Archive for July 2014

Where did Makers Anonymous come from?

With the Summer School coming up, I’ve been asked a lot recently how Makers Anonymous came about and how it got its name. So here goes.
Summer School poster

I’ve been to a lot of craft fairs and met up with a lot of makers. I’ve read books and blogs and all the available advice out there, as have most of you, yet we all have problems that we can’t get past and opportunities that we don’t quite manage to take.

It’s not a matter of more advice and it definitely isn’t about telling us to just do more. I’ve read enough blogs that leave me feeling overwhelmed and under-motivated. It’s more about having a support group who understand your joys and troubles – which is where the name Makers Anonymous came from.

And, yes, I had the same self doubts that we all have: was I “proper” enough? Who am I to run something like this? Would anyone come?

The reason that I thought I could do it was that my ‘past life’ had given me access to an unusual amount of training and broad experience: coaching colleagues to grow and gain confidence; facilitating a technique called group coaching; training on better decision making, leadership and project management. My work was to help organisations get better at quality, efficiency and risk management. And before that I worked at a supermarket managing national marketing campaigns. I thought about the way my coaching had worked and wanted to create a space like that, where you could think again about areas you’d got stuck on and leave feeling recharged.

It couldn’t have worked without an affordable venue and when Charlotte at Fox and the Magpie said that we should hold it there, I had a plan! We sat down and worked out what kind of thing MA should be: how long should a session be, how often should we meet, would it be ongoing or a set programme… Charlotte was awesome and really supportive in sharing the risk, spreading the word, and working with some of her other partners to include taster sessions on photography (thanks Geoff!) and finance (thanks Becca!). Most importantly, someone else thought I could do it.

I brainstormed all the things I wish I’d known when I started up, then thought through all the ways I’d found my training useful in solving my problems. Key to Makers Anonymous is that the learning is interactive and then the second half of each session is all about trying it for yourself.

Makers Anonymous has been a really positive experience. Every session is different and, as host, I can flex what we do to how much people already know and what problems they want to work on together. I love that I’ve been able to use old skills in a new context. On our first taster session, group coaching solved a problem in sales conversion rates that had seemed impossible… in just twenty minutes group work! Another maker managed to fix their social media ‘addiction’, which was taking up far too much time, on their first session with the group.

A common comment is how the group has helped us see our businesses in a new light. It’s also been great networking: I got a part time marketing job! I found a workshop. I made new friends. And I’ve got help back from the group for my business too.

Here’s what our makers have said:

Informative and relaxed with lots of good positive ideas from a lovely bunch of people.
It was a brilliant night. I’m full of optimism and ideas now!
the programme looks excellent, it is going to be such a valuable resource for everyone who comes along
It was a lovely, productive, supportive and informative evening – thank you Lucy

With thanks to Dawn at Fabrication, we can bring the group to people who couldn’t make it out to Shipley, or who can’t do evening sessions. We’ll be right in the centre of Leeds for three Wednesdays starting on the 6th August. I’m rewriting the course so it works in the new format and I can’t wait to see how it differs from the evening sessions, it’ll all depend on who comes and what they want to bring to the group.

We’re hoping for a rerun in the New Year and may well repeat the Summer School three day intensive in October for anyone worried about being ready for Christmas sales.

If you’ve got a bit excited, book online here. If you’re curious, join our facebook group and see what we’ve been up to.

My commute

It’s a sunny day and I’ve been feeling lucky, so I thought I’d share some pics of my commute from the new workshop, which is a ten minute walk from where I live. Here’s Q20 from the outside, looking rather perky with all those petunias.
commute1 Q20 in sunlight


I slip down this little alleyway, which occasionally gets shut off when the swans decide to nest there.



All along here are blowsy pink purple wild buddleia, burdock and thistles. Love that heathery-pink colour…



… along with elder, raspberries and blackberries in reach…



At the other end is my favourite bridge, built for barge horses rather than me.




It’s next to a shallow pool off the main canalway, currently teeming with small fish, pond skaters and iridescent blue damselflies.



Just look at the shapes of the cobbles on the bridge, I’ve used them in my prints before because they’re all the same and all different.



As I was taking photos, this runner said “If I’d known you were coming, I’d have brushed my hair!” This is the view over to Shipley and my favourite ‘mid century modern’ market clock tower.



The beach mast is growing well, love those little leaves!



With summer light, the pool becomes a mirror to the lovely branch shapes



Coming back to civilisation, I go under the Leeds train line, surrounded by curls of bracken and rivets the size of 50p coins.



But even here, the trees offer another view. So many greens and how lovely ash trees make the light.



Lastly, on my way up the hill, the stone wall is covered in ivy. With the distinctive shape and those emerald greens, purples and reds, ivy keeps sneaking in all over my work.


Happy sunny day to you all x