Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Marketing and Selling of Textile Arts

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We had a very interesting meeting in Vancouver on March 29th at Urbanity, 2412 Granville Street, between Broadway & 8th - 7pm. The theme was the marketing and selling of textile arts. There were three invited panelists and the discussion was moderated by Julia Manitius (the owner of Urbanity).

Thanks so much to Julia for organizing and hosting this event, and thanks to the panelists, who generously donated their time and expertise. The panelists:

Sarah Murray has worked in different facets of the fashion and journalism industries since 1996. She started The Honey Mustard Fashion and Media Services in 2004 where she has played an invaluable part in the promotion of local designers and fashion. Her website

Laura Bucci is a designer-maker drawing inspiration from vintage illustrations. She designs and makes a line of fabric reusable cup cozies and other personal and home accessories. She sells to stores locally and to the US, as well as having an online store. See her current product line pictured left. Her website

Gail Conzatti - After over 15 years in the telecommunications and technology industry, Gail escaped from the corporate world in 2003 by branching out as a handbag designer. Originally designing, individually hand-painting, sewing and selling the bags herself, KAIROS Designs handbags are now designed by Gail and sewn in Vancouver by a home-based seamstress. In 2004, Gail had an opportunity to move her home-based business out of her home and open a boutique that sells Canadian-made clothing and accessories - Tutta Mia. See examples of her custom designs below. Her website
There was a lively discussion that covered, among other things: how to bring the customers in; how to grow your business; how to use the social networking tools available today; the importance of your website as the core of your online promotional efforts; the importance of good, high resolution images; the use of ‘stories’ to promote your business; what a publicist can do for you and what it might cost.

Angles that might make a compelling media story: charity event; ‘authenticity’; timeliness; controversy; celebrity connection; eco-friendly…

Laura brought along two books that she has found very useful in developing her business:

The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonora Beam

The Boss of You by Lauren Bacon & Emira Mears

There was much talk about how to engage help with tasks like sewing or accounting when you’re just starting and finances are tight. Gail had a great suggestion – bartering. It has its pitfalls of course, so it’s important to be clear about who gets what, but this can work. Gail still uses this tool - she trades her product for hair styling. Another important point here – if you think you can’t afford to hire anyone, consider your ‘opportunity cost’ – having someone doing the accounting frees up some of your time to spend on design, production, marketing...all of which should improve your revenue.

The next Vancouver meeting of the BC Surface Design group will take place in late May or early June – this will be our usual pre-summer potluck supper gathering. Date and venue to be announced.