I hesitate to write "the story" behind adding the Medium sized nativity to my collection. I've always struggled with the fact that I have somehow turned this precious, sacred holiday, into a business. But I enjoy doing this so much and I have developed such wonderful relationships, both with my customers and the boy scouts that help me pack them up, that it very seldom seems like a business to me. It's a passion. I'm doing/making something that I love and my nativities are making lots of people happy. I love that. So, it has always been very worth that risk of having a Christmas based business to me.
But, the story behind how the Medium nativity set "came to be" is the closest I ever came to losing that joy in what I do and I did almost quit.
When I first started doing this (7 years ago) I was the only person selling outdoor, silhouette styled nativity sets on the internet and I enjoyed that "exclusivity" for 3 years. But then, the competition showed up. Somebody had copied but dramatically simplified my design, added all the other nativity characters (which I didn't offer at the time) and lowered the price…a lot. For the life of me I couldn't understand how they could possibly sell their nativity for less than half my cost. Yes, they had taken all the detail and artistry out of the design. They had even deleted a few parts to make it cheaper/easier to produce, but their price was still so low,
I just couldn't come close to competing. I decided they must have some "big business buying power" that I didn't have access to as a homebased, sole proprietor. So, even though their nativity wasn't nearly as nice as mine, with the incredible pricing and them offering additional characters which I didn't have, I was quite sure I was done and I pretty much decided to quit as soon as I ran out of my supplies.
But then, one of their nativities showed up on a lawn in my neighborhood and for the first time, I realized how much smaller their nativity was than mine. Their website did give the dimensions but I hadn't noticed them. In the picture, it just looked like a cheaper version of my nativity. They called theirs the "standard nativity" (which is what I called my Large at the time) so I guess I just assumed it was the same size. It seems silly that I hadn't noticed the size difference before but I guess you just can't get a good sense of scale in a photo online.
The other thing I noticed as I looking at their nativity in person was how weak the material they were using was. It was just flopping around in the wind. Again, in the photos, you can't see something like that. But in person, it was very obviously not the same stuff I use.
I felt like an idiot that I hadn't noticed the size difference or even considered the possibility of an inferior material being used. I don't know why. I guess all I saw was their price. But at least now, their pricing made sense; to me anyway. What I needed to do was find a way to show our customers what the differences were between our products. I started feeling somewhat protective of all the consumers out there and I wanted to do something. So, I decided the easiest way to do deal with the size difference was to offer a similar sized nativity to theirs. At the time, I did think it was just too small but I did it anyway so that I could offer another option to people looking in that price range. I wasn't willing to skimp on design or materials though, so I still couldn't quite get to their price. But I got close and I feel good that as long as people can find both of us
they can now make an informed decision about which nativity they want to invest in. And I have to say that I've grown to love the size.
For smaller homes, courtyards, and indoors, it's just perfect.
Four years later I'm very grateful to have a competitor out there because they have made me better than I was. I honestly believe that if they hadn't existed, I not only would have never offered the smaller size, but I also would never have added my additional characters. Up to that point, I only had the nativity and the donkey and I was content with that. But, that year, I added the angel and started the tradition of adding one character per year. And that has been so fun. I love the charm the additional characters have added to my set and since I designed mine after my competitor had designed theirs, it is the additional characters that really set apart our two scenes. Our basic nativity sets are different yet similar, but there is no comparing our angel, shepherds or wisemen. I'm proud of that.
I couldn't really tell you where the inspiration came from, but I can tell you that
she was absolutely inspired. I've never had a design come so quickly and easily.
She was my addition to the set in 2011.
When I sat down to draw a nativity angel,
I had in mind that I was going to draw a male angel with no wings, blowing a trumpet.
I was planning on something like the angel on the top of most Mormon temples.
But in less than 2 hours, I had drawn a female angel, with beautiful big wings,
leaning slightly forward gesturing to the baby. It is so much softer and peaceful.
I'm a little embarrassed that I didn't know she was the angel my nativity needed.
But thankfully, my pencil did. She just quite literally, drew herself.
It was a wonderful experience and she is the perfect addition to the nativity.
Learn about my inspiration for each extra character
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