Back in October, I attended my nephew's wedding.
Of course, I had to make a piece of lace as a present and so I made a heart, edged, and adorned with handmade lace that takes a sixpence.
At the wedding, my sister introduced me to someone as 'Hi, this is my sister, she's a lacemaker'.
Doesn't sound like much. I make lace. So, I'm a lacemaker.
But it is a big thing.
I often introduce myself to people with the words, 'I make and teach lace'.
It's not semantics.
'I make lace' talks about the activity that I do. I am a lacemaker talks about me and my accomplishments.
Since I set up the digital crafter and worked with the Heritage Crafts Association, I have met so many talented people in the craft industry.
Typically, amongst these people, they talk about what they do rather than defining themselves as crafts people.
'Oh, I hand dye yarn' rather than 'I'm a hand dyer'. 'I paint' rather than 'I am a painter'.
It is as though; we are not allowed to define ourselves as creative artists.
Personally, I feel that part of this is a cultural thing. I'm British and we just don't go around shouting out about our achievements. You go out looking fab in a new outfit and someone compliments you, your response is 'oh, this old think?'
But it also got me thinking about how even in business, we have changed how we describe ourselves.
We talk about 'being in' an industry. 'Oh, I'm in digital marketing'. It sounds throw away, like this week it's digital marketing, next week the world.
I was talking with a recruiter recently, and they pulled me up short when I had gone through my skills and experiences and finished it with the words 'yes, I suppose you could say, I'm in digital marketing'.
'No', she said, 'you aren't IN digital marketing. You're a MarTech Expert'.
And she was right, I have to take ownership of my skills and abilities and be confident in them. It may seem like a little thing but when you start to define yourself as being capable in your field, it makes a big difference.
I've met people who have been making lace for decades but still class themselves as beginners. They aren't. Their work is superb but by talking in those terms, they think they are being friendly and non-confrontational.
But it isn't inclusive.
It doesn't make beginners think that you are more approachable. In fact, it does the opposite. It can put of beginners because they see it that 20 years on you are still a beginner so how will they ever be proficient.
Crafts are more accessible when those who are competent or even experts in them acknowledge the struggles that beginners have and show empathy with those starting out but also show that they overcame those challenges and offer support for anyone learning.
We need more people to acknowledge that they are lacemakers, hand dyers, painters, artists, crafts persons .... we need to show that our crafts are not dying out. We need to take ownership of our competencies and achievements.
You are the expert.