Monday, July 11, 2011
Some Things I've Learned
I'm compelled to write about the nature of "business." In the big scheme of things I haven't been in business for very long. I still have a day job, but have been working to grow my little crafty business, strongly so in the last couple of years. Diving head first into the venture (as opposed to toe dipping as I'd previously done) I've learned a thing or two.
The hardest lesson to swallow is that not everyone will think your work rocks this world. However, you have your own style. Your life story will be behind everything you make, which makes it unique in a very special way. Because not everyone "gets" you, your work will not appeal to each person who looks at it. Finding the people who get you, more commonly known in the business world as your market, is sometimes a very tough quest.
Another thing I've learned is there is a huge difference between doing business online and doing business in person. If you're in the business of selling art or crafts, consider your venues. Coming from an era that existed before the internet I naturally started selling my wares in person at craft shows and festivals. A relatively short while ago I began also selling my wares on the internet. I'm not here to tell you if live selling is better or worse than online selling; I'm just saying it's different, and each method has pros and cons the other doesn't. I will say this though ~ there's a lot to be said for seeing a vendors wares in person. 3-D objects have a different appeal than a photograph of a 3-D object. (This says nothing for those of us who can't take a decent product photograph to save our lives.) I'll say this too ~ people are very likely to shop from the comfort of their own homes these days. Obviously I'm not going to suggest one way over the other. I will suggest you try each way of selling and find out what works best for you.
When it comes to doing wholesale and consignment business with retailers you will be faced with more decisions. Do you place a big inventory into a shop on consignment and hope for sales for which you pay the shop owner a commission (usually 25%-40%, but sometimes as high as 60%) or do you sell your wares outright to shop owners at a price that is typically 1/2 of the retail price? Or do you try both? Also, it took me a while to figure out these business ventures aren't between a buyer and seller, they are between a seller and seller. A shop owner will only consider items they think their customers will buy with no regard to their own personal opinion of those items. So when approaching shops with which to consign or wholesale, make sure they cater to your market or else you'll just be faced with a boatload of rejection.
If you're still reading this post you might be asking, "what in the blazes is she telling me?" The above points are things to think about. The artsy and crafty business is all the rage these days and it's tough to move ahead if you don't consider all of the avenues. This post is merely to map out the avenues to consider. I've found some things that work for my business that might not work for yours. However, the one thing I can vehamently say to all arts and craft sellers is to forge ahead whole-heartedly. Give it your best effort. Find resources to help you along the way, but mostly find your path through trial and error. Only you know what works best for you and the sale of your work.
And one of the most important things I've learned is that a business based on creating objects of art or gifty ephemera will take more time and effort than you can ever imagine. I work forty hours a week at my day job and at least that amount at my crafty biz, usually more. But guess what? It's really fun, and when you succeed at something you've worked so on, well there's just nothing like it.
Credits to the above artwork:
Child Reading A Story Book Quietly
Riding A Donkey Asleep In The Rain
Midnight, Bonaventure Cemetery, 1993
Little Black Spider Offers Lace