A few years ago, a pal Chuck started an oyster farm where there was no Foursquare check in. He did it not because he wanted to be a bazzillionaire but because he likes oysters. And he likes building things. In this case he wasn’t smitten by building oyster racks for his Blue Island oysters (the name he uses with his distributor), he was interested in building a business, a brand, and a little piece of the craft economy. Some are referring to this as the maker movement.
Over a frosty yesterday after a few hours helping in the field, I tried to explain what a brand planner does. He looked at me like cormorant might look at a garbage truck. Huh? Then we got to talking about renaming his oysters; the nearby inlet, the history of Fire Island and the importance of story with muscle memory in creating a brand and our crafts collided and it made sense.
I love talking to people who love what they do. All this talk about passion is so 2000 and, frankly, I’m tired of it. (It’s like ROI — if you have to talk about it, you are not getting it.) Hard work is passion. Members of the craft economy tend to put a little extra into what they make. It’s more about what they make and less about what they do. Think product, not process.
Chuck, I suspect, could work on Wall Street or manage thousands, but he chooses to put on the waders, schlepp oyster seeds, and put the near-market-ready oysters in the tumbler. When he brings his saline little beauties to market — be that at Le Bernardin, The Dutch or Babylon Fish and Clam (just guessing), he’s putting a product on a plate like no other. “Take another little piece of my heart now baby.”
Do you love what you do? Become a member of the craft economy. Peace.
(Pictured is Greg, Chuck’s marine biology-studying employee.)