OK so I need to be more diligent about blog posting. I am setting a goal to make 1 post a week. This is the start of my new balancing act.
I have had my company Karla Kay Art, specializing in hand painted silk scarves and tapestries for 3 years now. I am at the point where I need to start deciding where to go next with my art business. I am selling a lot of scarves. I currently sell many off of facebook. Silk pieces that don’t sell off of facebook I take to art fairs and they sell quickly there. About 50% of the people who buy my work hang it on the wall as art tapestries. The other 50% wear it as scarves. I do hem all my pieces (occasionally with machine rolled hems but predominantly with a serger). I am selling as fast as I am making and am not able to accrue “stock”. I really don’t want to become a clothing store manager. I really don’t want a huge stock of printed items. I am an artist not a clothing manufacturer. I am always on the lookout for commercial applications for my designs. I would love to sell a design to Coach/Loreal/Revlon. The thought of my designs on a coach purse or a Loreal make up bag sends shivers up my arms!
I do not want to make this a huge blog post but I do think I need to explain my business plan/growth thus far.
The first year I didn’t specialize in anything but art in general and did quite a bit of acrylic painting and started drawing regularly which I had not done in some time. My drawing skills needed to be re-honed. I worked diligently on my design skills. By the end of the first year, I re-realized that I really am still a fiber artists/surface designer at heart and I started working on silk again making hand painted scarves and tapestries and people started buying my work. It was (and still is) super exciting to have people buy my art! Much to my surprise I met my sales goals. I was thrilled!
The 2nd year I devoted myself to trying to find markets for my hand painted pieces. Each piece is an original. I do no make prints yet. I got my work into galleries, tourist town shops, tried my hand at Etsy and print on demand stores like Fine Art America. I had varied degrees of sales depending on the subject matter, time of day I posted items (this especially applies to facebook and instagram). Via instagram I learned that my work was really appreciated in the Ukraine and Russia… Sales also depended the amount of engagement with the public my written ads generated and what was/is popular with the popular culture at the time (initially butterflies sold than they didn’t for awhile and now they do again). By the end of the 2nd year I started having trouble filling orders for the stores I had found to carry my artwork. I could not make work fast enough to keep fresh work on the shelves as the more popular pieces would sell off of facebook or directly out of my studio before I could take them to the shops & galleries. I started scaling down the shops I sold my work at due to not having enough work. I was ok with this as sales directly out of my studio also meant that I didn’t have to pay a commission. I doubled my sales from my first year which got me to thinking – how many scarves can I make and where does my businesses top out selling original pieces?
The 3rd year has been about working on my designs, their complexity, noting that some of my designs take longer to make than others and realizing I would have to raise my prices on the more intricate designs to cover more of my time. Learning which of my designs are more popular and trying to figure out if their popularity is a seasonal thing, a color thing, a too little or too much detail thing or a market location thing. Lots of things LOL. The goal right now is to see if I can make a few pieces into prints to cover the gaps when I don’t have originals to sell. I want to make sure I pick pieces that appeal to a broad audience so I don’t end up with unsold stock. I have also been asked to make original silk shirts/clothing. I am researching one size fits all garments focusing on poncho type pieces. The less seams the better.
I am also being asked to create more and more commissioned pieces. Often people want one of my existing design with a color or size change (longer/shorter/narrower) or personalized sometimes with a name. To this end I am putting picture book of my artwork together so that people can use the photos as reference to designs they might like to purchase but they can make changes to make it uniquely theirs. This is also to cover the gaps when I don’t have enough original pieces. It also allows me to track which pieces are the most popular to help me choose which pieces will sell successfully as printed scarves. I also have the options of making framed prints to hang on the wall from the photographs I take of each piece as it is made.
All of this is done while balancing my family life. Time spent with my husband and my daughter is very important to me. My daughter is an accomplished horsewoman/equestrian. We attend many horse shows all over the USA as of late during the summer supporting her in her passion and love of horses. Due to being gone much of the summer I am not thinking about sales goals for this, my 3rd year, I am trying to focus on designing my businesses future growth so that continue doing what I love and being able to share quality items with the rest of the world!
So ends his blog post.