The handmade revolution has exploded over the past couple years, and as a result the connotations of "handmade" have changed. Now, handmade doesn't evoke in one the image of a lumpy knitted sweater the cat lady next door makes. Rather, with the help of sites like Etsy.com handmade has come to be associated with words like quality, unique, eco-friendly, and fashion-forward.But after launching my own handmade business and, just recently, an online retailer that sells handmade work, I've noticed that, although handmade is in style, artisans of handmade products shy away from utilizing the corporate fashion world that still dominates the scene.
So what do I mean by "utilizing the corporate fashion world?" I mean that although large, big-name brands and businesses seem to be the antithesis of handmade, they can actually help makers of handmade products improve their business, make more sales...and ultimately stay relevant in the fashion world.
Listed here are a few simple tips about how to keep your handmade business relevant. It's as simple as 1. Read 2. Surf 3. Shop:
1. Read...read fashion magazines. Think Vogue, Elle, and even Seventeen. By studying the trends presented in these reads, you'll learn some valuable information about what sort of styles, colors, and textures your target market is looking for. (For tips on identifying your target market read Identifying Your Target Market) For example, if you make products for teenage girls, subscribe to Seventeen. You might notice that animal print is really hot this fall...and you can update your products accordingly.2. Surf...surf the web. Search for stores that sell products in your target market and see what makes them successful. What colors do they use on their website? Is their image classically feminine or edgy? What products do they sell? Answer these questions and use them to guide your own business. When my sister and I were starting our boutique Uncovered Artistry, we did a lot of background research on the web. We found that our target market was really receptive to eco-friendly products. We responded by using recycled packaging.
3. Shop...now you have the excuse that it's for research. I think of it like this: when a writer wants to write something great, she reads a lot. But she doesn't read just for fun. She reads like a writer, which means she analyzes and studies. Similarly, you should shop like a business owner. Big corporate retailers like Hollister, Sears, and Charlotte Russe spend a lot of money analyzing the market to determine upcoming trends. They basically did the work for you. All you have to do is shop, browse, and take note of the changes in style. Shopping in the mall made me realize that both teenagers who shopped at Charlotte Russe and middle-aged women who shopped at Anne Taylor Loft were interested in feather headbands. So my shop started selling feather headbands.Follow these three easy tips, and I think you are well on your way to owning a shop that sells relevant, fashionable, and desirable products.
Co-owner of Uncovered Artistry Boutique