When bad things happen to good crafters


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As a craft organizer and business owner since the 2006, I've seen ca fair share of good crafters get thrown off track by "bad things." This presentations shows how to gracefully deal with three common bad things -- rejection, clueless customers and copycats.

Presented at the first Midwest Craft Caucus on June 5, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio.

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When bad things happen to good crafters

  1. 1. COMMON SENSE DISCLAIMER OR, I’M JUST ACRAFTER, TOO• I am not a lawyer, accountant, or professional advisor of any kind, just a fellow crafter, and as such cannot provide legal, financial or other professional advice. Got it?
  3. 3. WHY TALK ABOUT BAD THINGS?The creative freelance community talks a lot about bad clients, low pay, dealing with slumps and copyright (the list can go on) because it helps inform and protect them as professionals. By knowing how to handle bad things, they actually help their business grow.And by being informed and responsible workers, they are setting a higher community standard among their peers and in their community.I think it’s important for crafters to talk about bad things for the same reasons.
  4. 4. Anything thathas the potentialto throw you oryour businessoff course.
  5. 5. STARTING WITH A STRONG FOUNDATIONBegin with a mission statementEven if you have a business plan (or if you don’t) your business should have amission statement.• One to five sentences long• Your mission should be about more than just you. Think bigger than “I want tostay home with my kids” or “get my products sold.”• It could outline: • What you’re business is about. • Why you are you in business. • Where you are going.• Write it down!
  6. 6. STARTING WITH A STRONG FOUNDATIONBe a good craft citizen• Follow the golden rule but also ...• Reach out to those around you with openness.• Be an informed and educated participant.• Lead by example.• Be willing to educate others – inside and outside the community.
  7. 7. SOME COMMON BAD THINGS• Rejection • Copycats• Difficult customers • Financial slumps• Clueless or emergencies customers • Bombed products,• Negative events or ideas comments or • Sour partnerships reviews or deals• Theft • Aggressive• Creative block competition • Etc.
  8. 8. SOME COMMON BAD THINGS• Rejection • Copycats• Difficult customers • Financial slumps• Clueless or emergencies customers • Bombed products• Negative or ideas comments or • Sour partnerships reviews or deals• Theft • Aggressive• Creative Block competition • Etc.
  9. 9. You applied to thelocal indie craft fairsure that you wouldmake the cut, butyou just got therejection notice.What would youdo? (Be honest.)
  10. 10. REALITY OF REJECTION• Everyone will face this at some point or another. While it’s hard not to take it personally, it really is not about you, your style or your eagerness -- it’s about the work and how it fits with that venue or event.• Some common reasons work is rejected include: • Price point is not right • Uncertain about how handmade it is • It has a place in other venues • Over-saturation of that category • Photos did not really show the items • You did not follow the app rules • We’ve seen it before, or it did not do well before• You’re stuff may not have been right for that audience, at that time. That doesn’t mean you have no audiences. Or that you have no chance of selling at this avenue in the future.• Rejection does not mean that door is closed forever.
  11. 11. WHAT NOT TO DO• Get so mad that you ruin your future chances. • Immediately post your rejection to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and your blog, saying how disappointed you are, or that you were wronged. • Sound off in public forums about the event. • Contact the organizers and tell them “just how sorry they will be.”• Write off ever doing that event or working with the organizers.
  12. 12. WHAT YOU CAN DO• Do your research before you apply  Talk to the organizers and ask them about the audience.  You can talk to vendors who have done the show before.  You can visit the event and feel out if you would be a good fit.• Contact the organizers after you are rejected  Ask them why you weren’t accepted.  Ask them for tips or ideas about applying again.  Ask them for ideas of a better fit for your work or future opportunities.  Thank them for the opportunity.• Be positive  Realize that this happens to everyone and is a part of owning a business.  Have the opposite reaction of what everyone expects. You’ll be respected for it.
  13. 13. At a craft fair, twoshoppers approachyour booth chattingabout your work. Onegrabs your product anddeclares “I can makethat for half the price,”while the other askswhat type of glue youuse.How do you handle it?
  14. 14. REALITY OF CLUELESS CUSTOMERS• Yes, we probably can all do it! • At some point, all of us were just as excited to be around craft. (Some of us still are!)• Most clueless customers mean no harm. • Many are caught up in the excitement of so much cool stuff and are inspired to make something – and hey, you’re thing is pretty nifty.• Many clueless customers can turn into informed and empowered customers. Some might even end up being your biggest fans.
  15. 15. WHAT NOT TO DO• Say nothing.• After they walk away, declare loudly that you really hate doing craft fairs and that the customers are mean and clueless! (Or, write it on your blog as a post-fair review.)• Let it taint your view of craft fairs or craft customers.
  16. 16. WHAT TO DO• Get straight with how you handle these situations. Every crafter approaches them differently – find what’s comfortable for you.• Practice common clueless interactions such as: • Value of handmade • “I can do that-ism” • Taking photos without asking• Educate and inform clueless customers • This is a big part of what being an indie crafter is about. • Instead of resenting the proposition, engage them in a conversation about what you do, or why you don’t tell people what your sources are.• Realize that many of us were once on the other side of the table saying “hey, I can do this, too.” • Point them to resources for new or developing crafters. • Lead by example. Sign up another craft citizen.
  17. 17. Your friend sendsyou a link toanother artist’swork that looks alot like yours.What do you do?
  18. 18. REALITY OF COPYCATS• There is a difference between inspiration and blatant copying. • We are all inspired by other people’s work, incorporating what we see, feel, hear into our work. It’s taking one meaning and interpreting it as our own. • Copying is recycling another idea, thus stripping it of any meaning. Copycats usually have no real connection to the thing they are making – and lots of times you can see this. Most craft works are not covered by copyright.
  19. 19. WHAT NOT TO DO• Everyone has a different opinion about copycats. • If do hold a copyright and plan to continue to hold the copyright, you must pursue infractions.
  20. 20. WHAT YOU CAN DO• If possible, protect yourself before you are copied.• Seek legal advice.• Contact the person or company about it. • Explain your side calmly and ask them to remove the item.• Call them out online. • Post photos of the two works next to each other. Sites exists to do this as well.• Keep creating • You hold the original meaning and intention of a work or product.
  21. 21. Web: yourphantomlimb.com(Presentation and resources online next week.)Twitter: @yourphantomlimbEmail: yourphantomlimb @yahoo.com
  22. 22. RESOURCE LISTSome great recommended places for more info.Mission statementsDoes Your Creative Business Have a Higher Purpose? By Heartmadehttp://www.heartmadeblog.com/blog/guest-post-does-your-creative-business-have-a-higher-purposeYour Company’s True Purpose (Hint: It’s Not About You) by Smaller Boxhttp://smallerbox.net/blog/branding/your-companys-true-purpose-hint-its-not-about-you/RejectionHow to be a Good Loser by Handmadeologyhttp://www.handmadeology.com/rejection-part-1-how-to-be-a-good-loser/Let’s Talk About Rejection, Baby by Richmond Craft Mafiahttp://rcm-offtherecord.blogspot.com/2010/03/lets-talk-about-rejection-baby.html
  23. 23. RESOURCE LIST CON’TDifficult customersDealing with Difficult Customers: The Basics by Admin Secrethttp://customerservicezone.com/products/index.htmNegative comments or reviewsHow to: Deal With Negative Feedback in Social Media by Mashablehttp://mashable.com/2010/02/21/deal-with-negative-feedback/Dealing With Your Community’s Vocal Critics by FeverBeehttp://www.feverbee.com/2011/03/dealing-with-vocal-critics.html
  24. 24. RESOURCE LIST CON’TCopycats and plagiarismCopyright, Trademarks and Patents by Crafting an MBAhttp://www.craftmba.com/2010/03/09/copyright-trademarks-and-patents/Don’t fear the copycats by Fine Art Viewshttp://faso.com/fineartviews/20909/dont-fear-the-copycatsPikaland, Good to Know Zine Issue #7: What are your thoughts on plagiarism? Have youever been a victim? What did you do when someone copied your work?http://issuu.com/pikaland/docs/gtk7TheftTheft is a serious matter and should be reported to the police, even if the dollar amount wassmall. If an item or money was stolen at an event, you should let the organizers know as well.If you have an item shoplifted from a store while on consignment, you still own the item andwould therefore file the police report. If the item was sold wholesale, it is up the shop ownerto file the report. If you’re not sure what to do, you call always call the police and ask.
  25. 25. RESOURCES CON’TCreative blockThere is no shortage of books, articles and posts about getting out of a creative slump. Don’t be afraid to experiment with what works for you.Much of breaking out of your block comes from not being afraid to just try things, even if it means silly ideas or failure.The Creative Habit: Learn it and Use it for Life by Twyla TharpHere’s how other artists work through creative block in Dealing with Creative Block by voodoChillihttp://www.voodoochilli.net/tutorials/creative-block.phpSlumps, emergencies or financial downtimesSBA Loans Grants informationhttp://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/loans-grantsCreative Capital: Provides support to artists in all disciplineshttp://creative-capital.org/Craft Emergency Relief Fund: Provides emergency relief and recovery for artistshttp://craftemergency.org/Freelance Business Recovery Planning: Breaking a Slump by Freelance Switchhttp://freelanceswitch.com/the-business-of-freelancing/business-recovery-planning/10 Ways to Diversify Your Income as a Crafter or Artist by CraftBoomhttp://www.sparkplugging.com/craft-boom/10-ways-to-diversify-your-income-as-a-crafter-or-artist/
  26. 26. RESOURCES CON’TBombed ideas or productsHaving a product or idea sucks particularly when you lose a bunch of money. And it might also shake yourconfidence. Here’s some ideas on how to recover:Get creative: Can the merchandise be turned into anything else? Can the parts be repurposed?Check with your accountant: You may be eligible for a tax write off if you donate the items or can show thatyou made substantial efforts to sell them and you can’tLearn from your experience: Next time, consider testing a small line of the product before releasing it.Sour partnerships or dealsWhen good partnerships go bad by Entrepreneur magazinehttp://www.entrepreneur.com/management/legalcenter/legalbasics/article46260.htmlWhen Blogging Partnerships Go Bad by Shepostshttp://sheposts.com/content/when-blogging-partnerships-go-badToo-aggressive competitionToo-aggressive competition is anything that borders on libel, slander, harassment or otherwise threatening ordamaging actions. If you ever feel that what another business or person is doing could negatively affect yourbusiness, then get in touch with a legal representative.