Podcasts have recently emerged as a new form of entertainment, drawing millennial and baby boomer listeners alike. The diversity of podcast topics has exploded, from news to hobbies to storytelling. As a medium for communicating, podcasting is relatively easy to adopt and requires only a compelling message and some recording equipment.
Corvallis has a few of our very own podcast creators. As a (possibly obsessed) podcast connoisseur myself, I found one that stands out: The Stash podcast by Sonia Ruyts.
Owner of the Stash store in downtown Corvallis, Ruyts creates a weekly podcast that is on par with those produced by much bigger podcast networks like WNYC studios. In fact, this local podcast has earned a five-star rating and landed on the coveted “New and Noteworthy” section of iTunes.
In solidarity, Ruyts told me, “I, too, am obsessed with podcasts. I like them because I can listen to them on the go – in the car, while I’m exercising, cooking, or knitting.”
It was this love of podcasts that spurred Ruyts’ own foray into podcasting. “I wanted to up-level my business and differentiate my yarn store from other stores,” Ruyts said. “I’m trying to add value for our customers so they can tap into the creator/maker community when they’re not in the store.”
Communicating a Creative Community
Ruyts’ store celebrated its fifth anniversary in downtown Corvallis in October. Drawing knitters from all over the country, Stash is a place for fiber artists looking for a unique experience, small vendors, and modern products. Ruyts said the podcast has been a marketing tool for the store and has increased their social reach. Specifically, it has brought in new customers to the store and increased online sales.
The podcast began with conversations with yarn and fiber artists, but has expanded to include photographers, vegan cookbook authors, and entrepreneurs of all kinds. Ruyts said about choosing guests, “I wanted to have conversations with people I wanted to know more about. So the podcast was an excuse to reach out and to ask questions.”
Ruyts is interested in what commonalities are shared between creative people of all kinds – how they seek creativity and what it means in their lives and work. Ruyts asked, “Who could add something to the conversation that we haven’t already heard?”
Podcast Labors of Love
A long-time blogger, Ruyts is well-versed in written communication. Yet, she learned through podcasting that written voice and spoken voice are two very different things. She describes a new sense of vulnerability, suddenly having her own voice and opinions directly on display. She has learned to be careful and deliberate on how she chooses to engage in sensitive issues like the Women’s March pussy hats – focusing on the significance for the craft world rather than political conflicts. She reflected, “I took inspiration from the podcasts I enjoyed and took away lessons from that.”
The technical and logistical demands of podcasting were a learning curve for Ruyts as well. She was able to connect with another podcaster who put out a free tutorial on how to start and produce a podcast, how to get it on iTunes, and more. With Ruyts recording and designing, her partner doing all the editing, and no current advertisements from outside sponsors, this podcast has been purely a labor of love.
As far as the future of the podcast is concerned, Ruyts doesn’t see her podcast going anywhere anytime soon. She is clearly passionate about continuing to connect people with other inspiring creative people, in Corvallis and beyond.
Check out the Stash podcast on iTunes or anywhere you find podcasts. To listen to Ruyts’ personal podcast inspirations, check out Fresh Air, The Longest Shortest Time, Sporkful, and Being Boss. Check out the Stash store website at http://www.stashlocal.com./
By Keely Corder