Monday, September 9, 2013

Unconventional Foolishness

I've been busy!
Whew!  It's been really hectic this month, but I think I am finally ready to slow down, at least for a couple of days.

First, we have a big craft show coming up and Jim's been trying to get the jewelry inventory level up to a decent level.  He's been steadily at it, except when taking time out for car repair, meetings, and family dinners, all of which are, of course, important.

While he's the creative side, I'm the business side which means I'm preparing for a busy sales day.  We've been using Square for credit card sales, and have been really happy with it.  Until recently, all we could do with it was credit card sales, but they've added an inventory feature for Android.  So, to improve our sales possibilities, I've put all of our inventory into a Square inventory list.

It only took a few hours.  They have a mobile client which makes initial upload a snap.  And, on show day, all I have to do is select pieces from inventory.  Easy.  I feel better already.

In addition to the inventory feature, Square has established a free online Market for its users.  It costs nothing beyond your 2.75% Square charge fee.  The shop interface is minimalistic, clean.  I like that.  So what's the downside?

Well, beyond sales, there are no real metrics are available.  You can create categories, but I've not found any other keyword capabilities beyond a raw search.  Your shop is organized in ANSI hierarchical order.

In other words, it's not as robust as that Famous Online Craft Marketplace.  But, since we've not sold a single item in 3 years on that online craft marketplace, I'm willing to put my time into something I can use during our art and craft shows.  I'm sure we've not marketed enough, and our pictures are not professional enough, but we're doing what we can.

Okay, I'm talking about business stuff when that's small stuff.  I'm not doing a commercial for my credit card provider or for the shop.  What I am talking about is doing what's right for my business despite "conventional wisdom," which is neither conventional nor wise:

Entrepreneurs Only Play With Other People's Money

That might be true in the "start-up" world, but, in the real world, most of us are self-financed micropreneurs.  Whatever we've put into our businesses has come out of our own pockets.  More than our pride, we often have our mortgages at stake.

The Internet Is Your Salvation

Face-to-face works for us!
Well, um, no.  It's great for communication, but, as a marketing venue, it's over-saturated.  Period.  It's like shouting into a hurricane.  For us, face-to-face has been the best.

Every artist should be on That Famous Online Craft Marketplace

Again, over-saturation is a problem.  Also, the lack of robust Android clients for sellers and the overall slowness of the site are both difficulties.  It takes 3 to 4 times longer to create a listing than on my new provider.  Its online store is just too slow for using at art and craft shows.  I'm not closing my shop, but I'm spending my time elsewhere.

Real art is really expensive.

Actually, unless it's top-echelon, most art is underpriced when the artist's time is considered.  That's bad for artists but good for collectors and consumers, if they actually had the money to spare.

If you're not a fine artist, you're not an artist.

We are what is referred to, quite derisively, as "stringers."  We are under no illusion that there are finer artists than we.  Our jewelry business began because Jim loves collecting unusual beads.  As the beads began to pile up, he started putting them together and selling them.  At reasonable prices.  You see, our market is just average people, with just average economic means.  If we are careful, we can offer our customers jewelry made of genuine semi-precious stones, art & gilt glass, and cultured pearls priced less than most of the home-party costume jewelry.  That's important to us:  real jewelry for real people.

Money is the only metric of success.

If we were to use money as our sole metric of success, we would be abject failures because we keep putting money back into materials, fixtures, and the like.  But money is not the only metric.  Going to a show and just plain having a good time is important (especially since the fun begins after you've sold enough to cover booth fee).  Seeing your pieces being worn proudly is just amazing.  Referrals are even better.  Creating something that people enjoy--that's success.

Unconventional Foolishness

While we're constantly trying to improve our business, we know that there's more to life than the business.  Making enough money to cover expenses is important.  Artistic satisfaction is important.  Helping others is important.  Having fun is important.  Juggling all those important things can be stressful, especially if we judge ourselves by the standards of other people.  But we're not.  We're following our own instincts.



But we're giving it a try.

What about you?  How are you living your Savory life?


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