Joanna Ellis-Monaghan on sat 17 may 97
I'm setting up shop this summer, and part of the process was writing a
business plan. In it, I was asked for market information that I didn't
know how to find. Here is a sample of the questions--if anyone has any
answers, or even references, I would be really grateful. I make
one-of-a-kind basically functional white stoneware with sgraffito slip
"What market do you intend to serve?"
"Who exactly is your market? Describe age, sex, occupation, lifestyle,
income, etc., of you various market segments."
"What is the present size and growth potential of the market? Clearly
define your target market. What is your expected share of the target
I guess basically what I'm looking for is any data on who buys pots and
what kind. Any other market information (eg that would help evaluate a
specifc way of selling my pots such as various craft/wholesale fairs or
galleries/retail shops) anyone could point me toward would be great as
well. References for hard data/statistics/studies are really important,
and I'd also be interested in feedback from your own experiences and
observations about this.
Karen Gringhuis on sun 18 may 97
Dear Jo - I am a potter w/ a BFA preceeded by an MBA in mktg. &
a BA in retailing/mktg/communications. My own business plan for my pots
is loos but it does exist clearly in my head.
Having a business plan is GREAT - congratulations on even thinking
of it. BUT......KISSable is best, expecially if you're just starting.
Unless you're going for an SBA loan, I doubt you need the
"hard data" to which you refer. I also doubt that it even exists.
That said - Definitely spell out what and who you think your market
is. But forget your words after "describe." The WHO will vary
every time you turn around & with every place you sell.
For me yesterday, it was the wives of the Board of Trustees of
the University. During our Open Studio Tour, it included a
single Mom probably on the verge of poverty trying to get
an education in accounting. I am sure my pot cost a farlarger share of her income than it did the rich wife!
I would also include in your target definition a statement
related to how YOU think your pots will be used. This will
affect where you try to market them.
As for choosing a "channel of distribution" - write that down because
it will impress any marketer --- that is first affected by how good
your work is - so be honest with yourself. Helen Drutt doesn't
want me! If we're talking fairs, are you good enough to get into
the top ones? Be honest w/ yourself.
In my mind the second thing affecting my choioce of channel
is how hard I want to work in relationship to the estimated
(read scientific wild ass guess) payoff. Wholesale shows
require an investment of thousands of dollars before you
write order one. (I don't care what anyonw says about
quick-and-dirty shelving, etc.) You have to have a booth,
coclor postcards are a basic to compete, you have to get there
& pay for a hotel, etc. My studio mate does one of these
& yes, she makes $ - but she earns every dime. My work
would sell but I don't have the quanitity yet to rate using
Before I sweated market size data etc, I'd get some HONEST
dolar figures from clay people who have done the fairs &
shows you may be thinking about. Some fairs are pretty
pricey in my opinion. Some which charge only a booth
fee up front which is hefty - if it rains, you just lose period.
How muchof a gambler are you?
What sort of production operation do you want to run? Say
you determine your target mkt. is everyone w/ income of $20,000
plus. do you want to have a staff of four to sell them all
you work? I do not exagerate (I can't spell either). Refer
to the latest Studio Potter on Conn. potters - specifically
Maishe Dickman. That's not why I left Sears to make pots!
At least ---not NOW. Later - who knows?
I've talked your ear off. Outline your plan but
concentrate on a basic outline - fill it in as you go.
NEVER be afraid to say "I don't know." You're nmot
reporting to a corporate controller as I used to, just
Keep in touch. Karen Gringhuis
Eleanor D. Hendriks on tue 20 may 97
Where are you from?
I found the Ontario Arts Council here in Canada to be a great help in
this part of my setup research. They had recently done a large survey
of the art and craft buying habits of Canadians. Perhaps your local art
service organizations can help with specifics.
For my work I just look for large gatherings of women like my
mother-in-law. Just past middle aged women with house paid for
gearing down for retirement and looking now for some of the nicer
things in life while they've got money to spend on them. And much
of what I make now has enough colours on it that it "matches" -I'm
definitly not in the "devours the sofa" category of pottery.
A warning about business plans that lean heavily on "facts" about
the craft buying public. You could spend
months developing a huge document that becomes irrelevent almost
immediatley. Its probably better to think flexibly and always watch for
where the choices you are asked to make can take you. I find myself
sucked very deeply into producing large quantities of repeatable items
in one unvarying decoration style when I'm pretty sure that I'm a
one-of-a-kind type of gal. This happened when I discovered that I
could always sell a chip'n'dip platter but the uniquely carved bowls sat
around. Now I find myself going to more and more places where
chip'n'dips sell and I haven't made a carved bowl in half a year. This
isn't bad but it is what can happen with a business plan that requires
business-like thinking. For me that challenge now is to change my
mindset so that I make what I like and find a way -no matter how
unbusinesslike- to sell it.
Of course you can't sell "I just wanna do what feels right" to the
bank, so good luck in your search for hard facts but in this business
hard facts can be paralyzing -depending on what it you want to do
with clay -or what clay does to you. :-)
Just my $0.02, and it only took me three years to save it up!
Elan Fine Pottery
Fergus, Ontario, Canada