A Year in Sante Fe Part 2
Written by Jim from Kath Guitars
Published in the December 2011 Edition
For those who are inexplicably worried about our swamp cooler situation, you’ll be relieved to know that it is now cold enough here to turn off the noisy beasts for good. However, now we have to deal with the weird “built into the concrete floor” heating. I’ll keep you posted on how that works out. But to summarize: warm feet, cold head. Need I say more? Also, the builder in his infinite wisdom decided that a Kiva was needed in the bedroom, so we have that to at least take the chill out of the air (Kiva is the Native American word for fireplace, it’s not a city in Russia).
The coyote situation here deserves constant vigilance. As the weather gets colder and all the rabbits are hunkering down (or have already been eaten), the coyotes are starting to search for new dinner items. One evening Maritza and I took our yorkie, Sable, to the nearby park (okay, it’s really just the desert, but she thinks it’s the park). I was standing with my back to the desert and talking with Maritza about fifty yards away from me, A few feet away from me Sable was sniffing and peeing, sniffing and peeing, peeing and sniffing. Suddenly Maritza’s eyes went huge and she yelled “James, watch out!!” (She calls me James, makes me feel important). I spun around and could barely see a coyote about ten feet from me eyeing up Sable like a Christmas turkey. I quickly picked up Sable and fled to safety (I don’t normally flea, this was a unique situation). The coyotes blend into the grass so perfectly that it’s nearly impossible to see them. Many neighbors have lost cats, dogs, teean-agers, okay I made that up, to these voracious hunters. (See picture).
|The site of the Coyote debacle|
|Sable resting after the coyote scare!|
|Coyote with squirrel|
Before moving on to the subject of art, let me say one more thing about the wildlife. Birds!! Not angry birds like the stupid mobile-phone game everyone in the US is currently obsessed with, but pigeons. LOTS of pigeons. We feel like we’re in an Alfred Hitchcock movie. I guess they like the roof of our house because it’s flat and probably warm during the day. I think they’ve nested next to the swamp cooler because I can hear them through the ceiling. The roof is too high to climb up there, but they’re making me crazy. It’s sounds like I have gremlins walking on the roof all day and cooing at each other, as gremlins are known to do. (Note to self, catch a coyote and put it on the roof, two problems solved). We also have decided that we have a ghost in the house. The lady that lived here before passed away here. So, we sometimes don’t know if it’s the birds we’re hearing or the previous tenant. She moves things in my workshop, makes me forget to do my husbandly chores, drinks all the milk and puts the container back empty; she insidious!!
They have a word they use to describe the attitude of workers here in Santa Fe: Mañana, which in Spanish means “tomorrow”. It’s like a sign I saw in a bar once “Free Beer Tomorrow”. No matter what you need, everybody here says “Sure, I’ll have it for you tomorrow” and of course tomorrow never comes. Mañana.
We had a guy come to fix our fridge the day we moved in and we’re still waiting for the part. It’s been three months and every week he says “I’ll be there by Friday”. Fortunately it’s not an important part, just a filter, so we still have a working fridge, just no water or ice. Mañana.
|This is our Kiva|
On the art front, business has been picking up! We’re at the Santa Fe Railyard Artisan’s fair every Sunday and the “Neiman Marcus” crowd is starting to arrive. For those not familiar, Neiman Marcus (also known as Needless Markup), is a high-end store that sells a lot of the same stuff as everybody else except they charge triple. It’s better stuff cause you pay more.
Neiman Marcus headquarters is in Texas, so it’s used as a term to refer to all the wealthy folks from Texas who come up to Santa Fe to vacation and buy stuff they don’t need. God Bless them all!! The tourism increase is great for Maritza’s business since she sells very unique jewelry that can only be found here in Santa Fe, her work is truly beautiful (www.lalunaranchwear.com). My business is totally different though, I have what they call a long-tail as far as sales are concerned. Most people aren’t going to do an impulse buy for a six-thousand dollar hand-made guitar, so my target audience is the local Santa Fe musician crowd. I’ve been doing advertising in a local paper and one of the papers actually did an article on me which resulted in a lot of guitar repair work. That’s how you sell custom guitars, you do repair work so that customers get comfortable with you, then eventually they’ll buy a guitar, the long-tail. But it’s going really well. I’m currently backed up about three weeks with repairs!!!
Marketing is everything. As I said last month, “Publish Or Perish”. You gotta sell. It doesn’t matter how great your product is, if you don’t sell, it won’t survive. Two years ago I worked for a web development firm (I’m a computer programmer of thirty years) and I learned a lot about how shameless self-promotion works. You have to remember that nobody and I mean NOBODY is thinking about you unless you slap them in the face and say “Hey, I’m here!!!”, metaphorically speaking. We’re all so self-absorbed that most of the time we’re just thinking about ourselves. If you don’t believe me, then stop right now and pay attention to what you’re thinking about. It’s not your friend Mary’s hand-made oven mits, is it? So you have to remind people who you are.
The thing I learned from this web-development/marketing company is that you should never wait around to be noticed by the media or passersby. Call the newspaper yourself and tell them “Hey, I’m a really interesting person, do an article on me”. It works. I was scared to death to try it because, mostly, I hate myself and don’t think there’s anything interesting about me. But I need to eat and pay the bills. I went to the website of a local paper and found the music editor and sent him an email. The next day he was here doing a story on me. Remember, they have deadlines and quotas to meet and are always scrambling for new stories. You’re actually doing them a favor.
When I started working for the web firm, I was impressed with the multitude of trophies they had displayed in their lobby. First-place awards for best web design, most creative graphics; all from prestigious organizations. What I soon learned was that you apply for those things, then pay about four-hundred dollars for the actual trophy!!! That’s more than I can afford, and I hate trophies in my house, but the point is that the owner didn’t sit waiting to get noticed, he called the people and paid money in order to be honored. It’s a pretty messed up system if you ask me, but that’s how it works.
Remember, if you don’t promote yourself then who will? Nobody, that’s who. Nobody, outside of your house, has your best interest at heart, they’re all thinking about their own lives, problems, dreams etc. You can do it in a way that doesn’t sound conceited. Like with my guitars, people always complement on how beautiful the wood is. I tell them, “I can’t take credit for that, God made the wood, I just glue it together.” When in fact I had to sand for a week, apply twelve coats of lacquer over three days, wait two weeks, buff it, buff it, buff it, then hand polish for two hours. It took a lot of work to make the wood jump out like that, but if I bragged about it I’d look like an idiot. And anyway, God did do all of the work, he’s the one that gave me the skills and the patience to hone them, I can’t take credit for anything.
Bloom where you’re planted. No excuses. Excuses are just a way of saying “I really don’t want this bad enough”. If there’s no market for your product where you live, then move. If you can’t move, then create the market. Use Etsy, use eBay, get your product into a catalog, put a stand in front of your house, have a craft party with free food (people will put up with anything for the chance at free food, and if you invite me, there better be bacon) and tell your crafty friends to bring their stuff to sell too. But don’t just rely on one thing and put all your eggs in that basket. Sell your stuff everywhere you can. Coca-Cola didn’t become big by sitting in a basement somewhere hoping somebody knocked on the front door and asked for a drink. They are everywhere! And they never stop advertising everywhere. No matter where you go, there are coke signs. It’s really annoying. But they built an empire on sugar and carbonated water. Surely your product is better than that!!!
|Guitar for a customer|
|Guitars in the works|
|The Guitars are piling up|