Business 101-Chase Designs

28 01 2009

My business is making lampwork beads and marbles.  I have read a few of my colleagues are creating their yearly business plan and that just makes my head spin.  How could I possibly know what I want to accomplish in the next year?  Other than sell enough beads and marbles to pay my bills and save a little cash.  Though these days I think many artisans are just pleased to stay in business.

So, while I don’t write a business plan…ever, I do have goals.  I have a certain amount of product I want to make each day to list on various outlets.  Currently I list on Ebay, Etsy, Artfire, and my own website.  I plan for two new items on ebay, two new items on etsy, one on artfire and one on my website.  That is five new items in the form of a set, marble, pair, daily special, whatever.  Plus I list two of my husbands marbles every day.  Well, six days  a week.  I do not list anything new on Saturdays.

I admit, I almost never make my daily goal of new product.  That takes  a back seat to special orders, which I do get quite often and regularly.  It is still my goal though and when I reach it I get euphoric, then I panic.  It’s kind of sad in a way because I know if I met my goal I am caught up.  Then I am left wondering when the next order is coming in.  I know, I can be a mental case.

So my business plan is to always have new product to offer and of course provide excellent customer service.  Timely emails and fast shipping.  I cannot express to you enough how much these two things matter to our customer base.  Yes, the product should be well made and hopefully desirable, but in this world of do it yourself service, the customer certainly notices when you go the extra distance.

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A Matter of Style by Solar Flare Creations

25 12 2008

I was shopping with a girlfriend the other day (an exceedingly rare occurrence for me) and when she looked at the clothes I had selected to try one she said ” You definitely have a particular style dont you, I would have picked all of those things for you”.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have my bead style so readily apparent.  My modus operandi really does not lend itself to developing a specific style or signature bead.

I like to try new techniques, skills and designs, but the reccomended ‘practice, practice, practice’ does not sit well with me.  I tend to try something new once, then look at the result.  If it worked well, I generally declare it a success and move on.  If it didn’t turn out well, I tend to mentally put it in the ‘too hard basket’ for a few months, when I will try again. Luckily, sometimes my skills seem to develop by osmosis – I do a lot of my learning in the back of my mind, mulling things over.  Generally when I come back to it, the technique will click and off I go.  That’s how I learnt to make hollows.  I’m sure if I had kept trying the first time, I would have got it eventually, but my method is a lot less stressful and wastes a lot less glass.
🙂

So while I do have some favourites styles, namely Warring States dot beads,  my work tends to be eclectic and touch on a wide variation of styles.  I worry sometimes I should be developing a ‘signature’ style or design, that people will look for and keep coming back. But then I also wonder if it works just as well to produce work that satisfies a wide range of tastes and interests.

I may not have a signature bead – but I guess I do have a personal style… to dabble, to experiment, and try everything once.

www.solarflarecreations.com.audec08211





Shows – Susan Sheehan

13 08 2008

Many artists are solitary people. We love the time alone in our studios to do as we may. Selling online has made this even easier to embrace. I can list at all hours and the money comes in while I’m sleeping, torching or cooking dinner. I think if not for my family, I could easily lose all sense of reality. But the day I realized I was holding conversations with fixtures about what colors to use I knew it was time to get out.

Years of doing art shows for my photography left me dreading the idea of doing a bead show. The set up, the hours on my feet, the feeling of hope slowly deflating away as I left yet another show with comments of “I could do that.”, echoing in my head. What I had forgotten was the important information garnered from watching what people touched, lingered over and asked questions about. I realized I can’t see how long someone looks at my listings. I can’t know how many times they click through the pictures and what questions they are asking the screen. I needed to break free from my safe little world and face the world of shows.

I decided my approach to shows had been all wrong. Instead of making money being the primary objective, I needed to change focus. Market research was going to be priority number one. Unless nobody actually looked at my beads, I couldn’t fail.

I prepared for the first bead show in my most anal of ways. Lists galore, setting everything up in the basement to ensure a good looking table and focusing on a wide range of price offerings. I pulled out my dusty Bruce Baker craft show sales tape (where on earth did I have a tape player anyway?) and pumped up my ego.

I was in for a treat. First of all, carrying in 3 loads of table displays, supplies and beads was practically liberating. I was used to heavy grid wall, boxes of matted prints and framed pieces. Band-aids and a change of clothes weren’t necessary for a bead show. After setting up in merely an hour I had two to spare. How glorious! I promptly got a cup of coffee and a bagel. I browsed the other vendors’ tables and even had time to make a purchase or two.

When the show started I realized not only was the set up a dream, but the room was full of motivated shoppers. Bead shows aren’t the kind to draw in those looking for mere entertainment. The majority of participants were women in fashionable clothing and wearing handmade jewelry. What a bonus! I had actual examples of styles, colors and designs my target market liked to wear.

As the shoppers stopped by, I found I was unusually comfortable. Joking and chatting as if they were my friends. I wasn’t selling, I was sharing information. I had so much fun. I was learning plenty about what people wanted and what they loved.

After a break down in under an hour I drove home from my first bead show basking in my achievement. I had a head full of ideas, an exhausted voice and a sense of pride. I am good at what I do and others noticed.

I didn’t make thousands of dollars, but I did discover shows are good for my work and my sanity. They mean much more to me than a sales venue. They validate what I do, feed my ego and inspire me to make more beautiful beads.

 

Susan





Getting Motivated by Suzanne of Solar Flare Creations

13 08 2008

Motivation is a slippery creature – sometimes hard to catch and often even harder to hang onto.  I am often thankful that I do not need torely on my glasswork for a living, as I think that having to torch, rather than wanting to, would make motivation a very rare creature indeed.

I am motivated to melt glass by the joy it brings me, the fascination with the flame and the way molten glass moves and by the objects of beauty that are produced at the end of the process.  I’m motivated by the feel of glass beads in my hand, and by the appreciation of those who admire my beads.  I am motivated by a need to master new techniques and a fascination with a craft that has existed for over 3000 years.

Molten glass inspires wonder… and a sense of wonder is a powerful motivator.

Space Poppies on Etsy Now

Space Poppies on Etsy Now





Thats a Weird Place to Start the Journey – Deanna Chase

24 07 2008

Confession time: I am a bead maker who doesn’t really care all that much about beads or jewelry. Have I shocked you? I know, it’s a horrible thing to say. Did she just say she doesn’t care about beads? Yes, I said it and worse, I wrote it down. Let me first clarify, I have a great respect and admiration for all the wonderful bead and jewelry artists out there. I am constantly amazed at what each of them continues to create and send out into the world, making people smile and giving us such gorgeous eye candy.

The thing is, I just have never had much of an eye for fashion. I am simple in that regard. Dressing up for me these days means clean jeans and a black t-shirt. Seriously. Okay, I have a few skirts, that might count, but I still wear t-shirts with them, though I do refrain from wearing my tevas with the skirts. I just can’t go that far. I almost always forget to put my jewelry on when I leave the house. Just because I said I don’t care all that much about it, doesn’t mean I don’t have some. The stuff I have is treasured as well, but not because I have a great love of jewelry. It is because it was either made by or included beads made by some of my very favorite people. It makes me feel happy to wear it. I also have a few pieces of my own work, made into simple necklaces. The very few I have are special pieces I made and have loved so much, I didn’t want to give them up.

So you might be wondering how it is a person who just isn’t all that into beads, ended up making them for a living. Most women I know who are bead makers came at this craft from the jewelry end of the journey. I have heard over and over again from people who say they just loved beads and making jewelry. Then they found glass lampwork beads and were hooked. The journey for them started there. Certainly that isn’t true for everyone, but it is a common story.

My journey actually starts with my husband. He saw a lampworker selling her wears at a local art show back in early 2000. Two days later he ordered a torch and a starter supply pack and was up and running within a few weeks. He really wanted to learn to make contemporary marbles, but found starting with beads was easier. Even at that point, I still wasn’t all that into beads. Greg was making sculptural stuff and little mini figurines, all fun stuff, but not anything I ever thought I could do or even wanted to do. A few years later when we started meeting up with other bead makers, I got to see in person some of those gorgeous little works of art, full of dichroic glass and flowers. Finally I was interested. How do they do that? I asked myself that question more than once.

Then I had a few lessons, first from Greg, then Anne Scherm Baldwin, then Kaye Husko. I was fascinated with the process of making beads. I still am. There is something wonderful about sitting down at the torch and blocking out the rest of the world and just creating something, anything. It is all that much better if it comes out pretty and even greater when someone actually wants to buy it! How wonderful.

So, it’s true I don’t care about beads in a “I want to surround myself with them and make a bunch of jewelry” kind of way. But I do care about the wonderful little works of art out there and the artists behind them.





Texture – Susan Sheehan

14 06 2008

One of the amazing things about glass is the ability to alter light.  Glass can transmit, bounce or reflect light.   Who doesn’t love a good suncatcher in the window?  The magic of sunbeams dancing about a room is fascinating. To create light altering beads I employ texture. 

Not only can texture send light flying in all directions, but it can produce a look that begs to be touched.  Adding depth to my beads is a challenge I enjoy.  Using a varitey of tools, I can manipulate glass in sculptural ways.  The beads can bounce light as well as take on an interesting shape.

Texture in glass is not only a feeling, but a look.  Silky smooth glass can also appear to have texture. A mixture of transparant and opaque glass is a subtle way to create depth. 

Creating with glass offers possiblity and challenge.  Employing the concept of texture helps add dimension and interest in glass beads.  Focus on texture in your next work and see where it leads you.

Susan 





Fashion and Trends? Yes! – Susan Sheehan

14 04 2008

You wouldn’t know it from looking at me.  I’m incredibly practical in my attire.  I have little contact with the outside world and most days my outfits are seen by nobody other than my children.  But, I love fashion and trends. 

I get fashion magazines and can flip through the pages over and over again.  I admire the photography, the design of a dress and the colors.  Oh the colors!  When one grabs my eye, I tear out the page and frantically search my mind for just the right glass to reproduce it.  Should it be a floral?  Maybe a more graphic design?  What should I pair it with?

Clothing catalogs get me excited too.  The necklines help me visualize the right bead for necklaces.  The jewelry helps me determine shapes and designs.  Even the shoes can inspire a bead design.

I do maintain the right to make what I like.  I’m rather classic in my sense of fashion and it does shine through in my bead making.  But there is nothing quite like the time I spend with my cup of coffee and a big thick edition of Vogue, to get my creative juices flowing.

Susan