This week's post is a bit of a personal / running a small businessy one...
I seem to have a problem with grammar (stay with me!): For some reason I feel the need to talk about my work in the plural. Where I should be proudly presenting my latest designs, a slightly apologetic 'our' comes out instead. Stationery suites that have been entirely mine from initial concept, through days of painstaking development on the computer screen and finally bringing them to life as I print, check and finish each piece by hand. There are times it feels like I could use a team, but it is just me.
Of course I've had help. Without sounding like an Oscars speech, there are people without whom I'd never have got to this point. People who've taught me vital skills or brought specific parts of my business to life. I'm especially grateful to Sarah at Marshfield Print Studios for her patient introduction to screen printing and her ongoing technical support (not to mention cups of tea and cat chat!). And the unfaltering support of my husband and family continues to encourage me up mountains I never knew I could climb.
So why we, our and us?
Not so long ago it seemed that to appear professional as small businesses, we were encouraged to present ourselves as bigger than in reality we were. Although the idea of artisan businesses, run by one person from the kitchen table is gaining traction, language doesn't seem to have caught up. Have you ever seen a 'contact me' button?
It appears using 'we' and 'us' is a hard habit to break. Perhaps it feels like there's safety in numbers. As artists, designers, musicians and writers we often struggle with putting our ideas in the public domain. It can feel all just a little too personal, like exposing a fragile piece of soul to the world. The mythical 'us' acts as a defensive mechanism. I'm a little shy of blowing my own trumpet; using 'us' to create a little distance between me and my products allows me to sing their praises more comfortably.
I'm trying to keep myself honest, but it might be a little while before I'm able to take full responsibility in public for work I'm privately incredibly proud of. In the mean time, you might have to forgive the odd misplaced 'us'.