Ever want to peek inside the mind of a retailer? We are bringing you an interview today with Austin's very own super stylish and handmade-supporting boutique Take Heart! Proprietress Nina Gordon has curated a thoughtful and intentional shop that many makers are eager to get into. How can you impress her and shops like hers? Read on!
Because our jobs are born out of passion and things we love doing without getting paid, the hobbyiest (or jobbyiest-- you are getting money but you aren't really *making* money for your business) is almost built in to our business. Which is why at some point, most of realize "Hey! That's not how a BUSINESS would do that" and have to course correct in some way.
I'm excited to share with you #ahasmember Meg of Bumblewood Soaps who had a very enlightening experience about what she REALLY thought about her business. Read on to find out how she corrected this.
#ahasmember and owner of Montrose Leather Works, Jeric Arpon discovered early in his maker career how fostering clear communication can build better collaborations. Through a less than ideal experience, he developed a simple process that has helped him stay true to his brand and engage only in collaborations that will be mutually beneficial. He shares his experience with us today.
The growth of ever maker business looks different and today we look at how #ahasmember Carolyn Caffelle, founder of The Wishing Elephant, has dealt with the growth that has come her way. From an appearance on Martha Stewart, to the decision to look into Etsy Manufacturing, to her letting go of "hustle", her growth has been both personal and professional. She takes us behind the scenes of her business and shows us how her shop went from hobby to the amazing business she owns and runs today.
We our launching our FREE Wholesale Tuneup Series on Tuesday (but you can sign up for it now here) and so we are wanting to give you some wholesale help leading up to it. Yesterday we introduced you to a few #ahasmembers who talked about how wholesale changed their businesses. Today we're giving you a big list of wholesale resources our members love!
This post was part of our FREE Wholesale Tuneup Series we did. And you can sign up for it now so you won't miss a thing. The series will be chockfull of advice and perspective from makers, retailers and consultants.
But I realize some of you might still be on the fence about wholesale. I know that having a store "take 50% of your sales" can seem like a bad deal. It's not-- I promise. Stores work for that 50% for you (and if they don't you give them the boot!) and help you get a steady stream of sales that you do way less effort for (especially considered to other more labor-intensive ventures like craft shows). And everyone knows it's MUCH more cost effective to keep customers than to find new ones. Having a solid base of stockists is like having a bunch of repeat customers.
It takes a lot to run a handmade business, so you need all the business support you can get. You'll be happy to know that #ahasmember Leanna of Leanna Lin's Wonderland in Los Angeles is in your corner. Her store is sugar high of cute and she loves to stock it with makers who are totes adorbs (I would add "As the kids say" but I don't even think kids say that any more ;)), including several other #ahasmembers.
The Academy of Handmade's mission is to support handmade businesses and we are proud to have a membership that includes not just makers but also people who work with makers to have thriving businesses. Recently member Dave Conrey of Fresh Rag updated his book Selling Art Online. The landscape for selling your handmade goods has already changed quite a bit since he first released it in 2012. We asked him about those changes.
We've recently become enamored with a power partnership that's been taking the OC craft scene by storm. Danielle Ochoa and Eva Lacy of A Little Known Shop are passionate about supporting craft artists and just life in general. Their energy is infectious and they're the kinda people who are up for anything.... like when they said yes to organizing a raffle bar for our Etsy Craft Party with only a couple weeks' notice (and they were stellar at it!). They certainly come from "a place of yes" and we couldn't be more impressed by their hard work and "we'll-just-figure-it-out" attitude. You must check out their amazing shop because it's filled to the brim with lovingly made creations from hardworking artists.
Q: What’s your shop all about?
A: We love supporting local crafters and artists. Giving them an affordable space to sell their items and get their work noticed means a lot to us. As crafters ourselves, we know it can be a difficult or confusing process to get your name out in the world. So, we hope to kick start that process for crafters just like us.
Q: How did it get started?
A: Late last year, we started organizing small craft events. REALLY small. We’re talking about 300 sq. ft where the vendors didn’t even have enough space to sit. While we had these events, we dreamt of having a retail space where we could have not only our handmade crafts for sale but also have our friends’ crafts available for purchase, too. We looked around for spaces but couldn’t find anything within our budget. So we continued on with our craft shows instead. We moved locations to a small art gallery. We were able to fit more people but still, we were itching to have a bigger space. Then, we were approached by Lisa Cherry from the Makery. She asked us if we were interested in running an art collaborative in Community, the shopping center where the Makery is located. We didn’t know exactly what she meant by that but we knew we could not say no. Lisa’s an amazing person and who in their right might could turn down any offer she presents? We met with her a few days later and, before we knew it, we were signing a contract to rent retail space. Our dreams soon came true and just about 3 weeks later, we opened up A Little Known Shop.
Q: Why do you do it?
A: Definitely not for the money! We have a passion for supporting small business, especially crafts & art. Knowing how much work goes into each individual piece of work makes our hearts nice & warm. We try to host events where we involve the artists & crafters who sell in our shop. The best feeling is introducing a customer to the artist/crafter. It’s really awesome buying a handcrafted item but meeting the person who made it is an even better feeling. And we love providing that. It’s a beautiful thing.
Q: What’s the best part of it?
A: The feedback we get! It’s awesome. Hearing people whisper while they’re in the store is so fun. We hear “oh, that’s so cute!” or “ha! That’s clever.” We just wish all of the artists could hear the great compliments their merchandise is getting. But it’s fun to be the one to relay the message!
Q: Can you talk about working with a partner and what that's been like?
A: First and foremost, it’s important to work with someone that complements you. We understood and knew each other’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses before we agreed to work together. It’s fun to work with a friend but at the end of the day, it’s still a business; there are responsibilities and each person needs to equally share the weight. Honesty is really important and so is open communication. We’ve gotten pretty comfortable with each other so, if one of us doesn’t like a business decision, we’re vocal about it and we make sure to discuss things before moving forward. At the same time, if there are any disagreements, we don’t take anything personally because we know that we are both trying to do what’s best for the business. The most important thing is to have fun, though!
It’s so great seeing women work together to empower each other instead of competing with each other. Partnerships don’t necessarily work for everyone but it’s great to have someone to lean on, work with, and share the satisfaction of running a business.
Q: How do you make your business work?
A: We know each other’s strengths so we definitely take advantage of that. We make sure to delegate work so we both have responsibilities that use our strengths. Also, we don’t sit in the shop just waiting for customers to come in. We’re always brainstorming, trying to think of ways to drive traffic here. We’ve been planning events and coming up with fun ideas to keep bringing customers (i.e., free face painting every Tuesday). We love social networking (probably a little too much!) so we’re always posting online to hopefully bring awareness to what we’re doing. But most importantly, we don’t call the shop “work.” Eva calls it “fun time.” We don’t forget that there are responsibilities, numbers to crunch, emails to answer, etc. but we also don’t forget to have fun.
Q: What's been your biggest business lesson and/or business surprise?
A: Setting up the business was a little trickier than we expected. The process itself wasn’t too difficult. We just wish there was a list of everything you’re supposed to do to start a business and the order in which everything needs to be done. We spent quite a bit of time calling different phone numbers, visiting different offices, but all in all, it wasn’t as difficult as it could’ve been.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
A: We’re at 423 S. Brookhurst St. Ste. M in Anaheim, 92804. We’re located in Community, which is an amazing up-and-coming shopping center. You should come check it out!
We’re also online (Facebook & Instagram – ALittleKnownShop; Twitter - @alilknownshop)