When the business and arts communities come together to share their expertise, and stories of their struggles and successes, there’s a kind of magic in that connection. By sharing experiences, each side better understands the other and learns valuable lessons – creating happy, collaborative and creative communities along the way.
Since its inception, the Business Volunteers for the Arts program has strived to cultivate these connections. The program connects volunteer lawyers, accountants, marketing and other professionals with artists/arts organizations who require their services on a short-term basis. Recently, Business & Arts NL helped connect Dc Design House to seven craftspeople at the Quidi Vidi Plantation – a craft incubator that, since June of 2012, has been helping launch emerging craft makers into full-time, professional craft businesses in Newfoundland and Labrador.
Members of Dc Design House led a roundtable workshop focussing on branding and embracing the entrepreneurial spirit – but the teachers learned some important lessons from the students as well. We talked to Dc Design House staff Don-E Coady, founder and creative director; Theresa Powell, project coordinator; and Vicky Foley, CNA marketing work term student, about their experience.
Business & Arts NL: I understand that Dc Design House offered training, with homework, and that individual consulting will take place later. Can you tell me a bit more about what you taught the craftspeople during the session?
Dc & Theresa: We showed them the framework of a marketing plan and how to build one on their own. Walking them through every step of what makes a marketing plan, we gave them examples of different ideas that would be relevant to their industry. But, we didn’t just go on and on without any interaction. Sitting around the table, overlooking the Quidi Vidi gut, we asked each craftsperson what their thoughts were on every section, which allowed for total collaboration.
During the session, we also walked through our typical discovery questions that allow us to learn about our clients and get to the nitty gritty of what makes them them. This is how we really learned about everyone’s passions and started unveiling the beauty and magic behind everyone’s crafts. We connected. We learned about how they got to where they are, and where they want to go next.
Business & Arts NL: What do you hope they’ll take away from the session?
Dc & Theresa: At the beginning of our session, our main goal was for each craftsperson to leave feeling equipped to map out their own marketing plan so we could meet with everyone a few weeks later and finesse their plans.
After our session, our goal transformed. We left wanting everyone to think more about their “why” – why they do what they do, and what drives their passion to create. We wanted them to come back to us so we can sit down together, one-on-one, and sculpt that why into a brand story that they can share in all kinds of marketing opportunities.
Business & Arts NL: Why is it important for businesses like Dc Design House to get involved with the arts community by sharing their knowledge/expertise?
Dc & Theresa: In everything we do, we always keep in mind how important it is for us to support local businesses and talents. We know that every time we collaborate and engage with other businesses in our community that we’re growing our local economy, our culture, and our connections. All of this is essential to making the place we love – our province, our home – even stronger, and a better place in which to live, work, and play.
Business & Arts NL: How did the session go?
Dc & Theresa: Simply put, the session was incredible. Hearing each artist talk about their personal “why” was uplifting. We laughed, we cried, and we felt pure magic in the air.
Vicky: The session went really well. It made me feel so much positive energy. I was mesmerized by the art. My favourite part was being able to hear people talk about doing what they love to do every day.
Business & Arts NL: You mentioned previously that this was a rewarding experience for Dc Design House as well. Can you elaborate?
Dc: This is why we do what we do. I am an artist who is lucky to live a life where I help people make their dreams a reality by branding better in all they do so they can truly connect to anyone they want to serve. Small business is my passion – and not just because I appreciate their contributions to our economy and society in general, but because I am an entrepreneur myself who dared to take a risk and make it happen. Paying it forward however I can borders on obsession, but I can think of worse preoccupations.
Theresa: As soon as I heard about this opportunity, I knew immediately that I wanted to jump in head-first. Having worked at the Craft Council many moons ago as a summer student, I have a long-standing adoration for local craft and artistry. The entire experience was extremely rewarding as it allowed me to bridge this love with my love of marketing and storytelling.
Vicky: It opened my eyes as a student and showed me that there are actually careers out there – not just jobs – that will allow you to do what you love to do. Your career can be your passion – it can be whatever you want it to be!
Business & Arts NL: If there’s anything else you’d like to mention, please feel free!
Dc: (We’re) so thankful to take what we know and love and fill the cups of your incredible and beautiful artisans with brand spirit and the idea that they can make art into business.
Theresa: We are thrilled to have been involved in such a fantastic opportunity, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for these craftspeople, in and outside of the Plantation.
Vicky: This was a real learning opportunity. I can’t wait to get back down to Quidi Vidi to chat with everyone and see what new things they are creating!