You’ve been drumming up details, locating speakers and charging your patrons up for this camp. You’ve built buzz in your community and received some valuable feedback by this time. Now it’s time to organize that feedback into phase 2 of your logistical journey – The When.
Chances are your speakers actually asked YOU for this information. And I gave you nothing to tell them. What did you say? “I don’t know yet”? “What do you think?” “What works for you?” Hopefully a combination of these questions and maybe more!
Your Etsy folks will have fair seasons to contend with based on the time of year you host this event. Too close to the holidays and you’re competing with their most lucritive time of the year. Weekends in the Summer could mess with their ability to earn during the steady selling season when fairs are outdoors. Either could mean missing out on some heavy hitters with a LOT of experience and talent to share. Even worse, asking them to take time off from earning money can make you seem insensitive or out of touch with their reality.
What to do? If you’re having your camp in the Summer your teens will be out of school anyway so you can plan for a midweek day to host that is less likely to interfere with your sellers’ schedules. If you’re aiming for the Fall when teens are back in school you’ll need to use your weekends wisely. Start communicating with your speakers to find out what their availability looks like and schedule accordingly. They’ll feel appreciated and valued being treated well and given time to plan accordingly. This makes for happier speakers and therefore better talks!
Some good questions to ask:
- What fairs do you have lined up already? Could you share their dates with me?
- I want to be sensitive to your production schedule as well as your selling schedule. Is there a day or time that’s generally better or you?
The first time I ran this camp I did it in November. We had camp every Saturday from 9-3 and then the first Saturday in December we hosted the Week 6 Masters Class. Was it perfect? No way! I had Thanksgiving to contend with and all the travel complications and family plans/traditions that come with that! Most people would avoid November like the plague but I also saw the benefit of this time of year. Having a Week 5 Selling Experience during Small Business Saturday meant shoppers would be REALLY excited to get some holiday shopping done and that teens would earn more money. WIN. I was all in. Plus, it’s a pretty good lessons for teens that being a part of the DIY movement and successful means selling when others are playing. Regardless of holidays and family plans.
Completing the amount of work I designed in 5 weeks would also be a challenge for the teens. I’d just attended Etsy’s Summit on Re-Imagining Manufacturing where I was briefed on the experiences of the other 9 cities who had facilitated Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship Program. Th Entrepreneurship Program is their start to finish curriculum designed to teach adults how to open a shop in a few weeks that we were about to host in Chattanooga. When I finally got a look at their curriculum I was panicked. The curriculum I had designed for teens was WAY more involved, WAY more complicated and had WAY more homework! I was asking teens to undergo the entire branding process, create enough stock to sell for a market and digest mathematical formulas they had never encountered before while considering social psychology ideas most adults have a hard time comprehending ever in just 4 weeks. And with only 4 sessions together. 20 hours total counting their daily hour off for lunch. Was I asking too much? Don’t forget that in November teens would still be in school. I’d been working on this for well over a year and far before I had a working relationship with the Brooklyn office. Surely I could make it work though… Right?
The thing that’s amazing about the timeframe of the camp is that teens have stress and school and more complicated lives then ever but they also have something most adults tend to lose. Fierce beliefs and hope. My efforts to let the teens find their drive by fueling those two things paid off and they rose to the challenge. They impressed not just me but city government officials who stopped by to see what we were up to. They impressed seasoned craft fair veterans and customers who reported to me that their booths at the fair were some of the best there. The amount of work I gave them was not too much. In fact, one teen remarked after our 4th Week session “I just realized today that camp is only 1 hour less than school is each day. But I had no idea because I love camp so much and learn so much here!” (If ever there was a soundbite moment when I WISH we were all constantly recorded for posterity and documentation THIS was it! Alas, the dystopian orverlords have yet to sieze control… You’ll just have to take my word for it. Or hers. If you ever come to Chattanooga I’ll introduce you two and we can clear up any doubt you may have.)
You may be wondering about expanding the Camp at this point. Stretching into more days so topics can be more deeply explored. By all means go for it! The camp I’ll be supplying you with is packaged and intended to be completed in 6 days. I’m in the process of expanding it to 10 days this summer and will post the extended version for you once it’s wrapped up. If you see a natural way to split up what I give you to expand it before then please feel free and let me know how it goes! But don’t forget that there’s a benefit to having the camp in only 6 days too, it’s a compact version where teens CAN accomplish their goals if they can stay focused and are motivated to make this dream a reality.
When you were asking questions about where you would be hosting Camp in house did that dictate any decisions for you? Is there a month that is simply off limits? A time of day?
What day of the week is the fair you want your teens to attend? It’s always easiest if this is the same day the rest of the camp sessions but not impossible if not.
Putting it All Together
When you put together the pieces of teen schedules, seller obligations and your space’s limitations what do you come up with?
Will yours be a Summer Camp when teens are unincumbered by school and afterschool activities?
Will it be a Fall Camp where you capitalize on Holiday shopping trends?
Will it be a Spring Camp that get a boost from the outdoor market season opening?
If you want to share or have questions post below and we can work together to figure out what’s best for you!
Next up – The What
Look at YOU… With your speakers and your timing down and your spaces located. I’m so proud of you…
I hope you like what you’ve been creating so far because the work is about to change. Your soundbites and elevator speech are probably pretty dialed in at this point. That’s great for what you need to share with the community. Now though, it’s time to dive into The What.
What exactly IS the camp?
What materials do I need to pull this off?
The STEAM Factor
Here at the Chattanooga Public Library we worked REALLY hard about a year ago to create a document that labeled every single walk up station and program with what we refer to as STEAM tags. The idea is that we can talk to any city government official, any teacher, and parent about all the educational benefits each station can provide their child. In fact Lee Hope, our Youth Services Coordinator, took it one step further in the Children’s Department and tagged all their walk ups and programs in accordance with (ECRR) standards too! I liked this way of thinking so much I can’t turn it off now and I even included this kind of breakdown for every single activity in the book!
The Camp is a complete STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) immersion experience for the teens who participate.
Each week I’ll share the STEAM terms associated with the topics you’ll be covering. However, in overarching sense here’s the big picture impact:
- S: Social psychology of consumerism, purchasing and product photography. Creation of targeted branding based on social passions, product, identified customer base. Targeting customers based on socioeconomic patterns.
- T: Use of new artistic equipment. Web based market research. Web based materials research. Organizing inspiration, materials research, pricing research into social media.
- E: Construction of product. Creation of branded packaging.
- A: Honing an artistic craft. Experimenting in new artistic mediums. Logo design. Product photography. Writing about artistic process, artist, products. Booth design. Crafting a stage presence. Practicing public speaking.
- M: Pricing formulas for profit, wholesale and retail markets. Timing creation process to determine formula outcomes. Sustainable pricing research and cost analysis. Financial literacy.
I bet you wish you had known all this sooner. Maybe you think like me so you’ve already been spouting these benefits (or at least speculating about them) to pretty much whoever will listen. If not and you wish I had mentioned them sooner fear not, they will re-energize your conversations, add a layer of educational depth to your pleads for additional speakers and reinforce the value of the contributions for those who have already agreed to help out.
What Do I Need?
I’ll give you a week by week breakdown of the materials you’ll need to pull of Camp each week but here’s the general set up requirements:
- Messy Workspace
- Room to leave stuff hanging on the walls
- Laptop or iPad with Projector hookup*
- Ability to play music (Pandora or other streaming service is the easiest)**
*My preferred presentation method is to use my iPad so I can wander around the room helping where needed. Plus I can control the music from it which is nice. I link up to the projector using Apple TV so there are no cords, just lovely wireless freedom.
** I found the Two Door Cinema Club channel on Pandora was the best for our group. I could leave it on a low volume while I was speaking without getting distracted and every now and then the teens would inadvertently bounce along with whatever song was on while working or breathlessly tell me how much they loved the music I picked. Win!
- Folder or binder per camper
- A TON of Paper*
- Large Paper to Hang on the Walls
These items may not be used in every single camp session but I like to keep them on hand for whatever pops up.
*I felt pretty bad about the amount of paper I used for this camp at first. You’ll be printing writing exercises, worksheets, articles and more. It may not seem like much at first but then you remember you’re multiplying everything by up to ten and Holy Moly that’s a LOT of paper. Not to mention printing out additional sheets for your speakers and yourself so you can follow along. If you create an online version of this that works for you I’m gonna love you forever. If not just remember, a lot of teens find it helpful to scribble their thoughts and notes physically. It’s all saved in a folder or binder where they keep track of their work and if your experience is at all like mine you’ll be referring back to these printouts frequently.
- A local snack each afternoon of Camp (Be careful of allergies!)
- Bottled water for your speakers
- Thank You Cards
- Camp stickers for campers and speakers (More viral marketing! Woohoo!)
These will up your status from library programmer to library goddess/god. Take extra special care of the people who come to help you for free!
If you have organizations or individuals who have asked if you needfinancial assistance with camp the items above make great donations. If not, now you’ve got a shopping list!
Go forth and gather your supplies because coming up next is Prepping and Advertising!
For the most part this will be super easy. You’ve probably got a meeting room, large open area or cluster of tables where you always host your meetings. If you you’ve got this AND a teen space you’re super lucky. If you’ve got all this, a teen space AND it’s somewhere you can make messes you’re extra special lucky. And you owe your director a high five. Go find her/him and give them a high five, I’ll wait.
Cool, I’m glad you actually did that, they probably needed a boost today!
The picture above shows the space we used for Camp EtsyNooga from the end of the room where I projected all our slides (which I’m totally gonna’ share with you!). The one below shows the same space from the opposite side of the room. We have a rather large area against a bank of windows at the far end of The 2nd Floor. There are a bunch of round tables that very comfortably seat 4 people and plenty of chairs to go around. The wall behind me in the photo above is large and painted white but I used a projection screen to get the best quality picture possible. I limited camp to 10 campers and we started with 8, losing 2 along the way to scheduling conflicts. I used three tables so they had plenty of space to stretch out and create/think. Behind the campers you’ll see another bank of tables we would use for random activities throughout camp. Sometimes I would use these tables at the front of the space (behind me) too. Again, it all depends on what you think will work best day by day or subject by subject.
As we go through the camp week by week later I’ll suggest layouts for your space/activities but I’m sure you know your space better than I do and will make it work for camp in a way I could never possibly imagine. In the meantime, if I suggest something that doesn’t work don’t tune out. Simply take a second to envision your space then get creative about how you could make it fit/work. The idea you start with may evolve a few times and that’s good! You should think about adaptiing your spaces to fit your ideas just as much as you think about aadapting your ideas to fit your spaces.
So. What do you need to do in your space? All of the following:
- Show slide shows, pictures, projections of the internet
- Play music at a low volume
- Have tables where everyone can stretch out, draw, write, think and get a bit messy
- Have access to bathrooms and water for breaks
- Have room for a speaker to stand and give a talk or present a slideshow
- Eat some snacks
- Do some crafty things like cutting foam, hot gluing, cutting paper, playing with ink or paint and any special craft talents your speakers may have mentioned they’d be interested in teaching your teens
- Hang large sheets of paper the teens will do exercises on AND some that will stay hung up that will map their journeys as they create their businesses (You can always take these down and rehang them before each session if thhe whole “leaving things up” thing doesn’t work for your space)
- Finally, this is harder sometimes, but IF you can have a space that’s removed from most of the hubbub but still visible to the general public…that’s the dream. It provides a sense of separation and focus for your campers but will also generate buzz and discussion from patrons who want to know what’s going on. It’s guerrilla marketing at it’s best!
What do you think? Do you have a space where these activities can be performed? Is it one space or multiple spaces? Does it need to be reserved ahead of time or will you simply have access to it whenever you want? If so when should you do that? Should/can you ask for permissions to do some out-of-the-ordinary things in there (Like maybe the snacks, crafting or leaving things up on the wall)? Getting the answers to these questions will prepare both you and your staff for the camp in a logistical way that lots of folks overlook when planning. Preparing yourself for a large program is crucial but preparing your entire organization is responsible and considerate.
Once your in-house needs are taken care of the tricky part kicks in. The 5th Week of camp is seller experience where your teens will actually take their products out into the world to sell them. If you’re as insane as I am you may want to create a local Etsy Fair that coincides with Small Business Saturday where you reserve a bank of tables for your teen entrepreneurs. However, maybe you like sleeping at night and have a family that likes hearing you talk about things that aren’t work related. If that’s the case you might reach out to an established local farmer’s market or craft fair to see how much a table costs and if there’s an option to purchase a bank of tables at a discounted rate (“Because I’m a nonprofit!, “To establish a local partnership focused on incubating teen entrepreneurship”, or “For the children!”).
You can use the same bullet points from my last post about reaching The WHO for camp to explain what you’re doing. Here’s an additional point that may be helpful:
- I want to be clear that while the sellers are young their booths will not appear unpolished. They will be undergoing booth display training to create shopping environments that match their both their brands and their target audiences.
Additional questions to ask fair coordinators include:
- What day is the fair?
- What hours is the fair open to shoppers?
- What time can sellers arrive to set up?
- If sellers sell out of stock are they allowed to leave early?
- What are the booth sizes?
- Are tables or chairs provided?
- Will there be parking?
- Can I apply for the entire team or will we need to submit seperate applications?
- Is this a juried fair?*
- Are there any set up opbstacles or additional rules we should be aware of (Long distance to carry materials? Rules regarding where storage totes must be kept? Do have insurance requirements for your sellers?** Are there raffles or door prize drawings sellers must contribute product toward?)?
*Being juried means there’s a group of people who review each application and determine if it’s a good fit. Basically they curate their offerings to ensure they have a good blend of vendors and sometimes that the quality of the items being sold is up to par. If the fair is juried you may ask for an all or nothing kind of pass for your kids. If it’s not then there probably won’t be a problem with some kids making it in and others being excluded. Be sure to ask lots of questions if you’re unsure about what you’re hearing!
**If so this is probably not the fair for you. During the Week 6 Masters Class for Families you’ll cover making your teens’ businesses legit. This will include info for them on where to go to apply for LLC or Sole Proprietor status, how to register to pay state taxes and a couple sites and options regarding where they can purchase insurance and what types are available. But for the purposes of what you’re looking to accomplish in Week 5 a fair that requires insurance treads dangerously close to making a legal decision for a minor which is ground no librarian should tread upon lightly. If this kind of fair is your only option I suggest reaching out to your lawyer or HR department for advice on how to proceed.
Finally, if there is no such market or fair in your area don’t be discouraged! You can create one easily and maybe even wrap it into other programming! Why not create an area as part of your Summer Finale where the teens set up pop up shops? Organize a job fair that highlights local businesses who hire teens and have your teens represent themselves (and your sweet new camp) on the spot. Maybe wrap a simple entrepreneurial experiment for tweens into the mix and create a lemonade or hot cocoa challenge (I’ve been DYING to do this!).
Finding your seller experience location as well as your in house location/s is the first step in your new logistical journey to programming excellence. You may not realize it but you’re you’re taking the first steps to being a well organized and thoughtful staff and community member. Go forth with confidence and proudly accomplish your first logistical steps in this journey. You’re going to rock this!
Next up – The When
So you’ve spent some time thinking about what this camp will mean to both you and your teens by now, The WHY behind creating it at all. GOOD JOB! I firmly believe that unless you walk the walk your teens won’t truly connect with this camp.
Now to figure out the WHO… That might not seem like the next logical step, if you’re like me you’re thinking you need to design the camp and then find people who fit the bill. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) all our communties are TOTALLY different and there’s no guarantee that when you’re working on the branding exercises for Week 1 that you’ll know a branding specialist. So why start there? Instead, hit the pavement! Go to your local craft markets, your local Etsy team meetings, your local small,creative businesses and talk up this idea!
I know, I know… You’re thinking to yourself “WHAT IDEA!?! What the heck, lady, you haven’t told us what this even IS yet!” Just trust me (and be a little bit patient…). You’ve just put in the work of why the camp should exist. Once you finnd community members who like this idea and want to have a stake in it the pieces will naturally fall together. Here in Chattanooga we’re big fans of telling folks “Don’t do what we do. Do what’s right for YOUR community.” and this is no exception to that rule.
A natural place to start looking is by reaching out to local Etsy Sellers. You can search for these folks by hopping onto Etsy’s website and searching the Teams area for your city’s name, your state’s name or something else specific to where you live or the topic you’re looking to highlight. If you have the equipment to have folks skype in or video chat in some other way your speaker options can be limitless!
Beyond that think abut who owns the cool vintage clothings shops or who’s always selling at the farmer’s market? Who’s successful in graphic design, creating the best shop storefronts, or has the best local packaging? If these people aren’t in your own town that’s okay too, reaching out to a more global audience of speakers can show how the same ideas work for people all over the state/country/globe! Who do you know??? Time to reach out to just about everyone!
If you’re looking for some talking points for these interactions here you go:
- I’m creating a camp for local teens to learn how to start and run their own small, creative businesses from the ground up.
- I’m looking for local business owners, artists and creatives who would like to come speak to the teens on a wide variety of topics.
- It doesn’t matter if you’re Donald Trump, you just have to be willing to give 20 minutes to these teens to share: Your Story, Your Process or Your Talent. Having multiple voices from our community strengthens the teens’ learning experience and backs up the ideas they’ll be working on in a way that just one librarian can’t!
- I’m recruiting well in advance of the camp so there will be plenty of time to solidify schedules that work for folks. We’re finding our talent before we create our schedule so that it works for everyone.
- The general topics of the camp will be (I know you’ve been dying for these!!!):
Week 1 – Inspiration, Ethical Sourcing of Materials, Finding Your Brand
Week 2 – Brand Identity & Packaging
Week 3 – Pricing, Writing & Photography
Week 4 – Booth Displays & Stage Presence
Week 5 – A Selling Experience (Field Trip!!!)
Week 6 – Masters Class for Families on How To Open an Etsy Shop
EditSo maybe now that you’ve seen the topics for each week of camp you’ve already spawned some ideas about who would be perfect, go talk to them! Tell them why you think they’re perfect!
Your goal until the next post is to try and find at least 1 speaker per day. If you can find multiples it will only strengthen what you’re creating. Many times these speakers will be interested in coming for a half day or a whole day to see what camp is all about. (In fact, many of the speakers collected the handouts and articles we used to use on their own shops later. SO validating!) If this interests them then let them hang out as long as they want! They seem to want to dip in and out of the exercises your teens will be working on offering advice and personal experience that adds a meaningful depth to the camp.
It. Is. Priceless.
When you’ve got folks who are interested let them know that you’ll soon be following up with details about where and when the camp will be. And that’s exactly what we’ll talk about in the next post – The Where.
Okay, a little truthful background – I didn’t even really know what I was creating at first.
I knew I had the beginning of a good idea. I knew it would cover multiple kinds of education. I knew the Etsy name would raise the bar for both expectations of my content and the teen’s end results. I was just compelled to create and see what shape it would take on.
When I came to Chattanooga last fall I was given the green light to simply follow that course and discover what my fledgling Etsy program would become.
Through continuing design tweaks it became apparent that one off programs wouldn’t work. To effectively host a product photography workshop teens would already need to have their shops open. To offer a workshop on packaging they would need to have a clear understanding of both their brand and their intended customer base. It was obvious that the way to go was to run a camp on how to start a small business using solid building blocks- understanding what drives your creativity, defining a solid brand, honing in on the audience for your product, doing the hard work to understand how to price your items for both wholesale and retail, and SO much more.
I had a goal. I would create a camp to teach the basics of starting a business to teens. Then I would teach them how to open an Etsy shop! Ooh! AND I could give them a chance to sell their stuff! Like everything else I do I was already thinking BIG.
This story may sound familiar to you. Maybe you’ve wanted to teach small business classes to teens as the debate of “is college really worth the cost” swirls around us. Maybe you’ve wanted to take your craft program to the next level by teaching your talented teens how their skill actually carries a monetary value. Or, maybe you’re like me and both of those are true as well as your belief that the world would be a better place had we all been given the opportunity to let our creative growth flourish along with our academic growth.
Imagine a world where your lawyer is a macrame master on the side. Where you accountant is also an oil painter who appreciates landscapes. Where beauty and imagination are just as important as earnings and the bottom line.
I firmly believe that by encouraging this age group to take responsibility for their artistic growth during a time when society is telling them they can only be serious about academics, sports or earning money will result in a healthier future for us all.
This post marks the first in a series I’ll be doing about how to run your own version of Camp EtsyNooga. And just like the camp it starts by understanding why you want to do it. So re-read the reasons I just gave, sit down with a pad of paper and hot cup of whatever and mull it over, or talk to some of your trusted teens about what they think. Whatever you do to brainstorm start there and be honest with yourself. If there’s no passion behind a program like this it just won’t work.
Coming up next- The Who