Sunday, 28 June 2015

Selling in a real shop, what to look out for.

The perfect gift shop

Now you have  perfected your craft making skills and you would love to get you items out there for people to buy them. It may seem perfect to get them in a real shop.  So how to go about it?  What to look out for? What are the pro's and con's?

To start with find a shop that is a good fit with your products. Don't feel you have to stick with craft shops because sometimes what you make can be a perfect fit for a different shop. Do you make slate cheeseboards? Try the local deli or cheese shop.  Do you make appliqued shoe bags? Try the shoe shop.

Before getting in touch visit the shop as a customer. Find out a bit about the shop if you can, ask around. How long has it been there? Is it busy? What do people think of it?

How long has the shop been there? Is it busy?

Then go and visit the shop to enquire if they are interested in stocking your items.  Make an appointment to see the person in charge and leave a business card.

A business card is a handy tool. Make yours eye-catching!

When you go to go to your appointment be prepared and professional. Turn up on time. Bring samples of your work. Make sure they are in a neat case or folder, not the bottom of your rucksack.
Be prepared in what you want to say about you and your work.  If you make jewellery, clothes or bags or other items you can wear, wear them. Why would anyone feel the need to stock your  items if you don't wear them yourself?

If they turn you down, don't be disheartened, just try somewhere else. It may just be that they are on the look-out for something else or they feel that it would clash with some items they already stock.

If your  items are accepted, start with just a few, never more than you can afford to lose and make sure you have an itemised receipt of all stock left on every occasion.

You need to remember that you are handing your precious, handmade, beloved stock over to a shopkeeper.  Ask yourself - do you trust this person?  This is one of the reasons why meeting face-to-face is so important.  Good communication is VITAL. This is from both  parties. Creative people are often busy with their craft and shopkeepers with their shop but it is important that both parties answer each others queries promptly and accurately.  Don't go into business with a shopkeeper who won't answer your questions!

Before handing over your stock you need assurances concerning the selling of your stock.
  • commission percentage
  • VAT collection if appropriate
  • damaged/lost or stolen stock
  • payment- where, when and how
  • return of items no longer on show
  • intervals of restocking
 Get all agreements down in writing and signed by both parties.  If the shopkeeper is unwilling to do so WALK AWAY.

Pro's of having your items in a shop

Someone does the selling for you
Products will be sold alongside other good quality items (if you choose the right shop!!!)
You may get tips and advise from the shopkeeper
Products are on view all day

Con's of selling in a shop

You will pay commission
Footfall may be low (make sure to do your homework!)
Stuff gets handled a lot - it may get damaged
Things may get stolen

Well that is it for now. The next article will be about that hot potato - PRICING.  

Please feel free to leave comments  and suggestions

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Selling arts and crafts, when are you ready?

Aaahhh, craft supplies!

You have been having fun with balls of wool and you figured out to crochet. Paper and card call to you like sirens and you stay up late to make cards and painting a pretty picture makes you very, very happy.  Does that mean you can start selling your creations?

Are you ready to sell your crafts?

You could try, but unless you are super talented  it takes time to develop your skills. Jumping in before you are ready would lead to disappointment and discouragement. Nothing would be more discouraging than having people pick at your work because your stitching is not up to scratch or your brush skills leave something to be desired. The more you do the more you learn so keep going! You may have incredibly creative ideas but your implementation may not be up to scratch yet. Ask a honest friend to tell you where you need to improve, don't be afraid of constructive criticism. Practice makes perfect, so enjoy making gifts and cards for friends and family to develop these skills.   As you get better people will start asking you to make some items for them. When that happens you may have reached the point where you are ready to sell to the general public. It is worth remembering that strangers are more likely to be critical of your work so be prepared to still get some criticism!

So now you are ready, you have a number of pretty items to sell. Now what can you do to make your items more saleable?

Always finish your items neatly  Quirky items are great and loved by many but make sure you still finish items tidily.    Don't leave threads hanging or let the cats sleep on your work. Nobody wants to have a stained, cat fur covered tablet case.  Also make sure that seams will stay put and don't come undone with a little use. (Test run your product!)

Stains and cat hair are not attractive.

When you have straight edges in your work make sure you cut straight lines with the aid of a ruler and sharp scissors or a rotary cutter, Because a raggedy edge to your work where it is meant to be straight is distracting and off putting. When mounting prints, artwork and photographs place things straight and central (unless you specifically mean them to be offset). It looks far more professional if you get the picture mounted than just popping it in a frame.

Package it beautifully  To attract buyers your project has to look beautiful. Your packaging has to be spot on. If you sell cards make sure the cello bags are the right size ( these come in many, many sizes)  A card that sloshes about in a bag to big for it just does not have the edge. Also people like to see a small sticker or stamp on the card with your logo/name.  You can buy these from for example from  Moo Cards or Vista  or you can have a personalised stamp made with your business name like the ones here 

These will be useful to if you sell other items too. For example jewellery looks much better in a pretty box. You can "brand" your box with the stamp or sticker too. Plain boxes can be "jazzed up" with washi tape or ribbons.  For a rustic look raffia or twine can look great.  You'd be surprised how often customers will actually comment on how something is presented. Lots of great ideas to be found in the internet like here   Also Pinterest is a great place to get ideas for packaging.

Get your prices right   One of the hardest things to get right is your pricing, worthy of a article of its own.  Make sure to price all your materials but don't forget to pay yourself. Value your own work and the skills you have applied.  Don't forget you are the designer and the crafts person who made the items, don't undersell yourself.

All of the above go for any selling method. If you sell on-line something else has to be considered

Photograph it clearly and in focus  Nothing is more off putting than dark, out-of-focus photographs. This is your shop front when you sell on-line. Because people can't actually touch your items you need to give them the second best thing. Good clear photos. Make sure you include a sharp close-up. 

As you can see many of these points can be looked into in much more detail.  The next blogpost  will look at the challenges with each of the different selling platforms.   Please feel free to share any gems on selling you have found. 

Happy making and selling!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

H2Only-the 4th day

Well I meant to blog every day to keep you updated but it turned out going cold turkey on coffee is not easy...I started the first day with a slight headache that turned into a raging, monstrous migraine. I took painkillers but ended up in bed not being very well at all.  The next day was slightly better, as long as I kept sunglasses on throughout the day but still had to go and have a lie down to ease the headache.  Hubby surprised me with a lovely fish and chips dinner so I did not have to concentrate on cooking (I dread to think how that would have turned out!)
Still I drank the hot water, the cold water and... yeah more water.

I am glad my daughters and my nine year old son are joining in because it would be very hard to keep going without them egging me on.
The third day I had an idea... I remembered that you could get paracetamol with caffeine. So on went the sunglasses and off I went to visit the chemist.  It turned out fabulous, the tablets worked in about 20 min and I could feel the cloud lifting together with the pain. At least now I could look after my family properly and maybe get some crafting done too.
But I had forgotten my son and I were invited to a party in the park. So as a precaution I popped on the sunglasses and shoved a bottle of water in my bag. I need not have worried, as soon as I arrived I was greeted by my friend Gillie with a nice cup of sparkly water. Now  wasn't that nice?  She has also made a generous contribution to the fund, so thank you very much! We had a super time and did not feel we missed out at all.  In the evening at home I found my other son had made some super delicious brownies so I felt super blessed!

Super delicious brownies

 I hope to be able to complete the challenge together with my kids and hopefully you will feel inclined to make me feel it was worth suffering all that. Please donate here

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

H2only challenge

Long time nothing to do on this blog, but today I thought I would be back to blogging.  Lots has happened but the blog got a little forgotten. Youngest daughter emigrated and got married older daughter started volunteering with the RNLI.
So a few weeks ago on a nice sunny day we drove to New Quay and watched our girl being hoisted in and out of a whopping great, big, yellow helicopter.

Not many people realise that this is a charity and that all the crew are volunteers. Obviously they all need safety equipment like life jackets, helmets, boots and many other items. The boats are constantly maintained to a high standard and need replacing from time to time. 

Big boat and little boat

Daughter dearest

Some of the crew in their kit

So this is what it is all about, To raise some funds for this vital emergency service my daughters, my nine year old son and I have joined the RNLI's  H2only challenge.  This means from 5pm this day we only drink water, no tea, coffee or anything else.  We just enjoyed our last cup of tea

and from now on it is water only.  I shall let you know how it is going, but what I would really like from you is that you would support us by giving a donation to this page. This will go to the RNLI direct and will help save many lives.  So please make it worth our while to suffer coffee withdrawal!

Monday, 24 November 2014

I am a proud mum!

Just a short post as I am kind of busy but I really wanted to share this with everyone. My youngest daughter loves music and has been playing piano since she was 5 years old. She has been playing in a local jazz band since she was 14.  However her greatest love is composing. Her dream is to compose for games and film.  Well she was very happy to send me this link I am sharing with you now, she has worked hard at this and even if you are not into chemistry this video is kind of magical to watch but the music is all done by my girl...I am proud!

Beautiful Chemical Structures from L2 Molecule on Vimeo.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Yeah I am back....

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Yummy food.

Yesterday it was my son's day to choose dinner. Always a tense moment as he is a trained chef and so often comes up with complex recipes.  This day was no exception. He told me he wanted Calzones.  "What is that when it's at home?" I asked him.  It turned out they are like folded over pizzas.  So off we tootled to the shops after chef had made the pizza dough and left it to prove.

We bought basil, mozzarella, panchetta and some black olives. When we got back home the dough was divided up and made into small rounds.

Then we chopped olives, ham,sun-dried tomatoes,capers, mozzarella and grated some cheese.

We heaped on the yummies and folded over the pizza bases. Then pressed the edges down firmly and washed with egg-wash.

In the oven till they were nice and brown. Some filling escaped but there was plenty yummy stuff left.

I can promise you they didn't last long!

I haven't got a precise recipe as Chef told me what to do, but here is one I found on the internet. It has different fillings but you can  put in what you like. Give it a try and let me know how you got on. Enjoy!