Galleries, Boutiques and Shops

A little known secret to turn your craft into cash this last couple of weeks of December and into January

Have you noticed that many of the small boutiques that sell handmade are low in inventory the last couple of weeks in December? As a maker with crafts to sell, it’s to your advantage.

Many indiependent retailers respond to the media’s fear-based projections by ordering light this season in anticipation of slow sales due to ever increasing online buying. But the trend of discerning consumers searching for unique, handcrafted, meaningful gifts is catching retailers unprepared with insufficient supply and no time to re-order handmade gifts. Last minute shoppers are too late to order from Etsy sellers in time for Christmas and shop owners are missing out on revenue if they don’t have inventory.

This is where YOU come in. Boutiques and galleries that may Continue reading

Have You Ever Dreamed of Your Own Art or Handmade Crafts Gallery?

There’s probably never been a better time to test the waters if you dream about your own craft shop or gallery.  Right now is the easiest time to get in with very little capital. So many premium storefronts are vacant and commercial landlords who previously wanted high rents and long leases are anxious to just get some cash flow. For the first time in decades it’s a lessees market and landlords are willing to negotiate like never before.  Whether you want to go solo, or co-op with partners, right now you can work out a temporary, even month to month lease on a prime spot with an option to eventually sign a long term lease. Landlords are hungry so it’s never been a better time to realize your dream of having your own gallery. This is a strategy that I normally suggest for the fall holiday shopping season but going into summer is also a an ideal time. If you live in an area that gets summer tourists, find the best vacant spot and approach the landlord directly. Don’t be afraid to Continue reading

Should You Consign to Galleries?

The question of consignment keeps coming up and while I’ll address it in more detail in the tele-seminar series this summer,  let’s touch base on some basics since it’s the time of year to get started.

Assuming you’ve selected the galleries where your crafts will be most compatible, you’ve narrowed down the choices and set up appointments, it’s time to prepare for your meeting.

Show up well prepared with your pieces attractively tagged, with the information we’ve discussed. Price the pieces at retail. Number each piece so that it coincides with a number on your inventory list. (which you will duplicate and leave a copy with the gallery.) Ideally, a thumbnail photograph of each piece next to the number will help you and the gallery owner identify them easily. This doesn’t need to be a high resolution photo, it’s for reference only, not a marketing piece. If your objects are fairly flat, for example jewelry, a simple way to do it is to just place it on your photocopier, scan it and reduce to thumbnail size..

Also, if you have a display that shows your work off well, present the gallery owner with that option. You always want to have display recommendations.

If you are consigning work to gallery far from home, consider asking someone in the area to periodically “shop”  the gallery for you.  (they are actually your spies.) I can’t count the times I’ve walked into galleries to see a particular artist’s work and it’s nowhere on display. The artist has no idea why he isn’t receiving commission checks and it turns out

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Steps you should take NOW to ensure your craft business will continue to thrive in the New Year

I know you’re busy producing and and shipping your crafts for the holidays but if you don’t want your sales to dip drastically the first quarter of 2014, you need to do a little advanced planning.

Remember that the wholesale trade shows begin right after new years. Galleries and shops barely catch their breath from the holidays before they’re off to market and it will be much more difficult to get them to take your work at that time. They will have spent their first quarter budgets and won’t have the physical space to exhibit your products. Making the connection NOW, you’ll have a much better chance of having retailers take your work either on consignment or purchase outright.

Do double duty while you’re holiday shopping the shops and galleries for gifts, (you ARE buying local and handmade, right?) and make a list of those shops that carry crafts that compliment your work. Look for merchandise your ideal customer would find appealing, similar price points and style. You definitely don’t want the merchandise to be significantly lower priced than yours nor should you place your work with a shop that sells mostly contemporary if your pieces are vintage.

Notice how helpful and polite the staff is toward the patrons and if the pieces are displayed creatively. Does the merchandise appear new or like it’s been sitting awhile?  You don’t want to tie your work up in a shop where the jewelry is tarnished because it’s been on display a long time but not sold.

Make a list of some galleries or shops that feel like a good fit and then prioritize in order of your first choices.

Remember, this is a scouting expedition so don’t talk to the shop owner or staff about your work on the initial visit. Wear your best pieces and have your contact info with you incase the owner comments on it so that you may set up an appointment for a time when she is not busy with customers.

Never walk in without an appointment with a case of your wares.  The best etiquette is to mail photos and a line sheet to each of the shops. Follow up with a phone call a few days later and request an appointment with the buyer during her slowest time, before or after hours.  Usually,  midweek morning is the best time to call.  After introducing yourself, let the buyer know you understand that customers are the first priority and you will make yourself available at a time when she is not busy.

 

Arrive for your appointment prepared with a well-thought out collection of pieces that represent your craft rather than just showing up with a random selection. Your work will sell better if the pieces display well as a grouping and compliment one another. Bring duplicate copies of a printed inventory of your work. If you are planning to consign, list retail prices and number each piece so that you and the the shop owner both have a reference for what items they have and make it easier for them to pay you when pieces sell.

Remember to respect that the purpose of the gallery is to sell craft. How would you’d feel if your work was already on display in the shop and personnel was busy working with another artist and ignoring the customers?  You’d want them to be selling your work, right?  Let the buyer know that you are fine to wait while she caters to customers as they come in.

Taking the time to do this extra work now will ensure your craft business will continue to thrive in the new year.

For more great ideas like this, check out Tele-class:  “12 Easy  Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”

How to get free gallery space in a prime location.

I just thought of one more great place to sell your handmade work. I bet you didn’t think of this one. I just did.

Every day for the past couple of weeks, I’ve walked Lucy by a gallery with stunning wood sculptures out front. Every tourist who’s staying at the beach front hotels has to pass this corner.  But the gallery is never open.

Today I noticed the sculptor in a garage studio behind the gallery. While I would love to speak with him and see inside the gallery, I didn’t want to disturb his concentration. I could tell he was really focused on his work.

And then I had a thought.

but

I must digress a moment. I’m helping Alexandra,  the daughter of my recently deceased friend, start her jewelry business. I have a lot of money invested in materials and want Alexandra to be payed well for her work, plus, I’d like to have enough profit to donate to some causes that meant a lot to my friend. So I’m not wild about selling Alexandra’s pieces wholesale or consigning to a gallery.

I thought about this sculptor and how he, like many artists, obviously loves the creative process and probably is never open because he wants to spend his time in the studio, not selling. Lightbulb moment! What if I approached him with the offer to open his gallery on weekends in the summer and sell his work in exchange for displaying Alexandra’s jewelry? Wouldn’t that be a win for all of us?

Can you think of a gallery or shop that is owned by an artist who might prefer to spend her time in the studio? Why not approach her and offer to gallery-sit in exchange for a place to display and sell your own work? Or, are you that artist? What if you could find someone who has artwork they want to sell and would work in your gallery in exchange for being able to sell and display her own work?

If you’ve had any experience with this idea, please do share in the comments below. If you haven’t ever thought of this, you’re welcome to congratulate me on my brilliant idea.

Are you getting your work in front of discriminating buyers?

If you’re looking for more exposure for your work, how creative are you about where you sell you crafts? If you make items for dogs or their people, do you sell strictly to pet boutiques? Have you thought of approaching handcrafted galleries? Shoppers who value handmade will pay more if they see your work in a craft gallery rather than a pet boutique beside inexpensive imports. If you make baby gifts, don’t just sell them to children’s shops. Try to get them into shops with other hand made products. Why put your handcrafted pieces in a location where they are compared with manufactured goods? Get your work in front of buyers who are discriminating enough to appreciate handmade. What other locations can you think of where your work will get the attention and price it deserves?

Are you getting your work in front of the RIGHT buyers for your crafts this season?

Are you counting strictly on Etsy, Artfire or other online platforms to sell your crafts for the holiday season? If so, you are missing a huge chunk of the market and a ton of revenue.  Here’s why:

There are a lot of web-savvy buyers who just don’t like to shop online. Even those of us who do purchase manufactured products, books or music  online, want to see and touch art in real-life. For many shoppers, meeting the craftsperson face-to-face is part of the attraction of buying hand made pieces.

It’s mid October and definitely time to be getting your work out there for early holiday shoppers. So, how can you get your work in front of the people who value made-by-hand? If you shy away from the large seasonal craft fairs like Harvest Festival, I don’t blame you. The booth fees are hefty and the whole experience is exhausting. Many artists who previously exhibited at the big festivals report more sales and a better bottom line when they exhibit at smaller venues such as school, church or community craft fairs. If there aren’t any small festivals in your area, you can approach schools, churches or clubs and offer to set up an exhibit of your work and give a percentage to the organization. (Think of it in place of a booth fee.)

House parties are another good way to sell your work. Ask friends, relatives or co-workers to host a party where you can display your work for their friends. Maybe partner with a caterer who is willing to make appetizers just for exposure to new clients.

Retirement homes are often happy to let you set up a display at no charge. It gives their residents an activity and chance to do their shopping independently. Look for upscale independent living communities, not nursing homes. Many of these residents have good disposable income, are educated in the arts and thrilled to have unique gift options without having to depend on anyone to take them shopping.

Corporations and hospitals are open to people setting up a lunch time or after work sale for their employees. It cuts down on personal days or “sick days” which are commonly used as shopping days around the holidays.

Ask gallery owners or boutique retailers to host a trunk show of your work for a percentage of the sales. Particularly if you make jewelry or smaller gift items, it benefits them as well. Galleries sell fewer large pieces of artwork before the holidays so this is a way for them to offer something to their clients that they may not show the rest of the year. If it ‘s a success and your pieces sell well for them, they may agree to carry your work year round.

For more creative ideas on how to turn your craft into cash, see

 “21 Ways to Turn Your Craft into a Cash Cow”

 

Jewelry Design, Surfing, Bali, making a living AND improving lives of women and children?

Designing jewelry and belts, surfing, traveling to exotic Bali, protecting the environment and helping to improve the lives of women and children. Is it possible to make a nice living combining these diverse interests?

That’s the kind of question I get from clients.

My friend and mentor, Barbara Winter, shares this story of Inspired Livelihood in action:

Last weekend when I headed to California to visit my family, I had a short list of things I wanted to do while there. One of those items was to visit Betty Belts, a small shop in Ventura which had recently bestowed one of their tote bags on my sister Margaret in a store contest. Although I didn’t need a belt, Margaret insisted I needed to see the store.

She was absolutely right. From the moment we entered this cozy shop, I knew we were in a special place. I learned that the store is named after a pioneering woman surfer who inspired other women to master the sport.

We began our visit by admiring the beautiful silver jewelry made by the group of artisans that stock the store. Owner/Designer Donna von Hoesslin was puttering about the place. Within a few minutes, I discovered that she was passionate about jewelry, the environment, surfing and Bali, Donna has found a way to integrate all these passions into her life.

She also proudly announced that her business had recently reached its seventh anniversary. The shop is a recent addition to the successful online business that Donna’s run for most of that time.

When I admired a bracelet she was wearing she told me the story of its inception. She and several members of Team Betty had gone to Bali, Donna challenged them to each come up with a new jewelry design, give it a name and choose a cause that would receive 15% of the profits from its sales. The bracelet she was wearing was called Compassion and the designer had been so moved by the huge number of stray dogs in Bali that her cause was a pet rescue mission there.

Jewelry wasn’t all that this shop had to offer, however. There are magnificent scarves imported from Bali, large framed photographs of surfers taken by Donna’s boyfriend, and her own signature beaded belts.

I’m quite sure that Margaret and I were both smiling when we walked back to my car.
“I just love meeting people who love what they do so much,” Margaret said. Of course, I agreed. All that passion is positively contagious when it’s put to such good use.

After I got home, I paid a visit to her gorgeous Web site where I read, “Donna von Hoesslin takes her inspiration from her love of the ocean and the beach lifestyle, combined with the influence of 17 years of living in Europe.

“She believes in giving back where she can and does so by supporting many causes, among which are environmental fundraisers, at-risk youth, women’s surfing (through athlete and event sponsorship), 1% For The Planet Membership, Coop America, and support for the mostly female artisans in Bali who make the products and much more.”

This lovely field trip reminds me that people who practice inspired livelihood just keep spreading all that goodness around.

Barbara Winter shares ideas and inspiration with other creative entrepreneurs through her blog Buon Viaggio, her long-running print newsletter “Winning Ways” and “Joyfully Jobless” News ezine. In addition, Barbara conducts seminars and retreats across the country and internationally. Since it first appeared in 1993, her book “Making a Living Without a Job” has been a handbook for thousands of people. An updated edition hit the market in Sept, 2009 and was an instant best seller.

If you know you want to find more meaning in your livelihood doing what you love and making a difference in a few lives, your community or the world, April is the time to step up and get started.

Are you having trouble figuring out how doing what you love can improve lives and earn the income you need?

I had such a tremendous response to the March Idea Generating special that I’m extending the offer through April. I’ve bundled my “Idea Generating” sessions and you can now sign up for a package of 3 Private One-to-One Phone Sessions with me for $270. My single session rate is $185 an hour but because NOW is the TIME to TAKE ACTION, I’m opening up a limited number of session hours to a select few who are ready to Spring into Action.

you can purchase a
3 Session Package for $270 ( less than half the usual hourly rate.)

Find out More about these Idea Generator Sessions

STOP beating yourself up for not accomplishing what you planned to earlier this year. Forget those New Years resolutions. Winter is hibernation season in nature for a reason. But, NOW is time to SPRING into action!

Right Now is the Best Time to Get Your Craft in Galleries and Shops

If getting your work into boutiques and galleries is on your agenda, don’t wait another week. This weekend begins the wholesale show season and the likelihood of a gallery or shop owner taking your work on consignment is far greater now than it will be all summer. When retailers return from a wholesale show, they have generally spent their budget for the next few months and are anticipating the delivery of all the crafts they’ve placed orders for and they’re concerned about having space to display it all once it arrives. So, make time this week to connect with your target shops.

There are some great tips on approaching galleries in the “13 Tips” at right so do download them. Good etiquette for approaching owners/buyers is key. If you walk in with a box of our wares, you’ll likely blow your chance of them even taking time to view them.  Since you aren’t early enough to mail a brochure, line sheet or info package, second best is Continue reading