Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Rattlesnake Tails and Tattoo Parlors

As an artisan jeweler, how do you stand out in an Emerging Entrepreneurs Business Competition amid a sea of tech companies and patent holders?

By being clear, passionate, and memorable. 

That was my theory, and I'm happy to say it worked.

Back in February, I pulled together a business plan and entered this competition on a whim. I was pleasantly surprised when I made it to the semi-final round of 11 entrepreneurs.

Last night we all pitched our ideas to a panel of judges in an elimination round modeled on the tv show Shark Tank. Each entrepreneur had three minutes to explain their concept (with no powerpoint, samples, or marketing materials allowed) and then had to answer a series of questions from the judges before receiving real-time feedback and a score of 1-5. 

The concept I presented, Origins and Routes, is based on the body of work I've made for my senior show. It is about representing people's heritage and the people and places they feel connected to through wearable identity portraits. My pitch included a lot of interesting visual imagery. I gave an example of what an identity portrait for my mom might look like and included a rattlesnake tail for New Mexico in the description. When talking about how to scale up my model, I referenced a tattoo parlor where there are multiple artists each with a unique style and specialization working under the umbrella of a shop with a common vision.

(I will share more about my concept soon!)

I was honestly not expecting to make it to the final round of three entrepreneurs. I got good feedback and scores, but I was tied with a few other people and was certain their tech-heavy ideas would win. 

When they announced my name and that the Origins and Routes concept had taken second place, I was speechless (a very rare thing for me).

I now go on to present to an audience of 300 people on May 17th. Audience vote will determine who wins first, second and third place. All of the finalists get cash prizes and business mentorship, so no matter the results I already have an exciting start to the next phase of my career post-school.

I am beyond excited and, after having been rejected from literally every single art-related thing I've applied for recently, feel very validated and like my hard work is finally being recognized. If I had to articulate my goal for the future, it would be to continue working in the style I've developed with my senior show and Origins and Routes, but in a way that is commercially viable. To stay true to my artistic voice but find a way to connect with others and get my work out there.

Judging by the response I got yesterday, I am on the right path and couldn't be happier.