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Volume #1, Issue #1

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"The National Arts and Crafts Resource Network "

This is the newsletter on craft marketing that you requested from http://Craftfinder.com. If you do not wish to receive this newsletter, please follow the unsubscribe information listed at the end of this email.

As mentioned in the signup memo sent you recently, Craftfinder.com has formed a strategic partnership with The National Arts and Crafts Resource Network to provide you with key information that you need to better market your crafts.

Part of that partnership is this newsletter. We hop that you enjoy it, tell your friends about it, and profit from it. Please feel free to let us know what you think about it! We are sending out the two previously sent issues so that your collection can be complete.

            Issue 1 Volume 1

Welcome

     Many of you are already seasoned crafters, selling your product in the various markets that I will be addressing, so I hope that I don't bore you. If you have additional advice, please jump in.

    My reason for writing this newsletter is, I have received numerous emails asking for advice, especially in Marketing.  I don't profess to be an expert, however, I do have a lot of knowledge that I am willing to share. My writing technique is me, I won't use a lot of fancy words and I may even misspell a word or two, I just thought I'd warn you.

     There are many of you that have experienced good and bad in your crafting venture, I invite you to submit an article, your experience, may help someone on this list. Please submit to:  Acraftbiz@aol.com

    If you have a question that you need an answer on, by allmeans email me the question to: Acraftbiz@aol.com subject: Question. I'll post it in the next newsletter, and we'll get the answer for you. No question is a dumb question!

    I will offer classified advertising on a first come first served basis. I have already had many inquiries and I will address this at the end of this newsletter. Topics accepted: Arts Crafts, Marketing, Business, Service for Arts & Crafts, Patterns, Kits, as long as it is related to Arts and Crafts. (See end of Newsletter for details)

 

New Email Group
    For those of you who are interested, we have started an email conversation for Professional Crafters and Manufacturers Reps. This might be a good way of finding out information on what it takes to sell wholesale. Get tips from other Crafters who are selling wholesale. If you wish to join go to www.onelist.com and enter Art-Craft-Reps@onelist.com.

 

This is Who I Am
    My name is Marie Young, and I have been doing arts & crafts since I was 8 years old, I started making pot holders and selling them door to door to my neighbors. They were fun to make and even more fun to sell. My Aunt who made doll clothes only lived a block away, she told me if I paid her 1.00 she would teach me how to make doll clothes. I used my pot holder money to pay her, and everyday after school I would go to her house. She taught me how to use a sewing machine and a needle and thread. I made doll clothes and instead of making them for me I made them and sold them to mysisters, cousins, and friends. I even made fur coats with matching hats. I got so much business I had to have my Aunt help me, but I had to pay her 1.00 every time she did.

    There isn't a time in my recalled life that I wasn't making something and selling it. God gifted me with a great artistic talent. I have done ceramics, macrame, decoupage, candle making, florals, soap making, quilt making, clay miniatures, sculpture, about every craft that is out there I have tried.

    I have owned a Gift and Antique Store, Manufacturing Company in which our main product was Wax Dipped Scented Pinecones and other hand dipped wax items, another manufacturing company where we produced Potpourri, Candles, Oils and every by product related to Potpourri. I have designed products for another gift manufacturing company, and continue to submit new product designs. I have been in the craft industry, and the gift industry. At one time I had 227 sales reps working in 14 major showrooms, nationwide. I currently own a small manufacturing company which is a product that turns cigarette smoke into fragrance.

    I am not telling you this to brag, quite the opposite, I've been there, and I did not take advantage of resources available to me at the time, therefore, I made a lot of mistakes, some cost me a great deal of money, others a great deal of time. I am here to share with you the things I have learned. I have an enormous amount of information stored in my brain, dying to get out.

    I intend to cover all aspects of the Business of Crafts.Many of you have already been there and done that, so I invite you to please write an article that could benefit someone on this list. Many of you have already passed others with your experiences, this newsletter is meant to help those who need the help, and I hope that each and every one of you have an enormous success in your crafting ventures.

    Again, if you have a question on a specific topic please submit it, and we will get it answered for you. So with that, lets get on with the business of crafts.

 

Business of Crafts
    Most all crafters start by making something for their themselves, whether it be for the home or something to wear. We do it for therapy, as a stress reliever or just for the fun of it. We get a compliment, or someone says you should try selling those, and invariably we run back to the craft store buy more supplies and start mass producing, in hopes that we find a craft show or a nice gift shop to buy what we made.

    Craft supply stores, like Hobby Lobby, Franks, Michael's, Ben Franklin etc.etc. don't offer classes on selling what you make. They just sell you all of the supplies, then leave you to learn on your own, how to sell what you make.

    We don't take into consideration how much money were spending, our major focus is on how much money we can make. Most of us copy, or borrow ideas from other crafters, instead of letting their creativity expand. Many of us have tunnel vision when it comes to color, trend, techniques and styles, and these are the major reasons many of us fail.

    Yes, we may have designed a really great product, at least we as crafter think so, but are we producing what the consumer will buy? How do we know what the current Trends ? Colors? Themes? Style? and Techniques are? How do we know if what we make, will sell? Many of us don't have a clue, we just make, make, and make, and then hope they sell.

    If you want to earn extra income, or make a total living at arts & crafts you can. Many artisans make a 6 digit income. What sets them apart from us? Their vision plays the most important role, but also the ability to change. They have researched the industry, they make what the consumer will buy. It doesn't matter if its, jewelry, quilts, ceramics, florals, whatever the product they made changes to their style and techniques to the standards of what the consumer is shopping for today,

    Department Stores, Furniture Stores, Fabric stores, even Walmart Mart have made the change. Every season, fashion designers have major events to introduce their new fashions for the new season. The textile industry sets the trends, styles, colors, and designs, that we the consumer buy. We go into a department store, and whatever is on the shelves is what we have to choose from, when we make a purchase. No different from the fashion industry colors, patterns, styles, and designs also change for the HOME.

    When you go to a department stores, specialty store, and yes, even Walmart and look at linens, towels, fabric, accent pieces, candles, flowers, and ribbon and view them as an artist. Look at the colors, the patterns and the style of what's on the market. Go to a fabric store or even a furniture store and spend some time looking at patterns and colors. This is what the consumer who buys your product is using as their decorating theme. They have no choice, because the textile industry sets the colors, designs, and styles

    Research, browse, shop, go look at what is out there. Instead of borrowing ideas from other crafters, (which the industry is full of duplication) make something new and innovative that is in with the trend. The consumer is looking for new, that is why sales at Craft Shows and Craft Malls are down, there is nothing new. Next time you do a show, walk the show yourself, look at where the activity is, most usually at the booth that has something new, or who offers something different, no matter what the cost.

    Consumers today have money to spend, our economy has never been better so we cannot use that as an excuse. Whether you make ceramics, quilts, clothing, painted wood, florals, etc.etc. It doesn't matter. Give the consumer something new. Change your colors, themes, patterns and designs. If you have a product that the intended use is for the kitchen, then go look at dishes, corning ware, kitchen towels, placemats, canisters. This is what the consumer is decorating around. Wherever you product category falls, you should be researching that industry. Kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, dens, offices, play areas.

    When I had the pinecone business, we used baskets to nestle our pinecones in, I went to market and bought them at wholesale. Being new I bought thousands of baskets that I liked. WRONG, I made a major mistake that cost me a great deal of money. I over bought and I didn't do my homework on what styles were currently in. I had an enormous inventory of baskets, in which all were out of style. My only recourse was to sell them to a discount house that bought outdated merchandise .25 cents on the dollar. Point being don't buy hastily and in large quantities unless you already have them sold. Styles change and you need to change with them. You can always reorder.

    Talking about pinecones, our colors were always six months ahead of the retail market. We bought our ribbon (used for decorative accent) from a major producer in the industry. This company always sent me ribbon samples six months before they were placed on the retail shelves. We always had the right colors, at the right time.

    Candles are another excellent product to compare. Two years ago candles started coming back in. There were the standard fragrances: Vanilla, Cinnamon, Mulberry, Peach, Rose, Lavender, Apple, and Strawberry. Today if you go to Walmart, you'll find that their new line of candles, colors, designs and fragrances lean toward the aromatherapy. All of a sudden herbs have become the in thing, and along with it aromatherapy.

    If I was making candles today, I would definitely explore what aromatherapy is, I would change or at least add to my current product line until I could deplete my inventory of obsolete fragrances. Offer __% off and turn that old inventory into cash to make room for what's new. Not only have the fragrances changed, so have the colors, to a more subtle look. Don't get me wrong, Vanilla, Cinnamon, or Apple Cinnamon, and Mulberry will always remain high on the list of fragrances, but if Walmart is selling Aromatherapy then it must be in.

    This years color of the year is Gray. If you make jewelry you may want to lean toward silver rather than gold or copper. At least broaden your line to include silver. It may be in for the next few years.

    Packaging is almost expected today. Whether it be raffia, corrugated, ribbon anything to dress the product, is definitely a plus. I will go into depth about display and packaging in my next newsletter.

 

Looking for an Idea
    Today Scrapbooking is very hot, Rubber-stamps, and Handmade Papers. Go into your local craft supply and look at what they are selling. You will notice that scrap booking has 2 aisles back to back loaded with every imaginable product there is for the scrap book including the scrap book itself. Handmade papers, and rubber-stamps also fall under scrap booking.

    IDEA: Put together kits for the average mom who has to work 40 hour weeks plus be a mom 128 hours a week. She enjoys going to craft shows and will buy an item or two. She comes to your booth and you offer kits that are self explanatory and easy to follow directions, you provide everything but the photograph. Offer rubber stamps, pens, markers extra. You show her how to do it, and she is now your customer. You can send periodic mailings announcing new arrivals. Be sure to have a guest book or registry at your booth. You could also have order form for additional kits that you include in her package. This is a service craft, that so many mothers will greet with open arms.

    Themes: Baby Birth, Baby Shower, School Days, Vacation, Pets, Wedding, Bridal Shower, Grandma & Grandpa, Family, Birthdays, Anniversaries, Family Reunions, Field Trips, Picnics, 4th July, College, Sororities, Fraternities, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Mother's Day, Father's Day, St. Patrick's Day, and I am sure there are more to ad. You may want to include the Scrapbook, Rubber-stamps, Stickers, Pens, Markers (acid free) are great add on as well.

    Look around for a crafter who makes albums, decorative and fabric, get two booths then make it one for an extra large appearance, you would be surprised at the traffic you will draw, just because of the largeness of your booth.

    You could also set up a section of your store, consignment booth, or start your own party plan using the same concept. We'll cover Party Plans at a later date.

    Along the scrap booking line is another trend falling into place. Handmade greeting cards, using handmade papers, rubber stamps, charms, acid free pens and markers. Virtually everything used in scrap booking can be used to make fantastic handmade greeting cards. Make a kit, include the materials and directions enough for 3-4 cards. There are some really great books out on making handmade cards, you may want to offer them as well, or just use them for your own reference.

 

Something to Really Think About
    How many time have we heard: Oh, I can Make That! Or they stand there and draw your product or some even are brave enough to take a picture. Well, you could nip it in the bud if you had a kit or directions to sell.

    Kits are something to think very strongly about. You could include all of the major materials and directions in a poly bag with a header tag, or directions for the project printed, or copied 2-4 sided. Sell them both ways.

 

Work On Your Display
    Display is very important, if you just have things on a table and expect the customer to wade through them, WRONG, you will not have the success that you could have if you thought out your display. Set your booth up at home in advance, critique it as if you were a shopper -- would you stand there and wade through a pile of stuff on a table? 

If you plan on becoming successful, then you need to invest in good displays. Take a trip to your local gift shops, craft malls, decorating stores to get some ideas on displays. You don't have to spend a great deal of money. I will cover more on packaging and display in the next newsletter.

******************************************************

Classified Advertising

In actual issues, you would see classified ads here.

Classified Rates 5.00 per issue maximum 5 lines
Circulation 432 First Issue
Limited to 20 adds per issue
First Come First Served - You will be notified by email.
Submit add copy to: 
Acraftbiz@aol.com

If you would like a hard copy of this newsletter, please send $3.50

The National Arts and Crafts Resource Network

Attention: Marie Young
P. O. Box 444
Blue Springs, Missouri 64013

816-220-9600 office
816-220-9669 fax
mailto: 
Acraftbiz@aol.com

copyright 1999 all rights reserved
Marie Young, Blue Springs, Missouri 64013

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