Hot Seat - Building an Artisan Following
So, let's pick up this conversation where we ended the conversation. And this is completely unexpected, so I'm gonna pass the mic to Tanisha, and we'll get that going. Okay, we ended our last segment by asking the community to come out and look at our Instagram account and describe what they saw. So, can you, doll face, just come up with, okay, so then, so then, we went and had lunch, and I sat down with you, and I'd listen to what other people around you were saying, and I listened to what you were saying, and in relation to our 20 minute lunch together, how much did I talk?
Not a lot.
Okay, so what were some of the words that people use to describe you on the internet? Like, they DMed you. I think you had said we had 62 or something like that?
62, yes, yes, DMs.
In 20 minutes, which was like, what?
Okay, so what were some of the words that these people, these people don't know you, they went to your Instagram account, and what were the words that they were using to ...
It was a lot of the same words, one-of-a-kind, luxury, handmade, exquisite.
And how do those words feel?
I mean, they feel good, because I value my work, so it's good to see that people recognize that I work really hard and I do really unique, unique was another word that I saw a lot. It feels good, yeah.
So, here's what we don't know. We didn't know that, I just grabbed a piece of paper, started listening to what was being said, and what Tanisha says was that there's this tiny little thing called the Smithsonian Craft Show. Yeah, only about 7% of the people who apply actually get to have their work and fine art crafts featured, and she said she had this dream, in 10 years, to have her work featured. And then her husband, who's in the Armed Forces, moves to DC, and she's like, I'll just apply. I don't stand a chance. And then she gets accepted, okay. So, our homegirl says she sells baskets, and the Smithsonian said, we can't just say you sell baskets, so they described it as functional and sculptural rope baskets, and I was like, I wanna see what the Smithsonian is seeing, 'cause I went to her Instagram account and I was kinda like, okay, question mark. And I go to this beautiful website, beautiful, and then I ask Tanisha, on a scale of one to 10, how much does your social media reflect your website? 10 being it's totally amazing and an extension of my portfolio, and one being hot mess express. And she says, 2.5? So I'm like, okay, good, at least she's self-aware. And I'm like, what we're looking at isn't, like, okay. (laughing) So, I said, Tanisha, can you bring up your Instagram account? So, there she is on her Samsung. I don't know how to use Samsung. So, what we see, Ten Dots, Home Decor, "A Navy veteran and military spouse "making simple rope baskets for Modern Living. "Slightly obsessed with..." Oh, so you're a wife, and you're a veteran, and you make simple rope baskets. But the Smithsonian said you created sculptural pieces of craftsman art. Hmm, that was a little funny. (laughing) And then she said, Jasmine, I haven't posted very long cause I just moved, and so my feed isn't really up-to-date. Okay. So, this is what we're looking at at her feed. Now, if you were to go to her website, I literally feel like, if web domains and web spaces had personalities, I was looking at somebody who vacationed in the Hamptons verses somebody who stayed at Hampton Inn. (audience laughter) I worked so hard for that joke. It just came to me and I was like, yo I worked so hard. I worked so hard, okay.
It's busted, I know, it's not good.
Because what I see is a freakin' unicorn who's wearing a trench coat. So in order for me to shake it up, I'm gonna tell you exactly what I see. This doesn't tell the story of the next American artisan, so that when the Antiques Roadshow comes back around in 200 years, they're gonna pull up this basket and say, she was a local artisan on the east coast in Virginia, telling a new American story. Dang it. Tanisha tells me this story, about one of her clients, that lives in Cape Cod, had been telling Tanisha, you have to come to my house, I need you to show, I need to show you my baskets. Tanisha's like okay, I made the baskets. She's like no, no, you have to come to my house. Whereas Tanisha makes her own little baskets and what does Tanisha do with her baskets? She puts her mail in it. She puts her keys in it. I said Tanisha, what do you want people to put in your baskets? And she said, things they care about and showcase in a unique way. It was like okay, they go on talking. So when Tanisha walks in to her friends house, she takes her up finally on the offer of this lady who said, come to my house, see your work in my home and Tanisha's moving and she takes her up, she goes to Cape Cod, she walks into this beautiful home of a luxurious lady and this lady collects sea glass and shells and uses her artwork to commemorate her experience on the Cod. I was hearing this story and I'm like good God, let me make a little documentary, let me read this caption so that I am moved to buy and what Tanisha writes, spending a relaxing and fun weekend with great friends in Cape Cod, love seeing one of my baskets being loved and used. (cries) Oh my God, how did I tell a better story about the beautiful thing that has happened, of a woman who takes your work and says, I have art in my home, that the thing I do in the morning is walk The Cod, is that what they call it, The Cod? I'm a west coast girl, I've never been to Cape Cod. It just sounds real fancy, so I'm gonna call it The Cod. I walk The Cod in the morning and I pick up sea glass and this is commemorative of me doing my morning meditations and I collect the pieces of my home and put it a home and I make art within it. This is a story that is begging to be told and what I see is, la di da, we're having fun on the Cape. You are a curator, we are curators. How are we going to use Instagram to curate our museums? It is not talking jocular about the things that we put our lives and our dreams and our destinies on. It is our responsibility to put value when other people don't see the value. So, we come back to her profile and I say, can you please tell me some of the words that people were using? My favorite was, it's the Beyonce of baskets. (audience laughter) I mean, if that is not an Instagram caption in the making. Okay, a lot of people said unique, one of a kind, hand crafted luxury basket, artisanal and she stopped on the word artisanal cause she thought it kind of just resonated. Chelsea was sitting next to her and she's like that the word that's coming to me and it popped for her. She's like huh. So then, just scribble down something, that I'm gonna pass to you and you are gonna make it your own.
I am Tanisha, I create artisanal, luxury rope baskets for taste makers who store thing they care about and want to show in a unique way. (audience cheers)
Okay, let's be real. This ain't the Jasmine show. I didn't do nothing, I did jack squat. I just skimmed from the top of what a community showed up for you to do, to put a mirror to yourself and say what you're saying is I sell baskets and we're telling you, in a mirror is you sell art, do you see it as art? Cause if you don't see it as art, you're gonna have a really hard time selling your $600 basket but guess what? You don't have a problem selling a $600 basket, you have a waiting list of people who want to buy a $600 basket and what do you tell people? I sell baskets. No you don't, you sell art. The Smithsonian picked you to sell art and what you want to say is, I sell baskets. No boo boo, you sell luxury artisanal items for taste makers who want to store their items and show them in a unique way and you need to say that til it oozes out of you. All right, all right, all right, all right, all right, all right, all right. Okay, so speaking of storytelling, did you guys all, I feel like dang, I was like okay, okay, we feelin' it, we feelin' it, yes. When you have your art show, when you have your art show, when you have your art show cause not if, when. When you have your art show, J.D. and I will fly out there, we'll be toasting with some good champagne.