What colors should you be including in the crafts you make to sell?

FCR_SPRING2016_Home_Banner_Img  Most of us work with colors we enjoy when we’re making crafts but when creating a line to sell, it’s important to keep up on trends because the people who purchase from you, even if they aren’t super fashion-forward, will be trying to match their wardrobe or home decor. I know, it makes me a bit sick too to think that people buy art to match the sofa but some actually do.

The photo here is from the company Pantone, a major color forecaster. (Yes, there are people who actually get paid to decide what hues will be popular in apparel , home furnishings, jewelry, etc.) The Spring 2016 pallete includes rose quartz, peach echo, serenity, snorkel blue, iced coffee, lilac grey, butter cup, limpit shell, fiesta and green flash. Wouldn’t it be fun to be the person who choses these names?

This is the first year in a long time that teenage girls will be wearing the same colors as their grandmothers. Rose quartz and serenity blue are remeniscent of prom dresses from the 60s.

READ MORE HERE for more about why this matters.


Can Making Smaller Paintings or Crafts Pay off for YOU? When Working Smaller is Working Smarter

Have you been hearing about the mini movement in paintings and crafts? Almost every arts publication these days has reference to producing smaller, less expensive pieces and more of them.

When someone asks an artist to create a smaller piece, they always assume smaller means it should cost less. Sometimes this is true from a materials cost alone but frequently, working on  a smaller scale is more challenging and more time consuming. So,

initially, my rection to this mini movement was less than enthusiastic. If you’ve been following me, you know that I suggest artists and craftspeople have a wide range of prices. I also advocate printing, casting, licensing  or in some way, reproducing a portion of your work to add leveraged income. I also recommend keeping part of your line Continue reading

Are you an Art Snob or Craft Connoisseur?

I admit it. I was an Art Snob. I didn’t consider crafts an art form. Yes, glass blowing, metal smithing, maybe even pottery, but I turned my nose up at cropping, stamping and needlework. I saw them as “housewife” or ‘granny-crafts”, color-inside-the-lines for those who had no imagination. And collage, well, that was just something for people who couldn’t draw or paint.  That was, until I saw some of the amazingly creative things artists do with fiber, paper and glue. Now, I’m a convert.

My old attitude came from a misguided background in fine art. Actually,  I was a misfit in a competitive Design , Art and Architecture College at a large university.   It was immediately apparent they’d made a mistake accepting me into the art education program. I’m a creative idea generator but this was pre-computer and to say I’m not a perfectionist is an understatement. Several of our design courses were combined with architecture and industrial design students and, well, let’s just say,  I didn’t fit in.  Another part of the curriculum was classic training in the fine arts of drawing, painting and sculpture. It was unacceptable if not laughable to even consider creating anything functional. The only time I felt in my element was the one semester we got an abbreviated sampling of jewelry and textiles.

Decades later as I walked the aisles of the Buyer’s Market of American Craft, a wholesale-to-the-trade show Continue reading

Don’t Miss this Last Minute Craft Marketing Opportunity

Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day and while I’m sure YOU have your mom’s hand made gift all wrapped in an earth-friendly, re-usable treasure, do you know there are many people who take their mom out on Mother’s Day and let them choose their own gift? Some actually send their mom’s money to buy their own. I didn’t realize this until I had a gallery and Mother’s Day, not just the days prior, but actually on Mother’s day, our sales were always up there with the Christmas holidays. Women would come in with or without their families, see something they loved and a pay cash. We always heard, “my daughter (or son) sent me the money to buy myself something.” This surprised me because for me the fun in giving is coming up with the idea.

People feel very generous towards their moms on Mother’s Day (as they should everyday) and as an artist or crafter you’re missing the boat if you don’t make sure that your creations are in their line of vision tomorrow. No, it isn’t too late. The shopping isn’t over yet…

Last minute IDEA! Particularly Continue reading

What Eco Conscious Gifts or Crafts are you giving for Mother’s Day?

I’d love to believe that this year I won’t wait until the eleventh hour to make or purchase a mother’s day gift. It’s not that I don’t think about it ahead of time.  It’s just that tomorrow is always here before I expect it. (that alone is a topic for a future post.) So, for those of you who haven’t yet crafted or purchased a gift for mom, or even if you have but haven’t wrapped or carded, let’s look at some ideas for giving mom a sustainable gift.

If you are efficient and have mom’s gift wrapped and shipped, these ideas work for  Continue reading

When it’s time to take your art back to the drawing board


poetry writer bracelet
poetry writer bracelet

When I told my writer friends about my idea to make custom bracelets for writers and poets to wear their own words, they all loved it. I made up some samples and debuted the custom bracelets at a writers and artist event in April. The response: Everyone said they were beautiful.

But they bombed.
Yesterday, I took them along with my hand-dyed silk scarves to a show at my friends office. (great idea if you haven’t done this.) My scarves and other jewelry sold. The bracelets, not one custom order. I did sell some already engraved. This told me something.

Was I discouraged? Yes, a bit. Mostly, not because I know sometimes a great idea needs a few tweaks before it is a success. So I asked myself a few questions:

Was the product priced correctly?
Were they bracelets displayed well?
Did I have enough variety?
What were people saying as they looked at the bracelets?

Here’s what I learned from evaluating responses:
My prices were right on target.
A few people told me that hadn’t even noticed the bracelets because my scarves were so colorful. Lesson-display the bracelets on a white background away from the scarves.

Variety was good but not necessary. I had samples in two widths and 3 metals: silver, yellow gold and rose gold. The hand-dyed silk wrap-ribbons were across the rainbow. Was the problem too many choices?
I don’t think so.
One comment I heard over and over was, “I love this idea but don’t know what line or phrase to have you engrave on it.” Seriously, even in a group of writers and poets, these wordsmiths couldn’t choose one line from their own writing on the spot.

Conclusion: I was making the customer work too hard. They didn’t want to have to come up with their own words. They wanted to just choose one and go home with it. I think this product will do better online than at shows because that gives the buyer time to decide what phrase or line of poetry to order.
I needed to give more examples- maybe lines of classic poetry or quotes.

Will I go forward with this new product? You bet. I’ll take what I learned from my test market and tweak a couple of things about display and I know it will be a winner.

This reminded of another event, also attracting mostly artists and writers, where my friend showed her handmade journals. What better audience for beautiful journals than a bunch of writers, right? Her journals flopped. What she realized is that most of these writers were very specific about the kind of paper and the size adn weight of their journals. Pretty wasn’t enough. These probably would have been better gift items for a different crowd.
I also noticed that while writers and poets are my ideal market, the bracelet I made for pet lovers was the favorite. Did that tell me I was wrong about the potential “target market”? Not at all. It reminded me that there’s not just one ideal market for a product. I will also expand my line for pet people.
Why do I tell you this? Because you may have brought a new product to market only once and it was a flop. If so, don’t assume it’s not a winner. Instead, ask yourself all the above questions and see if there are a few minor adjustments you can make.

Have you had a similar experience? What changes made your product a winner?

Still 6 Days to Sell your Handmade Crafts for Mother’s Day

If you think you are too late to sell your hand made jewelry and gifts for Mother’s Day, check out the links below for easy-to-implement tips to sell your crafts at the last minute.