On Traditional Crafts And Old Fashioned Stuff
This’ll be a quick article with an easy idea.
I’ve been delving into a new hobby recently, and it brought to mind an idea I’ve used over the course of multiple ventures.
Take old stuff and bring it into the 21st Century.
I watched a TV show a few months back and it was about traditional crafts in the UK. It turns out that a lot of crafts are going extinct, because as a society, the UK has turned its back on anything that involves time and effort in favour of cheap plastic stuff.
Now… if you’re a regular reader you’ll know that I’m sceptical about the long-term viability of this choice.
So in general I think finding some old boy and learning his trade is going to prove valuable in the future.
But let’s talk about the present.
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Old Stuff In The 21st Century
The value you’re providing isn’t in the old skill itself. Learning the old skill is an asset for the future, and its value is in the scarcity of the skill.
Take basket weaving, for instance.
It’s pretty cheap (I assume) to buy a bunch of willow sticks and sit in your garden weaving them into a basket.
The costs are your time and effort, basically. People don’t tend to pay for that.
If you’re the last basket weaver in town then you’re selling an exclusive service. People will pay for that.
But the value goes up exponentially when you’re the last basket weaver in the world. You alone control the supply of woven baskets now and in the future.
Step One: Learn Skill
We live in the best time ever for learning a skill. You go on YouTube and if it’s not there, then you find the nice old lady that knows how to do it. Then you are very nice to her until she teaches you.
This is a case of basic social skills.
Step Two: Market Skills
A lot of these skills are dying because they are under siege from two things.
One is Chinese imports.
Two is a lack of marketing and business prowess.
I saw a guy who was willing to give his business away to someone who was willing to undertake the gruelling process of apprenticing in the art that he made.
Now, most people aren’t going to do that – especially as they’re inheriting a business which is competing with the Chinese machine.
But with a little marketing knowledge, that becomes viable, exclusive and you’re the only game in the UK.
Marketing rare skills is a two-step process.
- Differentiate yourself from Chinese stuff entirely. Do not compete. You tell everyone – fairly or unfairly – that Chinese companies use cheap materials, they’ll probably cause you to catch AIDS and they use slave labour.
It’s mean but it works, and besides, the Chinese are killing your economy.
(Unless you’re reading this and you’re Chinese. I love you guys really.)
- You aren’t providing some cheap Etsy stuff. You’re providing something unique with a lineage of thousands of years and you’re the only game in town
A Lot Of Young People Are Looking For Purpose… This Is It
A lot of young people are concerned with finding some bigger life purpose. If that’s you, then this sort of business approach is a good fit for you.
Because there’s a noble cause. You are literally saving your culture.
Because it’s fulfilling. You get to be the hero that saves the day and do something that’ll make a difference.
Because it’s rewarding. Anything where there’s a limited supply will be rewarding.
Finally, because it fixes the world’s problems. A bunch of people go out in their millions to “save the jobs” and vote for a saviour who’ll fix the world for them.
If you want to build a better world, then the best approach is to do it not with your Twitter account but with your two hands.
If you want consumer culture to be replaced by something with deeper value, then build the alternative. Should you want to build an economy around small, local businesses, then start one.
If you want to live in a community where culture and tradition are important, then embrace the positive aspects of your culture and build them into your life’s work.