Last week Three Muses participated in a unique crowdfunding festival here in Jacksonville known as One Spark. We were competing with 609 other creators for a piece of the $310,000 to be awarded based on the votes of more than 260,000 people who attended. While only people who were physically at the festival and checked in were able to cast votes, a new option this year allowed anyone from anywhere in the world to contribute funds to their favorite projects through the website.
We didn’t participate last year and after attending one of the events, I felt like it was a missed opportunity. So when registration opened this year, I jumped at the chance to be a part of something potentially momentous. Problem was, I had no idea what my project would be. I wasn’t trying to start a new business and I didn’t have time to do anything not directly related to what Three Muses was already doing. Luckily the innovation category allowed for established businesses that wanted to take things farther and grow what they were already doing. So after years of contributing to countless funding campaigns for other people’s projects on the likes of Indiegogo and KickStarter, I decided to throw my hat into the crowdfunding ring.
Our project was called Reintroducing the Art of Corsetry, because We Need a New Sewing Machine didn’t sound as catchy. But the basic idea was raising funds to get new equipment so we would be capable of producing our corsets and more items in-house rather than continuing to outsource overseas. Dreaming big, we figured if we could actually get a few machines then we could hold sewing classes in our workshop area.
Once I confirmed Brema was on board for five crazy days of talking about corsets, I got together our profile and we shot our video pitching our idea. A unique aspect of One Spark is that a venue has to choose to host your project. We were thrilled when Grease Rags Clothing Co. picked us and we immediately accepted. We have very complimentary stores and felt it was a great fit.
So for five long days and nights, Brema and I worked our butts off. We talked to everyone, did corset fittings and handed out over 300 cards as we pitched our idea and said our project number a million times. We ran back and forth from downtown to the shop, still managing to keep the store open every day. My mom came to visit and danced in the street wearing isis wings while handing out cards. We dressed as super heroes, video game characters, wore matching outfits and crazy tights. We visited other projects and cast our own votes. We posted incessantly online for people to vote and contribute.
In the end, we managed to get 109 votes, which earned us $180.92 out of the $310,000. We raised a whopping $0 in contributions. (JULY UPDATE: did not get enough votes to even get the money. So we got NOTHING.)
So between paying Brema to work the table and Jessica to work the store, food and gas, marketing, etc., I actually spent enough to have just gone out and bought some new sewing machines myself. But really, what’s the fun in that? I know for sure that doing the One Spark festival will pay off in the long run and quite honestly I wasn’t expecting much in the way of prize money so what we got was a welcome surprise. (JULY UPDATE: I wasn’t expecting much but to have the results say we would be getting something and then get nothing was a huge disappointment. And no, it did not payoff in the long run. Maybe 1 or 2 people came in that following week saying they saw us at One Spark)
The funds will be distributed in 4-6 weeks and when they are we plan to go shopping for a new sewing machine for the shop. The one we have now is getting a little old and temperamental. So just getting that small amount is pretty cool and we plan to put it to good use. (JULY UPDATE: Well that’s just depressing to read. That small amount would have indeed been cool.)
I feel the contacts we made at One Spark and the opportunity to connect with so many people was the most invaluable part of the festival. Every one of the cards we handed out was to people who were genuinely interested in what we had to offer. This was an incredible chance to directly market to people who will become future customers and those connections will pay off way more than the short term prize money.
(JULY UPDATE: Would I do this again? No. I think it’s great for someone who doesn’t have a fulltime job and can afford to be out there for 5 days pushing some new project. But to miss work and have to pay Brema to work the festival plus extra for working Sunday and pay to cover the shop and cover food and everything while we were there…it’s just too much. We made a lot more contacts just walking around. So we’ll definately be attending the festival again, just as attendees not creators.)
Big thanks to everyone who did come out and visit us and vote! And to Cindy at Grease Rags for being such a great host! We are already working on ideas for our project next year 🙂 (JULY UPDATE: We still love Cindy but our project next year will just involve enjoying the festival and maybe helping out someone else’s project)