New Vendor? Part 2

Continuing my short series of the whit and wisdom we have learned over the last year regarding our small business startup, today i want to discuss how to determine your market.

In order to determine where to sell your items you need to have determined your audience.  Its a lesson that everyone who works in the  arts finds out.  Your work, your talent is valuable and unique.

Is it fine art ?- then be sure to avoid the shows that list as “craft shows” because people are coming there for knit hats, and the like.  Nothing wrong with craft shows, but fine art does not sell at craft shows…. think of it as trying to put expensive china at a dollar store…. someone came for the big bargain and will not pay what your work commands.   Moving your product to a place where it is appreciated, and patrons understand the work that was put into your product will make all the difference.

Is your work gender specific? Target to the environment where your target audience can be found.  Assess who is interested in your work, seek the advise of other artists, or art professors at a local college. Here are a few ideas of where to market your work:

1. Art Shows, Festivals, Markets:  There are an abundance of  different levels of  shows around town that vary from simple craft shows to fine art markets.  Festivals are interesting venues during warm months, but will require additional equipment including a tent.

2. Galleries, Specialty Shops:  Look for shops that appeal to your audience.    Often you will be  contracted and be charged a commission of between 30-50% for products sold… however the shop is taking on the overhead, the sales, the marketing.  Most galleries will establish a contract with you, and agree upon the percentage of commission, and payment schedule.  Most of the galleries we do business with pay monthly, after the end of the month.

3. Wholesaling – A more expensive endeavor to establish a wholesale representative, but the process involves hiring someone to act as a sales rep for you.  They have sample of your product, and they work on your behalf to find niches and outlets for selling your work.  You have to be committed to production, and able to duplicate your product consistently.  (An example is a friend who does slumped glass bowls… every bowl looks approximately the same… there may be very slight variation, but hardly noticable… every bowl looks hand made and consistently the same.)

4. Online/Ecommerce site – Etsy.com and Artfire.com are the two big names in online sales venues.  After creating an account and connecting it to your paypal account, you are able to post photos and descriptions of your items…. and put them up for sale.  Its all about key words, web search engine insight… the better you a re at presenting your products, well photographed, easily described, and priced to sell… the better you will do.  But dont forget to do your research on the prices for shipping.  Shipping can kill your profits if you dont pay attention.  And do you choose to ship outside the USA? or not?  Updating, constant updating ensures fresh and vibrant stores, which turn product.  This takes time… lots and lots of time.

5. Your own website with ecommerce capability has more benefit – unlike etsy, when someone visits your website they are not tempted  away to another store that sells something like what you have to offer.  but this involves obtaining a domaine, webhosting, and writing your website, working on the proper coding to make your site hack proof and connecting all the dots… site, pay source, etc.    And websites also take lots of time.

In general the market you are seeking depends upon what you are selling, and how you want to present yourself.  We do a smathering of most of these options, although in the last 4 months we have been moving away from craft shows, and fairs/festivals that are not productive.  And we have been doing our research on wholesale…. That seems to be the direction we believe will work for our soap products.


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