We are delighted to launch our brand-spanking-new Making It online resource. This bright, beautiful website will now replace this blog
Our new resourse is bursting to the seams with advice for designer-makers like you, who run independent creative businesses. Posts by Cockpit Arts’ coaches and other leading experts cover all of the essentials as well as fresh thinking in: business planning, creative development, finances, management & operations and sales & marketing. Worksheets and details of our latest workshops & seminars are also featured.
Please be aware that we will no longer be updating this blog, and it will be removed in due course. All of the great content (and much more!) will be available on the new resource.
What are you waiting for! Visit NEW Making It online resource >
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By Ellen O’Hara
As a designer-maker there are some real advantages in supplying work on a sale or return basis (SOR) to a gallery or retail outlet. You can show experimental pieces rather than just your safe sellers, gain valuable feedback and raise your profile among new audiences. Many craft galleries only work on an SOR basis and outlets may request SOR terms when working with you for the first time.
But SOR only really works where there is clear trust between you, the designer-maker and the outlet. It is essential that you protect yourself and your work by issuing clear terms and conditions that set out the nature of this relationship. Here are a few words of wisdom from myself and the designer-makers at Cockpit on how to make the most of SOR:
Manage the relationship not just the stock
Working with an outlet on an SOR basis is different from one where the work is bought outright and as such the relationship needs to be managed differently. Get into the habit of calling your SOR stockists on a regular basis if they don’t keep you updated. SOR works when there is a good informative relationship between the maker and the outlet. Ideally the outlet should notify you of sales regularly and pay quickly, should be happy to return work as soon as it is requested and give feedback on the response of customers.
But what about the stock?
Keep a record of which stock you have sent where, and mark items off the list as they sell and are invoiced for. Since you are investing in the outlet by providing them with stock, it’s important that you know your work is actually going on display once supplied (sadly not always the case). It is also important that you work is understood properly and promoted by the sales staff, and that it is kept clean and in good condition. You role is to send work in good condition, with all the relevant supporting information and keep supplies topped up regularly. Similarly, don’t be afraid to take work back or move it around it sales are not forthcoming.
When supplying prices, be sure you and the outlet understand which you are working from – wholesale or retail prices. SOR mark-ups can (and arguably should) be lower than those when work is bought outright – if this is the case, quote the retail price in order that you don’t undercut those outlets that buy outright from you at wholesale prices.
Branding and display
Ensure there is clarity about how the work will be displayed, and whether you can or are expected to provide point of sale marketing materials and/or your own branded packaging.
Some galleries will have their own SOR contracts. But many do not so it’s crucial that you have written terms and conditions that both parties have agreed so you have a clear understanding of the deal you are entering. Ideally this should include:
A delivery note listing:
- Contact details of both parties (you and the outlet).
- The work that is being supplied with quantities, descriptions if relevant, and prices.
- How long the work is on SOR for / when the work should be returned.
SOR Terms and Conditions
On the reverse of the delivery note or as a separate attached document, draw up terms and conditions that describe the nature of your relationship, with clauses on the following:
- Clarity over who is responsible for shipping goods to the outlet (usually you as the supplier). You may want to negotiate shared shipping costs for work sent outside of the UK.
- That any damaged / missing goods must be reported to you within 24 hours of receipt of delivery to avoid confusion about work getting damaged before it left you / in transit / on the premises of the outlet.
- That all works remain your property until sold, to avoid any claims by creditors should the outlet get into financial difficulty. This is the most vital term and must be explicit to ensure that the title of the goods is not deemed to pass to the outlet or final customer upon delivery, but upon payment.
- What the payment terms are i.e. how you would like to be notified of sales, and how you wish to be paid and when. For example, you might request that a sales statement at the end of each month, which then triggers you to send an invoice to the outlet for the appropriate amount, with payment within 7 days.
- That the outlet does not have the right to put work on sale or make amendments to retail prices without your prior consent.
- That you the designer/artist retain copyright and reproduction rights of all work, and that the gallery will not permit reproduction /copying / photography without your prior written permission. You may want to give the outlet the right to publish images of your work for agreed marketing and promotional purposes though.
- That all work is insured by the gallery whilst the work is in their possession (including in transit from the outlet to you) and that any breakages, damage, loss will be reimbursed to you at the wholesale price (or retail price if that is what you’ve agreed).
- That the work should be clearly labelled and identifiable as your work. You may wish to add a clause to state that a selection of the work you have supplied shall be displayed at all times.
- Explain how you intend to deal with any commissions that may arise as a result of being seen in that outlet. Will the outlet still gain a commission? Or will they just broker the introduction?
- That work is the responsibility of the outlet and should be well maintained whilst in the care, returned to you in the same condition as it was received and any maintenance or damage will be paid for by the outlet.
- State how long the goods are on SOR for e.g. 28 days, 3 months etc. before they are returned. Or, if the goods are for an exhibition, put the exhibition dates on the delivery note and chase the outlet up to return the work when it’s finished.
- That you have the right to request the return of work and how much notice you need to give.
- Who will be responsible for returning unsold work (usually the outlet unless previously arranged).
This agreement should be signed for on delivery where possible. Where goods are sent by post you can enclose an extra copy for signature and return.
So remember that working on an SOR basis is all about relationships. It’s an investment by you that should reap mutual benefits for you and the outlet. Be clear about the benefits to you and develop terms that foster a relationship based on trust and respect.
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In November 2011 designer-maker Catherine Hammerton was awarded the Cockpit Arts Camden Recycling prize to help develop sustainable methods of packaging for her new range of ceramics which was launched this summer.
Catherine planned to use the award: ‘as part of our continued commitment towards great, socially responsible products produced in small batches here in the UK. Financially the award will enable us to invest and develop gorgeous packaging for our new ceramic cups and saucers, using a single paper based packaging solution to help make recycling easier – great style, that doesn’t cost the earth.’
As part of the proposal and with the support of Camden Recycling LTD and Cockpit Arts Catherine has been making changes to her branded packaging across as many of her products as possible.
Pocket mirrors (pictured) now come wrapped in tiny paper envelopes and stamp printed luggage tags that not only look great but are widely and easily recycled. Her ceramics now use a one-material paper and card principle, packed in shredded newspapers collected from a local London business and FSC boxes made from 70% recycled material, all of which is easily recycled.
Updating us on how it’s going Catherine says: ‘Long journey’s in small steps, we will be making lots more of these small and simple changes over the next year, to ensure that we are all doing our bit for the environment – great British products in honest packaging that doesn’t cost the earth.’
Read more about Catherine’s work here: www.catherinehammerton.com
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Pete Mosley, author, business editor for craft&design magazine and creative business coach, spends a big part of his working life with artists and makers who want to raise their profile and start working on a whole new level. Success, however you might define that, is all about developing the right frame of mind, making clear decisions about what needs to be done and then, crucially, acting upon those decisions. Here, he describes one of the most successful ‘tools for thinking’ that he uses with artists and makers.
I am a big advocate of boldness. I always encourage the makers I work with to be bold, aim high, and write cheeky letters. What do I mean by cheeky? I guess I mean the sort of letters that stand out for their boldness, enthusiasm and desire to do what it takes to get on in life. Letters that are not shy of asking for help, targeted at those who are in the best place to provide a timely ‘leg up’.
Think about this. Who are your dream clients?
This is a great exercise to do alone, or with partners and collaborators. Get a big sheet of paper and some markers and just write down in bullet point form all of the people you would love to sell stuff to or work with.
Who are the key shops or galleries you would like to work with? Who are your ‘blue chip’ clients – the people that you aspire to work for above all others. Do you want your work in Liberty? Do you want to make guitars for rock stars? Do you want your films to be at the big national and international film festivals? Do you want to exhibit at the V&A? Do you want to be in a national ‘collection’?
Only you will know what these aspirational goals are. Unless you write those goals down, unless you begin thinking about how you might actually achieve them, you will simply end up muddling along. Having a dream list is a really powerful thing. It’s no good having the list, however, if you don’t then work at building those relationships.
Often what stops us in life is much less to do with the quality of our work than with the quality of our courage and ambition. It is really important when you are trying to do something ambitious to find somebody to hold you accountable, to drive you along. Somebody you can meet with regularly to review your goals and make sure that you are actually making some progress. We all need an irritant to keep us moving – the grain of sand in the oyster shell, so to speak. Sometimes our own conscience simply isn’t enough.
Why is this all so difficult? Psychologically speaking, we are actually hardwired to avoid danger, to stay in our comfort zone. The bit of your brain that is responsible for making sure that you stand up straight and that you avoid obstacles and that you continue breathing is hardwired to keep us out of danger. That means every time we try to do something new, something challenging, that bit of our brain kicks in and says no, you don’t want to be doing that, there is a risk involved in that – stay safe, stay within your comfort zone. This is the root of procrastination – and you have got to force yourself to break through that.
Here it is, step by step
- Make your ‘dream list’
- Find someone to hold you accountable – someone you respect
- Work your way through it stage by stage.
- Find out who the gatekeepers are (influential people that can open doors for you) and build relationships with them – step by step.
- Stay close to people who support what you are doing and radiate warmth and energy in your direction
- Stay away from those who drain you or seek to diminish your efforts.
- Be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.
- Remember – being successful requires that you have to overcome resistance and challenge yourself.
There is a brilliant book about resistance and procrastination called ‘The War of Art’ by an author called Stephen Pressfield. He is a writer and historian but he absolutely understands procrastination and the workings of artist’s block. If you suffer from block you’ll get a lot out of reading this book.
Make the list – and good luck!
Pete’s articles appear in every issue of craft&design magazine, and co-published his book Make Your Creativity Pay with them last year. You can find out more about the book at www.makeyourcreativitypay.com
You may also enjoy similar articles on Pete’s blog at www.creativemusings.co.uk
The Creative Business Explorer is a virtual workspace and guided tour to thinking creatively about the future. It’s full of clever interactive ways to think about your business – and you get downloads, a wide range of useful articles, a 40 minute podcast, ebook, printable worksheets and links.
If you’re aware that you should be thinking ahead in more detail, but writing a business or career plan is a bit scary or leaves you cold, then this toolkit is designed for you.
Find out more at: www.creativebusinessexplorer.com
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We all know that the makers at Cockpit Arts are a talented lot, not only are they gifted in craft and design but the recent Makers Do and Mend lunches began to uncover the breath of their skills and experience. We asked what could you offer and what would you like to learn? Especially strong on both sides were IT and social media; photoshop, mail chimp, Etsy, excel, e-newsletters were mentioned often as well as many languages including Spanish, French, Arabic, and German reflecting the multi cultural community here.
These skills are not only very valuable to other makers but can also be used to create a new income stream by selling to the general public. A Train the Trainer Taster session was held by last week for those who wanted to explore the potential in this opportunity further.
Lucy Kyle, Business Development Manager and Emma Thatcher, Business Information Manager at Cockpit Arts offered top tips on how to work out if there is a gap in the market for your idea and how to promote it.
A follow up session is planned for those interested in developing a framework and content for their own training.
The key points were;
Do your research
Work out if there is a gap in the market for your ideas;
- Check out the competition – find out what is being offered, where it’s being held, when – what day or time, who is running it and how much are they charging.
- Think about how big the market is – is demand growing e.g. everyone seems to want to know about social media, or is it very specialist and will only appeal to a niche market?
- Ask your customers and contacts, Google it, check out the trade and consumer press and specialist websites like Hot Courses
What makes you different?
Get clear on who your potential customers are and how you can stand out in the marketplace. You need to consider; what you will offer, where you will hold it, what day and time, who you will teach and how much you will charge;
- Don’t try and be all things to all men. Focus on a specific skill or level.
- Use your expertise and play to your strengths.
- Have an interesting and inspiring setting like your studio or one that is fit for purpose.
- Target your current customer base, if choosing to teach craft skills it’s likely some of your customers would jump at the chance.
- Fill a gap in the market which can sometimes be achieved by developing a niche.
- Improve on a competitor course – make changes to appeal to certain type of customers i.e. it might be at a different time of day or at a different venue which would make it easier to attend.
- Would you prefer to offer workshops or one to one advice?
Where to promote it?
There are lots of different ways to do this but it’s important to be selective and choose those that will help communicate with potential customers;
- Use all your marketing tools which might include; website, blog, facebook, twitter page, email signature and mailing list to promote it.
- External advertising can also be used some of which is free.
You might also choose to pitch your training ideas to a local college or night school who will help promote it.
Creating an advert
Make it sound fun and relevant and don’t forgot to include all the information a potential customer might need to book;
- Check out the competition again – have a look at how other people are describing their training, what words and phrases are they using to make it sound interesting? Think about the customers you want to talk to and what you want to convey.
- Use images where possible – showing the process involved, the studio or the finished product can all help bring it to life.
- Focus on the benefits – what will a customer gain by attending? Make it clear that by the end of the course they will have; designed and created their own leather bag, be able to write and send an effective e-newsletter, set up a twitter account etc, feel confident dealing with manufacturers etc.
- Include the following information;
- The title – make it short, simple and catchy e.g. Make a Structured Handbag.
- A 1or 2 sentence summary or subtitle e.g. in this one day workshop make a stylish bag that can you take home and wear with pride.
- What you will be covering: paragraph or a bullet point list to summarise.
- What they will gain (or take away) what is the offer?
- Who is it aimed at? Any prior knowledge needed? Be specific and keep the tone friendly and welcoming so people feel it will be tailored to them.
- Include a short biog which is a chance to talk about your expertise in the area.
- The time and date, venue and cost.
- Clearly state how to book to make it as easy as possible for customers to take action!
- Your website or blog.
Ask for feedback
- Ask customers to rate their experience. This is valuable information that can be used to improve and develop future activities. Great testimonials are also a fantastic way to encourage new customers to buy.
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Fran Taylor, Marketing Manager for Creative Industries at the British Library and writer of the ‘Inspired by’ blog speaks to Emma Thatcher about inspiration, events and advice at the British Library and its Business and IP Centre.
Can you tell us about some of the interesting ways that artists and designers have used the collections to produce work?
The Library’s collections are absolutely huge and include some amazing things, from artist’s books and zines to knitting patterns, magazines and newspapers. Thousands of designers and makers use the Library’s collections every year, but one really stood out to me – Sian Zeng. She who won a place at our Spring Market last year (pictured below).
Sian used the British Library collections to research her dissertation on Little Red Riding Hood and fairy-tales. After being inspired by the stories she found here, Sian launched a London-based print company that produces interior products, including magnetic animal wallpaper. She was recently awarded the young talent of the year by Elle Decoration Hungary and her work was exhibited at Stella McCartney’s showroom during Milan Design Week.
I’m really looking forward to being one of the mentors at taking part in ‘Make it, Sell it’? What are you looking for from creative businesses who apply?
Our ‘Make it, Sell it!’ speed mentoring sessions are really fun. The idea is that around 30 – 40 makers come to network and meet lots of experts, bringing examples of their work with them. We always make sure that there is a wide range of experts available, covering anything from getting press coverage to manufacturing. We’ve had experts from Tatty Devine, Etsy and the Guardian.
The event is aimed at anyone who has made something themselves, whether it’s a piece of jewellery, crafts or artwork, and want to make a business out of their idea. We can help them think about whether their idea is realistic and makes good business sense.
You’ve had some great speakers come and speak about setting up a business at the Business & IP Centre – who has conveyed your favourite business advice nugget?
Hmmm, a tricky question! Some of my favourites have included the late Dame Anita Roddick (The Body Shop), James Brown (Loaded magazine), Tim Smit (Eden project), Fraser Doherty (Super jam), Heather Gorringe (Wiggly Wigglers) and Rosie Wolfenden and Harriet Vine (Tatty Devine). You can see footage of all their speeches on our YouTube channel. They are all very passionate about what they do and make sure they follow their own path.
One of the most useful things I’ve heard whilst working with creatives was from fashion designer and entrepreneur Emma-Jayne Parkes from Squid London. She said that although she is a creative person, to run her fashion business she needs to spend 90% of her time on the business and 10% on the creative side of things. I thought that was very insightful and a real wake-up call for any designer looking to commercialise their work.
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Last Friday, as part of New Designers, a large and interested audience gathered to hear top tips and advice on ethical approaches to setting up and running a business from Cockpit Arts designer-makers Ute Decker (pictured) and Sophie Holloway (work pictured below).
Ute Decker is renowned for her jewellery in recycled silver. In 2011, she was one of the pioneering jewellers to create a collection in the world’s first Fairtrade and Fairmined gold www.utedecker.com
Sophie Holloway runs an accessories business with Alice, her sister who has developed and produced an ethical materials database for Central St Martin’s. They incorporate ethical sourcing into their work. www.hollowaysmithnoir.com
Both Sophie and Ute discussed how they, via research and development had built up their businesses with ethical values at the core.
The speakers also outlined that running an ethical business extends further than just the sourcing of materials and suppliers – and includes researching, for example, who is employed in the supply chain of your suppliers, ensuring fair pay to staff, being transparent in your communications with customers and giving something back to the community amongst other elements.
The main points to consider, when setting up a business covered were:
- Researching and finding fairtrade suppliers
- Using recycling and upcycled materials
- Finding non-toxic studio chemicals
- Using recycled and recyclable packaging
- Finding eco-friendly print materials
- Using carbon neutral web hosting
Ute also lists where to find suppliers of ethical metals and traceable stones.
The speakers also noted that for those setting up or running a fashion business a very useful resource is the Ethical Fashion Forum which provides information for sustainability and a useful: directory of fashion businesses and resources.
The speakers top tips for designer-makers interested in setting up an ethical business were:
- Perseverance and persistence
- Sharing of information
- A passion for what you do
Do you have any top tips on ethical practices which you use to run your business? Please let us know so we can continue to share top tips and information.
You can also sign up to Making It – news and opportunities for designer-makers to hear more about our workshops and seminars to hear more about running a designer-maker business.
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