When we first introduced Events and Activities to Stitch, we did so because we knew that many of our members wanted more than just one-on-one meetings – they wanted to connect with a whole range of people in different settings around the activities they enjoy.
At the same time we wanted to make Stitch into a real community, rather than just a service … a community built around the shared goals of finding true companionship for all our members.
While we knew what we wanted, however, we didn’t know the best way to make it work. So we deliberately started with a very minimal version of events and activities. Our goal was to see if people liked the idea, not to make it totally perfect on the very first try. (When you are a small team like Stitch, making anything totally perfect on the very first try is pretty much impossible.)
We had no idea that Stitch events and activities would quickly become one of the most popular parts of Stitch!
The good news is that hundreds of Stitch members have now attended local member-driven activities and events. The variety of activities is truly staggering, and has included:
- Hiking in Malibu
- Comedy in Sydney
- Jazz in Los Angeles
- Theater in Berkeley
- Whale Watching on the Central Coast
- Walking in Brooklyn
- Shakespeare in Central Park
- Cycling in Languedoc in France
- A film festival in Chicago
- and hundreds more.
In other words, anything you’d like to do, there are other Stitchers out there who would like to do it too!
But many things need improving
There are a whole range of things that we’re working on to improve when it comes to the process of suggesting and attending an activity on Stitch, and you’ll see these being added to Stitch gradually over the coming weeks.
But the one that people have been saying they need help with most urgently is this one: when I attend an event for the first time with Stitch members I haven’t met before, how do I recognize who they are?
Bookings at restaurants and cafes are fine, but it can be daunting to turn up to an event in a public space and not have a way to recognize and identify the people you are meant to be meeting!
We’re currently testing a concept which will let attendees at events and activities be able to send text messages to the group, and if it goes well we hope to be able to add this capability to Stitch in the next couple of months. That’s great, but we’re also keen to find a solution for our members in the meantime. If you attend a Stitch event today, we want to give you some way of identifying yourself.
We looked at several options, and have come up with something which we think could work as an interim solution until we can get technology to come to our rescue.
The simplest immediate solution we could think of was to give people some identifying Stitch-branded merchandise they could wear or carry to events and activities to help identify themselves. Caps, buttons, bags, T-shirts – anything that would immediately identify them as a Stitch member.
We didn’t want to be drawn into creating an entire manufacturing and worldwide shipping infrastructure for this – it is, after all, just meant to be an interim solution! – but fortunately there are a number of third-party companies that will create branded merchandise for us and handle all the shipping details themselves. One of these companies is Zazzle, which we think offers a good balance of reasonable cost, acceptable shipping costs to global locations, and a decent selection of items. Here is a snapshot of some of the Stitch items we can create in the Zazzle store.
We’ve created the store in Zazzle now, and it can be accessed using the following links:
- For US members: www.zazzle.com/stitch_goodies
- For Australian members: www.zazzle.com.au/stitch_goodies
- For UK members: www.zazzle.co.uk/stitch_goodies
For Stitch members from other countries, the US link above should offer global shipping as well.
Now we should note that all these items are for sale on the Zazzle web site, which means they are all things that Stitch members would need to pay for. We unfortunately don’t get to set the prices, and we’d be the first to admit that the prices at this point are a little higher than we’d like, particularly for the apparel items. Our plan would be to see if Stitchers like the idea of Stitch merchandise, and if there is overwhelming support for the idea then in time we’d be able to come up with alternatives that could provide us with cheaper pricing.
This is very much a trial for us so we are extremely interested to hear what you all think! In particular:
- Is this something you think will help you meet people at Stitch events?
- Is it something we should do as an interim solution, or do you think it’s something we should offer all the time?
- What are your thoughts on the prices for the items listed?
- If so, what types of products should we try to get Zazzle to list in the store? (They have an enormous range of options, we just need to find out what our members would like or think would be useful)
Please let us know your thoughts and feedback in the comments below!