November 13, 2014

Five Years of Beyond Buckskin!

I missed my anniversary!

Ok and by "anniversary", I mean blogiversary... or whatever it's called.  In August of 2009, I launched Beyond Buckskin not knowing what it would lead to. Actually, I launched BB with the sole mission of reaching more people. That's it. Simple mission.

I was in my last year as a grad student, I was in the final stages of writing my dissertation, and I hated that my research was reaching only a few people. It seemed unfair to the designers. 

So I carved out a small section of the internet and called it Beyond Buckskin.

In 5 years, I've seen how something tiny can grow into something much more. With a little bit of TLC and nurturing, interviews with designers would blossom into collaborations (and an online store!) and critiques of the fashion industry would lead to quotes in major news outlets (and international recognition!), and the word about Beyond Buckskin would spread. 

I didn't know web design or how to blog, I didn't know HTML or what an RSS feed is. I didn't know much, but as I went along I began to figure out how to transform an idea in my head into a functioning website. There were flaws, broken links, and bad font. But I did a little bit here and there, found resources, ironed out the kinks and revamped the design. There are still glitches, and now I have the crazy idea to expand (I'm crazy!). But if I didn't launch Beyond Buckskin back in 2009, my life would be incredibly different. 

If you have an idea for a blog or website, do it. It's going to have flaws, but launch it. You'll learn how to fix the errors, you'll see what works and what doesn't. Don't let fear hold you back. Take a chance and make something special. I didn't think that a fashion website would become my full time job, but here I am. 

Find your niche. What interests you? What inspires you? In Indian Country, we need a go-to website that covers only Rez sports - I want to know how our high school basketball teams are doing - I want an NDN ESPN! And I know I'm not the only one. We also need a go-to website dedicated to foodways and recipes - I want to be able to try out new dishes with a Native Betty Crocker twist. 

How do you spend your free time? Beading? Hunting? Cooking? Poetry? Make up arts? Working out? Drawing? DIY projects? Photography? These all make great website ideas! The important thing is to keep with it. I've had times when life takes me away from blogging (it just happened!), and it will happen with you, but don't be afraid of the reintroduction. Jump back in. What have you been up to? Don't be afraid of getting a little bit personal. Show us what you do and what you're passionate about. When you get in a rut (it will happen!) think about doing a collaboration, getting a guest blogger, or doing a podcast or video instead of writing. Re-read your first post, look at how far you've come, and remember why you started in the first place.

It's Native American Heritage month, and now we get to see Native people and cultures take center stage. Take this opportunity to launch something special of your own and help diversify the broader public's understanding of Native people. We need you.