Monday, December 15, 2008

Drawing Your Attention to the New Group

We have a new group for craft business discussions. Click on the title of this blog. :)

How to Start

OK, so now the question is out there. How do I start?


Let's say you make a little doll. Let's get down to the nitty gritty and say 'clothespin dolls'.


There's hardly a market for something like a clothespin doll but that's what you make and you wonder if there is any possible way.


Actually, there is but you have to get even more creative. If you don't have the money to get someone to design and make you a heavy paper or cardboard display, maybe you can make the first one to get started. How about a heavy paper (something about half the thickness of cardboard. You've seen those displays.) Using the colored side, use a cookie cutter or any cylinder the right size, to use as a guide while you cut out holes with a Xacto blade. What you're creating is a display, to stand up your little dolls. Like those you see at the gas station, displaying cigarette lighters. You want to stand your little dolls, all in neat rows.


Fold the paper, so that it forms a shallow box, the sides and back folded down, to raise the display board up off the table. Then attach a back board that stands up behind the display. Just use solid colors to get you started.


Now you have a display. Fill that display with your best work then take a look at it. More impressive, isn't it.

Now let's say there is a gift shop nearby that can help you to sample out the product. That's exactly what you're going to ask, "Can we go at this more like consignment, long enough to test out this product. I need your help." There's bound to be at least one little shop that will give it a try. As long as they don't have to feel obligated, in case something happens, they will be more open to the idea.

Either that or a craft show, where you can set the display at the front of your table, to sample out the product.

You see, you just might have a product that nobody values, the way you do. If that's the case, you don't want to waste your time. Better to just make them as Christmas ornaments to give out, next year. If you're serious about wanting to make a living, using your own talents, don't invest in a dead product.

That, by the way, is my own terminology when designing a new product. Is it a 'go' or is it 'dead'? If it's a dead product from the get-go, I don't want to have anything to do with it. I'm not in the business of wasting money and time.

You literally have to be your own worst critic. At the same time, you have to give the product half a chance. Imagine it sitting on a shop shelf, along side other products similar. Will it look like junk or would it fit in nicely?

If you have a product that might sit in nicely, and compare with similar products, then run with it but don't bank on anything until you see that product perform for you.

One of the best ways to test out your product, is through friends, relatives and neighbors. Ask them, flat out, what would you pay for this item? Would it be desirable if you saw it in a shop? Would you ever want to collect them? Run this survey past as many people, as you can, before investing too much in it. Oh yeah, and be sure to tell your friends to be cruely honest.

So let's say you have a product that has come through scrutiny with flying colors but you don't have the money for things like shows. Can you make enough of the product, to make a nice display in a shop? Then go visiting to find the shop that will help you test out your product - sort of like partnership.

I've done it and with a very nice shop, in the bottom floor of an upscale hotel. All I had to do was talk with the owner. I let her know I was sampling the market. If she could handle just a few of a new design, and handle it like consignment (actually, we settled on handling it like an outright wholesale delivery BUT collection would happen after a few sales). This way, she didn't have to keep special books for me. I came back a couple weeks later, with more product, and to check on progress. She had sold everything I brought, I wrote out a receipt for her and she cut me a check on the spot. This way, she could handle it just like all her other buying.

Then one day, I took her a sampling of 2 sleep masks, for some folks across the country from me. I just told her, the folks wanted to test the market here and we could handle this the same way. That way, there was no problem with her tagging them and putting them out for sale. If they sold, she'd be buying them wholesale, when she saw me again and if not, I'd collect them and return them to the owners.

You have to be honest about what you're doing. It's not a sales pitch, it's a mini-partnership, to test the product. Most shop owners are willing to help, especially.....especially if you can promise them and exclusive, within a certain territory, in exchange for their help. They have competition and there's only so many ways to get out ahead. This is just one way to help them out, in exchange.

If you find yourself with a product that's moving, not only do you have your first wholesale outlet but you have testimony for the next shop. Go outside that promised exclusive territory, find a shop suitable for your product, and go visit. Tell them how well it's selling at 'so and so's shop'. Go from there and keep working it.

If you find that you can set up at a show, some day, make sure you aren't crossing your own customers. Don't sell the same product within that promised exclusive territory, right under their nose. If you do, you lose that outlet. Back scratching, all the way. Be friends with your customers and be on their side.

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About Me

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I'm a grandmother of 1, a ceramist, a ceramic mold maker, a truck driver and writer.

I'm also a webmaster of many and have several blogs.

I help others in designing product, make custom molds and I still do restorations.