"Relax" Day 10 of the March Meet the Maker Challenge March 10 2018
This March Meet the Maker challenge has been tough to keep up with! As an introvert, I’m not a fan of meeting new people, big gatherings, or social media in general. I love to share what I do, which is why I’m on Instagram, but there’s a reason why I spend all day, every day working alone.
Living in the woods, I spend most of my off time hiking, trail running, skiiing, or laying in my hammock. I’m also a huge fan of yard work and can’t wait for spring! Basically anything, as long as I’m outside.
Here’s a quick photo from this morning, which I took to show just how sad our puppy was looking in his backpack while we were out snowshoeing. We also built a snowman in the woods! I wonder if anyone else will ever see it.
"Workspace" Day 6 of the March Meet the Maker Challenge March 06 2018
A few views of my studio for March Meet the Maker day 6! This is the third official studio I’ve had and it’s definitely my favorite!
I've always had a corner of my apartment that I could work in, ever since I finished grad school and actually had the time to work on creative things. My first official studio was when I moved from Boston to Lowell, a couple of years before I founded Loomination. It was in Appleton Mills, a gigantic former textile mill converted into small loft-style apartments. I was living alone, so it made it feasible for me to use the living space as a studio.
After spending a couple of years in Appleton Mills, I moved to the Western Avenue Lofts with my fiance. Just a month later, I founded Loomination and became a full-time artisan. A former tannery, Western Avenue consists of two buildings, one with workspaces that host 250 artists and the other, 50 live/work lofts. Our loft was gigantic, at 1500 square feet it was larger than the house we now call home. It was perfect as a workspace, with lots of natural light and expansive 15 foot ceilings, but it was difficult to live in. With concrete floors that were part of the original mill, they had nails sticking out and old stains and never, ever came clean. Without walls, there was no privacy and it was hard to relax when both the living space and the bedroom overlooked the workspace. The best part of living at Western Avenue was the amazing and supportive community of artists, many of whom I now count as my friends.
After a few years at Western Avenue, we moved to Westminster, in central Massachusetts in the Worcester hills. Living at the base of Mount Wachusett, we are in the middle of the woods, in a tiny mountain town that is mostly state forest. My studio space, our second bedroom, is a little bit on the small side for the kind of work I do, but it's wonderful to be able to shut the door at the end of the workday and to have an entire house to come home to.
New Loomination Tags! January 06 2018
Since I started Loomination in 2013, each piece has had a logo tag sewn in. They are tags that I had custom embroidered that I sew on to the back of each piece.
I ordered the same tags a few times, until last November, when I decided it was time for a change! The tags take a little bit of time to sew in and they add stitching that is visible on the front side of the piece.
I spent some time designing a double-sided fold-over tag. It took a lot of back and forth with my supplier, but I finally got a design proof and my new tags went into production at the beginning of December.
They just came in last week, and I couldn't be more happy with how they came out! There's a large seam allowance, so I am able to easily sew them in a hem. This takes away a whole step of production for me and makes it so that there's no extra stitching showing through to the front.
But the best part is the back! Each tag shows the fiber content and care instructions and tells how and where it's made. Handwoven + Handmade in Massachusetts! I have always included care instructions with my work, but it's so amazing to have it on there permanently, so that no one will ever forget how easy my pieces are to care for.
2017: A Year in Review December 31 2017
A review of the top nine Instagram posts on my profile @loominationstudio. These are the favorite posts liked by my followers in 2017. Come on over to Instagram to see updates from Loomination each day and keep on reading for a summary of each image.
1. Proposal at the loom! My Instagram followers were as excited that I was that my fiance proposed! We're planning our wedding for May 2018.
2. Giant selection of handwoven bamboo scarves! A close up of the scarves on my display at Crafts at Purchase, in Purchase, NY at SUNY Purchase in October 2017.
3. Photo taken by Kind Goods, a shop in Maynard, MA, of their new shipment of Loomination scarves.
4. And even more scarves! This photo was taken in my studio, while I was sewing tags into the scarves
5. Another one from Crafts at Purchase! This one is of my corner booth, which was a bit of a challenge to design, since I very rarely set up my space in a corner. But I love my indoor booth display, especially my awesome fake wood floor.
6. AND MORE SCARVES! It's a bit ironic how much love my scarves have gotten on Instagram, since they are the pieces I spend the least amount of time making. I'm almost always making my home decor pieces. Maybe 2018 will be the year to start designing new scarves! This photo was taken in February at NY NOW at the Javits Center
7. A section of my booth at the Central Pennsylvania Arts Festival in State College, PA in July. With a huge display of my newly designed pillows!
8. Another one from Kind Goods, Maynard! This photo shows their display of my work, which first landed on their shelves back in September.
9. The OFFICIAL shot of my new studio in Westminster, MA! This one was taken after my studio was finally all set up, with all the boxes unpacked, the curtains hung, and all the art on the walls.
Loomination on the Cultivations Blog December 28 2017
Cultivations is a carefully curated collection of handmade goods. They have been representing Loomination on their website for over a year and I have been honored to be a part of such a vibrant, inspiring group of artisans. Holly, the founder of Cultivations, recently visited my studio and featured it on the Cultivations blog.
It's a beautiful, bright sunny day when we make the trip to visit weaver Leanne Tremblay at her home studio.
We couldn't have planned a better day for a long drive through rural Massachusetts. Every bend in the long, winding country roads serves to settle us into our new surroundings - a welcome departure from the busy streets of Boston, where we started our drive. Finally, as we wind our way toward the foot of Mount Wachusett, we reach Leanne's Westminster, Massachusetts home, nestled back from the street.
Read the full blog post here, on Cultivations.
Success! Trademark Application Received December 13 2017
After four years working under the name Loomination, I have decided to file a trademark application. So hopefully soon Loomination will be Loomination®! And by soon, I mean in 8-12 months, because that's how long it takes for a trademark application to be processed.
So why did I decide to file a trademark application? The main reason is that I have put a lot of time and work into building the Loomination brand, so it's become necessary to try and own the name, so that no one will ever be able to take it from me. Luckily, no one else has registered Loomination as a trademark. There is another company that has a name that is fairly similar, but they are in another industry, so I am fairly confident that my application will be approved.
Filing a trademark application is pretty easy. I read up about it online and there is so much information out there. The US Patent and Trademark Office suggests that you hire a lawyer, though, so I looked into that. But when I emailed a lawyer who specializes in trademarks and works with artists and independent designers, they quoted me a price so high, that I thought I'd give it a try myself.
It took me about an hour to file the application. Most of that time was spent looking back and finding the information they were asking for. They asked questions like the exact date when I first used the name Loomination and the exact date when I first used the name in commerce. It was a fairly straightforward application and most of the information I had to fill out was information that I would have had to supply to a lawyer, had I decided to hire one.
So now that I've filed, what's next? In about three months, I will be assigned an examining attorney by the US Patent and Trademark Office who will go over my application to make sure that it meets all legal requirements. From what I've read on their website, the USPTO will be in contact with me if there are issues with my application. It sounds like if I made any mistakes on there, then there will be opportunities to correct them. Fingers crossed that I did it all right and that my application will be approved! Stay tuned, as I'll be updating the blog with the progress of my application.
New Pillow Designs! July 21 2017
Finally time for a new design! I spend most of my time making and remaking the same designs, so it's a rare occasion that I get to try something new. I've had this particular pillow design on my mind for the last few months, since I made one for my bed back in January, when I had a bit of spare warp on my loom.
Pillow weaving in progress in hunter green. After weaving, I removed the fabric from the loom, washed and dried it to preshrink, and sewed a hidden YKK zipper inside. The pillow insert can be quickly removed and the pillow cover can be thrown right in the washer and dryer for easy cleaning.
Finished pillows on display at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, in State College, PA last week! I really love how they came out, but I'm already coming up for improvements for my next batch. I also have a few new designs that I can't wait to try out, so stay tuned for lots more pillows!
Best Nine of 2016! December 31 2016
At year's end, there's an app that will go through all your Instagram posts for the year and pull out the ones that your followers liked the most. These are mine! Want to see more? Follow along on my Instagram @loominationstudio. Keep reading for details on each image!
1. My new studio in Westminster, MA! In July, my boyfriend got a new job in central MA, and we started house hunting shortly after. It was a longer process than we thought it would be, but by the end of October we had closed on our new home! We had some cleaning and repairs and painting to do and it was right before my biggest show of the year, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, so we didn't move in until mid-November! My new studio is the front bedroom of our antique farmhouse, overlooking the street, so I can see all the goings on in our tiny mountain town.
2. A new shipment came in of my Loomination tags. These woven logo tags are individually sewn in to each piece I make!
3. Custom lavender sachets for the Philadelphia Museum of Art Museum Stores. I created these sachets for the special exhibitions museum store, for the exhibition Embracing the Contemporary: The Keith L. and Katherine Sachs Collection. They were inspired by modern art pieces in the collection, specifically the Ellsworth Kelly paintings.
4. Yarn organization in my new studio!
5. Giant stack of bamboo scarves. Working with bamboo is a lot like working with cotton, but once the finished cloth is wet finished - washed and dried - it transforms itself into an amazing silky shiny piece with incredible drape.
6. Tea towels on the loom! I love looking at the accumulation of fabric on my cloth beam, which shows the progress I've made for the day.
7. Tea towel pyramid at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show. I display my tea towels with samples on a rack and then I package up the rest of them like this for customers to take home.
8. A Loomination image made it's way onto this entryway graphic at CraftBoston Holiday! Look in the bottom right for the tea towel with blueberries.
9. A finished pile of Loomination tea towels ready to package and send off to their new homes!
Running a Business from Home May 12 2016
My studio is a live/work loft, an open-plan room that is half work studio, half home to myself, my partner, and our nine year old Chihuahua. It's got it's perks - I can work whenever I want - and it's drawbacks - it's hard to physically separate myself from my workspace - but economically, it makes the most sense for me right now. After working from home everyday for the past 2 1/2 years, I've got a lot to say on the subject.
Check out this article that I've been quoted in by The Hip Horticulturalist, Running a business from a garden shed or log cabin. Those shed and cabin folks have it easy! I wish I had a space that was more delineated between living and working spaces.
"We get a lot of customers purchasing garden sheds and log cabins to then transform into a home office.
As working from home is such a huge jump for anyone to make, we’ve contacted some accomplished business owners and entrepreneurs who do work from home to gain some top tips on how to do it successfully." continue reading here
Loomination in today's Boston Globe Magazine! April 24 2016
Loomination is in the Boston Globe Magazine today! The article Boston career changers can find plenty of helping hands is by Jonathan Fitzgerald, who wrote about programs for people who are starting their own businesses or are under- or unemployed. He came to visit me in my workspace and a few days later, I was visited by Globe photographer Jonathan Wiggins, who took this great shot of me at work. Click here for the full article.
CraftBoston Spring is Coming! April 02 2016
As I write this, it is April 2, and we're expecting a snowstorm. April Fools was yesterday, right? I thought so too..... There's no denying, however, that spring has finally come to New England! At least it should be here in time for our first time at CraftBoston, at the end of the month. It's such a wonderful show in a fabulous location whose venue, the Cyclorama, is itself is a work of art. Here's a little bit about the show! Spoiler alert: We'll also be at CraftBoston Holiday at the Hynes Convention Center in December!
CraftBoston Spring is a juried show of contemporary craft, featuring the work of 90 artists creating today's most remarkable handmade jewelry, clothing, furniture, and home decor. Shoppers will discover a a panorama of inspiring craft in the South End's historic Cyclorama — a charming 19th-century brick building that provides an intimate viewing experience. Spend a Spring afternoon learning about contemporary craft, meeting the artists, and finding something fabulous to take home. Just in time for Mother's Day!
Friday April 29, 2016, 10am-6pm
Saturday April 30, 2016, 10am-6pm
Sunday May 1, 2016, 11am-5pm
The Cyclorama at The Boston Center for the Arts
539 Tremont St.
Boston, Massachusetts 02216
Discounted Admission - 2 ways to save
Online: Purchase tickets here and use coupon code SPRINGSAVINGS for $3 off.
At the Door: Show this coupon at admission. No need to print, just show on screen.
Holiday Shipping Deadline: Monday, December 21, 9am December 17 2015
Thinking about ordering a holiday gift online? Please order by 9am on Monday, December 21st to ensure delivery on or before December 24th. If you're reading this after that time, please email us at email@example.com as to what you would like to order and we can work with you on rush shipping options. We know that if you're not able to order from us, you'll need to find that gift elsewhere, so we will be checking our email frequently and will get back to you ASAP.
Loomination is an American Made Finalist! September 21 2015
We're thrilled to announce that Loomination has been named a Martha Stewart American Made finalist by Martha and the executive editorial team of Martha Stewart Living!
Each year, Martha and the editors at Martha Stewart Living honor makers, small-business owners, and creative entrepreneurs in the fields of crafts, design, food, and style. These makers are recognized for their dedication to creating beautiful, quality products and building successful business and communities.
In addition to the Martha Stewart American Made honorees selected by our editors, one Audience Choice Winner will be chosen by our audience.
Click here to vote for Loomination for the Audience Choice Award!
You can place six votes per day every day until voting ends on October 23.
The Craft Festival at Fruitlands September 21 2015
The Craft Festival at Fruitlands
Saturday, September 26, 2015, 10am-4pm
Sunday, September 27, 2015, 11am-4pm
102 Prospect Hill Rd, Harvard, MA
Local artisans will fill the field at Fruitlands Museum for the fifth annual Craft Festival. Jewelry, photography, pottery, fiber arts, mixed media, and more!
Admission: $5 members, $10 nonmembers, kids under 12 free
Includes admission to the museum galleries and trails
Held rain or shine under a large tent!
First Fall Date at the SOWA Open Market! September 12 2015
SoWa Open Market
Sunday, September 20, 2015, 10am-4pm
460 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA
Our first date at the SOWA Open Market!
We'll also be there on October 4th, 18th, & 25th!
The South End Open Market @ SoWa sets up on Sundays, May through October in a compact three block area along Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End. The food trucks are located at 540 Harrison Ave. Every week, 15 to 20 food trucks serve up a variety of mobile cuisines, ranging from grilled cheese sandwiches to brick oven pizza to organic, healthy eats. The Farmers Market is located at 500 Harrison Ave, featuring a mouth watering assortment of locally grown produce, flowers, plants, and gourmet specialty foods. The Arts Market is located at the end of Thayer Street and is a mecca for all things handmade. Only the best of the region’s makers and designers are accepted to the market, resulting in a carefully curated selection of well crafted, innovative, fun and funky art and craft.
Codman Estate Fine Arts & Crafts Festival August 23 2015
Our first show of the fall! Join us at the beautiful Codman Estate in Lincoln, MA, just steps from Walden Pond. We're in booth #76, which is right near the entrance to the historic house. Tour the house for free when you attend the Festival!
This annual event features the work of more than 100 artisans, including painting, pottery, photography, jewelry, glass, fiber art, metalworking, woodworking, clothing, food wares, and folk art. Visitors can enjoy live entertainment, food vendors, and Codman Estate tours.
Once called "the handsomest place in America," this country estate was home to five generations of the Codman family. The sixteen-acre grounds feature a hidden turn-of-the-century Italian garden with perennial beds, statuary, and a reflecting pool filled with water lilies.
Codman Estate Fine Arts & Crafts Festival
September 12, 2015, 10am-4pm
34 Codman Road, Lincoln, MA
Free for Historic New England members and kids under 12, nonmembers $5
Featured Today on the Art Star Blog! July 07 2015
Art Star Craft Bazaar in Asbury Park
Saturday, July 25th, 11-7pm + Sunday, July 26th, 11-5pm
1300 Ocean Ave
Asbury Park, NJ
As a vendor at Art Star Craft Bazaar in Asbury Park, I've been featured on their blog! Some fun info about me and my work along with photos:
Excerpt: "I’m Leanne Tremblay, the weaver behind Loomination, based in Lowell, MA. I fell in love with weaving as an art student and bought my first loom right after grad school, almost 10 years ago. After working in arts and nonprofit administration for several years, I took my business full time in the fall of 2013." Read the full blog feature here.
Shop our first annual studio sale! March 04 2015
Discounts of 30-70% on select handwoven pieces
We're gearing up for spring with lots of new pieces and a complete line of home decor! Help us make room for our new inventory by shopping our first annual studio sale. See where we work and shop the deepest discounts of the year.
Saturday, March 7, 12-5pm, during Western Avenue Open Studios
Western Avenue Loft #116
160 Western Ave, Lowell, MA
The first Saturday of every month is Open Studios at Western Avenue Studios & Lofts, home to over 300 artists. Each month, about 100 studios are open for open studios, with media ranging from original paintings to hand blown glass. Come shop our sale and then visit the spaces where artists work and see what they've been up to over this long winter. Lots of free parking!
Can't make it to our studio? Shop select sale pieces online!
Enjoy free shipping using discount code SALE at checkout. Through 3/15/15.
Holiday Shipping Deadline - Friday, December 19th December 16 2014
Place your holiday orders by midnight on Friday, December 19th for December 24th delivery. Overnight shipping is available after the 19th - email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a rush shipping quote.
Worcester Center for Crafts Holiday Festival! November 23 2014
The Worcester Center for Crafts is a non-profit, independent, community based arts organization, committed to providing quality craft education, supporting entrepreneurship in the arts, and promoting an appreciation for fine craft. An amazing organization, their Holiday Festival of Crafts is not to be missed!
Looking for something to do with your visiting relatives over Thanksgiving weekend? This is the perfect place to take them. Get a start on your holiday shopping while supporting local artists!
This is only Loomination's second time participating in this incredible event, but it's certainly one of our favorites!
When: Friday, November 28, 10am-5pm
Saturday, November 29, 10am-5pm
Sunday, November 30, 11am-4pm
Where: Worcester Center for Crafts, 25 Sagamore Road, Worcester, MA
Info: click here
First Ever BUST Craftacular IN BOSTON! November 17 2014
We've always wanted to try the BUST Holiday Craftacular, but since it's in Brooklyn, it's a bit of a trip from northern Massachusetts. So we're very excited that for the first time ever they are bringing Craftacular to us, right here in Boston!
From knitwear and jewelry to home décor and specialty foods, the BUST Holiday Craftacular Boston is the one-stop shop for the very best in handmade gifts and wares.BUST is bringing 120+ crafters, vintage sellers, and food artisans together for a one day shopping, eating, and DIY-ing extravaganza in the heart of Boston’s South End neighborhood.
If you're not familiar with BUST Magazine, here's a little about them and their mission: With an attitude that is fierce, funny, and proud to be female, BUST provides an uncensored view on the female experience. BUST tells the truth about women's lives and presents a female perspective on pop culture. BUSTing stereotypes about women since 1993.
When: Saturday, November 22, 11am-6pm
Where: Cyclorama, 539 Tremont St, Boston, MA
Info: click here
CRAFTOPIA, yay! November 10 2014
CRAFTOPIA is a twice yearly, carefully curated, festive day of art, crafts, food and fun held in the beautiful main corridor of Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
CRAFTOPIA hosts approx. 60 unique and eclectic artisans selling handmade art and craft. There will be free parking and food trucks!
Loomination is excited to be participating in another great CRAFTOPIA! This is the premier holiday craft event in Rhode Island and a great place to begin your holiday shopping.
When: Sunday, November 16, 10am-4pm
Where: Hope Artiste Village, 1005 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI
Info: click here
The Vintage Bazaar Holiday Jubliee! November 01 2014
The first ever Vintage Bazaar holiday show, the Holiday Jubilee is on it's way! This 3-day holiday inspired show will be on November 7th, 8th and 9th. The show will take place at Pettengill Farm inside beautifully decorated (and heated) tents and greenhouses. Over 80 vendors will WOW you with their holiday themed displays, great vintage finds and unique treasures. Come, be inspired and kick off the holiday season “bazaar style”!
One of Loomination's favorite shows, this is the third one we're participating in during 2014! Loomination's owner and founder, Leanne Tremblay, celebrates her birthday on November 7th. Visit the Loomination booth at the Vintage Bazaar and wish her a Happy Birthday and you get a free gift! (while supplies last)
When: Friday, November 7, 3-8pm (early bird)
Saturday, November, 8, 10am-6pm
Sunday, November 9, 10am-4pm
Where: Pettengill Farm, 45 Ferry Rd, Salisbury, MA
Info: click here
Vintage Bazaar this Weekend! September 18 2014
At the Vintage Bazaar over 130 outdoor ’boutiques’ feature antiques, vintage finds, architectural salvage, rusty junk, repurposed goodness, indie crafts and one-of-a-kind artisans. This weekend festival also offers unique fare, live music, free family-friendly activities, special guest appearances and fun demonstrations.
One of my favorite shows every season, I sometimes wish I wasn't a vendor so that I can wander around and shop. For special events over the weekend, on Saturday morning there's a Vintage Fashion VIP Event and on Sunday there will be a Vintage Motorcycle Show. So much to see and do!
Date: Saturday & Sunday, September 20 & 21
Time: 10am-5pm, Early Birds at 8:30am Saturday
Place: Pettengill Farm, 45 Ferry Rd, Salisbury, MA
Info: click here
Our First Lexington Famer's Market! September 14 2014
The Lexington Farmers Market works to help the local farming industry remain vibrant, educate our community about healthy eating, maintain a sustainable environment, and provide a social experience that helps build community.
It was named the Best of Boston Farmers Market in 2010 by Boston Magazine and is a truly wonderful local market. Each week, the market hosts four artisans and I am thrilled that I have been selected to participate this year!
Date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Place: Mass Ave & Woburn Ave, Lexington, MA
Info: click here
Loomination will also be participating in the Lexington Farmers Market on Tuesday, September 30, Tuesday, October 7, and Tuesday October 14, 2014.
Local is for Lovers Market, Sunday, September 14, 2014 September 13 2014
The Local is for Lovers Market is hosted by Somerville Local First, an organization that works to build a sustainable local economy and vibrant community in Somerville, MA.
Amazing local crafters and businesses will be in attendance, along with demonstrations and live music. Located just outside Somerville's Porter Square, this market is not to be missed!
Date: Sunday, September 14, 2014
Place: Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA
Info: click here
chic evening September 12 2014
TGIF! What are you wearing out tonight?
The first hint of fall is finally in the air, but you don't want to carry around a jacket all evening that you might not even need. Add an openweave scarf to your evening look and keep that chill at bay while looking stylish and chic.
1. Flowing Blouse 2. Skinny Jeans 3. Loomination Double Infinity Scarf 4. Metal Mesh Clutch 5. Caress Pump
The Squam Art Fair is this Saturday, September 13, 2014! September 09 2014
The Squam Art Fair is a whirlwind of inspiration. Mix together the magic of a vintage shop feel, one of a kind goodies, and the creative spirits of all in attendance and you've got yourself a memorable evening at the lake.
Part of it is obviously the amazing vendors who are on hand with their exquisite one-of-a-kind hand made goods, but it is also a time for gathering with wonderful people from near and far. A true celebration of spirit and creativity.
Located at the Rockywold Deephaven Camps on Squam Lake in Holderness, NH, Squam Art Fair is a creative oasis in the woods of New Hampshire.
Date: Saturday, September 13, 2014
Place: Rockywold Deephaven Camps, 18 Bacon Road, Holderness, NH
Info: click here
photos by: christine chitnis
casual fall September 08 2014
In New England many of us get excited for the transition from summer to fall, especially when it comes to fall fashion. If you're like me, then you probably start piling on the layers at the first hint of a chill in the air, even when it's still too warm. Give your causal summer style a fall update by adding an openweave scarf. Toss it on as you run out the door on your errands for a look that keeps you cool while giving a nod to the coming fall.
1.Linen Blend Tank 2.Boyfriend Jean 3.Loomination Double Infinity Scarf 4.Veronica Hobo 5.Plimsole Sneaker
summer to fall work attire August 28 2014
Seasonal transitions are always difficult to dress for. How can you keep warm without getting too hot? As fall quickly approaches, add a bright openweave scarf to ward off the morning chill on your way to work.
Adult Sized Sandbox: Accelerating My Business June 14 2014
For years I've been working hard on my line of textiles. I began showing at craft fairs and selling my work at galleries and boutiques in 2010, but it wasn't until the fall of 2012 that I stopped making handbags, fiber jewelry, and knitwear and began to focus exclusively on handweaving. Since then I've been working on putting together a line with a cohesive aesthetic and I've finally gotten to the point where I'm confident with where my work is going.
One of my first booth designs!
My First Pitch Contest: Merrimack Valley Sandbox April 18 2014
In early February, I applied for the Consumer Ideas Pitch Contest at the Merrimack Valley Sandbox. It was an easy application - about a dozen not-so-easy questions to answer on an online form. I wasn’t sure my craft business was what they were looking for, but I knew some other craftspeople who had done it, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.
They chose about fifteen businesses to participate in the pitch contest. Each business would set up a table for the networking portion of the evening and seven would pitch their ideas. There was also a wild card selection - a name drawn from among the remaining table presenters who would be invited to pitch on the spot.
Handwoven Throw Rug in Process
The next week there was a workshop at the Sandbox on pitching our ideas. About five of us participated and I was very impressed with the other businesses. Everyone had wonderful ideas and they were all great at speaking about them. We were given a worksheet which described the five points the judges would be scoring on in order to select a winner. I left feeling inspired, if a bit overwhelmed.
The pitch contest, scheduled for the following week, was snowed out. More time to work on my pitch, right? More like, more time to psych myself out. I was having trouble coming up with all the information I needed to cover the five points and decided not to go for the wild card. I decided that I would present my business at my table, listen to the other pitches, but I wouldn’t put my name in the hat. One step at a time!
My usual table display
On the day of the pitch contest, my table looked great. I’ve set up for literally hundreds of craft shows, so making a good display comes naturally to me. As I was networking, people kept telling me that they couldn’t wait to hear my pitch. I explained that I was just a table presenter and wasn’t pitching. A few people asked why I wasn’t trying for the wild card. I didn’t really have a good answer for them. “I’m not really ready,” was the best I could come up with, which sounded lame, even to me.
As we watched the pitches, I was amazed. The ideas were all equally innovative and interesting, but the presentations were all so different. Some people were really confident presenters, others were nervous and kept losing their train of thought. I have serious stage fright and while one part of my brain was saying “I’m so glad I’m not up there,” another part was like, “I could totally do that.”
As it turned out, only six of the seven presenters had been able to make it that night, so they were choosing TWO wild cards. Only a few of the table presenters had put their name in the hat, so they all had really good chances of being picked. It was mentioned several times over the course of the night that wild cards had won prizes in the past.
Double Infinity Scarf, one of the pieces I brought with me to the pitch contest
As the first wild card was presenting, I decided to throw my name in the hat. I figured if I did it, then at least I would feel like I had put in the effort. A phrase I’ve heard repeatedly is that people tend to regret the things they didn’t do, rather than the things they did. I didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity and regret my choice. It’s not like they were going to actually pick me.
They picked me!
The good thing about presenting on the spot is that you have no time to get nervous. Seconds after they called my name, a microphone was in my hand and I was up there talking. I hadn’t practiced my pitch, but I had spent a few hours on the worksheet and knew what I wanted to say. I know I missed some things, but I did the best I could.
As the judges went out to do their deliberations, people kept congratulating me on what I great job I did. I was still in shock. I knew that words had come out of my mouth, but I couldn’t remember what they were.
A few minutes later, the judges were back and the prizes were being announced. They announced third prize first and….
I WON! Wow. Five. Hundred. Dollars!
I really can’t describe how wonderful I felt. The best feeling was that I had gone up there, taken a shot, and done it - seized the opportunity.
Since the pitch contest, I have had some amazing opportunities. I was the featured entrepreneur at one of the Sandbox’s weekly Entrepreneur Meetups and have appeared on the Friends of Kevin Radio Show. I’m also working on my application to the summer Accelerator Program (due May 1!), which helps early stage businesses through workshops and mentorships.