This week I got to finish and photograph not one, not two, but THREE fabulous new cross stitch designs! I had a marathon drawn thread hem stitching session last weekend and got Peloponnesian Poppies, Pomona’s Grove, and Latvian Rosettes all ready for their little photo shoot. The weather was with me and I got some really great photos. I’ve been experimenting with using a softbox light to help chase away the shadows caused by our overcast Pacific NW weather and I was really happy with my first attempt as it allowed me to show off the texture of the fabric and the stitches, something I really love in photos.
And, I really needed that win: for the last three months I haven’t been able to tag products on Instagram due to an integration issue between my Wix website hosting service and Meta and I’ve spent far too many hours on Zoom and tech support calls trying to resolve it. With each new Zoom or tech support session that hasn’t fixed the issue, I’ve gotten increasingly discouraged and frustrated. While I usually find being a small business owner very fulfilling, the last three months have really tried me.
What’s the big deal about product tagging? Well, when you’re happily scrolling through Instagram and see one of those ads for some nifty gadgets or an adorable pair of shoes, the company is “boosting” the post, which adds that little “Shop Now” banner which you can conveniently click and go get those gadgets or shoes on the company’s website. It’s a way for small businesses like mine to raise visibility, but it all starts with that tagged product.
To be honest, I've been in two minds about pursuing more advertising--I want to share folk embroidery with more people and I'd love to have enough orders coming in that I can devote more time to designing and releasing more kits (that’s the dream!). But, advertising is expensive and I've questioned the whole algorithm thing in which your phone knows exactly the kind of things you might like and sends you ads accordingly.
But something happened right after Thanksgiving that changed my mind about targeted advertising: I was happily scrolling through Instagram and saw an ad for musical wooden spoons. My eldest daughter is very musical and loves dabbling with any kind of musical instrument—one of my best finds for her was a 1960s autoharp at a garage sale—so I'm always looking for more unique stuff to surprise her with since she just lights up with anything musical. But, musical wooden spoons? I'd never heard of them but when I clicked through the ad, turns out they were made by a small family business in Canada. This just had my daughter's name written all over it, so I ordered a set and, when they arrived a few weeks later, I was completely impressed by the high quality and beauty of this traditional musical instrument. And, I was thrilled to support another small business because I know firsthand how great it is to get those "You've got an order!" emails.
But I would never have found this small business without those targeted ads. This whole experience of being on the receiving end of targeted marketing really changed my thinking about algorithm ads because I realized this type of advertising could be really good for teeny-tiny businesses like mine here at Avlea Folk Embroidery. “Woohoo!” I thought, “More embroidery for all! Let’s do boosted posts!” And, then I couldn’t get it to work. Not for December. Not for January. Not for February. And, if that wasn’t enough discouragement, right in the middle of all this mess, my doctor put me in a walking boot and told me to “rest or else” and I had to cancel my booth at the SewExpo show in two weeks. I felt like I was watching my little dream shrivel up and, friends, that is not a good feeling when you’ve poured so much of yourself into something like I’ve poured myself into Avlea. Something had to change...
So, I hauled myself out of the Self Pity Party Room and decided I was going to get to the bottom of this No. Matter. What. I started rattling email chains and making phone calls and getting Rawther Bossy (I absolutely hate confrontation, so my lawyer friend Holly coached me on Being Tough and that really helped). I got the higher ups at Wix listening and now Mike the Wix Tech Angel has figured out the issue and is walking me through the fixes tomorrow morning (fingers crossed!). And, as soon as we get this all squared away, I’m going to start experimenting with some of those boosted posts and see where things go.
With all this Tech Drama going on, I was so happy to get back to stitching a project that’s been in my basket for months now: it’s a fabulous multi-colored, geometric table runner inspired by a design Rachel Pogois shared with me some time ago that is simply calling to me! My working title is “Iris’ Paintbox” (Iris is the Greek goddess of the rainbow) and every time I sit down to stitch this beauty, I feel so restored by it! The big color palette (about a dozen colors), all thrown into high relief with delicate black backstitching—this is one of the most unique designs I’ve stitched in the last couple of years and I’m looking forward to sharing it.
The contrast in this design has been a haptic reminder (haptic: relating to the sense of touch, in particular relating to the perception and manipulation of objects using the senses of touch and proprioception) that life is filled with ups and downs, light and dark, good and bad, and that it's precisely the bad times, the quandries, and the dark days that provide the contrast needed so we can experience the good times, the resolutions, and the bright days on a deeper, more profound level. Here's to good times ahead at Avlea!