Mei Pak on Learning to Love Marketing

Mei Pak is a marketing strategist guiding and supporting small and creative business owners. She helps makers, artists and designers create more buzz for their business at Creative Hive Co. Business topics she is passionate about are PR and publicity, social media, wholesale, paid advertising, blogger outreach, pricing, branding, customer experience, web design and scaling up your biz without any capital. Mei also runs Tiny Hands, a line of handmade, scented food jewelry with her small team of assistants. She sells in over a hundred stores across the United States, has been featured on Parks and Recreation, InTouch Magazine, Every Day With Rachael Ray, Design*Sponge and Hello Giggles and has appeared on TV a number of times.

At Midwest Craft Con, she’ll be teaching: Blogger Outreach for Exposure, and Social Media the Right Way.

Why do you do what you do?

Makers don’t want to spend all their time doing sales and marketing. But if you never work on getting the word out there, that’s a recipe for failure. I started Creative Hive Co. because so many creative folks are lost when it comes to promoting their business. I was in that position when I started out, too. I went on learning binges (I sometimes still do) and sought out marketing information from all the gurus and experts out there. I spent thousands of hours consuming ebooks, courses, video trainings and mentored one on one with several people. The problem I had to face on my own, however, was in applying these marketing strategies to my handmade business. I went through trial and error like a mad scientist. All marketing concepts apply to any business, but the hardest part is thinking about them in context with your own unique business. A handmade business is different, and your creative mind processes things in a different perspective. After many successful years running my business, I’ve found the specific steps to market a handmade business that just works. I see the patterns and have the road maps that I want to share with those that are feeling lost. Marketing doesn’t have to be hard or feel slimy. It can be fun — especially when you’re making money when your products sell!

What’s your earliest crafty memory?

My parents used to buy “just add water” painting books for me. All you needed to do was take a wet brush and paint water between the lines. The colors would show through like magic! I also remember loving crafty books — my mom got me puppet making and papier mache ones. I also had a 100-things-to-do-at-home-when-you’re-bored book. It had recipes in it for things like silly putty or do-it-yourself clay. But these were all too advanced for me and I could never figure them out on my own!

What advice would you go back and give your younger self?

I was born in a Chinese household in Malaysia. My parents are super cool people, but Asian nonetheless. They didn’t have comfortable lives growing up and didn’t want me to suffer like they did. A lot of my upbringing in Asian culture and society involved conforming to the norm, doing what you’re told, get good grades and go to college to be an accountant and get a good job in a bank or insurance company. For most people, that works out fine, especially if you’ve never seen alternate ways of earning an income. Our younger selves can’t predict the future. We choose the paths that are the safest and easiest to take, but they’re not always the right ones for us. Even though going to college was a great experience, I now have a college degree that I don’t use. I would say to my younger self: Do what you’re passionate about, even if everyone says you won’t make money doing it. Don’t let other people beat down your dreams. Without the passion, you’re missing the drive to do anything successfully.

What’s your favorite craft/business book?

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is a recent favorite. It talks more about financial education but in so many ways it addresses our limiting beliefs about making money and how to create an abundant life. It’s practical and I highly recommend it. #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso is one I’m surprised to like that I think many of us creatives will relate to and find inspiring! And lastly, The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber is a classic. He teaches you to work ON your business and not IN it.

How did you get where you are today, in 10 words or less?

By investing in myself, having a strategy and guts.

What are your goals for 2016?

I used to be a control freak and perfectionist. But after hiring production assistants in 2012 and letting go of that aspect of my business entirely, I’ve changed to live more spontaneously with only big picture goals. I tried setting annual goals in the past years, but I always end up going off on a tangent. I feel much less pressure this way, while still having a direction!

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