As an owner of a small retail shop and gallery that specializes in handmade products and greeting cards, I’m often approached by independent artisans who are interested in selling their work in our space. It’s a nerve-wracking and scary experience to approach someone who is inevitably going to judge the marketability of your work, so arming yourself with all of the knowledge available is a must! On that note, I’m happy to announce that I will be speaking on a panel at the 2nd annual School House Craft Conference here in Seattle about the “Do’s and Don’ts of Approaching Shops and Galleries,” with Shalene Lundgren of Portage Bay Goods and Andrea Porter on Sunday, September 23rd.
While I can’t reveal too many of my secrets yet (another post to come), I can offer a few valuable tips to get you started on the road to success in business with brick & mortar shops.
1. Know your brand. Knowing your work and where it belongs and is marketable is key to success as an independent designer. If you are a graphic designer with a streamlined approach, perhaps a “vintagey” shop is not the best place to start. Be able to explain to shop owners about how your brand will contribute to their success.
2. Respect boundaries. Shop owners are extremely busy people. They live their business and know it through and through. Respect their time and set up an appointment or email an inquiry before stopping in with your products. You don’t want to be mistaken for a solicitor!
3. Have a website or a blog. A lot of the most artsy people are completely illiterate when it comes to computers, but the truth is: that is how business works today. Having a website is vital to marketing to shops that are not in your own backyard. If you’re not that great at this aspect of selling, have a friend who knows computers help you code a simple site or blog.
I hope those little crumbs of wisdom can hold you over until after the panel discussion! Other instructors and panelists at School House Craft include Shauna Alterio and Stephen Loidolt from Something’s Hiding In Here, Jennifer Shea of Trophy Cupcakes, and many more talented business experts in the arena of design, craft and DIY. Check out the School House Craft website to learn about ticket prices and other information.