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Volume #1, Issue #2

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"The National Arts and Crafts Resource Network"

        Volume 1 Issue 2

Thank You
I would like to thank everyone who emailed me regarding the first issue of the Acraftbiz Newsletter. I hope to deliver to you the same quality of information in each and every issue.

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The Business of Crafts

Creating an Image
Creating your image as a professional crafter should be your number one priority, if you are serious about making it a business. Before you can create packaging, price lists or contact suppliers there are a few steps you need to take:

1. Give your business a name, address, and a phone number, and since your reading this online your email address, and if you have a website your URL.

    a.   Be creative with a name, have it describe what you sell. It will be with you for a long time so plan it carefully. Many use their own names such as Marie Young's Polymer Clay Creations, or Marie Young's Designer Florals.

    b.   Your home address is fine. However, if you are going to sell wholesale, I highly recommend a P.O. Box.

    c.   Your home phone is fine, but during the hours of 8 AM - 5 PM you should answer your phone as Good Morning or Good Afternoon. If you have children they should never answer the phone during these hours.

2.   Business Cards are a must. Once you have the above information compiled order business cards. If you shop around you can get 500 cards for less than 10.00. If you do not have a Copy Center near you there are literally hundreds of companies on the web. Use the business cards as means for advertising your business.

3.   Stationary, there is no excuse not to have stationery. They sell decorative paper everywhere including Walmart. To be a professional crafter, stationary for requesting catalogs, making price lists, or writing letters is an absolute must.

If you are on a computer you can make your own, just play around with the fonts in your word processor until you find one that is complimentary to your product style. Include: Your business name, address, phone number (fax number if you have one) and your email address.

4.   Signs - if you use signs in your booth, whether it be at craft shows, or consignment shops, make your signs look professional. If you cannot print or calligraphy then ask someone to do it for you. Writing on a piece of typing paper looks tacky and does not do your product justice. Use poster board or heavy artist paper. Use decorative scissors for the outside edges. If you do use typing or copy paper make the sign on the computer with attractive fonts, then put the sign in a clear acrylic frame.

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A Crafter I Met - With an Image

This past fall I attended a craft show that was rated as a four star event. It was held in an extra large facility and consisted of 4 floors, and over 300 vendors. The crowd was above normal for a craft show, however, not for this particular event, it was in its 20th year.

The first and second floors were crafters who participated in this event for a number of years, the new crafters were on the third and fourth floors.

As I made my way thru the show I took notice that the customers were doing a lot of looking. They went from the first to the fourth, hardly making a purchase. I was there to observe and take notes on the buying habits of craft show attendees. When I went to the fourth floor, there were 60 craft booths, with a wide range of products. One booth in particular gained my curiosity as there were customers lined up 3 deep to see what this particular crafter was selling. I made my way through the crowd, and what I observed even surprised me.

This vendor made muslin snowmen. Each dressed differently, all with hats scarves, vests resembling a hobo theme, no two alike. They stood about 6-8" tall all with painted and button faces. They were displayed nestled in Christmas garland. The table was draped with Christmas plaid fabric to the floor. There were 6 different painted ceramic village buildings all with lights, also nestled in the garland. The table was 8 feet long and there were only 25 snowmen on the table at once.

Each snowman was given a name and a birthdate, along with a simple verse, or quote, displayed on a hang tag. As the vendor sold them, (many customers buying multiples) she would ask the customer if they would like for her to sign them (knowing that no one would say no). Once she signed the snowman, she reached behind and pulled out a gift box that she had stamped Christmas designs on with a sponge. She included her own business information on the bottom of the box with a rubber stamp. She wrapped the snowman in tissue paper, put it in the box, included her business card, and politely thanked her customer, adding this box will protect him from year to year, and I do accept custom orders so feel free to call.

An ordinary product for the Christmas season, snowmen, you see them at several craft booths. What made her booth and product so special?

1. She set the mood with her display. Christmas plaid fabric, garland and lights.She only displayed 25 at a time, giving the appearance of a limited amount. If she had all 400 on the table at once, what would make them so special?? Supply and Demand!

2. She had a simple quote, or verse along with a given name and birthrate, giving the snowman an identity as if a limited edition.

3. She treated the product as an artist, asking the customer if they would like for her to sign them.

4. She provided a decorative box for gift giving and or storage.

The average price for a similar snowman at this same show was 10.00-15.00. This crafter was selling her snowmen for 25.00-30.00 and getting it (as I said the customers were standing in line 3 deep). By the end of the show she only had 13 left and she started with 400.

Do the math - 387 x $25.00=$9,675.00+ for a 2 day event!!!

I am convinced that because her snowmen were like so many that I have seen before, it was her display, packaging and selling technique that sold her product. She created an image of Supply and Demand by only displaying 25 at a time. She went the extra mile, by including a gift box, a hang tag with a name and birthdate, and her autograph.

It doesn't matter what you make. Packaging and display play a very important role in selling your product. You have competition at craft shows, in craft malls, in consignment stores, party plans, wholesale, it doesn't matter where you sell your product but rather how. Do you offer something special that sets your product aside from your competition?

Do you make quilts? Give the history on a tag.
Dolls? Give them a name and birthdate, as well as a signature.
Florals- include, Created and designed by your name
Potpourri - blended exclusively by your business name
Candles- Proudly made in the USA by your company name

Be proud of what you make, when given the chance advertise and proudly present that your item is handmade is the USA. Show your customers the uniqueness of your product. Go that extra mile.

If you create a display rather than setting up a display it will pay off by the appearance alone. Your image to the consumer will be that of quality and pride.

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Some Packaging Ideas
Before you decide on packaging for your product, I strongly recommend that you take a trip to a Gift Store, Hallmark Store, Department Store or even a Walmart. Look specifically at packaging. You will get some great ideas! Visualize what your product would look like with the various packaging ideas you see.

Hang Tags are the least expensive and most versatile way to add packaging to your product. They are also a very good way to get your business information on each and every product you make. You can tie them on, insert them with a tagging gun, or tape to each product. It doesn't matter what you make, they will work for all products.

Adding hang tags or other forms of packaging to your product are the finishing touch every product requires. They can also serve as the To and From for gift giving, as well as, a place to put your price. But most importantly they represent that you are a professional crafter.

Making Your Own Hang Tags

Supplies:
Artist Paper - Artist supply section. Higher quality of paper.
Decorative Scissors
Paper Punch
Rubber Stamp, Sponge Stamp, Stencil, Stickers or Dimensional Paint
Ribbon, Raffia, or Twine,
Typewriter, Computer or Pen (calligraphy)
Glue Stick
Ruler
Pencil

Directions:
Decide if you want a folded hang tag or a single hang tag.
Use heavy artist paper, measure and cut tags that are complimentary to the size of your product. Use decorative scissors for a professional edge. On the front of the tag put the design via stamp, stencil etc.

Make your script simple but informative. I use white bond and glue to the decorative paper. I find it easier to read, and I can change it at any time without ruining the actual tag.

Punch a whole in the upper left hand corner, if your going to tie it on the product. If you are going to tape it on there is no need for a whole punch.

Very simple and easy to make, but the statement you add to your product is very rewarding. The best advertisement you can give yourself!

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More Packaging Ideas
I
f you sell small individual objects that may entice the consumer to steal, offer your product in poly bags and tag. This increases the size of the product appearance and is less likely to be stolen. Many product are packaged this way, this concept is great for hanging on a display, pegboard or otherwise.

Corsage bags also make an attractive package tied off with raffia, ribbon, jute, a material that will compliment your product. Include a hang tag with the product information. Corsage bags are clear and crisp and the consumer can see the product clearly. 

Hint: Don't use satin ribbon if your product is Americana, a paper ribbon, raffia. or jute may give it a better look. You can find corsage bags from floral suppliers, or try your local florist. Maybe you can add to her order and get a great price!

Gift baskets are a great gift ideas. Make them a ready to give gift by incorporating a finished look. A shrink wrap system is worth the investment. Also add a bow, ribbon, raffia, paper ribbon or jute. Include a hang tag for a finished look. If in the beginning you cannot afford a shrink system, then a clear plastic film wrap will do a great job, tied off with a complimentary ribbon, raffia, or jute.

Gift boxes come in a variety of sizes, styles, colors, and shapes. They are available from numerous companies that specialize in retail packaging. You can add a decorative touch to them with stamps, stencils, sponges, etc.

Corrugate boxes are available in a variety of sizes (find them in packaging supplies in Yellow Pages). IDEA: Decorate the outside of the box with stencils, stamps, or sponges use colored excelsior in the bottom of the box, nestle your product in the center. Tape it shut, use raffia as a decorative finish, add a hang tag with your information include a To and From. Have one open on display -- and sell them ready to give as a gift. Add the cost of this packaging back into the price of your product, customers will pay a slightly higher price to have the gift already packaged and ready to give as a gift. Advertise-Ready to Give as a Gift- Great for Christmas corporate gifts!

Sacks:
When your customer makes a purchase from you, offer them a sack to carry their purchase.

Lunch sacks are great for small purchases. Stencil or stamp images that compliment your product. You can make your own out of potatoes, or sponges. Also rubber stamps, stencils, or even dimensional paint and create your own image.

If you use manufactured rubber stamps its OK to stamp with them for packaging purposes, as long as you don't sell a product that you have stamped without permission from the manufacturer, be safe, and ask the store if you are purchasing an Angel stamp, (meaning free to use) or call the manufacturer of the stamp you are using to get permission. Document the conversation.

Grocery sacks with the store logo cut off, glue on strips for handles. Rubber stamp, stencil, or dimensional paint a complimentary design and tie raffia on the handles. Your customers will love it.

If your budget allows it, some craft and discount stores sell plain gift bags in a variety of sizes. IDEA: Decorate them according to the season using stencils, sponges, or dimensional paint. Sell them along with you product line, you would be surprised how many customers would buy them. Include tissue paper, ribbon or raffia for tying on the handle, add a gift hang tag- you've just added another product to your line, and you've given your customer a great way to give a gift!

Look in your yellow pages for packaging printing companies. I was able to find a manufacturer that printed flour sacks. I had 2.5#, 5# and 10#. Customers would come in just to buy the sacks.

Muslin cloth sacks with a draw string are also great for small items. If you sell jewelry try finding jewelry cloth sacks, some are sold at retail merchandising and display stores. You could make it an optional buy item for the consumer.

Go to your local cake decorating supply store, they sell poly bags, boxes and have some great packaging ideas. Great for smaller type products.

Tissue paper is very inexpensive, use it when wrapping the customers purchase, they will remember you for doing it.

Packaging can be fun and very rewarding. Customers will pay extra if the product they purchase is ready to give as a gift. Look around, specifically at packaging, you will be amazed as the ideas begin to flow. It doesn't need to be expensive just appealing, and complimentary to your product. It will definitely add value to your product!

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National Registry
I am compiling a National List of Professional Crafters who would like to sell their product wholesale. I will be submitting this list to various reps throughout the USA.

If you would like to be included please submit your Name, Address, Phone, URL, Email, Product Description, Type of Accounts you would like to sell to.

Your name and info will be made available to a rep who is interested in selling your type of product. They will be in contact with you direct. The decision to sell your product through this program is yours and yours alone. I am just providing a service to those of you interested in selling wholesale thru a rep.

Email to: NicciYoung@aol.com

Best Regards,
Niccole Young

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Next Issue Date June 15th

Feature-Consignment, Making your own brochure!

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Each month I will feature a Crafters Story in their own words, unedited. If you would like to submit your story mailto: Acraftbiz@aol.com. You will be notified by email if your story is selected. There is no charge.

This months feature: Tara Lynn Darr

When I turned 11 my wonderful mother turned over her trusty old sewing machine to me, handed me the instruction manual and said "here you go, have fun!" And since then I have grown to love crafting immensely. I started out just making doll clothes, small (and I do mean small) quilts for my dolly's, then advanced to making outfits for my cousin when he was born, and let me tell you --they were bad!!!!

I continued to sew over the years, my mom taught me crochet when I was in kindergarten, and as I got older I watched her paint ceramics, and make quilts, and sew dolls, etc.

When I was about 14 my mom started working at a local nursing home as the activity and social service director. Then is when I really got my experience with craft shows. Starting when I was about 16, she started holding an annual craft show there at the nursing home, I watched, helped, and learned. By the time I was eighteen, I was ready to try it on my own, so I paid my $25.00 entrance fee and set up my table. I made a little over $150.00 and was tickled to death. Looking back now, I know this was a wonderful learning experience for me business wise. My items were so underpriced, I know I wouldn't have broke even if my mother hadn't help me buy supplies, or gave me things!

Time went on and I graduated and started working two jobs to survive on my own, I moved out of my parents home a week after I graduated, I couldn't wait to be on my own. Later that year I decided I would try another craft show, there had to be a better way to make it because 2 jobs were killing me. The craft show was a success, but after that show I couldn't find anymore locally that I could afford.

Time went on and I started sewing out of my home for other people, and selling my crafts where I worked. Things were going well. When I turned 22, I rented my first space in a small craft mall, and did well from the start. Within the year I grew to doing 2 craft malls and did very well.

I kept up the pace for a year, and then started having personal problems. My crafting died and I moved out of state. I met my husband and became pregnant with our first child. Then I realized, I wanted to be a stay at home mommy, so off I went crafting my heart out. I rented space in my first craft mall here in Illinois, 5 months before my son was born, and I barely broke even. Still determined, I started going to craft shows, and low and behold, things that were once popular in Indiana where I grew up, were not so hot here.

At this point my son was 4 1/2 months old and he became a crafter. I loaded my trusty car up and I was off to my first craft show in Illinois, son in tow. I did phenomenal! I was excited, my son was loving all the attention also.

I went home and started sewing some more night and day working on craft items, and two weeks after my first show I did another show, it went O.K. Then Halloween weekend I did another craft show, and sold a little over $700.00 in merchandise! At that time I was amazed, I never in my wildest dreams thought I could do that well.

My son and I did two more shows that season and ended up doing very well.

Today I am 26 years old, my son is going to be two years old at the end of May, and my daughter is 8 1/2 months old. Are you shocked? Let me tell you, my biggest pet peeve is people saying, "How do you have time to make all this stuff with two little babies?" Well, I'll say this, you can do anything you put your mind to. I don't waste my time, I use it efficiently. During the day I play with my kids and do all the mommy things I have ever dreamed of doing. Sometimes I still get lucky and get a little crafting time in during naps. But after 9 PM is my "work" time. This is my job, and I work every night during the week and occasionally on weekend nights when I don't have a show until midnight or later.

Crafting has allowed me to stay at home with my kids and enjoy life to the fullest. I have learned to use my time wisely and effectively. My basement is now turned into my sewing/crafting room, newly remodeled this past winter to fit my needs. I have grown from hauling my crafty creations around in my Ford Cougar, to a mini-van and a 6 x 8 trailer.

My best crafting season, like many other crafters, is the fall and winter. Spring this past year was very good to us, and this summer I am doing my first shows during the summer time. Wish me luck!

Now, you ask, "What does this lady make?" I love to sew, and my favorite creations include my "stuffed critters" as I have named them. I make scarecrow dolls, pumpkins, Santa's, snowmen, reindeers, etc. The one thing that I always keep in mind before I make something is, "If I were the customer, what would I do with this item?" If an item looks to easy to go home and duplicate, I have learned-don't waste your time making it!

You are a crafter, be unique and original! Come up with your own ideas and you will be a success. All of my items are on the "cutesy line" and now I am also offering a line of country, and primitive items. Shoppers don't want the same old thing, they want something to make them feel special!

When people look at my items, I enjoy the smiles and the wonderful comments, this makes my day.

Also, I have learned how to paint and work with wood for my summer shows. I no, I have had plenty of people tell me not to get to diversified, but so far so good! I am in two local craft malls and my items are doing well.

Through all of my experiences, I have learned-----be original, don't copy someone else's design, it's unfair and unethical, and wouldn't it make you feel wonderful to have someone tell you they think you did a wonderful job and where did you get this idea. You can honestly say, I designed it myself!

Don't underprice, you'll pay for it in the end. Your pocket will be empty after the bills, and you need the extra profit money to reinvest in your business, to create more wonderful projects.

Be courteous to fellow crafters! There's nothing wrong with lending a hand to someone that has just dropped a box, or worse their dolly turned over (I have been there, and I can't tell you how dumb I felt)! Even if you had your worst craft show, and at the end of the day you just want to go home and crawl in a hole, just remember there's always another show!

Another important thing to remember, make sure you check without your state officials and find out if you have to apply for any special licenses. I have heard the horror stories of people returning home from a show with nothing, because IRS auditors were there "shopping" for the crafters without a license.

If you need any other information please just let me know. I would be happy to receive emails from anyone with any questions and/or comments that might read this article. Feel free to cut and paste as you see fit. I am a crafter, not a writer----yet.

Honestly, if you are curious or need to know anything else, please don't be afraid to ask.

Thank You

Tara Lynn Darr     sewunique7@aol.com   or   
btdarr@aol.com

Sew Unique
Joliet, IL
1-815-725-6802

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Classified ads are here in mailed issues.

 

Classified Rates 1.00 Per Line

Circulation 1185 - 2nd Issue

Submit add copy to: Acraftbiz@aol.com

 

If you would like a hard copy of this newsletter,

or the April 15th issue please send 3.50 to

 

"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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