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Blog Post 3: Customer Reactions

September 24, 2018 7 Comments

Blog Post 3: Customer Reactions

Ok, so last Blog Post I said I’d share a funny story about my first contact when I launched the Tribe Facebook page. …“Launch” sounds so grandiose.  All I really did was stick a logo and address on a new Page in Facebook with a short “COMING SOON” description for the shop. 


Anyway, within minutes, I received this “private” message, which I have literally copied and pasted for you here:

Greetings!! I absolutely support and am in enthusiastic favor of more high-quality local yarn shops. So please take this comment as concerned critique with a positive wish for a better world...

I wonder if anyone has already approached you with concern about your name and logo. If you are an indigenous person yourself, then my apologies for stepping out of my lane (as I am not).

However, if you are not, you may not have been made aware that using the term "tribe" to describe a group you belong to (as a non-indigenous person), especially in tandem with a logo that looks like it makes "cute" traditional cultural face marking practices from some indigenous groups, seems like cultural appropriation.

I and many others find this kind of cultural appropriation (in particular, profiting off of stereotypical imagery of native peoples) troubling. I wonder if this is something you have considered? I say this with kindness but concern, so I hope you can read this in the spirit in which it is intended.

Huh?? I know in these situations you’re not supposed to hit “send” on any reply you might have spontaneously banged out - ‘Save it as a Draft until you mellow, Milli’. But Impulsive is my middle name, so I replied immediately:

Hey XXXX! Thanks for taking the time - I appreciate it. To allay your fears, I can confirm that I am, I suppose, "indigenous", but am also of the opinion that we are all "native" to this beautiful planet, and all in search of our own "Tribe"/ sisterhood/ community - call it what you will. If you're worried about whether "my people" actually wear face paint and markings, I can tell you that they really do. 

To which she replied quickly:

I agree that we are all seeking community! The term tribe and images of face paint have become so strongly associated with North American, and also Australian, indigeneity (and stereotypes thereof). There is so much new-age-ish embracing of the word "tribe" and some of the imagery of Native Americans in particular as fashion (feathers, tipis, etc) - it is really problematic

I imagine this isn't the first time you have been asked and probably won't be the last.

Actually, this is this first and hopefully last time.

I totally get where you’re coming from, but I love that people are celebrating those cultures and traditions now, instead of snubbing them. I also know that they don’t hold the patent on face design...

I’m of Indian descent, actually 100%, but it’s irrelevant. I’m human first. And I want to judged and accepted as such. So if my name creates dialogue around this, then fabulous! Other than that, I just want people to knit.

So, I just wanted to put this out there, because I think it’s complete bullshit that people are getting their knickers in a bunch about crap like this. “I’m writing to say that I’m offended about the fact that you might be offending someone…”.

Seriously, get a life.


Incidentally, if you want to know more about why I called the shop Tribe, here's a little Blog Post I wrote for The Fibre Co:


 

Ok, rant over. For now.

There might well be a little more ranting on another Blog Post about “Yarnetiquette”, in which I might elaborate on some of the weird and wonderful requests you get in a Yarn Shop.

(and I’ll quickly just drop in here and say – no, it’s not ok for you to say that you want to come to knit nite to get others to teach you to knit with the yarn and needles you’re going to go buy on Amazon now that you’ve seen what you like {eye-roll}.)

 

On the flip side, you do get some really wonderful things happen in Yarn Shops too. Like the lovely customers who run in to hug you because you opened a yarn shop, or the gorgeous people who offer to hold the fort so you can go have a wee.

Or mail like this which I received from a lovely lady 2 days after we opened, with no return address:


And this message I received last week:

You received a new message from your online store's contact form.

Contact Form Name:

Leslie

Email:

xxx@xxx.com

Body:

Thank you SO much for opening up in SW London. The LYS in this part of the world has been like a desert for way too long. I used to live in Barnes but am now out in Ascot. I'm crazy busy these next few weeks but will get to you as soon as I can to see what you've created. Good luck in the meantime- I hope it's all going well and that you're getting people through the door.  Leslie

 

Seriously, some people are just so lovely! I have officially fallen in love with so many of our amazing customers. And I am so much busier than I ever imagined I would be just one month after opening Tribe.

So much so that we now have a TRIBE TEAM!!!

Nuria is doing an incredible job with teaching beginners knitting and crochet. Her students are all re-signing for more classees, and their projects are a real testament to Nuria’s amazing instruction and style! If you know anyone who would benefit from knit-sanity (or crochet-calming), send them Nuria's way!

And you’ll see the amazing and beautiful Karin working her magic in store a couple of days a week, while I catch up on my massive pile of emails and admin! Karin is a TREASURE-TROVE of skills and knowledge!

I’m so very grateful for these women in my tribe. And I know they’ll be so warm and welcoming to Henry when he decides to take up his role as in-store Ball Winder (we’re ready when you are, Henry).

 

 So, there it is. It takes all sorts. And if I accidentally managed to offend you during this Blog, maybe this will help: 


7 Responses

Jill
Jill

October 05, 2018

What a lovely shop and such a great welcoming atmosphere. Didn’t get the item I came for but left with three I am loving. I’ll be back before you have time to miss me. ;-)

Ally
Ally

October 01, 2018

Hi Milli,
Just love the name of your shop: distinctive; catchy; modern; inclusive; hip; happening and unforgettable. When I walked into your store I stopped in front of the ‘Tribe’ mural as it’s gorgeous, Needless to say that the ambience and wide range of Brand-names drew me in and I stayed for a while to debate which I beefed. Will be back again soon. A great place to shop for knitting supplies. Regards.

Andrea
Andrea

September 27, 2018

Sincerely looking forward to the yarnetiquette post. X

Sophie Constant
Sophie Constant

September 25, 2018

If it’s any consolation I was like woo! Representation! In the narrow stereotype/ demographic of the knitting world!

Sophie Constant
Sophie Constant

September 25, 2018

Ahhhhh yes. That moment when a non-indigenous person tries to explain that you should be offended. By your own face.

Georgy
Georgy

September 24, 2018

Made me laugh – thank you! And for opening such a terrific store. And knit nite. And brilliant courses. And … and … Go, Milli! Xx

Karen Miller
Karen Miller

September 24, 2018

Well, that’s made my day!! Hope to pop up later in the week.. .been too long!! xx

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