finding a niche

barn :: photo by Jennifer Langley One huge part of building this business and creating these products is doing the physical work; other parts {that are equally important} are creating great customer service and sourcing the supplies. And then there is the part I find the hardest: building a brand and finding a niche.

For many years, I've had a brand: A Forest of Stories. All of my work, personally and professionally {though I'm not always sure the distinction} has come into the world through this vehicle. As I'm moving more deeply into woodcrafting, I am still working under the business of A Forest of Stories, but the work itself has a different feeling, a unique quality. The products I'm building of wood and hard work aren't just about women's stories. They are about building new stories, creating new memories, bringing people together and inspiring conversations. Be it an oak cutting board or a walnut box, these pieces are here to bring beauty and meaning into your life. Whatever your gender.

But I'm not very good at branding. In fact, I'm quite terrible at selling my work/skills. Some of it relates directly to my fear of success, some of it my impostor syndrome, and some of it is just not knowing. Not knowing how to market myself, how to find my people, how to explain with just-right words the excitement and awesomeness I am sharing.

The other day, I caught a snippet of a promo video for a course on Creative Bug. I follow Lisa Congdon on Instagram, and her work continually inspires me. I thought, after seeing this clip, "This is exactly the class for me." Which was immediately followed by "Except I'm not an artist and I don't really have a brand."

Whoa. Catch those demons there?

Setting aside my impostor syndrome for a moment, I got to thinking. I am an artist. I am a writer by training and by passion. This passion is spilling into woodcrafting with a fervor. Woodcrafting is becoming a new art form for me. And I get to own this.

I sat down to think about the things that are really important to me in this work, and I made a list. It's not long, but it speaks volumes to where I'm going.

    * sourcing local materials and supporting the local economy * understanding the provenance of my materials and their interaction with source * responsibly managing my use of non-human energy and the impact of carbon-based energy on the environment {especially in relation to my work} * creating products that are designed to be used and enjoyed * bringing beauty into the home or space inhabited by my work * emphasizing the natural form and structure of my materials in the work they are used to create * enjoy the work and infuse the product with the passion and delight I feel when creating it

Suddenly I feel a clear understanding. I might not know precisely how to brand myself, or exactly how to sell my products beyond the small circle of people with whom I am currently connected. I am, though, clear on a critical part of building my business: my niche.

Building beautiful wood products from locally-sourced materials, infused with passion for function and an aesthetic for bringing the natural world into everyday objects.

Poplar Ditty Box