Browsing Tag

Advice

Maker Resources

Videos from How To Make It: Pricing Your Designs

June 16, 2014

Videos from How To Make It: Pricing Your Designs for Retail | UncommonGoodsLast month we hosted another How To Make It design panel event at Brooklyn’s Union Hall where Seth Walter from our Purchasing Team and Jason Feinberg, the CEO & Creative Director of FCTRY, discussed the decisions you should make while pricing your designs for retail. We got a little off-topic as the guests in our audience had really great questions, but we think you might get some great advice from our answers. Check out clips from the event and the conversation it its entirety below!

How much should you pay yourself for a handmade design?

MAP (Minimum Advertised Price)

Should a wholesale price be fixed?

How to price a collection of designs.

Is scaling up always the best idea?

How does UncommonGoods find new artists?

Two common mistakes made in pricing handmade designs.

FULL VIDEO COMING SOON!

Maker Resources

How To Make It: Instagram and Your Creative Business Videos

April 9, 2014

On March 25 we invited Ronen Glimer of Artists & Fleas, Ronda J Smith of In the Seam, and local members of our design community to a panel discussion about using Instagram to market your designs and build a following. The event was hosted at Union Hall in Park Slope and guests stuck around afterwards to swap business cards, meet our marketing and buying teams, and make connections.

If you’re ever in the hood you should check out one of our events, but watching the highlights are always a great back-up plan.

Design

What To Do When Your Design Isn’t Accepted

February 28, 2014

What To Do When Your Design Isn't Accepted | UncommonGoods

Was your design not accepted by a buyer? Or were you not the winner for an UncommonGoods Design Challenge that you thought was in the bag? Yeah it sucks, but it happens to the best of us. Being rejected is part of growing as a designer. I once heard a story about a salesman who got excited every time he was rejected because he had figured out that for every 9 no’s he would get one yes. So how can you use the no’s as an opportunity to get more yes’s? And how do you know whether to move on and contact different companies rather than pushing your designs to the same seller?  Here are a few tips to use post-rejection to become a better designer.

Don’t take it personally. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to not take anything personally. You really don’t know why they said no unless they tell you.It could be a variety of factors, even that it’s just not the right time, that they have strong relationships with the ties they already carry or they don’t have the budget to pick up a new line. If you lost a competition, it just may have been that there were a lot of entries or similar submissions to yours. This gives you an opportunity to become more individualized in your design and your style!

Do something nice for yourself. Post rejection, it’s really important to keep your energy level up. Go for a walk, buy yourself a treat or do something else that makes you happy and feel good.The key to keeping your energy up and staying on track is to stay positive. Treating yourself well always helps.

Ask for and listen to feedback. You may or may not get the opportunity for feedback, but it’s a great idea to ask for it. Even if it makes you feel uncomfortable, understanding why a buyer said no is a great way to improve your brand. Try to listen to the feedback from an objective manner. Think: “How can I become a better designer?” Remember a no may not be a no forever, but just a no for right now.

Send a thank you note. An unexpected touch for a buyer is to receive a thank you note when they have turned down your line. This is key to staying top of mind even if they didn’t buy. It also opens you up to referrals and creates opportunity for potential down the road.

Keep in touch. Keeping in touch is important! If your assortment changes or something changes in the store assortment, you may have a chance to work together down the road. There is a statistic that it can take up to 7 times before a buyer notices and actually purchases a line. Keep that in mind.

Consider: Am I right for this store? Buyers and curators consider many factors when looking for designers. They are looking at budgets, current product assortments, price points, and their clients as well as many other factors. If they passed on your design, take an honest look at your collection as it is now. Is it really right for this account/store/contest/person? Sometimes, your energy is freed up if you aren’t wasting time barking up the wrong tree. Invest your time on the right types of stores where your dream clients are hanging out and shopping. Rejection isn’t always a bad thing. When you can use the information you receive to improve your line and grow, you are always in the right place.

It’s your turn! We want to hear from you! In the comments below, tell us the following:

1. What have you done in the past when you have been rejected?

2. How have you overcome rejection and turned an awkward situation into an awesome situation?

This post was written by the creators of Flourish & Thrive Academy, Robin Kramer and Tracy Matthews. For specific sales & marketing advice to get your jewelry into the hands of your dream clients, head on over to Flourish & Thrive Academy.

TracyRobin-about

Maker Resources

12 Tips For Making Your Instagram Great

February 19, 2014

Love it or hate it, we definitely live in a hashtag world. As a company who supports emerging artists, we know that most designers know that maintaining a professional website alone just isn’t quite enough these days. Building your brand or showcasing your designs on a social media platform is becoming more of a must than an option.  

Instagram

The beloved photo app, Instagram, is a social media favorite among designers and creative gurus. It has the strong effect of being able to bring your brand and designs to life through lifestyle shots and personable captions. (Captions that need to appeal to people other than just your mom.)  We know that reaching out to potential followers who have an interest in your work can be pretty tough. It definitely starts with engaging content, relatable topics, and let’s face it, beautiful snapshots — but that’s all easier said than done.  We decided to collect 12 great tips from a couple of our favorite Instagrammers, Mandi Johnson and Mark Weinberg, to help you take your Instagram content to the next level. Read on to #BecomeAnInstagramNinja.

1.  Take advantage of daylight. Improve the quality of your photos by primarily taking them during daylight hours. Natural-lit photos are oftentimes the prettiest. If you’re working on amping up the beauty-factor of your stream, but still want to be an active poster in the evening, try saving up photos from earlier in the day and posting them later as a #latergram. Helpful tip: I usually turn my poorly lit snapshots into black and white photos. -Mandi

Instagram

2. Frame up and wait.  I am always looking. When I find a scene I want to photograph, especially in the city or when traveling, I will frame up and take a few photos, but then I’ll wait. I’ll hold the camera in the same spot and wait for a person, a taxi, a plane, or something to show up. This can add a unique and dynamic element to your photos and take them beyond the basic snapshots.         –Mark

mark1

3. Remember: quality not quantity. Limit your posts by sharing an image, at most, once or twice an hour. Posting  ten pictures all within ten minutes can come across as annoying as spam in an e-mail inbox. If you’re updating your shop and want to give people an enticing preview, select one or two of your best images and upload them with a bit of time in between.  Spacing out your posts also gives you some time to be productive or enjoy life without always having your eyes constantly glued to your phone. -Mandi

Instagram

4. Move closer vs. zooming in. Camera phone resolution is truly remarkable. But, zooming in digitally degrades the quality instantly. If you can, take a step closer instead of using the zooming option. Helpful tip: Also try to take a step back and see how it looks. Doing this forces me to move and interact with the scene and see it differently.  -Mark

mark6

5. It’s okay to Instagram photos from your fancy camera. Using beautiful camera photos will not only beef up the visual appeal of your stream, but can be a good way to give a sneak peek of a photo shoot you’re editing or to showcase a nice photo that didn’t quite make it onto your website.  When I do this, I’ll usually edit a photo and resize it to an 800px square on my computer and then e-mail it to myself so I can open the e-mail and save the image to my camera roll on my mobile device. Just don’t upload too many DSLR camera photos onto your stream, or you may come off as overly styling your life, which makes you appear inauthentic. Helpful tip: Instagram etiquette suggests that you should use tags that will let your followers know why your photos are bangin’ and theirs aren’t. Try using #frommycamera or #notiphone. -Mandi

instagram3

6. Dabble with different angles. Phones are small and can often fit where a traditional SLR can’t. Put the phone on the ground. Hold it up over your head. Hold it out the window (very carefully). Hold it directly against the glass of a window. Trying different angles doesn’t only enhance your creativity for future posts, but it also creates a visual balance on your photo stream altogether. -Mark

mark5

7. Download an editing app. Filters are often extremely overdone on Instagram, especially when using the built-in filters that the app itself offers. You can actually edit your mobile phone photos with a more tasteful touch by using editing apps like Afterlight or VSCO Cam. Those are my two favorites because you can adjust the strength of each filter and adjust the coloring, tones, brightness, and contrast. Look at it as a light version of Photoshop, but just on your phone. -Mandi

instagram2

8. Breaking the “Rule of Thirds.” I’m always on the lookout for “existing framing” or in other words, real world elements that frame an object or cut the scene in half. Just as good light is important, shadows and contrast are essential. Yes, the “rule of thirds”  (where the frame is split into a grid of three vertical lines and three horizontal lines, creating 9 quadrants) is often a good rule to keep in mind when framing up. But you can also produce successful images by breaking this rule whether it’s centering your object or placing your horizon line just right above the bottom of the frame. –Mark

mark2

9. Tread lightly on hashtags. They can be a great way to engage with other users and perhaps find new followers, so I can understand their appeal, as annoying as some Instagram users might find them to be. Try limiting yourself to using hashtags as a way to gain visibility for a less broad term or to connect with a niche audience. For instance, if you’re trying to gain exposure for a holiday craft, #holidaycraft would be an appropriate hashtag, but you’ll be sure to get mega eye rolls if you also include a bunch of inane tags like, #glue #crafts #ornaments #paint #makestuff #ilovechristmas #hashtagsforever. Pick one or two hashtags that will get you the most mileage, and maybe consider creating a unique tag so your followers can cut to the chase and check out precisely what they want to see in your stream. -Mandi

instagram1Caption: I’m selling this #midcenturymodern #plycraftchair to anyone who can make it to Canton, Ohio to pick it up! Asking $175 for it.

10. Make use of negative space. Be willing to leave some air in the frame. It can help your viewer focus when you leave negative space around your subject. Take it to the extreme and make 90% of the frame negative space, you may be surprised with what you find. -Mark

mark3

11. Interact with your followers. Always show courtesy and respect as your following grows. Even if you only become moderately popular, don’t let the fame go to your head. It can be difficult to notice every comment on every photo when new notifications are constantly popping up, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you miss comments on month-old photos. But please do check out your most recent uploads to see if people have asked questions about where you got your fabulous shoes or if you’re from Cleveland too. You don’t need to respond to every compliment or friendly comment, but if people ask you questions, be decent and answer them. There’s nothing more eye-roll-worthy than a popular Instagrammer who frequently ignores his or her friendly followers who ask simple questions. -Mandi

instagram8

12. Post what you like and don’t worry about what people think. It’s your Instagram account and this is reflecting who you are creatively. If there’s an everyday (or odd) object that you find to be interesting, cool, or funny — go for it! If you find yourself in a creative rut, take the time to be inspired by other Instagram accounts.  Don’t force yourself to photograph a popular concept (aerial shots of meals, text on top of images) if that isn’t your style. When you find an idea you like, give it a try and add your own personal touch to it. -Mark

mark4

These 12 awesome tips were written by Mandi Johnson | Making Nice in the Midwest and Mark Weinberg | Mark Weinberg Photography. Follow them on Instagram @mandimakes + @markweinbergnyc.

mandimark

 

Maker Resources

5 Tips for Writing Better Product Copy

January 16, 2014

5 Tips for writing better product copy by UncommonGoods Copywriter KateWhen I tell people I’m a copywriter, their first question is whether I’m anything like Peggy Olson and if the world of Mad Men is alive and well. I tell them that while I do love a well-made Manhattan and I can see the Chrysler Building from my desk at night, my duties are much more akin to Elaine’s in Seinfeld. I’m given unusual, intriguing products and I describe them.

They usually follow this by pointing to a glass on the table or a decorative vase and saying: describe that! It’s become a very useful party trick. My most unusual on-the-fly copy was a salvage sale typewriter that had been refashioned to sport a doofy monster face in place of his keys. They thought they’d stumped me but I fired back with some metaphor about industrial intrigue and the bygone days of print.

Writing about products, especially products with a story can be challenging. You need to show what sets it apart from other pieces like it, how it will improve the buyer’s wardrobe/décor/daily routine, and sprinkle it with just enough alliteration and pithy dialogue that the reader doesn’t abandon you halfway through.

Whether you’re trying to write about your products for your website or potential vendors, selling the piece without sounding like you’re selling it can be the biggest challenge. Every writer has their process and through many years of trial, error, and woeful puns, I’ve come up with these rules of thumb to create a focused piece of copy that sells your story:

1. Decide who you’re selling it to. You wouldn’t speak to a new parent looking for a pair of baby booties the way you would a person looking for a necklace to give their best friend or a novice cook who needs a new set of chef’s knives before their big anniversary dinner. Once you’ve decided that, you can adjust your tone—be it funny, earnest, or inspirational.

2. Figure out your lead-in. What’s going to capture the attention of your reader? Remind a new parent of the memories their child will make taking their first steps in these handmade booties, highlight the expert hand craftsmanship of the jewelry, and list off some dishes the culinary hopeful will make one day—my go-to dish is always a spicy fra diavolo, only because it’s my favorite thing ever and just referencing it brings me joy.

3. Now that you have their attention, sell it. Just stay away from any infomercial talk. This means blanket promises (“this chef’s knife set will make cooking a breeze!” or “These comfy baby booties will have your little one running to the Olympics in no time!”), and wild comparisons (“this necklace shines the like sun, if the sun were brighter and more beautiful than the Mona Lisa!”)

4. Let the product speak for itself. People love handmade products so tell its story. Describe the materials used, the process, any inspiration that moved you to create this piece. When people buy a handmade gift, it’s because they want something different and out of the ordinary. That way when they’re giving it to a loved one, they can add, “and it was handmade from recycled materials in Nevada!” or “the artist was inspired by a meteor shower!” Give them a sneak peak into your studio or artistic process—it’ll feel like they’re right there at the craft fair or artist showcase, able to touch your product and find its interesting nuances that make it special.

5. Now focus on the reader. How can they incorporate this into their lives? Will it add a fresh pop of color to their living room? Shimmer to their ensemble? Sell the benefit and then get out of there before you make a pun about how that owl statue really gives a hoot about your décor.

So there you have it. It’s not scientific but I went to writing school specifically to avoid science and math. Mission accomplished. Happy writing.

Maker Resources

6 Videos That Will Help With Designing Your Website

October 11, 2013

the panel of How To Make It: Designing Your Website | UncommonGoodsWe had the pleasure of hosting our latest How To Make It event at the Wix Lounge in Manhattan with the help of Wix.com staff. Since Wix is a website-building platform, we thought it would be very appropriate to dispense advice on setting up your company’s website with the help of jewelry designer Catilin McNamara, UncommonGoods Assoicate Art Director Rebecca Paull Marshall, and Wix Training and Support Manager Ariele Krantznow. To make the discussion even more specific, the panel critiqued the websites of three guests in attendance, sharing what they loved about the site and what areas needed more work.

Although we would love to get to meet you in person, we understand not everyone can make it out to our events so we thought we would share the key points from the panel discussion with you on the blog! Below are 6 clips that will help design your website.

How To Make It: Designing Your Website | UncommonGoodsPelzers Pretzels! | UncommonGoodsHow To Make It: Designing Your Website | UncommonGoodsHow To Make It: Designing Your Website | UncommonGoodsHow To Make It: Designing Your Website | UncommonGoods

When building a website, where should you start?

What are some ways to best tell your story on your website?

What should you expect from a hired graphic designer?

What are some tips for DIY product photography?

What are your best DIY smartphone photography tips?

What is a style guide?

Still want more? Watch the entire discussion below.

photos courtsey of Wix Lounge

Design

Eileen Baumeister McIntyre’s Journey to UncommonGoods via Flourish & Thrive Academy

October 9, 2013

Jewelry designer Eileen Baumeister McIntyre | UncommonGoodsNow that our Jewelry Design Challenge runs all year round, we try to find new groups and organizations to partner with to help spread the word. A couple months ago, we learned about Flourish & Thrive Academy, an online meeting space for jewelry designers to connect with experts to gain the tools they need to succeed as creative business people. It felt like a match made in heaven until we realized one of our newest and most popular jewelry designers Eileen Baumeister McIntyre is a F&TA alum. That kind of gave us goosebumps. Learning about Eileen’s experience with F&TA made me realize that there are many other designers out there who could gain from the community Tracy Matthews and Robin Kramer are developing. So we asked Robin to interview Eileen about how her business has developed since making the connection to F&TA.

Flourish & Thrive Academy: One of the brilliant things about being in the jewelry industry is learning more about the artist behind the product. Recently, I sat down with one of our Mastermind students, jewelry designer, Eileen Baumeister McIntyre to discuss her jewelry business and her recent success.

Eileen is the epitome of what we consider an “Artiste” and using her art to fuse her passion for jewelry and the garden. Eileen has a BA, cum laude and an MA in fine arts, studied botanical illustration and learned metalsmithing from master jeweler, with Kathleen Di Riesta.

As a New York State Certified Art Teacher, she has been teaching art in the public school system for 25 years. Currently, she teaches at the high school level and has been awarded multiple grants to share her jewelry design and entrepreneurial knowledge with her students.

Eileen's Golden Sunflower Necklaces| UncommonGoodsF&TA: How long have you been designing and making jewelry and when did you decide that you wanted your jewelry to be a business?
Eileen: About seven years ago I decided to take a glass fusing class with two good friends of mine. It was so much fun and I became totally addicted to making glass fused pendants wrapped in sterling silver and adding them to beaded necklaces I created. It became a real problem because I started amassing hundreds of them.

I wore a different pendant to work every day and started to catch the attention of my coworkers. They asked me to bring in trays of the pendants and I would sell them at work. My coworker, and good friend Joe, suggested that he host a jewelry party at his house for me. I didn’t know what to expect or how to run a jewelry party but said, “sure!”

Joe invited about 20 guests, he has a reputation for being an amazing cook and his wife Janet was a wine buyer, so fabulous food and wine were guaranteed. That evening I sold about $1700 in Joe and Janet’s kitchen and Garden of Silver was born.

The next two years consisted of home jewelry parties and then on to juried fine art/craft shows on the sidewalks of NYC, which was profitable but absolutely physically brutal. I somehow ended up tearing ligaments in my wrist, which required surgery. I recruited my mother to help me at these exhausting outdoor shows because she is the best unpaid employee ever!

In 2011 I decided to forget retail shows and aside from my own website, focus on selling wholesale.

F&TA: What made you seek out help for your jewelry biz?
E: Initially I was learning the handcrafted jewelry business by trial and error with many costly errors along the way. Over the span of the last three years it became apparent that I lacked a host of business skills, particular to the jewelry industry, to make my jewelry company successful.

F&TA: How did you find F&TA?
E: I found out about Flourish & Thrive Academy from an email I received from Andreea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy. Andreea had interviewed me on her website the previous summer and knew I was a jewelry designer.

F&TA: When did you start working with Flourish & Thrive Academy?
E: I watched the video on the Flourish & Thrive website, read everything I could about F&TA and felt Tracy and Robin were a perfect fit and would provide precisely what my fledgling company needed.

My choice of Flourish & Thrive Academy proved fortuitous. Tracy and Robin were not only the most experienced and professional consultants; but proved to be easily accessible, personable and generous with their expertise.

Eileen's web pageF&TA: What made you want to be in the F&TA Mastermind program and what changes have you seen in your business since working with Tracy & Robin?
E: After taking the first F&TA course called Laying the Foundation, I had every confidence that Tracy and Robin could facilitate significant success in the growth of my business and decided that it would be a smart business investment to join their Mastermind program. I was (and am) determined to make Garden of Silver a highly successful jewelry design company and wanted to make sure that I was oriented in the right direction, learning from experts in the industry and getting individualized advice along the way.

I feel like I have been in business school for the last year and have extended my knowledge into dimensions that I couldn’t even have imagined.

F&TA: What changes have you seen in yourself since working with Tracy, Robin & The F&TA community?
E: I previously owned a very successful six-figure art instruction studio business for 15 years that I sold 8 years ago. I had erroneously assumed, on the merits of my previous success in business, that I had an adequate business sense.

The wholesale jewelry world is quite distinct, a different story, from my previous business. I simply did not know what I did not know. After working with Robin and Tracy, I feel confident that I am doing the right thing professionally. Tracy and Robin are so available, supportive and positive. Their coaching keeps you going when things are tough and appearing insurmountable.

F&TA: When did you learn about UncommonGoods and how did you come about submitting your work to UncommonGoods?
E: I had learned about UncommonGoods via a friend and a couple of years ago, when I was exhibiting at a trade show in Florida. Two buyers from UncommonGoods came by my booth. Last spring I decided to apply to be a vendor (on their website) because the company has an amazing reputation working with artists. Personally, I love their website and catalog!

Since working with Tracy and Robin I have created a marketing calendar, a list of my DREAM clients and I am regularly contacting those “dream” clients. UncommonGoods was at the top of my “dream’ client list.

Eileen's Windy Grass Earrings | UncommonGoodsF&TA: How has it been working with UncommonGoods?
E: Working with UG has been fantastic! I have spent all summer filling new orders for them. The buyers have been great, easy to work with and responsive with feedback. The company is extremely well run, plus their people are professional and a pleasure to work with.

Recently, the buyer contacted me with amazing news that my jewelry was their number one product launch of the year and that she wanted to put it in their holiday catalog! This is a DREAM come true for me and quite an honor!

I can’t believe the growth and exposure to my company in the last few months. Garden of Silver has been put on the map.

F&TA: What is your hope for your jewelry biz and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
E: I see my business expanding tremendously in the next five years with more wholesale clients and bigger collections. I am currently working a full time job teaching high school art in addition to launching my jewelry company. I envision being able to retire from teaching soon so I can follow my dream of being a full time artist/jewelry designer.

F&TA: Is there anything you would like to share with other jewelry designers?
E: Yes, make the investment in yourself and your jewelry business and learn from the best. I highly recommend Tracy & Robin (or finding someone like them)! You will NOT be disappointed!

Come have fun and play with us in October. Check out how our 151 ways you can boost your Holiday Sales this year!

GO HERE TO GET YOUR FREE LIST OF 151 WAYS

About Robin & Tracy:: Tracy Matthews, a successful bespoke jewelry designer, and Robin Kramer, a rock star independent sales and marketing consultant, co-founded Flourish & Thrive Academy, in order to create an active community of dynamic jewelry designers who share design tips, sales successes and marketing secrets.

F&TA began as a solution to a problem many new jewelry designers face: how to treat their business like a business instead of a hobby. It has evolved into an answer to the plea, “I wish there was somewhere I can learn everything there is to know about starting a jewelry business so I can focus on being creative and work on the big picture.”

In addition to the vivacious community, F&TA offers incredible designer support services such as a complete jewelry business program, individual and group coaching, and an ever growing library of free sales, marketing, and business resources.

Design

How To Make It: Designing Your Website | Design Panel + Happy Hour

September 17, 2013

How To Make It: Designing Your Website | UncommonGoodsDesigning a webpage from scratch can be daunting! There are so many design decisions to be made to properly showcase your handmade designs. On Tuesday October 1, meet UncommonGoods Associate Art Director Rebecca Paull Marshall, jewelry designer Caitlin McNamara, and Wix.com Training and Support Manager Ariele Krantzow at our next event and get their advice on putting together a beautiful and effective website. Submit your website for a direct critique from our panel during the discussion.

Stick around after the talk for some drinks, snacks, and networking with the UG team and other local creatives.

Wix.com enables everyone to design, publish and host stunning HTML5 websites. No coding, no previous design skills, just log in to Wix and start creating with our easy drag-and-drop website builder! In that spirit of encouraging creativity and enabling entrepreneurship, in 2010 Wix founded the NYC Wix Lounge. The Wix Lounge is a completely free co-working, event and exhibit space for creative professionals. Grab your laptop, pop into the Lounge and enjoy a productive work day, great networking opportunities, and amazing events. The Wix Lounge provides free support to New Yorkers, giving them the tools and tips for successfully launching and managing their businesses’ online presence. To learn more about the Wix Lounge, please visit http://www.wixlounge.com.

To learn more about the panel and sign up, visit our Events page.

Pin It on Pinterest