Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bootstrap Success Leads to Great Opportunities!

Collaboration is nothing new to the members of the Bootstrap Network, but little did we know that our initial collaborations and educational efforts in the Art subgroup would lead to an invitation to participate in a great local event that is held annually, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. Eleven Bootstrap artists, Ian Blair, Doug Brown, Carmen Canaan, Lisa Cowling, Nell Gottlieb, Jamie Johnson, Michael Long, Rey Madolora, Darren Minke, and Jess Wade, will be proud participants in this great event on December 22 - 24.

For those of you who don't know, the Christmas Bazaar is in its 33rd year of operation under the guidance of founder and producer Bruce Willenzik. Bruce is a consummate business man and promoter of the arts who has been active in the Austin art scene and community planning for decades, including a long and continuing stint on the Austin Commission of the Arts. He has long championed the principles of collaboration and has made a point of teaching sales and marketing skills to participants in the Bazaar, all of whom are artists and crafts people who know their trades but not necessarily how to present their work and sell it most effectively. Teaching these skills and fostering collaboration are precisely the mission of the Bootstrap Art subgroup.

Because of the event's popularity, there is quite a waiting list of artists and crafts people who want to be a part of it. The standards one must meet in order to get in go beyond talent and include a certain degree of business acumen and the requirement for a mentor to be nearby in order to help new participants if they need it. These are areas which the Bootstrap Art subgroup has been focused on since its inception two years ago, consequently, our members are well-versed in concepts such as art as a business, cross-selling and cross-promotion, mentorship, marketing, etc. As a former speaker at the art subgroup, Bruce is familiar with our philosophy and progress which largely mirrors his own approach, and when space became available at the Bazaar, he was happy to offer it to us.

Opportunities like this don't just fall into your lap for no reason. It takes hard work and perseverance to put yourself in a position for things like this to happen. In our case, it was two years in the making, and it was well worth it.

Thank you to Bruce Willenzik and the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar for recognizing our efforts, and to the members of the Bootstrap Art subgroup who have been active in helping each other and collaborating in events such as this!

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