Where do I begin?
I've said in the past that I began crafting as a way to relieve mental stress and physical stress due to my disabilities.
I would have a couple days per month where I may feel okay. This gave me the opportunity to dabble into my creativity.
I tried canvas painting, body scrubs, body butters, body soaks, and numerous other body products. These were fairly successful, until they required me to produce more products and go to craft fairs. My body could not handle it. From one day to the next, I did not know how I would feel.
In 2015-2016, I started making grapevine wreaths. I found that making these wreaths were very therapeutic.
I've tried several times to enter back into the work force and unfortunately due to my illnesses, I have not been successful. They are so unpredictable.
About 5 months ago we decided to rent a small space to place my "hobby items", sales have been horrible.
Here is what I've learned:
- Research the area for vendors to see what their clientele are interested in
- Go to the location as a customer and see if there is a variety from week to week or the same products
- How does the staff greet you?
- How does the staff treat you?
- Then READ their reviews. ALL OF THEM!
- Look at their marketing. Do they advertise specific vendors and items or do they advertise their shop/store as a whole business?
If you are interested in becoming a vendor/ artisan at their shop/ store, here are my suggestions:
- Email or message them. Their response time says a lot about their interest in artisans and their business.
- Ask what types of vendors they are seeking if you did not see an ad at their shop/store or in their marketing page.
- Ask if you may send over your portfolio.
- Ask about lease terms and vendor space pricing. Each shop/store differs. Some may offer month to month, while others may require a 6 month lease and deposit.
- Ask about the time of month you are paid and how you are paid.
- Find out if you are restricted to just your rental space or if they are open to mixing your items in throughout the shop/store.
- Ask about their marketing to see exactly how they are going to help you sell. Remember, they typically receive not only your monthly rent, they also receive 10-25% of your sales per month.
Once you make your decision and you both decide it's a "go", meet in person.
- Make sure your personalities and principles are a match. I'm an energy feeler. At times I know in my gut when I will have to do my all to try to make something work and other times it is just a fit.
- READ, READ, READ your contract before you sign it.
- Change your items out regularly and also ask them if they are willing to move items around as they see fit. They are the face of the shop/store. You want them representing you as much as you are going to represent them.
- Advertising is the key, whether it's Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, any type of social media.
- Include them in your ads if you run ads.
- Remember this is YOUR business, you are only as successful if you have the business owner(s) and staff working with you.
- Participate in events, sales, giveaways if you can. I suggest once a month.
- If you are disabled (such as I), pace yourself when crafting. For example, one day I might make 10 key chains, a few days later I might make a few wood items. Each time I complete projects, I simply take them into the shop/store. This keeps fresh products in sight for recurring clients.
- Have business cards in every item possible.
- Price tags are a must and they must identify your business for you to be properly paid.
- Keep inventory, a budget, a profit & loss. Make sure it's paying off.
I would HIGHLY SUGGEST to new vendors/ artisans, find a location that is month to month. I felt like a complete failure at my first shop. We lost (when I say we, it's really Ed) way more than we bargained for and he will never see those funds again.
At our new location, since he does the funding, we have already made enough in our first 3 weeks to cover July and August rent! That's a HUGE accomplishment as we are in a high rent district shopping center.
I absolutely cannot thank God enough for placing my current shop/ store owner(s) and staff in my life and path. They have made me feel worthy and they help me by teaching me pricing if I ask, sales suggestions, sometimes I may ask if they think something would sell they either say "yes you can try it" or "probably not". They are Christians, that is a WIN in my life. They see me several times a week. I just can't say enough about them. They participate in community events, they participate with other shops/stores in the community for shopping sprees. It's amazing what these young women are bringing to the area and surrounding areas.
I also want to thank those in my family and a few close friends whom have shown their support in more ways than one throughout this journey thus far.
A special thanks to my cousin and friend Casey! She has stood by my side, given me advice, helped me set up, and essentially been on this journey with me 💜 I do not have enough "thank you's" for her.
I made a huge mistake in the beginning, I will admit, I was ambitious and naive. I now have the experience and knowledge to pass on, therefore it's not all in vain.
I hope my small bits of experience will help someone. I am still learning.
Oh, and if you decide to get in to craft fairs, that is an entirely different blog!
As always, thanks for reading. Please like, share, subscribe, and comment!
I'll borrow a little saying from Ed
"You pay for your education one way or another"
I'm sure that's from a movie he watched, wink, wink!
He's actually really funny because he also tells me to play with my toys or time to put my toys away when I'm crafting or crafting too long. Hey, I'm fortunate enough to have the desire to craft or play with my toys, share them, and he stands behind me and supports it!