Connecting with Makers and Designers

Hey Everyone!

I want to thank Elisabeth for letting me come onto her blog and share while she’s away in the Middle East! Elisabeth is one of the first people that I ever connected with when I joined Instagram so when we were chatting about what topic I was going to cover, connecting with other makers and designers seemed like a perfect one!

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For those of you that don’t know me my name is Stephanie and I am the designer and maker behind By Stephanie Erin. I generally design garments as well as the occasional accessories. I love connecting with others and making new friends online. I am an extroverted introvert so I can be bubbly and outgoing, but I really recharge best when I have my own space and can create alone. The designing process can be scary and lonely and having those friends that understand what you’re going through can really make or break your experience!

So how do you go about connecting with other makers and/or designers on Instagram?! The answer isn’t as hard as you might think, but it might require a little tough love.

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Connecting with people online can be amazing, you can end up with some real friendships where you talk about more than yarn and what you’re working on. I have ended up with some friends that I talk to about EVERYTHING! From needing to frog a project to I just had a really bad day at my day job, to sharing some great joys that occur. The number one piece of advice I can give to anyone is

BE YOURSELF!

Instagram is a weird place. We’re all trying to take pretty photos so that others may notice and it can get pretty easy to get caught up in the stats of it all. Getting more followers means more likes which means more times your phone will be blowing up. However, if you are inauthentic in order to create a little world that will be “for the gram” or strictly copying someone else’s look or aesthetic I can guarantee that people will be able to see through that. Making friends and connecting with people online is not that different from making friends in person. When you were a kid, you may have seen someone that you think is pretty cool. You’d probably go up to them and pay them a compliment and try to find something in common to talk about. If you hit if off, then BOOM! Friendship made! You can take these same basic steps and apply them to connecting online.

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Yarn friends I met online that I’ve met in person, Natalia (@prairiefoxstudio), Cheyenne (@unwoundbychevy), Laura (@lastminutelaura.ca), Me (@by.stephanie.erin)

First is you find someone’s profile and you’re like hey this person looks pretty cool. I think we might have X, Y and Z in common. I’m going to follow them! Don’t expect this person to follow you back right away. Generally, makers want to make real connections and aren’t in it for the numbers.

Once you’re following them start interacting when they post. Most makers post little tidbits about themselves in their captions or what’s going on in their life right now. Read those captions! If you just comment emojis or “pretty!” you’re not giving the maker much to go on to reply back. A simple example would be a maker talking about enjoying cream in their coffee on a wip photo with a cup of coffee. You could comment, “I take cream in my coffee too! I feel like a zombie until I get that first cup!” This gives the maker something to go off of when they are replying back to your comment. Replying to comments and stories will get attention from makers. I try to reply to every comment and every story reply that I get from anyone. I also do notice when someone actually takes the time to read my caption and reply to a question that I’ve posed. Some of the best friendships that I’ve made have started with a simple reply to a comment. Keep in mind that when connecting with people, makers generally do not care how many followers you have, but want to make REAL connections. The 3 people that I talk to most on Instagram all have under 1,500 followers. They are all incredible people that I love speaking with daily and WHO CARES how many followers they have. The number of followers you have DOES NOT define who YOU are. You and only you can define who and what you want to be.

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Nkese (@cosmic_crochet_creations) started pattern testing for me and is now one of my closest friends

If you are looking to get into designing or specifically want to connect with designers, then the best way to start is by offering to test patterns for them. Testing is a great way to get to talk to the designer, as well as the other testers in the group in a less public and more carefree environment. I have participated in a number of tests as both the designer and tester and everyone has been a different and rewarding experience. As a tester, you have the opportunity to learn how the designer works. No pattern is written perfectly off the hop and you can help the designer find those issues. Generally, the chat will always end up getting off topic and you will be able to laugh and share with some of the other makers in the group. If you do end up testing for a designer, be good to them! Participate in the chat, give detailed notes and take modeled photos in good lighting that they can use to promote the pattern. This is also good for you because they may post your photo on their feed and talk about how great you are to work with which in turn could help you make even more connections! I often end up following a lot of the testers I work with continually because they are such joys to work with. Which brings me back to my initial point which is they are all themselves.

There is only one of you in this world and when you’re putting yourself out there online it can be really scary to show off parts of you or your life. But in order to truly connect and make those friendships putting pieces of yourself out there will absolutely help others see you for the beautiful person that you are!

I hope you find your community and this can help you to meet and interact with other makers online! I promise that we’re all nice people 🙂

Thanks Elisabeth for letting me share today!

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