Trapped and Miserable
A funny thing about our apartment in Argentina – you had to have a separate key to get into the building and another to enter the apartment door (both of which locked automatically), but you also had to use a third key to get *out* of the building.
Picture me on June 6th, 2012. My Kickstarter campaign was set to end that evening and not end well. Charlie, my ever supportive partner and some-times therapist, had his luthiery class, so he wasn’t home. He offered to stay, but I said I could suffer the defeat alone.
By alone, I realized, I didn’t mean *totally* alone. I decided that I wanted to have some tall company – by that I mean a **Quilmes Stout. This flavor of decision always comes with a ‘should I, shouldn’t I?’ debate. Classic angel and devil shoulder sitting and all that. Devil won and won so hard I rushed out the door before the angel had time to talk sense. Rushed out with out my wallet I realized while I was in the hallway. Rushed out..with out my keys.
Since Buenos Aires is in the southern-hemi, it’s cold in June. Especially cold if you’re wimpy about cold and you’re trapped in a hallway, no way to get in to your apartment and no way to get out of the building to a coffee shop.
This is the part where I sat and ugly cried in the stairwell. It was the point where my miserable surroundings matched my miserable mood. It also gave me a solid stretch of time to think about what went wrong with my Kickstarter campaign. The campaign that failed in front of everyone I knew.
Reasons for A Failed Kickstarter Campaign
- I wasn’t Molly Crabapple. (aka – The “Hey if they can do it, so can I!” fallacy. )
- At the start of this whole Kickstarter business for me was brilliant Molly Crabapple. Her Kickstarter for “Molly Crabapple’s Week in Hell” was the blueprint for my own. She locked herself in a hotel room for 5 days, covering the walls with paper, and then covering the paper with art. Her goal was $4500. She got $25,805!
- The concept was the same, but the people were decidedly NOT. I’m very, very pleased to be Skye Lucking, make no mistake, but I am no Molly Crabapple! Ms. Crabapple is/was a full-time artist working in the Lower East Side, Manhattan, NY. She’d started an art school called Mr. Sketchy’s. She had several successful art shows…well, you get the idea. In researching this blog, I see she’s grown an even more impressive portfolio. Go Molly Crabapple! Always an inspiration.
- Bottom line – Kickstarter success is very much about the network you already have. Don’t mistake the fact that you have a similar concept as another person to mean you have a similar circumstance or chance for success.
- Math (aka – I didn’t know my numbers.)
- It’s not that I’m bad at math. I’m fine at math. I’m no Dr. Frances Allen but I’m fine. It’s more that I can’t seem to be bothered with figuring out the numbers until I realize that not figuring out the numbers is a HUGE bother.
- I wasn’t sure how much it would be to ship out some of my prizes from Buenos Aires, Argentina to my backers. I wasn’t sure exactly how much the materials would cost. I wasn’t sure if I’d lose a great deal of money or walk away with a nice chunk of change. I didn’t know and couldn’t be bothered. So – I just padded the amount I was asking for. By…um..a kind of ridiculous amount: $7,654.
- Why $7,654? That’s a great question! Answer? Red wine and hubris. Also, not knowing my numbers.
- “What to do tonight? I know! I’ll cruise around a crowdfunding site to find strangers whose projects I can back!” – Said no one ever. (aka – I didn’t realize how reliant success was on friends, family, and acquaintances.)
- At the end of the day – my Kickstarter was just a way for me to have an amazing good time just before leaving the movable fiesta that was Buenos Aires, Argentina.
- In my mind I was giving people this wonderful opportunity to be part of an event. I imagined this fun intense whirlywind of art and collaboration – finished off with the shipping out of my work that everyone was eager to get.
- It wasn’t to start a business. It wasn’t going for a good cause. It was just to fund my great arty adventure. Those who backed it probably weren’t excited to get that piece of art. They were excited to show me support and love. Keep this in mind when you’re deciding if you really want to go down the crowdfunding road.
- A super long, super cutesy, super cringe-worthy video. (aka – I didn’t keep my video short and sweet.)
- That video, tho. I’m going to be honest. This right here is why I’ve never written about my failed Kickstarter campaign. I realize now, 5 years hence, that I was trying to woo some stranger into giving me money for my art. I was trying to be charming. I was trying to be cute and it is very, very obvious. Cloying even. For FIVE minutes. Frankly, it is embarrassing. However, we struggle through vulnerability to come out stronger on the other side. So, here it is. Feel free not to watch it all.
- Total Preparation Time Was Not Enough (aka: I didn’t research my market, potential media options, how it would ‘work’ if I did get backing…)
- As I said, I didn’t really do the math. However, there was more to it than that. For example, I had a solid group of arty friends in Buenos Aires who wanted to support the campaign…and they were not able to. Kickstarter used Amazon Web Services (or something like that) which was completely unavailable for use by people in all of Argentina. So, that was an awkward setback. I had more than a few people say that they tried to back the campaign – and they just couldn’t. Doh!
- I was begging to get interviews and press during the campaign – instead of researching the best podcasts or ezines or what have you to be in well before. Don’t do this. It’s kind of a pathetic exercise.
Reasons Why I’m So Glad My Kickstarter Failed
In the end – it was likely a blessing that my Kickstarter Campaign failed. I’m not sure how it’d have all gone down had I actually gotten that cash and needed to fill 27 feet of canvas, cut it up, and organized shipping for all of the pieces. Also, it would have been hella stressful given we were preparing a big international move back to the US.
More than that – I was so heartened by those that were supportive of me. Also, I made note of those folks for whom I shouldn’t look for support. The concept that I really need to know those numbers was reinforced (constantly so). The understanding of who I do and do not want to portray myself as was made clearer. This is all very useful information.
It’s good to fail. I know that isn’t what our ‘winning’ societal message is these days, but winning takes some failing beforehand, no matter how good you are. You fail when you get a rejection letter from a publisher. You fail when you hear nothing back from a retail shop you’ve sent your catalog to. You fail when a painting doesn’t quite work. Does this mean you stop? No. You change your approach. You learn from your mistakes. You fail some more – until – you don’t.
There is a large part of this story left unwritten – and that’s a renewed gratitude to those that helped me in this process – Charlie, Beatrice, Haje, Vivi, and all of those that backed it. Thank you for believing in me back then. Thank you for believing in me now.