To whom it may concern,
We come in peace - but we need to talk!
We are writing in reference to the natural business rivalry within the arts and craft industry.
We would first, however, like to take you back to your reasons of being in this industry. I assume we can relate, in that I started out in this industry because of an absolute obsession with making things. A love for creating something from nothing. As I have grown, this has turned into a love of teaching people that they too can be creative. That they have what it takes already, they just needed confidence and guidance. The reason I assume we have this in common, is because you are living, sleeping and breathing your business. This, like many industries, is unpredictable and unreliable. Yet, you keep on keeping on. This dedication only comes from passion. An honest, heartfelt passion for creativity.
When this passion becomes your livelihood, it can lead to unhealthy bitterness of other businesses' success. We mask it as competition, a healthy rivalry to make each other work harder. We have sadly seen a darker side to this. We have witnessed people celebrate when a business struggles. We have seen craft sellers happily bring other companies down, creating rumours to damage their reputation - this is not OK. It causes stress, discomfort and impacts someone's livelihood. It feels as though some people want to be the only seller or provider for the creative industry.
Imagine a buzzing high street which draws in people from across the city. Not just one shop, but many that draw in the crowds. Now imagine this buzzing community attracts creative customers due to the unique arts and culture experiences available. People travel from other counties to have a look. You could think that competition means businesses suffer, but it can actually give an area a distinctive atmosphere which makes it a go-to place for creative people.
If Etsy only had one seller, far less people would visit the website. Making it a hub of craft allows for it to be promoted far and wide - all businesses pulling together to promote the benefits of visiting. It works in the same way that foodies are attracted to areas with several restaurant choices...they want to try them all out. As someone that looks for places which inspire me to be creative, cultural areas give me life! It's where I feel my true self and I will always support the idea of Southampton becoming more and more creative and colourful.
We believe that there is strength in solidarity. A beauty in supporting each other. A need to join together. We get upset when a craft business fails because it means the culture is dying for the area. It means communities have lost a vital asset. It means creativity is on the decrease.
Please do not misinterpret this message to assume that we want all creative businesses to be the same. It is essential that creative hubs find their own individuality to build that unique tribe of wonderful creative people. It's not just what you do as a business, but how you do it. Copy-cat businesses will struggle - you need to stand out to make people fall in love with being there.
In conclusion; we support creative businesses. We particularly support making Southampton a stronger creative hub. We want people to be inspired to not just buy creative products...but to make and learn creative skills. To not just look at art, but to try it themselves for the wonderful benefits it will give them.
Creativity is our way of life, and Southampton is our city. We hope you too share this thinking and we can keep the creative industry alive and kicking together.