“Sometime in the very early ‘70’s…I made a top for myself from a tee-shirt which I had dyed, split up the front and embellished with lace. It was very popular and I made several versions, settling on one where I sewed appliqués to each side and then laced up the front with satin ribbon. At their request, I made several as gifts for friends. Remember this was the 70’s when lacy hippie wear was de rigueur and hand made fashion was highly desirable.
At the time I was studying philosophy at the University of California at Santa Barbara and had every intention of using my anticipated degree to save the world, or at least significant portions of it. Many people my age in that particular decade were awash in a cultural zeitgeist that precluded anything remotely business-like as an endeavor. The idea of joining corporate America was anathema. Saving the world was a far more fitting goal.
A friend suggested that the aforementioned top, now known as a camisole, was a salable item. Why didn’t I try my hand at producing and marketing them?
Why not indeed, and luckily for me the weekly Santa Barbara Arts and Craft Show was open to amateurs like myself. In fact, the major requirement that all goods be handmade was one I easily met and Sundays in 1973 found me on Cabrillo Boulevard alongside the palms and the beautiful Pacific Ocean and the other crafters learning the ins and outs of a rather specialized niche market. Emboldened, I began trying my luck at additional craft shows which eventually led to the discovery of the strange and wonderful world of the Renaissance Festival.
Self employment is a stressful way to earn a living as I quickly learned. Production was a struggle, finances were frightening and hard work and long hours were a given. But in the fine tradition of “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” — thanks to John Lennon for his succinct observation– the business I started with no training or experience has
endured, expanded, and prospered for the last 40 years.
I am grateful that this was path I took, a path that has rewarded me in so many ways. I am honored to participate in a rich, creative colorful environment full of artists, crafters, entertainers and entrepreneurs of all types. Not to mention oddballs, true characters, eccentrics, the incredibly talented and the slightly deranged.
Despite becoming an inadvertant entrepeneur, running a business and making it up as I go along, I remain at heart the philosophy student, always available to ponder the big questions and not adverse, now and then, to the contemplation of a world still in need of saving.
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