I haven't been sewing AT ALL this month and I've been staying away from social media because I'm challenged by the fact that quite a few sewists aren't their authentic selves. So many are trying to be someone else and the unauthentic portrayals sadden me.
It's led me to contemplate "What is an Influencer" and "Who is a Real Influencer"? Are you one because you get free stuff and talk about it? Are you one because you've got a lot of followers? Are you one because you produce flashy reels and take great pictures? Is it because you've declared yourself a brand, so you're doing everything you can to make a name for yourself on the socials?
It makes me wonder "What happened to the Art"? Because to me, sewing is an artform, just like knitting, quilting, etc. At what point is it about the "fame" rather than the art?
Also as with all things in life, there's space for only so many at the top. What's so special about what you do that means you should be at the top of the pyramid?
My contemplation does not come from a place of jealousy and desire to be like others. I'm offered new collabs every week. I say no to 95% of them and the ones I do consider have to be something I truly believe in and want to do. Free stuff isn't free to me. You have to put work into it, perform it on a timetable (that may or may not fit into my schedule) and add additional elements to the project that you may or may not be reimbursed for.
At my age, TIME is a commodity that I don't give away freely. So I've come to the realization that the word "Influencer" as it's used today doesn't reflect who I am. I'm also of a demographic where I can afford to finance my hobby because that's what sewing is - my hobby. It's not a job. It's not a springboard to a second career - it's my hobby. As such, I take pride in the fact that with years of experience I do it well. BUT and this is important, it's there to provide entertainment, solace, creative challenges when I need it but it's not scheduled, regulated or required.
If I influence you to purchase something, it's because I've spent my hard earned money on the item first. I've bought fabric from the supplier and experienced what their shipping was like, their return policy, what the product actually looks like when it shows up at my home. If it's a sewing machine, I've sewn on that machine for years. I've upgraded from one version to another and I've gifted them to my sewing friends. I believe in the sewing machine company. Now just add those sentences to everything sewing related as well as the suppliers.
I'm not suggesting you buy something because it was given to me free. I believe in the supplier/manufacturer/brand and I would use this product whether it was free or not. That's not what's happening in the online sewing world now. In my opinion, sewists are trying to get as much free stuff as possible so they can be in the "In Crowd." I can count on my two hands the ACTUAL number of sewing influencers whose recommendations I would take because my criteria isn't based upon likes.
My criteria is based upon:
- Can they actually sew?
- Are they learning to better their craft?
- Do their garments fit well or are they just photographed well?
- Do they have any actual fabric knowledge or are they just taking stuff because it's free?
- Do they understand why notions are important and why they're needed to perform a task?
- Is all of their knowledge YouTube/Internet based or have they actually read a sewing book? Not all YouTube videos show you the correct techniques.
- Is this just a way to make them Social Media Famous?
Now I know the next question is ~ who do I consider a Social Media Sewing Influencer. But you know what, that doesn't matter. What matters is that YOU the consumer should decide WHO you want to follow and WHY. If you only need pretty pictures to make you happy and encourage you to buy, then continue to follow and encourage the Influencer who does that for you. If you like reels, IGTV, YouTube videos or Facebook Group leaders and they influence you to buy or sew something, then follow them.
I'm addressing my thoughts and needs since you stopped by my sewing room to chat!
Lastly, I understand the need of an Influencer. They point us to things we may not have considered. They show us suppliers, programs, pattern designers we may not have known. Most importantly most of them do promote the craft of sewing.
These are my thoughts on a Saturday afternoon, where the sewists who follow me on Instagram have influenced me to finish up a shirt I've been stalled on.
...as always more later!