What do people do with all the memorabilia they’ve collected over the years? Martie McNabb’s Memories Out of the Box creates life story memorabilia boxes to tell the stories behind the stuff that matters most to us. And her show and tell events harnesses the power of face-to-face connection to foster an interest in telling our life stories.
How she started her career as a life story professional
Martie had careers as a NYC public school teacher and a sign language interpreter before she opened her life story business, Memories Out of the Box.
At Show and Tales, Martie tells stories with people’s stuff. You can, too.”
A lost photo spurred the creation of Memories Out of the Box, Martie’s company that tells people’s stories through the objects they’ve collected through the years. Martie gathers, organizes, and edits memorabilia for busy individuals who value what they’ve collected but don’t have the time, energy, or creative vision to create a legacy item.
Memories Out of the Box
Martie has offered many types of products, but most clients want bespoke heirloom scrapbooks. [Hint: Show your clients what’s possible, then give them what they want.]
Listen as we talk about:
- creating an interactive experience with scrapbooks
- new technology for oversized scans
- Flippal for mobile scanning and making several passes and stitching together images for larger pictures
- the demise of letter-writing
- the Letter Writers Alliance
Martie’s clients work long hours and don’t have the time for long meetings. They feel guilty and overwhelmed by the memorabilia they’ve collected and neglected, and are relieved to find Martie to create something for them. Martie spends time going through their photos and other memorabilia, and has developed an intuitive sense of where the stories lie. (Listen to Dennis Ledoux on the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, and being a feeler and an intuitive person.)
[Hint: If photos aren’t labeled, they can still be appreciated as works of art in an heirloom project.]
How do clients find Martie?
Martie started Memories Out of the Box with a store in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn (she no longer has the store). But now she finds that word-of-mouth is best. Ask previous clients to let others know about you. [Hint: Get testimonials from clients at the end of each project.] Her new marketing tool? Show and tell events.
Show and Tales
Most creatives don’t like marketing themselves. And what we do doesn’t lend itself to an easy elevator speech. Our first task is to build rapport with potential clients. We need to educate people who have never heard of doing life stories.
Having a book to read at the end of the project is wonderful; what’s surprising is the power of telling the story. It’s a gift the storytellers give to themselves.
Long sales cycle. It can take years of ruminating before someone decides to START on a project.
Because Martie tells stories with people stuff, what better way to publicize
Branded Saloon in Prospect Heights Brooklyn was the venue for her first show and tell event. Martie held it in the backroom. People were invited to bring any object that they wanted to show and share its story.
Show and Tale: The Moth meets Antiques Roadshow
Storytelling is huge in NYC (and elsewhere!). But storytelling events are more performative (think of shows like The Moth). Martie’s Show and Tales are more like a cross between The Moth and Antiques Roadshow—without the competition or even having a developed story. Show and Tales are more about story-sharing than story-telling.
They can be held around a table, at a coffee house or library.
Or they can be held at venues with a stage.
Regardless, everyone feels welcome.
Martie has had anywhere from 0 to 50 people show up. One of her best-attended events was in conjunction with the Morbid Anatomy Museum. She also did a themed event Show and Tale called “Scars, Tats, and Piercings” at a bar in Lower Manhattan.
Each participant talks for 3-5 minutes, relating something about the item they brought. It is NOT meant to be a well-developed story, so even people who are afraid of public speaking should feel comfortable. This isn’t about performing; it’s about connecting with others.
[Hint: During a traditional life story interview, give the storyteller a prop and the conversation almost always flows easier.]
Martie is taking Show and Tale on the road!
She bought an RV and will travel around the US for a year or two, hosting shows; she’s also starting to host them virtually. The first one was in honor of Mother’s Day—Mothers, Mementos and Memories.
Sign up for Martie’s newsletter to learn about her Show and Tale events.
Martie will be offering a certification and licensing program for life story professionals to host their own Show and Tale events. She’ll also partner with them for events while she’s traveling the country. Join her! Have fun, go traveling, and do marketing in a creative way.
Memories Out of the Box
Aspinal of London leather photo albums and notebooks [note: I’d never heard of these before Martie mentioned them, but now I want some! I’m a sucker for beautiful journals.]
If you enjoyed the show, leave us a review on iTunes. And if you have any ideas to share or questions about this episode, share them in the comments.
Now go out and save someone’s story.