An Open Letter to Haters, re: the Atlanta Underground Market
Michaela of the Atlanta Underground Market –
I wish I could give you a huge hug right now! I know exactly what you’re going through!
This is the advice that I wish someone had given me after my first bout of success:
ACCEPT THE HATE
There are going to be cranky folks without any experience organizing squat who are gonna get up on your shit because the event wasn’t as silky smooth as, say, Taste of Atlanta – a huge, corporate affair with tons of paid staff. What you pulled off was nothing short of astonishing!
The internet makes people feel so comfortable spewing hate – nasty blog critiques, bitchy emails. People with the ability to press “update/publish/send” feel justified in off-the-cuff critiques, and they don’t think about the person who made their experience possible – all of your late nights, all of your stress. I’d argue that this is part of our larger disconnect with our food culture – it’s easy to complain about what’s on the plate if you’ve never been in the kitchen. Successful underground events don’t come pre-packaged on slabs of styrofoam for your convenience – they are spontaneous, they can be messy, and we love them because they are undeniably real.
ACCEPT COMPETITION – DEFINE YOURSELF
Yep! I’m not surprised that people are already interested in re-packaging your concept for their market. Let ‘em! Atlanta is big enough to support multiple food concepts. Decide what you’re passionate about – focus on that segment of the market – and let others take on the rest. Listen to the logistical critiques, for sure – but don’t go down the rabbit hole of trying to please everyone. You can’t. Decide what works for yourself – the experience you want your guests to have, the types of vendors you want to support, and create a package that makes sense to you. If pre-selling $20 tickets makes your life easier – go for it!
MAKE SOME MONEY!
Man, I wish someone would have told me this. $400 is no way to compensate yourself for all the work you did putting this market together. I made the same mistake with rogueApron, and I regret it. When you reconfigure your idea, make sure you build in a healthy margin for yourself. After all – a healthy local economy has to be sustainable – and if you’re not getting any compensation for all of your work, it’s exploitation.
Sincerely! Don’t let all of the critiques distract you from the fact that you put together an amazing underground event with very little-lead time and resources. It’s all about iteration – the next one will always be better!