13 Sep 10

Interview with Marlo Miyashiro, Creative and Community Guru

We first met Marlo Miyashiro last month at the Conference for Creative Entrepreneurs as she was speaking on a panel and we wanted to share some of her insight and experience with you today about her involvement with Seattle's creative community.

Meylah: We know that you are very involved with the creative community within Seattle.  Can you share a bit about all the different things you’re involved with?

Marlo: I love being a part of the diverse creative community in Seattle! Right now, I spend most of my time organizing etsyRAIN.com - Etsy's official Seattle team of Etsy sellers. In addition to that, I just signed on as a committee member of Grassroots Business Association an entrepreneurial group dedicated to the creative community that offers low-cost workshops every month. Beyond the formal organizations, I try to get out and support as many creative events as I can because supporting each other is what community is really all about!

Meylah: How many members are in the etsyRAIN Community?  What does managing etsyRAIN entail and are you accepting new members?

Marlo: Our founder, Carrie started the etsyRAIN meetup as an online community in 2007 with less than 20 members.Today, our last Meetup membership count was around 894 members. That's a lot of people! Even so, we recognize that a good number of our members choose to stay informed of our activities and not participate. And you know what - that is totally okay with us! From the beginning, we have never required participation to be an etsyRAIN member because we believe that being a part of a group should be a choice - not a chore.

etsyRAIN is the amazing, active community that it is because of the hard work and time generously donated by our 7 member, all-volunteer etsyRAIN Leadership Team: Kayce, Rosalie, Marja, Kelly, Heidi, Meghan and myself. Our individual talents work together to cover all aspects of running our group with the constant goal to keep etsyRAIN moving forward. We work so incredibly well together and it's just amazing to think how much effort each of us puts into promoting, creating events and managing etsyRAIN every day of every month. I am so grateful for their support and I know the team appreciates it too!

We are always accepting new members and becoming a member is easy and free! Our membership requirements are simple: Own a shop on Etsy.com OR have an *interest* in owning an Etsy shop. The reason our requirements are so few is because we understand that life is a priority. Shop activity fluctuates. Priorities change. Sometimes it takes a while for new members to trust in a new group and we get that. Participation is solely up to the individual and we respect that not everyone has the time to be an active member. We just want all of our members to know that etsyRAIN is a great way to connect with other creative people whenever they are ready to do so.

Meylah: What advice would you give to a creative hobbyist or entrepreneur trying to get involved with such a community?

Marlo: Anyone who has a shop or wants to have a shop on Etsy.com is welcome to join etsyRAIN at any time. To become an active member of our community one could start by participating in our online message board. There is an amazing amount of information that flows through our message boards and we appreciate how positive and supportive our members with one another. We also have monthly craft nights that allow us to get out of the studio and around other creative entrepreneurs that are always a lot of fun to attend. Those events are very casual and attendees are welcome to bring a project to work on or not -- it's mostly to give us an opportunity to meet each other and make connections. We are developing more workshops and classes to help our members improve their Etsy shops, so attending those would be great too. If you'd rather have the events come to you, etsyRAIN always encourages our members to organize their own crafty gatherings in their area! We will always support any outside efforts they make to bring people together - whether it is a coffee gathering or a full-fledged craft show. We love it when our members take the initiative to create an event that we can promote!

Meylah: You are an excellent small product photographer.  Can you provide 3 short and sweet tips on how to get the best product shot?

Marlo: Thanks for the compliment! I really do enjoy small object photography and love to teach those who want to learn as well! Here are my top 3 tips for a great small object product shot:

  • Learn how to manage artificial light: Living in Seattle, the idea of only taking photos in natural light is a nice one, but totally unreliable for our climate. You don't necessarily need to buy a light box or lots of fancy equipment either - sometimes one reflected light is all you need to make your products shine!
  • Read the owner's manual for your camera: Learn how to use each of the little menu options and learn how the different settings affect your photographs. Pay particularly close attention to the white balance and macro functions - they are essential for focused, color balanced small object photography.
  • Experiment, experiment, experiment: The difference between an okay photo and an amazing one is creativity. Try getting closer to the object, take photos at interesting angles and/or use props and backgrounds that are less distracting. The goal is to put the focus on your item without boring your customers with a "front and center" composition.

Meylah: To wrap things up, how would you describe what the creative community means to you?

Marlo: Creative people all have similar hopes, dreams and aspirations.  We want to make great things, show them to people who appreciate it and gain some sort of recognition for a job well done. In addition to that, we share the same fears, insecurities and creative blocks that prevent us from achieving our goals. Even with the best of intentions, our family and friends are oftentimes not the best people to lean on for encouragement because they themselves don't understand the all-consuming need to be creative. To nurture our creative spirit, what we really need is to be around each other for support and inspiration. Creating a safe, nurturing place where people of like-mind can find each other, make new friends, foster connections and learn new things is what creative community is all about for me. It's been said, "Creativity doesn't happen in a vacuum." Personally, I think that would "suck". (ba-dum-bump!) haha! :) Go etsyRAIN Go!

Thanks so much Marlo for sharing your insight and enthusiasm for the creative community!  We'd also like to welcome Marlo to the Meylah community as she has just set up her own Meylah storefront at meylah.com/imakecutestuff so be sure and check it out and see what she's making!

Posted by: Jason Dirks

Posted in: community

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1 Courtney Dirks commented on 09/13/2010

You are an amazing woman Marlo! I don't know how you juggle everything that you do, but you somehow manage to do it with a big smile on your face and that's truly inspiring. Thank you for being so supportive of the creative community. It means a lot. Go Girl Go!

2 Colleen (bcharmer) commented on 09/14/2010

Great interview! Thanks for sharing, Marlo!

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