High on the 4th floor of a large, crisp, renovated industrial building in a quiet street of Berlin Neukölln, the sunlight of late May pours through large glass windows, amidst tall indoor plants, and bounces off the pastel colors of the posters of the second yearly Berlin Kreativ Konferenz. Put together by the Berlin Kreativ Kollektiv e.V. (BKK) in partnership with Etsy Germany, the event seeks to meet challenging and relevant aspects of running a small creative business with the knowledge and insights of experts from different fields. From energetic tips on self-management, to compact and distilled break-downs of law for creative business owners, and over to remarkable social media advertising methods and more, the Berlin Kreativ Konferenz is a level-up for the creative self-employed.
The collective’s current 70 members enjoy an exclusive online database of resources, participate in workshops, and put together pop-up shops to sell their work; they have access to each other’s expertise and insights into art, design, craft, and self-made enterprise. The Berlin Kreativ Konferenz is exactly in this vein, opening up an environment where very impactful, and otherwise rare information and experience can be shared with a sense of community. The BKK accepts applications twice a year; prospective members must meet the requirements of being based in Berlin and selling self-made items.
Just as the membership fee, the ticket-sale revenue of the conference goes exclusively to cover the costs of the collective and event; as expounded by Emma, a sense of value beyond money is being found in these spaces. Within the context of financial realities impacting the sustenance of the many different self-made businesses showcased, the BKK is fostering intelligent, community-oriented incentives to honor independence.
Berlin Kreativ Konferenz team
We met Emma, one of the group of eight like-minded creators who first met working at Etsy Germany, and founded the non-profit organization Berlin Kreativ Kollektiv. Having the experience of abandoning an incompatible full-time job and finding herself forced to make ends meet with her passion for textiles and weaving, Emma perceived the relevance of a support network for creative makers (and would go on to do something about it). Involved in the textile industry for years now, her experience spans from India, to the UK, to Germany. Her knowledge and fascination with the comfort of British wool cloth is grounded in her skill to craft this relationship to the material into cushions, blankets, and objects to soften a home. This combination has seen her enterprise grow from towers of cloth cones and a loom in her living room, to working out of her own studio in Berlin and using a mill in the UK. Check out herwebsite or follow her on Instagram.
After a decade of part-time hand-crafting notebooks and stamps, and co-founding Mid-West Craft Con, editor, writer, and speaker Grace Dobush enlightens the audience with experience-hardened insight. Her subject is pricing strategies for crafters; on the sometimes hastily-dealt-with subject of assigning the price of goods you make yourself, Grace pulls from her personal history to point to universally applicable parameters of what a fair prince entails. Her grounded understanding of what happens at the extremes of pricing (perhaps ending up bankrupt or alienating customers) is test run for all to see, as BKK member Iza Bułeczka volunteers to have the prices of her pieces consulted on-projector. Grace goes through adjustments and improvements, pinpointing their why’s and how’s. You can learn more about pricing strategies in her book, The Crafty Superstar Ultimate Craft Business Guide. Check out her website or follow her on Instagram.
“Every Brand has Its Dog” is a talk that lives up to the intrigue of its title. Commanding and colorful, Gabby Lord lays out witty, humorous anecdotes and triangulates them to talk about personal branding. Another issue frequently under the improvisational whim of crafters and creators, generating and fostering a personal brand is unavoidable for the creative self-employed in the online landscape. Gabby goes into what at first seems like a tangent about sausage dogs and the Instagram account of a really famous one, and ties it all together to leaving a mark on people, and how to do so. Apart from anecdotes from her trajectory as a designer and art director, Gabby shares the example of her weekly newsletter of inspirational material OMGLORDand the progression of its identity. Gabby breaks down why and how to take personal notions like vulnerability and incentives, and set them into molding and iterating a personal brand. Sign up to the newsletter here and follow her on Instagram.
Illustrator and BKK member Yves Kervoelen, with samples of his work proudly displayed on one of the walls of the main stage, embodies the grounded creator maneuvering the rich and challenging terrain of independent business. After reaching stability in a career in architecture, Yves took the courageous initiative of dedicating himself to self-generated projects in illustration. The timeframes, responsibility-flow, and tangibility of results involved in independent creative work appealed to him to the degree of investing in his talent fully. His light, refreshing illustrations of Berlin and Paris city-scapes and homey, nature-inspired characters materialize in original prints, posters, notebooks, and postcards the production of which are Yves from sketch to frame. His focus on locally produced, quality-driven items mirror his enthusiasm for his craft. You can find Yves at Berlin Mauerpark on Sundays, or through his Etsy page.
Looking forward to the 2019 edition of the Berlin Kreativ Konferenz!
For more information about the BKK : www.berlinkreativkollektiv.com
Follow them on Instagram @berlinkreativkollektiv
Credit photos Sebastián Góngora Solano