I've been waiting to write about Hip My Trip until the website was up and I could proudly share the completed project, but I saw a lot of value in expressing where I'm at right now in the beginning stages. So, as of March 28 2017, this is where I'm at.
What is Hip My Trip?
Hip my Trip is my project, currently just living on Etsy, that creates custom artistic maps to remember your impactful trips. It was started after I plugged in the route of my round-world trip in 2016/17 to Google Maps. It was functional, but for extra fun I made a stripped down version that was much more aesthetically pleasing. It hit me that many others probably would love to have a way to show special trips or geographical locations. So I researched, and saw there were definitely a handful of shops (largely on Etsy) that were selling geographical prints and products, but I couldn't find anyone actually showing the route, which to me was the best part! The route is what you're in charge of, there's a lot of pride and significance in it.
Questions that keep me up at night:
- Is no one specializing in trip routes because there's no demand for it?
- How the hell do I compete with other map art companies that have had their shop open for 7+ years and have 6k sales? How do some of these shops pay for thousands of listings? How do people even find me on Etsy if these companies completely swarm the space, with employees to help and Etsy SEO tools to keep all products new and in front of others?
- Ethically am I supposed to be creating all the background patterns? Is it fair if I purchase a pattern and use repeatedly on products? Is it OK to use patterns that belong to other cultures? Isn't it unethical as a white person to use elements from other cultures to make a profit? Does that change if I buy directly from artists and use credit? Is it OK to create my own patterns from elements I take from stock art?
- How would I be able to afford to offer any small items if the custom design time is what costs the most, not the materials? Are there products I can offer other than posters that are still cost effective and worth it for the customer to hire me for? Do I want to only be open to custom work?
- Is it worth putting hours of time into setting up geographical prints and products like the other shops with my own style, or are people just looking for whats cheapest, which I cant afford?
- Is it worth all the time and effort to post and manage my Instagram and social channels just for hope that someone will be a customer from it? Other shops with tons of sales don't seem to be stressing about it and they are quite successful.
- Is the name Hip My Trip, and concept of focusing on the routes from trips, too narrow of a category? Do I think it's a great idea because I'm weird and don't relate to most people and what I might think is a great idea might not be as celebrated by others? Is traveling for leisure too much tied to privilege? How to I try to be aware of this and balance with some good?
Thoughts that keep me going:
- I believe in the product- it's beautiful and lets you tell your story
- The feeling of inadequacy and comparison to other shops is a blessing and a curse. Of course it eats me up a bit to think of how late to the game I am compared to these other companies who have been published in magazines, blogs, etc. But, it also gives me inspiration because that means enough people love maps and the emotional significance they hold
- Maps encourage curiosity and let us think more globally, peacefully
- I always dreamed of being a good pattern designer, and this medium lets me try out different concepts and be my own art director
- Getting a new order brings me such a thrill-not because of the money, but because it means I've connected with someone, they've seen me and appreciate my vision, and more importantly I get to hear of their wonderful stories of their trips which is truly inspiring!
- I don't have a job. (Hopefully) finding freelance gigs, a PT mindless data collection job, and my projects are what I have. This is my special time to build something that matters.
Today I just started obsessively creating templates and images for some pillows. I believe they are beautiful and I want to keep pushing myself to only create things I truly love to see, instead of something I assume others would want to just fill space in their home. Intentionality is my goal.
And here's a pattern I designed! I'm really happy with it:
I want to keep my standards high, surprises often, and quality top notch. Thing is there's SO MUCH I want to do, and I feel SO BEHIND others. But I'm trying to stay focused on why I believe in this project and keep moving forward each day, even if it's a tiny bit.
And just like in other aspects of life, it's smart to value your differences. Following, or believing you're supposed to be in the same game as others, doesn't get anyone anywhere and that belief comes from fear of failure. I'm trying to figure out how my unique perspective and values can be a greater focus of the work I put out in the world.
For now- the website. There's a whole lot to tackle in a custom website that includes collecting specific information and payment- and currently it's just set up for the custom posters. Eventually I hope to expand and have more pre-designed map products, and have fun with pattern creating like I always dreamed of as a kid. I'm soooo lucky that my partner can make anything possible I think of and is working on it for me. Well, it's part of our goal to have projects together under a new entity, but that will be sometime in the future and saved for another post.
I'm trying to not feel overwhelmed and take it one step at a time. Wish me luck! (So far it's not going the best...........)
Thanks for reading,