Design Trust Workshop

This post is not directly textile related but I hope it will be useful for anyone wanting to market and sell their hand-made work.

Last week I attended a workshop with Patricia van den Akker from the Design Trust. The main focus was on marketing and was a godsend for me, I have read all the articles and often thought, “yes, makes sense, I should do that” but never actually did it! I am a terrible procrastinator and really need someone standing over me to make sure I do the difficult / less fun stuff like writing a business plan (not as boring as it sounds), working out what my brand is and who my customers are.

While I can’t cover the whole workshop in one blog post I hope you will find the following highlights a useful place to start… As Patricia said at the start of her workshop, “this is a workshop, and you will be doing the work!” 🙂

Have you got pen and paper ready? Try to answer each question before you move onto the next. Let’s get started….

What is your business dream?

What does success look like for you? Holidays in the sun every year, time to spend with your children/family, earning a specific salary, winning a design award, having a team of employees etc.

Think about why you chose your craft. Who are your role models? Why do you look up to them, what have they achieved?

What do you want to be known for? What would you like to be said in your eulogy? What is most important to you?

Marketing

This is communicating the value of your product for the purpose of selling. Try not to think of it as advertising, more as a conversation with potential customers and clients.

Marketing has 3 inter-related purposes:

  • increase your profile
  • increase your credibility (trust)
  • brings you clients

Why do you do what you do? Is it just art therapy for you or do you have a wider philosophy you want to share with the world?

Effective marketing requires that you understand your client’s needs when designing your products, what problem are you solving / need are you satisfying for them? What makes you different from your competition?

Who is your ideal client? There may be several different people and it can help to write a profile for each, think about:

  • their age
  • gender
  • who lives with them
  • do they work?
  • hobbies and interests
  • where do they go on holiday?
  • why do they buy your product?

Brand Identity

Have you ever looked at a piece of work and though, “that was made by so-n-so”? Or described something as being “very Warhol”, you have unwittingly absorbed brand identities. If you want your work to be recognisable it helps to think about what make your work look or feel different to other crafts(wo)men in your field. Take a look at the photos in your online shop or create a gallery of your work and try to come up with 5 words to describe your collection. It helps to ask friends an family for their input on this, if you are selling face to face you could even ask your customers which words they would pick.

You might end up with a description like, “Bright, flowery and floaty scarves” or, “calming and expansive textile landscapes”, this is your brand identity.

Try to be consistent with the brand image you present, use the same image and text on website banners, business cards, stationery. Is your website banner / business card image and text consistent the 5 words you came up with from looking at your gallery?

Make a Plan!

What business (and personal) goals do your want to achieve this year? Try to be specific, if it is a salary – how much and by when? What sales would you need to make to take that salary? If it is a holiday, where? how long for? when? If it is to make sales, how many and by when?

Then break your goal down into monthly targets, what needs to happen each month to achieve your goal by the date you set?

Review your targets/goals at least once a month and look for alternative courses of action if you are not on target.

If you have an Etsy shop, read the Etsy Handbook, Patricia recommended 2 hours of reading and 2 hours of action per week, personally I am finding I need to take action as I read each suggestion, and I am spending 2 min reading then 2 hours updating my listings!

Patricia also offered a reality check about how much time we should expect to spend on making vs marketing. As a new designer-maker you should expect your time to be spent:

40% on marketing

40% on making

10% research and professional development

10% admin

Design Trust

There is a ton of really useful information on the Design Trust web site (start in the “free resources” section), I can thoroughly recommend it, but be prepared to stop and answer each question posed, taking notes as you go, before moving onto the next paragraph, you will get much more out of the site if you really engage with it and stop to think about what each question means for you and your business.

These are just my highlights from the workshop, if you get the chance to work with Patricia, take it, she manages to make marketing fun and the face to face interaction makes it less easy to gloss over the harder the questions and only focus on what you are already good at!

Do you have any tips on marketing or selling your work?

 

I feel very conscious that this post is all words and no pictures so here is the finished “Michael” wall hanging, finally framed and ready for sale this week 🙂

Metamorphosis

Just as a tadpole metamorphoses into a frog these screen prints have been evolving over the last two weeks to reveal a little Costa Rican, Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas).

I made a bit of a boob with this first set of prints, can you guess what it was?

This next series of prints should make my error a bit more obvious…

The orange is nowhere near as fluorescent in real life, the iphone doesn’t have a white balance function and seems to struggle with some colours.

Have you spotted the difference?

I used the negative instead of the positive stencil on the first layer of the first print, this made all the areas that should have been white a pale green. I cursed my stupidity at the time, even after I had written a note to myself about which stencil to use, but looking at them now I rather like the more subtle balance of colours in the first print, what do you think?

Sketchbook challenge

For a long time, I have known I really should be spending more time in my sketchbooks, my use of them tends to be very erratic, I can spend many hours in them one week and then not open them for a couple of weeks, very naughty! 🙂

To remedy my lackadaisical attitude I signed up to the 2018 sketchbook challenge with Magenta Sky, although it started in January you can start it whenever you like, if you would like to play along, you can sign up to receive daily prompts here.

Here are the first few days of my challenge, I will continue to post them periodically on here but if you want to follow them in real time I will be posting daily on Instagram (Teriberrytextiles) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/teriberrytextiles/).

Day 1: Pattern

 

 

Day 2: Everyday object

 

Day 3: Leaves

 

 

 

Day 4: Circles

Day5: Straight lines and angles

 

 

 

 

Day 6: Fruit and Veg

 

 

 

 

 

Bags Galore!

Over the past year I have been working on a series of bag tutorials for the Felting and FIber Studio online bag class that will begin on May 24th. I am so excited this long-awaited class is almost here! ?

The first week will cover the techniques to make a spectacles/phone/pencil case that uses only felt for the closure (no buttons or magnetic snaps), to date most of my pouches have been cats with bling, so this weekend I have been making a giraffe to illustrate that you can choose any animal you wish, it could be beloved pet, a friend’s pet (they make very personal gifts), a wild animal, or even an imaginary monster, the choice is yours! 🙂

In each case below, the tongue of the animal forms the tab that closes the flap over the pouch opening.

 

 

The second week will be about making a bag with adjustable straps and internal pockets, adding a magnetic closure and how to shape the bag so it has a flat base that will sit on the ground without falling over.

 

Finally in week 3 we will look at how make a backback with large internal compartments and multiple pockets, choosing the hardware and making adjustable straps from either canvas webbing or wool. Consideration will be given on how to make large bags durable enough to carry a heavy weight without being heavy themselves.

The red backpack is my bag, it gets daily abuse from me and this is what it looks like after 6 months, they are pretty sturdy bags!

The pale green/yellow slit you can see on the back of the green backpack is a large pocket, I will add a zip when I get a spare hour 🙂

The great benefit of online classes is that you can work at your own pace and at times that fit in around you and your other commitments. Although the class nominally runs for 3 weeks, the forum will be open and I will be there to offer support  and answer questions for an additional 2 weeks in case you are unable to make a bag one week or would like to make more than 3 bags and share photos of your wonderful creations with the rest of the class. 🙂

The PDF tutorials from each week will be yours to keep after the class has finished.

For more information and to register your interest in the bag class please follow this link and complete the contact form at the bottom of the page. I will be in touch by email just before registration opens at the beginning of May.

Screenprinting with photo emulsion

This is something I have been trying to pluck up the courage to try for some time, a little pot of photo-emulsion came with a screen-printing kit I bought at least a year ago but until last week I kept putting it back in the cupboard not quite sure what to do with it. The emulsion allows you to turn a black and white photo (printed on acetate) or drawing into a screen ready for printing.

After some internet research I made an “exposure unit” – a 400W light suspended from a frame of push-fit plastic pipes, all strung together with lengths of ribbon liberated from the cat’s toy box (sorry Pickle). All very Blue Peter* 🙂

Several tests later, I discovered that with my light set up, the emulsion only needed 60 seconds to harden, just a few seconds longer and the screen was ruined and I had to start again. Needless to say I spent a lot of last week cleaning my screens!

I hope you think the results were worth the effort? These prints are quite monochromatic and not my usual style at all, I wonder if my colour choices were being influenced by the snowy landscape outside?

The backgrounds are different on each print.

Unable to resist adding some colour, I added some red ink to the last few pulls so these prints migrate through black and sepia to red.

 

Now I am just waiting for an order of mount (mat) boards to arrive so I can get them ready for sale, if the boards arrive in time I might be able to include a few of them in the Oxmarket Gallery exhibition.

I hope you have been having a great week and the weather in your part of the world isn’t causing too much disruption.

*Blue Peter is a UK children’s TV show famous for having segments where they demonstrated how you could turn empty bottles, cereal boxes and other everyday items into the most desirable, home-made toys and gifts.

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