Have you ever traded spaces with someone? Or even swapped one of your toys in the sand box for another one in return as a kid? I did it all the time! But as I got older I wasn’t only swapping any ordinary “toys” with my friends anymore…
As I grew up I became quite the barter. I learned to love the latest fashions, so my girlfriends and I would trade anything from coats to dresses and to the best clutches. I guess it’s something I’ve learned to live by, since after all, you have nothing to lose and all to gain when you ask; the worst they could say is no.
My trading has transitioned into my adult life, but now people just refer to it as bartering, or trading services or goods without having to exchange any money. I just call myself resourceful, just ask the pilgrims, who indeed used their bartering skills to land the first Thanksgiving with the Native Americans.
Today, bartering has made a comeback and is very popular. In fact, I have plenty of friends that like to swap their homes from NYC to California with other friends! As crazy as this tactic may seem, bartering is a win-win for both parties. AND not having to exchange money for goods is always favorable.
Being the young and talented artist that I am (wink wink), I realized that I could use my creative genesis to my advantage. I discovered that if I offered people photo shoots and lamp designs, I could actually get something out of an exchange, rather than receiving money.
The key to my success is my confidence. I have been bartering for about a decade. I love it and so do the people I barter with. Without it, I wouldn’t have some of my favorite pieces of art adorning the walls of my home today. It was particularly useful when my husband and I were building our then-house in North Carolina; Bobby traded dental services with a patient because he agreed to fence around the acre of land we lived on. A lot of people are trading services, you would be surprised!
Last year, I bartered with one of my favorite jewelry designers, Maya Brenner. She’s known to many celebrities and is featured in many of our top magazines. I absolutely adore her work and I knew she would love my lamp designs. I took a chance after my girlfriend texted me her one letter necklace. I emailed her my lamp designs, and said that I’d love to trade lamps for jewels. Within 24 hours her people contacted me and said Maya was very interested in bartering with little-old-me. I jumped up and down, twirled, and may have done a cart-wheel (that’s just how excited I was). You see, I knew that I could design a fabulous pair of lamps for her, but I was way more excited to receive some of my favorite pieces of jewelry from her collection. I knew it would be like Christmas morning when they arrived.
I absolutely love the pieces she gave me and I wear them all the time. My favorite is my kids initials on a gold chain. It’s so special and as a mom I couldn’t be more ecstatic to have their initials around my neck. Maya also sent me a necklace in the shape of my real home, New York City. Obviously, being a New York City Girl, my roots, along with part of my heart, will always be possessed by NYC. My last gorgeous design I saw on Penelope Cruz in a magazine and I simply had to have it! That necklace from Maya’s collection is called the Jewelry Box Necklace.
Not only did I LOVE my designs, but Maya also fell in love with my lamps (so much that she even took to Instagram to show them off!). I created a vintage pair of lamps using all recycled materials (seen below). I gold-leafed some of the pieces to complete their look and added a piece of black and white marble from Italy on their wooden bases. The wood used are mid-century Danish. She and I both seemed to be over-the-moon about the trade.
We don’t always realize that we have talents that other people actually love. I took a chance, and it just so happened to pay off because another designer recognized my talent just as much as she appreciated mine. So whatever it is you are creating, don’t forget to think about what you want in return for your work, because chances are you will have an opportunity to hone in on your bartering skills. I swear by bartering. It’s a great way to introduce your talent to other talented artisans.
Here are a few images of my friend Kate and I wearing our lovely ‘Maya’ pieces. Have you ever traded services before? I would love to know…
Don’t forget to mention ‘City Girl Gone Mom’ at the check out if you visit Maya Brenner’s Website!