Archives for the month of: April, 2010

So, what now?  After spending the past several weeks working on new pieces for two back to back shows in New York this summer at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts June 19 and 20 and June 26 and 27, we have decided to give Accessories; the Show a look this weekend.  This is the trade show I have been reading about and agonizing over for months now. Its a juried show that sells directly to the accessories trade, which is a good thing in theory, but, it is also a VERY expensive show to do, so we thought we would check it out before committing to it.  We have a lot of other irons in the fire as well,  which is both good news AND bad news, because nothing is carved in stone and everything is open to possibility.

We were accepted into the Sausalito Art Festival this September, which is a first. We are waiting to hear on a number of other art shows, as well as on a proposal we submitted to the Chickwagon organization in Calgary this summer.   Then there is updating and redesigning our website, writing a business plan, developing and implementing a publicity campaign, writing and distributing press releases…and wondering why on earth we weren’t born rich instead!  We would both be so good at being rich.

Well its off to the studio again to keep pressing forward.

Anyone who knows me well knows I am no slave to fashion (also known as the understatement of the century) so there is a certain irony in the fact that I have decided to make fashion accessories my chief focal point over the next 12 months.

The reason I was inspired to move from a fifteen year career as one of the top gourd artists in the nation to a handbag designer had a great deal to do with the economy of course, but there is no sense in denying that as much as I love gourds and as good as I am at them, when it came to formulating a plan on behalf of pursuing gourd art as a business venture, I felt more than a little lost.

In every book on salesmanship, product development and the importance of executing of a business plan that I have ever read, I just couldn’t see it. People don’t NEED gourd art, and, anyway, every time I sold a gourd, I got to go back in the studio and start the next one from scratch. I was never going to get ahead at that rate, and living from hand to mouth isn’t nearly as exciting or bohemian as it sounds. Besides, I could only produce just so many gourds a year, and coupled with the endless debates over whether gourds would ever be considered a legitimate art form…well, lets just say I’ve fought my way into more than one art show with gourds, sold exceptionally well, then never got invited back because some sculptor or painter would complain that having gourds at the show – even gourds that sold for upwards of $20,000 – were negatively impacting the show’s reputation.

But the minute I opened a box of animal print fabric two years ago, the thought popped into my head; THIS is my ten million dollar idea. This is the idea that had me down at the technical college registering for classes in guerilla marketing, developing a business plan, creating brand recognition, adobe photoshop, website development and an all day seminar for women in business.

This is the plan that got me to pick up copies of Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, O Magazine, Accessories Magazine, the Robb Report, W, and Elle Magazine. I watched THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE on how the “bible” of the fashion industry is produced by Vogue Magazine every year. I researched the accessories buyers for Neimans, Berdorfs, Bloomingdales, Barneys, Kitson, Saks and Fred Segal. I have submitted photographs of the canvas totes to the gift store buyers at every zoo from Atlanta to Washington DC. I’ve applied to fourteen art or craft shows this fall with accessories or wearable art as categories, and I am about to send a box of samples off to Accessories, the Show, in New York, which is the only sanctioned accessories only trade show in the United States. I’m debating a subscription to Women’s Wear Daily and the Accessories Council (both are fairly expensive to join), I just applied for the handbag design awards, and even signed up for a Facebook account so I could begin to take advantage of social networking opportunities (although I must say at this point, I have learned more about shopping habits and health care than I ever thought I would).

I also REALLY want to thank my friend, Randi Leader Oakes for being so incredibly supportive in this process. I sent an email to about 50 people asking for help and ideas on how to promote the bags, and she sent that same email to 91 of her friends, which lead to an interview for an online magazine for women called http://www.womenetics.com, as well as some contacts I would have NEVER found on my own, and ideas for outlets I hadn’t even considered.

But here’s the other reason why I know how serious I am about making this work. I am writing a business plan. For those of you who are left brained, you can’t even begin to imagine how challenging this particular task is. I have such arcane tax preparation methods that it takes me a week just to sort through my receipts, and another week or two to cross check credit cards and banking statements with utility bills and internet receipts (yes, yes, yes, I know all about Quickbooks but I have been too lazy to learn or use it) and another week after that to get it all in the computer.

But I am determined to make this business work and, with any luck, interest a venture capitalist in providing some desperately needed funds for operational costs.

I have absolute faith in this process however. After all…a ten million dollar idea isn’t delivered to your front doorstep every day now, is it???