Talking about the plight of those in rural areas yesterday got me thinking about how the world is changing and what a blessing that is going to be for some. Human creativity and ingenuity is a magnificent thing. Thanks to endless creativity a lot of people are continually coming up with the most wonderful notions and, thanks to the internet, they are finding ways to put them into action.
One of the things that is most exciting about the work I do – as a print and web designer – is that I get to work with some amazing people. When I first started my design business I knew that I wanted to keep my prices such that regular folks could use my services if they wanted to start a business of their own. Over the years this has been a blessing for me as it has brought me lots of business and contact with some of the most interesting people you could ask for – many of whom I’ve never actually met in person.
This week I put up a web site for a woman who is local and a friend who had a great idea. She is a lovely painter who paints the most exquisite still-lifes. What she has begun doing is creating custom still-life paintings for people using treasured objects that they own – Aunt Myrtle’s ginger jar on Granny Jackson’s lace tablecloth next to a bouquet from Uncle Herb’s garden. You get the idea. Check it out at Trudy Allen, Artist.
But there are a lot of people who live in rural and remote areas who have found the internet to be a valuable tool for finding a market for their great ideas. Ebay, of course, is an outstanding example. I personally know at least four people who live in remote areas of Maine, Pennsylvania, and Texas who are supporting themselves by scouting flea markets and yard sales in their area and selling treasures on eBay. Fabric and yarn junkie that I am, I have contributed mightily to the economic success of people who live near textile mill outlet stores in North Carolina and Georgia! Occasionally I have exchanged emails with these people and have been told fascinating stories. I once bought a lot of gorgeous silk velvet scraps for a quilted kimono jacket from a woman who told me that her daughter was a couturier who made custom evening gowns for select clients. All her fabrics were imported and then hand-embellished by needleworkers in rural areas. The woman said for years she watched the scraps from these lavish fabrics go into dumpsters until she got the idea to start selling them in eBay. She developed quite a nice business for herself from the scraps of her daughters’ enterprise.
One of the most wonderful stories of this sort involves the popularity of “Tibet Silk” – a type of shimmering, intense, variegated silk yarn sold online at sites such as Patternworks. The yarn is expensive but exquisite. The story is that women working in sari shops in Nepal and Tibet would gather up the silk scraps at the end of the day and take them home to spin them into astonishing, bright yarns to knit with. Some enterprising person got the idea of selling the yarns in America and an industry was born. There are a lot of stories like this. I have a friend who is coordinating a business between Welsh sheep farmers and Nepalese spinners and knitters to make designer sweaters. It is just remarkable.
A lot of artists and craftsmen who live in rural areas have found a whole new market for their work on the internet. It is just amazing. I need another business enterprise like I need – as my mother used to say – a hole in the head but I have this idea for a natural skin care product. I swim several times a week and my skin was taking a beating so I researched and developed an after-swim massage oil made of a combination of natural oils with jojoba and shea butter. It has worked wonders on my skin and I have given it to some fellow swimmers and they want to know where they can get more. If anyone out there wants details, I’ll give you the formula and the supply source. The rest is up to you!
Thanks for reading.