Direct to your customer! The answer is obvious isnít it? Shame that itís also probably the trickiest. Who are they? Where are they? How to get to themÖ
When I started out I tried all the obvious routes - galleries, etsy, my own website, craft fairs, art trailsÖ They all have the pros and cons of course, but unless you sell direct, face to face thereís someone in between taking their cut (and rightly so as they are doing plenty for their cut!). But I found craft fairs very hit and miss, and often expensive, and art trails are only a few times a year...so I opened my own shop!
I was very lucky that I shared a small studio space with several other artists and crafts people, and it was in an old shop. So we would keep the doors open and occasionally customers would wander in, but we were tucked away on a residential street and didnít look like a shop, which put off many potential customers. We would advertise special open weekends, and join in the local art trail but still customers were thin on the ground.
One day when our rather dodgy landlord announced that he was going to do some building work which would involve shutting the studio Ďfor a whileí, Iíd had enough. I started looking around at empty shop properties and the costs involved in opening a shop. And boy are there a lot of them! But I persevered and fond a small shop with lots of storage space, and canvassed my colleagues to see if they would come in with me.
And so Fig was born! That was 8 years ago next month, and we have altered our line up a few times, but we are lucky to have a large and loyal customer base, who love to pop in and see whatís new and have a chat as they all know us so well! There have been ups and downs, and while we are not paying a large percentage to a gallery owner, it is not a cheap way to sell your work. Itís not a decision to take lightly, but it can work really well. You get immediate feedback, and some lovely praise and interest in and for your work, and you get a huge percentage of every sale you make. On the down side, you have to think hard about the responsibility if (like me) you take on a lease, be prepared pay the shared costs of looking after a building that doesn't belong to you, and the legal obligations associated with running a shop.
Good luck if you decide to try this route - I certainly don't regret it for a moment, but there were maybe more hurdles to leap over than I realised!
After almost 20 years as a designer in children's publishing a short silversmithing course in 2006 prompted a change of direction.
The following year I enrolled on a part-time jewellery course, and found a local studio where I could make and sell my work.
In 2009, together with five other crafts people we found a shop space to rent on our busy local high street, the gloucester road, called Fig. We are open tuesday - saturday, 9.30am - 5pm (except August).