Sell when you can, you are not for all markets.
Shakespeare, As You Like It
Are you thinking of or already selling your fiber art? How do you know what products will sell? In the ever-increasing complexity of the market place, how can you figure out what buyers want? It is challenging to determine what will “fly off the shelves” and what will just sit there. Planning ahead and doing a bit of research will certainly improve your chances.
First think about your skills and if a particular style suits the way you work. Are your pieces more whimsical and comical or is your work more serene? What do you do best and how can those skills be developed into a product that sets you apart from the competition? Once you’ve determined the style of your products, you need to research what the buyer wants. You won’t be able to please everyone as some buyers will like your products and others won’t. However, if you find a niche and begin to understand the mind-set of your customers, you can establish a product line that meets their needs.
To begin your research, visit different craft fairs or online craft sites to see what others are selling and what customers are buying. You can also look for inspiration in fiber related magazines and periodicals. Another source for what types of items sell well is a gallery owner. Visit at a time when they are not busy or make an appointment. The point of this research is not to copy the designs or products that others are making but to see what is available and try to come up with a memorable element that will set your products apart from others. Don’t just look at what is selling well in the fiber arts but examine other media such as metalwork, jewelry or woodworking. Is there something that catches your eye in these other media that you might be able to apply to your fiber art?
Now think about what “benefits” your product will offer. For example, if you make felt hats, are the benefits that the hat is really soft against the skin and keeps your ears warm? Or perhaps you make wild and wacky hats that offer the benefit of being really fun to wear and make the buyer stand out in the crowd. The product needs to be made for the lowest possible cost but be perceived by the buyer as having the highest possible value. Always emphasize how the product will make the buyer feel and what value it will add to their life.
There are many different categories that you can think about when developing a line of products. Consider options such as home décor, garden and outdoor, clothing, accessories, toys or even pet related items. Products can be made for special occasions such as bridal and wedding, babies, graduations, housewarming gifts or holidays such as Christmas, Halloween or Valentine’s Day. One line that is often ignored is gifts for men and being the owner of a gallery, it is something I am always looking to find. Other ideas might be stationary or calendars, religious items or collectibles. Collectibles could cover such diverse topics as sports, music, dolls, miniatures or animals.
There is no right or wrong way to what products you develop, just what is right for you. If you develop a plan and continue to research and study the possibilities, your goals of having that ‘Wow’ factor in your products can be achieved. So start thinking about how to develop or improve on your product line. Next time, I’ll talk about making your product line cohesive and knowing when to diversify what you’re selling. Thanks for stopping by!