What is ‘Artisan Entrepreneurship?’ An answer in this month’s issue of TYSN

March 2024 Vol 6 Issue 3

Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN):
Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Storytelling
Let me teach you to tell your story!

Welcome Mid-March, 2024!

Last Friday (March 8th) was International Women’s Day marking the need to continue to fight for women’s professional and personal equality. In a currently regressive, far-Right wing and patriarchal world, that need has never been greater.

In SK, across Canada and the West, the glass ceiling remains firmly intact but, as a mentor recently said, it is now just “deceptively covered with attractive looking foliage.”

How often have you felt angry, good readers, from a story in the local news, or from scenes of customer dis-service you’ve witnessed in our community? And yet, as business leader Silvia Martini recently reminded me, joy is essential: “Life is a very luscious peach to enjoy, with only a hard core that we have to work around!”

Twelve days ago, our lives were punctuated by “Snowmaggedon,” when, in just two days, 35 to 40 cm of snow fell throughout Saskatoon. Twelve days later, city crews have largely met the challenge, so that we might forget about the storm altogether, apart from tall snowbanks and the thawing of
ice.  My point is that notwithstanding the inconvenience, even snowstorms can provide reason for hope: As a friend of mine marvelled over the phone that weekend, “Heavy snowfall in March is every farmer’s and gardener’s joy!”

A glimmer in my mind and heart reminds me that we’re approaching the first official day of Spring on March 19th! Thankfully, we have passed through the change to Daylight Savings’ Time (while we do not observe it, our clients often do).  And we can enjoy the increase in daylight hours each evening, making it easier for us to commute to events in our communities.

In Article One of this month’s issue, I explore the concept of “Artisan Entrepreneurship” as suggested to me by Silvia Martini, in a recent meeting. What does it mean and why was I glad to learn it?

In “Storytellers’ Corner,” I visit three practical ways to invigorate  (or vivify) your sentences, from publication coach, Daphne Gray-Grant.

And in “Shop News,” I acknowledge the work of a few others in my entrepreneurial circle who often go uncredited, but who advocate for and make self-employment possible for, others like me.

I hope you enjoy this month’s issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter” (TYSN), good readers, and that you’ll share with me your interests and ideas for future issues!

Sincerely,
Elizabeth
Principal
Storytelling Communications
www.elizabethshih.com
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IN THIS ISSUE:
ARTICLE  ONE: What is “Artisan Entrepreneurship?”
STORYTELLERS’ CORNER:
How to vivify sentences, with Daphne Gray Grant
SHOP NEWS
ABOUT US
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Article One: What is “Artisan Entrepreneurship?”

I’m deeply indebted this month to Saskatoon’s Silvia Martini, a highly successful entrepreneur, community leader, board director and property developer, for sharing on February 23rd a transformative, highly intuitive and enjoyable meeting with me. During that meeting, she mentioned the concept of “Artisan Entrepreneurship.”

Silvia identified a match between the concept and my work as a freelance English language teacher and a professional writer and editor.

So what is an “Artisan Entrepreneur,” you might ask?

While I earn a living by my mind, pen (and keyboards) and encourage creative women (and men) everywhere who do the same, I would not say I’m a (scalable) startup entrepreneur, a small business entrepreneur, certainly not a large company entrepreneur, or even a social entrepreneur, although I
admire the latter’s socially responsible goals.

I imply no pejorative judgment to these other categories of entrepreneurs (and know, philosophically, that categories are not always a fully accurate form of identification).

Instead, I value the mentors, friends and colleagues who fulfill these roles (including Silvia Martini and Monica Kreuger), who are deeply committed to our community, who serve with profound decency, and who generously, tirelessly mentor others.

But I’m writing this month to acknowledge creative people’s philosophical and personal interests (and differences) that sometimes find a home under the umbrella of the term, “Artisan Entrepreneurship.”

In a collaborative 2022 book, Artisan Entrepreneurship, academic Vanessa Ratten says that Artisan Entrepreneurs “create social value by engaging in community business practices.” But that’s rather vague!

Artisan Entrepreneurs usually combine their entrepreneurial skills with expertise in a craft or art. While we manage the commercial duties of our enterprises, we are deeply committed to a specific skill or set of skills.

More particularly, as blogger Arian Adeli writes, Artisan Entrepreneurs “combine their artistic or craft skills with entrepreneurship to create a business.” The business may sell products made by hand, such as jewellery, ceramics, furniture, clothing or other artisanal goods. But the business may
also sell work that consists primarily of intellectual and emotional production.
Artisan Entrepreneurs provide a personal touch or craftmanship to our services or products, Adeli says.

The category of “Artisan Entrepreneurs” can include writers and illustrators (and not only potters or tailors), who are “often deeply involved in every step of the process, from . . . designing and creating the product or service, all the way to marketing and selling it.”

An Artisan Entrepreneur may make and sell a garment of “slow fashion,” like the beautiful work of colleague Kathleen O’Grady; or provide an hour of insightful Akashic Record Reading, like my colleague, Ann Chatfield. I have learned recently, too, of Yao Bo, who is an authentic Chinese tofu
maker who sells his painstakingly made products at “Good Farmer Tofu,” in Stonebridge.

These Artisan Entrepreneurs “sell a story, an experience, and the passion and love they put into . . . their creations” (Adeli).

It’s a concept worth exploring, since the value of the work of Artisan Entrepreneurs inheres in its uniqueness and quality—such output cannot be done by mass production.

For me, in pre-Artificial Intelligence days (AI), I would ordinarily spend two or more hours researching, writing, editing and publishing a particularly important blog posting for a client.

Or I might similarly read and plan for two hours a particularly effective English language class for a newcomer, when a mere AI “prompt engineer” (virtually an antithesis to an Artisan Entrepreneur) could dispatch of these processes in five minutes, downloading content without revision from GPT-4, or Google Gemini.

An oft-cited example of Artisan Entrepreneurship is of a local baker who might rise at dawn to knead dough and bake bread, sourcing “local ingredients, experimenting with flavours, and creating unique recipes” (Adeli).

That specialty bread contrasts a loaf of the cheapest supermarket variety, mass-produced to sell for $2.50 (and filled with unhealthy high-fructose corn syrup, to compensate for its terrible flavour).

The Artisan Entrepreneur sells what Adeli describes as “an experience, a taste of home, a piece of their passion.” We sell the unique outcome of a creative process.

The limited amount of public awareness of, and research on, the concept shows what Adeli says– “the motives of Artisan Entrepreneurs differ based on the way they are embedded in society”: their personality types may differ from other categories of entrepreneurs. We may be more introverted (but
not necessarily so), and we may be less driven by financial strategy than others (although some Artisan Entrepreneurs achieve, and all deserve, monetary success).

More research into Artisan Entrepreneurship can aim to “open up new opportunities” for this self-employment, writes academic Vanessa Rattan. Those opportunities may increase and promote a larger number of viable livelihoods for more creative workers (“creatives”).

I know from taking entrepreneurial training (through the Praxis School of Entrepreneurship’s “startSMART program,” 2018/19) and from networking in our community, whose economy has not yet rebounded from pandemic times, that Artisan Entrepreneurs—indeed all kinds of entrepreneurs—can struggle to be profitable.

Often, profits are low, which at times can be challenging, especially in a single-income household. But financial viability is possible when the craft(s) involved are pursued with entrepreneurial insight and planning (in consultation with experienced and successful mentors like Silvia and Monica).

For instance, as a professional copywriter, I can seek retainer contracts and long-term relationships with prospects in my niche for my services, instead of pouring hours over short-term pitches to unknown editors that often get ignored or are only accepted for below-market pay.

A key to financial success for Artisan Entrepreneurs is a stalwart belief in the value and worth of our services or products and the knowledge that gainful markets do exist, even on the “have-not” Prairies, and that the challenge is simply to search for and tap into them.

Although I have been working as an Artisan Entrepreneur for nearly 14 years, I am just learning what this means: Silvia’s sharing on February 23rd has improved my vision and understanding of the work I and others do in our community, leaving me with deep gratitude.

Not coincidentally, this meeting was facilitated as a Christmas gift exchange (December 2023) among a group of thoughtful and generous women entrepreneurs in Saskatchewan, including Silvia, Monica, Deanna Litz and numerous others.

These extraordinary individuals all know the risks and joys inherent in entrepreneurship, of all shapes and kinds.

And now it’s your turn. Are you an entrepreneur or someone who supports one (or many)?

And do you engage with the work of Artisan Entrepreneurs?

What insights do you have on this niche of self-employment for yourself or others?
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STORYTELLERS’ CORNER . . . .

STORYTELLERS’ CORNER:

“How to vivify sentences, with Daphne Gray-Grant” 

Publication Coach and editor, Vancouver’s Daphne Gray-Grant, reminded her blog readers recently that human editing is still needed to avoid the “very boring” writing that ensues from using ChatGPT and other forms of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

She showed that a boring tone arises when very basic sentence structure (subject + verb + object) repeats far too often. The example she shows is of the following paragraph (created by AI), where each sentence begins with the same definite article, “the”: “The researchers conducted a comprehensive
literature review. The scholars analyzed the data using advanced statistical methods. The authors discussed the implications of their findings in the conclusion. The study aimed to contribute valuable insights to the existing body of knowledge in the field.”

Just as we do not eat macaroni every night, Gray-Grant says, or want to read only one author of fiction in our leisure hours, we also want sentences in our marketing or communications copy to be more varied and creative.

Among the several strategies that she recommends for enlivening writing, Gray-Grant recommends these:

(1) Use subordinate clauses (clauses that begin with words like “because,” “since,” “although,” “when,” “if, and until”), so that you can emphasize certain ideas above others;

(2) Add coordinating conjunctions that support complex thinking (such as “and,” “yet,” “for,” “nor,” “or,” or “so”);
and
(3) Invert sentences so that the verb precedes the grammatical subject (“Look: there is the editing, now moved to the ‘done’ list!”).

If you’re finding your sentences to be monotonous, try these strategies. And subscribe to Gray-Grant’s blog for more ideas.

You may find your prose quickly vivified beyond what you can imagine!
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SHOP NEWS:

Since I believe deeply in the transformative power of empathy and gratitude, beyond the folk already mentioned in Article One (and in the usual round-up of this section), I am especially thankful this month to Julie Barnes and Josh Remai, who co-sponsor a wonderful newcomer in our community in
many ways, including by contracting me to teach private ESL classes.

Working with a literacy learner who comes from a faraway continent has increased my awareness of the many challenges that arise for refugees and newcomers to Canada, especially in these war-torn times.

But those challenges have been mitigated and excellent support provided for this newcomer by the generous and compassionate support of Julie and Josh.
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I also continue to be thankful for the work I share with women writers of “Saskatoon Freelancers’ Roundtable,” who since 2013 have been a joy to connect with. Most recently, we have been writing some collaborative articles (“Ask a Writers’ Group”) for the SK Writers’ Guild online ezine, “Freelance.”
Receiving and editing these women’s contributions last month, on the topic of “writerly resources,” has held much interest for me—and also been fun!

Thank you, Ashleigh Mattern, Julie Barnes, Adele Paul and Ashlyn George for their contributions to this group!
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I’m grateful to my brilliant colleague and friend, Conor Phillips, Founder and CEO of Pathfinder365, a tech start-up, for discussing frankly over Meta (FB) the challenges of being a single wage-earning woman in SK.

Conor posted a link to a CBC article from 2023 that says “the most overlooked group” in Canada is actually single, most often women, professionals who live alone and face financial discrimination by CRA’s unspoken “singles'” tax.
Single professional women in Canada bear the weight of an unfair tax burden and next to no affordable housing opportunities, despite being full-time, employed individuals.

This situation contrasts the housing deductions and other allowances offered to their married or partnered counterparts.

The “singles tax” amounted in 2023 to about $15K/person/year in Toronto. So, many professional women, as Conor has said, cannot afford the escalating costs of rent, groceries and other daily expenses.

Numbers aren’t much better, either, in Vancouver, or in smaller centres, like Saskatoon. What Conor cited as a “singles’ tax” policy may hit women entrepreneurs in SK even harder than conventionally employed women, when we choose or need to live independently, while working hard to serve our cities and surrounding communities.

Tax policy changes are urgently needed. Can we see through the attractive foliage currently covering the glass ceiling?

If these issues are new to you, please consider reading this link to CBC’s “Cost of Living” article, posted by Conor, and write both your MP and MLA.

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/costofliving/how-the-tax-on-singles-has-people-who-live-alone-feelingthe-pinch-1.6797561

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The list of “thank yous” that any entrepreneur can offer, in any month, can be extensive. Instead of repeating familiar names here, I offer thanks to someone new–local opticians here (and throughout Canada) who don’t charge to do small, emergency repairs on eyeglass frames, even if you’re not their customer.

An optician at “Theodore and Pringle” on 8th Street assisted me recently, when I needed some minor adjustments to my glasses, in a hurry!

But besides refusing to charge me, the staff there advised another person (a bonafide customer) about what equipment they could use to accommodate his partner’s medical disability (she was absent at the time), for an upcoming eye exam.

The staff went further to outline what government funding would defray the cost of optometric services for the woman with a disability.

These moments of community service (Julie Barnes and Josh Remai; Conor Phillips) and customer service (Theodore & Pringle) demonstrate in unsung ways, how Saskatoon speaks out and supports others  in the face of injustice and shines with kindness, even (or especially) in these challenging times.

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And thank you to you, my good readers, for continuing to share your insights on social media and in correspondence with me!

Published by www.storytellingcommunications.ca – Storytelling Communications – Ste 403-541 Fifth Ave. North. Saskatoon,
SK, Canada. S7K 5Z9 Copyright © 2024.