took me to go pick out some yarn so that I could start my very own afghan.
I picked out all this yarn in different shades of green and decided that I was going to make a throw for my family’s living room or something. So I took the yarn home and got it started and then it sat and I sort of moved on with my life and it never really got finished. Once in a while I would pull it out and do a couple of rows and then I would notice that the edges were sort of messy and weren’t straight and I didn’t have my aunt to fix it for me so I kind of just lost interest.
I think I started 3 more afghans from that point and never finished them. I would always start out so determined and excited. the idea of going to the craft store and picking out new colors and choosing a new stitch I wanted to learn and being like, THIS time I’m going to finish it.
The World’s Biggest Afghan
Fast forward about 5 years, I had finished high school and was living in an apartment and my brother got engaged. I love my brother we are super close and I was also super close with his fiancé who had been my roommate for my first year of college. They got married around Christmas time (same as my parents) and I had this great idea that I was going to crochet an afghan for them as their wedding gift. I imagined knitting this huge blanket that could cover their whole bed or, one day their whole family of 5 on the couch and they would have it forever. This was a pretty big ambition for a girl who had started 5 afghans and never finished one successfully but, I was determined I was going to do it. So I went to the craft store and I picked out all of this yarn in different shades of blue. I went home and I got to work.
I had about one month to complete this project. So everyday I would come home and I would do a few rows. So one thing about crocheting is you start with a long chain which is the width of your blanket and then once you’ve turned and started the next row, you’re committed. And the more rows I completed, the more I began to regret how big I decided to make this thing. The rows seemed to get longer, and longer, and the blanket became heavier and heavier and as I got further along I had to lay this thing out flat on my living room floor, and I would lay on my stomach on top of it and work. This was turning into a king size blanket. It was the mother of all afghans.
To my own disbelief, with mere minutes to spare, I finished the blanket. And I was so proud to wrap it up for them and see their faces when they opened it. They have 3 kids now, and that blanket can cover their whole family of 5 (and then some). And it is just the best.
I think back to all those times I started a project and couldn’t complete it. And I think about why it was that I could never fully complete what I started. Even though I had the intention of following through, even though I enjoyed the process, there was a missing piece.
What I realized was that maybe that missing piece was that I never had someone in mind to give it to. I didn’t have a reason and therefore I had no reason to persevere. This blanket was different because I was making it for someone. For something. For my brother and his wife so they could have those memories and have a legacy and have this tangible thing that would last years and years. And it turns out that reason was a necessary part to carry me through to the end.
When I feel a little bit lost in my own business, when I can’t think of a caption to post, or lose motivation because I don’t really know what or who I’m really creating for, what has always really helped me was just to focus on serving. If you feel like you are arbitrarily going along but You don’t seem to be getting traction or you feel like your posts or efforts are getting lost in the noise, maybe try thinking about how you can provide value to one specific person. You may have this great talent or service, and you’re advertising your business to the world, it’s out there on social media and on your website, but if you’re kind of just posting to the wind, not really speaking to anyone directly but just putting it out there for whoever may stumble along and find it or appreciate it, it’s kind of like crocheting an afghan throw that you’re just gonna throw over the arm of the sofa just to serve as decor. People will just walk past it and maybe they might pick it up if they get chilly but it has no meaning to them. I’m going to bet you that when you started your business you didn’t start it thinking you would just be another Florist. I bet you started it with a specific goal or dream in mind. You knew that there was somebody out there with a specific style or specific need that YOU could meet better than anyone else could. You are knitting something beautiful, and meaningful, you are putting your heart and soul into it and it deserves to have a purpose and be shared and appreciated and embraced fully.
So I want you to ask yourself, who are you knitting this blanket for? Who are you building this business for? Who was your business meant to serve? Think about that ideal client that would really benefit from your services specifically. Talk to that person. Direct your language towards that person. Whether it’s in writing your post captions, your marketing messaging, your website copy, your email marketing, talk to that person so that they know you’re speaking to them and not just speaking to the wind on a soapbox or holding up a sign that says Open for business. I promise you this small shift in your approach will help you reach those right people that maybe have been missing you in the past because they just didn’t see you or didn’t notice you or they didn’t know that you existed because you weren’t speaking to them. And let me tell you the best part about it. Those clients are going to appreciate your gift so much more than someone who came across your ad on yelp or WeddingWire. Because that’s not a person who was just shopping for a florist, that’s a person who connected with your work specifically and who was looking for something specific that they knew only you had to offer. And they wanted to hire you so badly. And they were so proud to say “I worked with this person for my wedding, they were my dream florist. And they’re going to cherish those memories.
So if there’s one thing I want you to take away from this it’s this. What you’re creating is wonderful and beautiful, but your business is about the customer. Direct your energies towards them, and all else will fall into place.
If you’d like to learn a bit more about what creating for an ideal client looks like from a design perspective, I talk about this a whole lot in my new digital design course, Artfully Arranged. Check it out at artfullyarrangedcourse.com!
I hope you have a good day, friend. I’ll see you next time.