Nine years ago, the Do-It-Yourself movement exploded when Etsy gave independent makers and designers a dynamic platform for selling their wares. People who might have been historically shut out of markets were able to build their own—creating an atmosphere of excitement, opportunity, and independence.

But nearly a decade into the movement, the drawbacks of solopreneurship are hard to miss. Many DIYers work themselves to the point of exhaustion, neglecting self-care in favor of caring for their businesses. Those long hours of creative endeavor can lead to feelings of isolation. Ideas dwindle and projects stagnate without creative input. Combined, these challenges have the potential to derail successful, self-made entrepreneurs.

Compounding the problem is the over-abundance of tools created to help solopreneurs do it all. By becoming so caught up in the myth that one tool or some magical assemblage of tools can take the place of a key helper, we often create even more work for ourselves and lose valuable time doing that thing we love to do!

However, DIYers are nothing if not problem-solvers, and so the movement is maturing into something new and even more exciting—a Do-It-Together movement.

As independent creatives connect via social media platforms, co-working spaces, and even podcasts like Being Boss, they’re fostering an environment where collaboration thrives and groundbreaking cooperative projects flourish. We’ve begun to recognize that no app can take the place of an expert in our corner.

I’ve been lucky to participate first-hand in the emerging Do-It-Together ecosystem as an active member of the Open Source Initiative and in communities that support art and culture in local communities. As a mentor in art residencies in Medialab Prado in Spain and at The Banff Centre in Canada, I’ve had the chance to be a part of cooperative growth.

What I’ve seen is an environment that values all of the needs of creative entrepreneurs. The freedom is still there—so is the excitement, the opportunity, and the independence. However, within this new movement there is greater support and an appreciation of collective success, and that is a much healthier environment.

When many people come together to work towards a common goal, they bring with them different skill sets, backgrounds, and life experiences. With only my own distracted eyes, I may not notice an opportunity. With only my own mind focused on a problem, I may overlook a solution. But in collaboration, new opportunities and solutions abound. I’ve seen interesting ideas transform into a bold innovation in one talk among creatives committed to an enterprise.

I’ve adopted the Do-It-Together approach in my own design studio Candelita. Rather than sticking to the outdated model of interviewing clients, creating designs, and sending designs for approval, I develop client partnerships that foster co-creation, which is, ultimately, not only more effective, but more satisfying.

What successes have you experienced when you Do-It-Together?


If you like learning about collaborating, partnering, and the Do-It-Together movement, you might also like:

Jennifer Dopazo’s award-winning design agency, Candelita, encourages an integrative approach to business growth and makes it happen with powerful design. Her agency provides branding, website design, marketing and business strategy as either individual services or combined so that business owners get exactly what they need to reach their goals. She’s also the creator of The Fabricant Way, a web series that celebrates creative entrepreneurs in New York.