It comes up one way or another quite often, in gatherings of women entrepreneurs: How much of your true self do you reveal to the public, when you are in business for yourself? Do you passionately speak up for your political, religious, and social ideas, or is it better to remain neutral and offend no potential customer?
Polymer clay artist, Donna Kato, ran into this dilemma a few years back when she made a political comment on her polymer clay blog, and offended a New Yorker, who loved her work, but was opposed to her politics. She started a separate blog for her politics, but lost the fan, until a year or two later, a few of us who knew the story realized we also knew him from classes, and told him to go back and see the apology she had written to him. Not for her beliefs, but for alienating him with content that had nothing to do with art.
I struggle with it a bit, when I type these posts, and more especially the posts on my own blog, where I often write from my spiritual perspective. As the daughter of atheists, living in a predominantly Catholic and Lutheran town, in the heart of the Midwest, I feel vulnerable expressing beliefs that fall in the "Christian New Thought" category. Never mind that many of Oprah's most popular guests are also of this faith, I still worry about turning off potential clients, or not getting some of the Catholic church work that makes up a good chunk of my business. And then there's the worry about what my folks will think...really, Dad, just look at the pictures.
The best way to answer the question may be to take yourself out of the spotlight for a moment. As a consumer, don't you do business with people of other faiths, who have opposing political views, or are just plain strange? Unless there is an extreme problem, most of us do. And back on your side of the counter, if there are people who might not like the real you, are they really the people you want for customers?
You have a light to shine on this world, and a higher authority to answer to. Do you have the right to hide your unique self from the world? We each have to answer that for ourselves. As for me, I choose authenticity and to live wide-open, and this weekend, in the local parade, I shall make a fool of myself quite spectacularly, as "Splash", the plus-sized ninja painter, just one of several "Everyday superheroes". I'll just be sure to hand my fliers to the gals who are laughing, with a knowing twinkle in their eye!
Be happy, be real! Dawn-Marie, Artist in Wonderland, at theartofthehome.blogspot.com