Seashore Design Studio


This page is an adaptation of a blog post titled "Community over Competition" published on a previous version of the Seashore Design Studio website.

In the small business world*, it’s all too easy to get caught up in a scaled down version of the corporate rat race. Do more! Spend more! Say more! Do whatever it takes to get ahead of the pack and get those views and sales!

* who am I kidding? I run a micro business. Many of us run a micro business. And there’s no shame in monetizing something you’re uncommonly good at, work that hustle!

To a certain extent, it’s necessary. The effort, time, and money need to be invested in order to make a return.

But the demands of being a one-person show, and the pressure to perform can drain the joy out of it. I’ve seen many talented artists so utterly discouraged by algorithm and conversion challenges that they simply remove themselves from social media. Not always, but sometimes, there’s another way. Let’s take a look at getting that small business up and running.

Putting in the work

Well, it’s time to get started. Good products are a must. A professional presentation. Timely shipping and tidy packaging. GREAT customer service. Okay, you’re ready to go.

Except you’re not. You still need people to see you. We no longer live in an “if you build it, they will come” world, especially not in the vast ocean that is the internet. You’re but a drop. Maybe a talented drop, but a drop.

You move into the next level. The website is optimized, the social media is scheduled, the messaging consistent. Algorithms, engagement, search results. It can feel never ending.

I don’t want to say that all of that isn’t important for success, because it absolutely is. Running a business is about providing a service and making money. All the time invested has to have a financial return to make it worthwhile. And it’s very easy to fall into a competitive mindset. It can be tough to look at “us” when the bottom line is “mine”.

But, in my own personal experience, I’ve found that some of my best ideas are based upon community.

At this point I want to note that one of the most common tips I’ve seen for Instagram marketing is to find “competitors”, companies whose target market is the same as yours, and start interacting with them. In other words, hang out where your target market hangs out. It can feel weird sometimes, like you’re being told to be sneaky or go poaching, even though that’s not generally how it works.

Sometimes there are no two ways about it, you’re out of your league. You’re David up against Goliath and a lucky shot is your only chance. But sometimes…sometimes, you find yourself in a sphere with like-minded people who it just makes sense to partner with.

Seeing it in action is a beautiful thing. Some of my best ideas have been expanding ideas from ME into US.

It happens like this – I have an idea. It’s not a bad idea. I expand upon it. I realize it can get even better with the right people involved. It snowballs, in the most pleasing way. And suddenly I realize that what started as a seedling, nothing more than a snippet of potential, has grown into a mighty vine reaching to the sky. Maybe it was a magic bean all along?

At this original writing, I was in the midst of one of those situations.

What began as a simple flash sale in Seashore Design Studio Chatter blossomed into a virtual holiday shopping event with nearly 20 talented makers. I didn’t have to go looking for them either, they were all right there. Who knew I had so many ultra-talented people right there in my community?

[No, I’m joking. I absolutely knew. What am amazing crew.]

Community over competition, in practice

This is where it all comes together.

Is there such a thing as oversaturation? YES. Absolutely.

There can be too much of a good thing, and variety makes for a better shopping experience.

Do you sometimes have to look out for #1? Of course!

But. And it’s a GREAT BIG BUT. There are so many ways that even those of us who work in similar spheres can work together. Our target market is similar? Perfect. Our products are similar?! That’s fine too – we focus on our creative differences rather than similarities. We create a beautiful mutually beneficial relationship of respect and sharing, and invite like-minded people into the space we’ve created.

So now, with all that out of the way. I’d like to introduce you to some of my friends (who participated in the event mentioned above).

Wonderment Jewelry – Alicia is a fellow silversmith, and also focuses on handcrafted silver necklaces and accessories in the “mama metal” style. She accomplishes designs I can’t imagine successfully crafting.

The Clay At Home Mom – Ally makes beautiful handcrafted clay jewelry that is just too fun! Lightweight statement jewelry is very in.

Midnight Mystic Treasures – Britnae offers handmade beaded jewelry, as well as custom spell jars and crystal goodies. Who doesn’t love a good crystal tower?

The Baubled Pirate – Jen offers thoughtfully designed and carefully crafted jewelry featuring the most beautiful and interesting components. And her pairings are perfection.

Seaside Seams – Jennifer pairs phenomenal fabrics to make truly artistic, high quality purses, bags, and pouches. Adorable accessories with lots of style!

BY jm2 – Custom engraving, hand lettering, digital design…whatever catches your fancy here is sure to be a treat. Jennifer’s work is top notch.

The Rustic Boheme – Offering creative handmade gemstone jewelry, as well as a curated collection of clothing, decor, and gemstones thoughtfully chosen by proprietor Kae. So many goodies, it’s hard to choose.

Wild Wonder Co. – What doesn’t Kara do? Knit hats and booties, wood toys, clothing and decor, it’s all there. And it’s all worth looking at.

Dragon’s Horde Creations – Kristen is one of those crafters who it seems can do anything. Resin dice sets and gifts, crochet plushies and scarves, art…it’s here, and it’s awesome.

CaNy Designs – Lisa is a crafter and handweaver who makes such beautiful things. She introduced me to reusable fabric gift bags – game changer!

Luna Bear Herbals – masterfully crafted teas, tinctures, essential oil blends and more. Mae carefully considers each blend, and creates them to perfection.

Maquina 37 – Raquel is the real deal, a teacher, illustrator, writer, and crafter who does it all and does it well. We have copies of both of her coloring books, and they are a favorite around here.

Nerdy Black Mom – Rachel is a brilliant artist and a masterful book binder. There are few things as special as a handmade journal, and these are some beauties.

Joyfully Woven Textiles – Handwoven babywearing wraps and accessories and resin jewelry coming from the hands of the kind and capable Sabrina, also a caring and capable birth worker.

Litty Bird – Sara has designed a modular bag system that pairs a stylish, ergonomic strap with a choice of different bags. The strap is inspired by the principles of babywearing, and it’s such a clever, comfortable design.

The Scrap Faerie – Sara (another one!) makes beautiful scarves, accessories, and jewelry out of woven wrap fabric, plus offers other great sewn goods. So many great ideas for gifts here.

Wednesday Workshop – if you need face masks, handbags, keychains, or custom apparel, you have to visit Tae. Top notch craftsmanship and fabric choices are right here!

Rabbit Hole Handmade – weaver Sarah is offering beautiful dyed garments in gorgeous color palettes. If you’ve never considered fabric dye art, it may be time to think again.

Caught Me Crafting Co. – Deborah takes quality wrap scraps and makes all sorts of beautiful items, from cowls and bags, to keychains, scrunchies, Christmas stockings and more. Custom orders are available too!

Thanks for reading! Hope to see you around!

~ Ilana

Your bag is empty
Start shopping