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.
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 →
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 →
As we are getting into craft, gift and trade show season, I am hearing from clients and friends that two areas of the art market are doing well in the present economy. The reports are consistent that the very high end and the under twenty five dollar price points are selling. Mid price crafts are suffering. What does this mean for you?
My advise to any artist, craftsperson or retail gallery is always, in any economy, to make sure your line Continue reading →
Last week, Pantone announced the color trend pallette for 2012. The color of the year is Tangerine Tango. Yes, it’s orange but a very specific orange. Even those of us who aren’t particularly up on fashion need to pay attention to these trends because they do affect the way your potential customers see your work.
A lot goes into choosing the pallette and the selection is primarily based on making the colors different enough from the past year that people feel they must update. Yes, it’s all about merchandizing. So, while the colors for 2012 Continue reading →
Last week, I put out a call for people who love to sew but hate to market. I was thrilled at the overwhelming response from readers and astonished at what some had to say. Many of the emails I received were from people looking for a “work-from-home JOB”. Why would someone who for a long time went by the name “self-employment muse.” want to “hire” you?
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that my mission is to help people create meaningful self employment, that I once had a payroll of over one hundred. While I loved knowing that my business was enabling people to earn a living, it broke my heart when the business could no longer support that many employees. I am committed to empowering people to be responsible for their own livelihood and not be at the mercy of a boss.
It’s my conviction that the creation of small businesses will be the cure for a sick economy; that the only real security is self employment. When I put out that call last week for people who love to sew but hate to market, it was in response to all of you who say you are looking for a way to make a living doing what you love. You love to create but not sell. I LOVE marketing, letting people know about cool products, especially handmade items. So, what I’m looking for are people who want to be self employed, want to have their own business and be their boss. I don’t sew but I have a product that I know will sell if you, the crafters, supply it. It’s my goal to create a tribe of entrepreneurs who love what they do and have control of their own time, income and environment.
If it’s a job you’re looking for, I’m not your gal. But, if you’re seeking inspiration and guidance to be your own boss, to join a tribe of inspired entrepreneurs, let’s talk. You have the equipment since you already sew. You can do all the sewing yourself or create your own community, your sewing circle. And we’ll all be making a difference, making income doing what we love. That’s what inspired livelihood is all about.
As I’m putting together the speaker list for my summer “Turn Your Craft Into Cash’ tele-summit, I want to make sure we cover the topics you are most interested in. I’ve had request for more info on How to Get your work into Galleries, How to Break into the Wholesale Market, How to Open your Own brick and mortar Craft Gallery, Cause Marketing, Licensing, Sourcing, How to Get Continue reading →
I’ve had a number of inquiries recently from crafters who sell seasonal crafts and are concerned about the off-season. Many fiber artists who craft “cold weather” garments are worried about the coming slow months. And I’ve also heard the same concern from crafters who make summer-sunshine appropriate crafts. Yes, we are going into a season where it may be tough going if you make only woolen hats, mittens, etc but you have a number of viable, profitable options.
This past week, the news was full of more doom and gloom about retail closings and mall bankruptcies. It would be easy to get discouraged, thinking, “If a big department store that’s been in business for generations can’t make it, how will I?” Well, you aren’t in competition with the big box stores. And if you’re comparing yourself to them, it’s time for a major mindset shift.
Your target customer is the discriminating shopper who wants something unique and handcrafted. Yes, people are being more careful with their dollars now and you have the advantage in that when times are tight, consumers want what they are spending on to be special. They may not be shopping for household appliances right now but when it comes time to purchase a gift or a piece of artwork for their home, they are making conscious choices and want something they don’t see everywhere.
Do your friends and family discourage you from starting your dream business “in this economy.”? Is their reasoning that you’d be unwise to “leave the security of your job in a recession?” I’d find that humorous if it weren’t so sad because,most likely, these naysayers have never been self employed and haven’t yet been victim to the mass layoffs of “valued employees”. In the present economy, the only secure job is the one YOU CREATE for yourself.
Yes, I do listen to the news. I know people are losing jobs and retailers are shutting their doors. And I also know that most of my self employed friends with small businesses are reporting record breaking sales. Because when you’re self employed, you create your own economy. When something isn’t working , you can make changes quickly without the bureaucracy of a board of directors. On the corporate level, by the time reports are generated and changes approved, it is frequently too late. Too much has been lost. Not so in small business. Results are evident Continue reading →
Terri has been self employed for over 30 years in businesses developed out of personal interests in the advertising, home furnishings, fine arts, healing arts and contemporary crafts fields. She started her first business in her 20s . Her most recent business, a gallery of contemporary craft, continues to thrive under the creative direction of a new owner. The businesses were all profitable and started on very little capital. Since selling her gallery in 2007, Terri has continued to help aspiring entrepreneurs, artists, crafts people and collectors become their own boss while making a living based on their passions.