5 Lessons Makers can Learn from Disney

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Pio Pig – Made by me – Pattern from Les Petites Mains de Khuc Cay

Yes, I am that crazy woman who brought a crocheted pig into Disney World and snapped a photo of him! On an average day almost 53,000 individuals enter the gates of  Magic Kingdom in Orlando, FL. Gasp. Let that sink in for a sec… That equals over nineteen million visitors each year! It is the most visited amusement park in the world and there are no signs of it slowing down any time soon, even with more competition coming on the scene in recent years.

We recently went on a wonderful trip to Disney World. It had been almost a decade since we had been there and I saw it with new eyes! Waiting in line for the Small World ride my family and I began discussing how well Disney deals with the overwhelming crowds of people. I noticed how clean all the little nooks and crannies were while waiting in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. At the Confectioner’s Shop I couldn’t help but be impressed with the smiles from the cashier even though she had likely been there for quite a while and had been ringing up customer after customer.  It got us all thinking about the inner workings of the iconic park and how they have perfected the concept of “experience”.

For the rest of the trip and the nine hour drive home I thought about how Disney does what they do and how well they do it. It began to dawn on me that many of these same principles can be applied to our own little handmade businesses as well!

(For more information about the pig pattern check out my Amigurumi Pattern Directory)

Branding

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No one, and I mean no one, has perfected their branding like Disney. Their font is instantly recognizable. The music, the movies, the merch… it doesn’t even need to have their name or logo on it and we all know exactly where it came from.

How can we as handmade makers begin to develop our own brand recognition? First I believe we all need to be clear about who we are and what we do. I have a few friends on Instagram that I immediately recognize their photos, I don’t even need to see their handle. The products they make, the style of their photos, and their consistent editing make them a brand, and a good one at that! One maker has a very rustic look throughout all her photos, another has bright pinks, yellows, and turquoise! They both have different photos, products, and messages they are promoting, but they stay true to their defined aesthetic.

Details

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I was awestruck when I really took the time to notice all the details at Disney. Since I had a lot of time to wait I started looking for them and I was not disappointed. Each and every ride had so many details, from the cobwebs at the Haunted Mansion to the antique furniture in the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, no element was overlooked.

In my humble opinion details make the creation. What I mean by that is the little details create the entire piece. For example, my little piggie wouldn’t be nearly as adorable if he didn’t have eyebrows, or suspenders, or his little bowtie. Even if you are making a toy that doesn’t have a lot of details within the original design, that shouldn’t stop you from creating them yourself. Packaging and tags are another way to add those personal details that make toys special.

(For more about how to create those memorable details: Making Amigurumi: The Artistry is in the Details)

Consistency

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Disney shows up day after day, week after week, month after month…you get the idea. When someone buys a ticket to Magic Kingdom they can be assured that the quality of the rides, the food, and the entertainment value will be the same. I have been going to Disney World since I was a young girl and there is a sense of comfort knowing that I’m going to enjoy my favorite rides and shows.

As makers we need to show up, whether that’s on your social media accounts, blog, or website. We need to show up day after day, week after week, year after year. And that’s hard. It’s hard when you’re in a creative slump. It’s hard when you’re sick. It’s hard when you’re busy. But that’s what sets apart the serious makers from those who just want a hobby. There is nothing wrong with having a hobby, but for those of us who want more consistency is key.

Message

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Disney’s slogan is “The Happiest Place on Earth” and they work very hard to make sure that message comes across loud and clear. They aren’t screaming this statement from their rooftops but they are clearly communicating it. Every employee has a smile on their face. Every ride is full of happiness. Take the Haunted Mansion for example, some theme parks have haunted houses and they are scary! But Disney’s is spooky in a fun, childlike way. Their message is unambiguous and consistent.

What message are you trying to convey? Are you a serious maker, are you silly, are you quirky? What do you want people to know about you? How do you want them to feel when they interact with your content? Defining your message and communicating it in written and visual form is paramount to your success.

Service

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Every single Disney employee we encountered was friendly and knowledgeable. The waiter at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant was professional and conscientious. The food was amazing and the atmosphere was so charming. I’m certain that Disney employees are trained in excellent customer service.

We as makers should treat our own customers with great care. We are creating an experience for them as well. When they purchase a finished product, respond to our content, or buy a pattern they should feel our appreciation. I don’t have a physical storefront, but I do have a virtual one and I try to treat online customers just as I would if we were face to face. Making people feel welcomed is something each one of us can do!

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These five principles are simple. It doesn’t take a genius to see how important they are for handmade businesses but it does take effort, a lot of effort. What suggestions do you have for making your small business better? Do you have big scale organizations you look to for inspiration?

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Why Le Petit Saint Crochet Isn’t Just my Business Name, but a Piece of my Heart as Well.

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I’m not French. I don’t speak French. I’ve never been to France. I’ve never even been to Quebec, for goodness sake! But the name of my little crochet business is most definitely French and more than likely I don’t even pronounce it correctly!

When I began thinking about making my little crochet hobby a bit more official I knew it needed a name. I’ve admired other craft bloggers and handmade businesses for years and they usually have a very memorable name. I wanted something that represented my love for crochet but also represented something more than that. I wanted the name to represent why I was crocheting.

I wrote down dozens of cute names that typically had the word “bunny” or “cozy”  or “cottage” in them, but none felt quite right. I thought about how I loved making beautiful crocheted things and that I took such care to make sure that no detail was overlooked. Those thoughts led me to my admiration of a little French saint from the late 19th century.

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St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as The Little Flower, was a cloistered Carmelite nun.  In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, St. Therese wrote about how her position in life limited what she was going to be able to accomplish. In coming to this realization she wrote, “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love.” Her attitude towards life was a great inspiration to the legendary Mother Teresa who is famous for saying, “Do small things with great love.”

That saying perfectly encapsulates my highest goal as a maker. I want to do everything, down to the smallest of details, with great love and care. I know that my place in this world is a small one, but I believe that the small things really are the big things when done in the right spirit. Le Petit Saint Crochet (The Little Saint Crochet) is a tiny homage to St. Therese and a reminder for me to always do the small things with the greatest of love and attention.

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My Favorite Handmade Business Podcasts

6I’ll admit it, I’m a podcast junkie. I have loved listening to them for years, but recently discovered a handful of amazing ones specific for those of us with handmade businesses. I listen when I’m driving, when I’m cleaning, and when I’m crocheting. I love that they are informative, entertaining, and FREE!

My favorite podcasts for handmade business people are (cue drumroll……)

  1. The Merriweather Council Podcast This is my hands-down, absolute favorite, handmade business podcast. For starters, Danielle makes me laugh. She has a very natural way of connecting with listeners. She has had an extremely successful Etsy shop for many years and shares her secrets with all of us! I love that many of the podcast episodes are quite short and are packed with useful information! She’s a tell-it-like-it-is host and I appreciate her so much for it!
  2. The BHooked Podcast  This is my favorite crochet related podcast and it’s my second favorite business one as well. Brittany has turned her handmade hobby into a successful career and helps us do the same. While she doesn’t sell finished products, she does design and has a YouTube channel. Brittany is the Oprah of the crafting world with her insightful interviews with the top designers of the industry.
  3. The Goal Digger Podcast is the bomb dot com for business gals. Jenna Kutcher’s podcast feels like you’re sitting down with a girlfriend who has all the answers! She is very open about her own struggles but shares with listeners how she has overcome them. The podcast is part inspiration, part kick-in-the-pants. She gives listeners practical, doable steps to take to become successful.
  4. Raw Milk Podcast is a fairly new podcast and has a very different feel from the others listed. Beth Kirby (@local_milk) has a huge following on Instagram (over 700k!) She is an accomplished photographer, who has taken the unbeaten path to find success. Her first episode about taking the anxiety out of Instagram is worth its weight in gold!
  5. Christy Wright’s Business Boutique Christy Wright is one of the Dave Ramsey personalities who specializes in small businesses run by women. I listened to the first two episodes of her podcast before I even knew how to crochet, but what I heard intrigued me. I knew then that I wanted to have my own business someday, I just didn’t know what it would be! Christy is a very serious woman who knows how to go after what she wants and shows other women how to do the same.
  6. The Jennifer Allwood Show is a new podcast to me. I have only been listening for a few weeks but what I’ve heard so far has me coming back for more. Jennifer is a down-to-earth, boss momma. She’s been-there-done-that and isn’t afraid to share her secrets. Two of her recent episodes have been extremely helpful for me, episode 81: How to Fight Discouragement and episode 83: The #1 Thing You Can Do to Boost Your Online Sales.

I hope you all have found this list helpful! Tell me about your favorite handmade business podcasts!