Thursday, October 17, 2013

Project Based Learning: LAcrafters

Lilah naturally gravitates to project based learning.  If left undisturbed, she would be found in the back room, which once was an art/writing studio, and is now her workshop.  You would find her at her table, surrounded by duct tape, ribbons, bows, yarn, scissors, glue guns, exacto knifes, blades, her iPod playing her favorite songs, with a dog curled up at her feet.

If left undisturbed she would be there for hours.  And hours.  And hours.  

Over the summer I decided to turn over the control of my empty Etsy shop to Lilah.  She and her friend list items they have made.  So far she has made three sales.  Building a business is a slow process, especially one with a small niche market.  This project is teaching her patience and perseverance.  

Over the past few months she has learned how to incorporate social media as a form of marketing.  Her Instagram account, LAcrafters, has 550+ followers.  We allowed this account to be public.  With this decision came the understanding that I would closely monitor it.  This has been her first experience with internet negativity.  There have been a few weird interesting comments.  Some people want her products for free.  Others seem to create confusion to make it seem like they placed an order when in fact they did not.  Unlike other young crafters, Lilah does not sell over Instagram.  She does not have a kik account nor does she give our her personal email.  She only accepts credit card payments over Etsy (or personal orders from people we know).  This eliminates any confusion over orders, tax, shipping, pricing, etc.  There was also one instance when a commenter was downright nasty.  Because I can access her account on my phone, I was able to step in immediately and leave a comment that the Instagram account can remain public so long as commenters agree to leave positive, respectful, profanity free thoughts on it.  It is a place to support one another’s creative pursuits, not belittle or criticize them.  I constantly check in with Lilah to make sure she is not evaluating her success or failure by the number of “likes” she receives.  We also engage in many conversations about the Internet and how people use it to manipulate others and hurt others.  So far this has been a very positive experience for her and with the explosion of the use of social media for marketing purposes, this is real life learning.

It will be very interesting to see where this project takes her.  We are looking at craft fairs for this holiday season and she is going to be designing business cards to leave at local stores.  Aside of the business acumen she is developing (like record keeping, shipping charges, profit/loss calculations, responsibility to adhere to shipping commitments, packaging, advertising, professionalism, and product offering assortments) and polishing her skills in photography, videography and sewing, she is pursuing something that brings her joy.  

Last year was all about cupcakes and her project LCC (Lilah’s Cupcake Club), which is still in existence, just not meeting as regularly.  This year it is all about LAcrafters.  With holiday shopping season beginning, I hope that she is able to maintain her enthusiasm for this project and make some sales to grow her supply budget.  Her Etsy site is HERE!



Karen said...

She has beautiful things! It is hard running an Etsy store. I tell Keilee if you type in "Knitted Headbands" you get 50 pages or more of results. However it is awesome that at 11 and 13 they are running their own business! Good job Lilah!!

Mary Prather said...

Jess, you are so right about social media marketing. It is getting to be the ONLY way to market these days, and our kids need to learn about it. I admire your approach and know your girls will be better for it! I still haven't let Anna back on Instagram, but right now she hasn't asked and is lost in her own little musical world, so it's best not to disturb! ;-) I love following your homeschool - it's just beautiful.

Jessica said...

I think there is no one way or one policy that fits all. Grace has an account but hardly uses it. She just has no interest. Lilah has to be reminded to put it down and I am constantly telling her that self worth is not measured in likes (not because she feels they are but I want to prevent that idea from creeping in). I do feel that if you are going to allow your child open access to things like Instagram and Facebook (which neither of my girls has, nor do I) the parent has to be vigilant. Hyper vigilant.

Jessica said...

It is hard. There are so many sites that a smaller one can get lost. I know you can pay $5 a month for Etsy advertising within Etsy but we have not done that yet. I think this would be a stepping stone to selling on a website. I am not ready to invest the time and money to set up a site for Lilah yet. Maybe if she is still doing this project next year we can look into that.....

I am so happy that Keilee is doing well with her site. Her products are beautiful. It would be nice for them to earn some money to at least cover the cost of their supplies!

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