Natasha Mileshina & Random Small Business Thoughts

I have to spotlight Natasha Mileshina today because a parcel arrived from her in my little mailbox this morning and it absolutely made my day. I blogged about her etsy shop, bubbo-tubbo, in Take Five Tuesdays last week and like so many artists I feature here I end up becoming a customer because I want to own a part of their world.

I absolutely appreciate and love the American arts & crafts scene, and though there is one here in Germany that is growing and blooming right now, there is still something about the American aesthetic that I really like. Of course, I am partial since I am American so of course I'm going to appreciate things about my own culture that others in different lands may not. I think Natasha Mileshina's style is so positively perfect, I really enjoyed the package of goodies that arrived because everything was so carefully wrapped and arranged. It was special to just open it and after turning back the papers to reveal the contents - ah, bliss!

"Nothing to put on" print, 5 x 7, $12.

Notebook, $7

Natasha lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland... not exactly the 'hub' when it comes to creativity like other places in the U.S. (Brooklyn, San Francisco, Portland OR, etc.) but I imagine that at times it must be nice to not live in uber creative communities because you are able to really be alone with your work and spend time developing it and fine tuning your style. Does this make sense? I guess I think this way because I lived for years in Boston and only when I relocated to southern New Hampshire did I really 'slow down' enough in my head to focus on my own artistic and creative spirit. Everyone is different of course. I cannot doubt the explosion of creativity I feel whenever I'm in San Francisco, L.A., even parts of the south where I grew up... But you can really be creative anywhere on this planet and though many artists pack up and relocate to the hip cities to be part of the local culture there, there are plenty of artists who do just as well in their little corners, too. If you're like me, I go to cities to be inspired but I feel completely fine living outside of creative hubs now because I don't need to be immersed in it 24/7. It almost stresses me out if I spend too much time in New York City, for instance. I like it there but I find equal inspiration walking on the beach in Maine.

I think in really creative hubs there are so many people making things that yes, it can inspire, but sometimes it may also feel competitive or stressful... like you must continuously churn out new designs or you are no longer 'the hottest thing' in your community. I wonder if anyone reading this lives in a creative hub and can comment on this. Here in Hannover, Germany we have many creative types but no one really sticks together, in fact it's a little competitive and 'high school' sometimes just as it was in the beginning days of blogging for me online. I am trying to change this here in Hannover, but it will take awhile. But I have an idea...

"Cat on my head" print, 5x7, $12.

I want to host a street fest here with the local artisans and craftsters but I'm scared no one will mingle because they seem to not like one another! I think these problems exist in the states too, but when I was at Renegade last summer in Brooklyn I didn't get the sense that vendors there were competing or even jealous or upset at the success of the more popular vendors. I think this is one of many reasons why Americans have such success with their small businesses -- the majority seem to support and rely on fellow small business owners knowing that their success comes, not by shunning or excluding others, but by holding hands with others and showing support. I don't know if craft fairs like Renegade really exist here in Germany, but I'd like to get involved in hosting one here in Hannover to see how it goes. My friend Enna and I are in discussion over this so I'll let you know what we churn out. I'm thinking next year, a summer fest. :) I want to have a 'decor8' table at the fair to show the work of my American friends, and even those from Australia, England, and beyond that may like to introduce their work to the German market. I want to expose more Germans to crafts outside of Europe, too.

You may be shocked to learn that most of my creative friends here aren't even online, do not blog, and they've never heard of Etsy! Half or more do not even speak English, another problem if they want to reach customers outside of Germany. This is one of the major reasons I'm speaking this Saturday in Berlin, I want to encourage the many creative types who will attend the decor8/Dawanda event to blog and reach out to the world if they aren't already doing it. I feel so confident in the indie arts scene in Germany but not many people outside know what's going on in this country outside of Oktoberfest and beer. Not even many Germans know what's going on because so many seem to create in their ateliers, closed off from the rest of the world so to speak, and not much is seen outside of their own city. This is only my opinion as a non-German but I think small business here (at least arts & crafts) is where American small business was back in 2004/05 - blogging was just picking up speed, indie craft fairs were starting to appear nationwide, more and more people were connecting online and making new friends, etc. It's fun to be over here in the beginning stages of it all. I can't wait to see what develops!

"Fake NYC" by Natasha Mileshina, processed using the fake tilt shift technique, most likely in Photoshop.

I think I'm running off on a tangent here (what's new!?), but this was on my mind when I awoke this morning so I thought I'd talk about it today to see what your opinions are on this topic. Do you need to be in the heart of a creative hub to create and network? If you lived in a city where shop owners do not seem to support other shop owners, how would you promote peace and encourage a more supportive environment? How do you overcome feelings of competition with fellow creative types?

Now back to the lovely Natasha! Don't forget to check out her Flickr album for further inspiration, and don't miss her lovely studio over at Poppy Talk.

(images taken by holly becker for decor8)