After announcing my stockist shake up earlier in the year I have more news. I have a new stockist! The announcement comes following my goal to shake up my stockists. This was part of my New Years resolutions that I like to set each year for my business. It follows me choosing to leave some stockists and some stockists closing down.
Part of my aim was to increase wholesale orders and reduce my outgoings towards renting shop space. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule, it just has to be for the right stockist!
The Fox Fairy, Afflex Palace
I first heard about the Fox Fairy after meeting the proprietor at the Manchester Print Fair. Elizabeth is a talented Lino cutter and we have a mural appreciation for each others work. She mentioned that she had a shop in Afflex palace which immediately pricked up my ears. This was in May 2019 and at that time the shop was full for new stockists.
Fast forward to the start of 2020 and with a space finally in store Elizabeth reached out to me. She asked if I was still interested in the store. Of course I was! I was sold and dropped in my stock at the beginning of February.
I had lost my only Manchester stockist towards the end of 2019 due to store closure. The Fox Fairy is based on the top floor of Afflex palace. I LIVED in Afflex Palace as a teenager. Well, as much as a teenager from Blackpool can afford the train fare to do so. There are shops that haven’t changed at all there since that time. It’s a haven of alternative independent shopping and rich in nostalgia for me. It’s also my number one go to for ice cream whenever I am in the city. Ginger’s Comfort Emporium’s “French Elvis” is a religious experience! There’s costumes, clothes, jewellery, art, posters, beads, games, figures; all sorts. A Mecca for the motley. A shopping centre for the strange. To have my work there is an absolute dream. I have moments often as an artist where I’d like to visit my child self and tell them about my life now. This was a point where I wanted to visit teenage Sian and tell her the good news.
Next time you are in Manchester,please visit! Say hello to lovely Elizabeth from me and check out my supersized display in store 🙂
Revamp that Portfolio
Just like your website, make sure it’s up to date! I know how easy it is to get so caught up in doing commissions that you aren’t finding the time to shout about them to anyone. Make sure all of your marketing materials are up to date. Spend time on them you might not have had otherwise. This can be your CV, portfolio or your profile on freelancing websites. All of it.
Perhaps even drafting things like artist’s statements that you can use on a variety of future projects. You might want to use this time to write new packages that you offer that you can send to businesses, whether its related to commissions or wholesale or whatever is relevent. Make admin for future projects quicker and more efficient. In doing so you are making it so your capacity for work in the future is greater and you will make this time back then.
Take Some Time Out
My partner’s mother said that one good thing out of this would be to see me get a weekend off. She’s not wrong. Between markets, painting days and events in my part time job I rarely get a weekend to myself. Frankly, I’m knackered! If it takes a pandemic to force me to give myself a break well then that’s what we’ve got. I know how hard working small business owners are. I know that many of you who can afford it will be better off for a rest too.
Keep in Touch and Support Others
If you can afford it, shop online! Buy some bits that you can afford and that you don’t mind potentially waiting a while for if post offices close. Some makers can’t afford for us not to buy form them right now. If you can’t afford to buy, share them online, tell your friends and followers about them. But mainly, keep in touch. With your fellow artists, your suppliers, those you work with.
Make sure you know what’s happening with your postponed opportunities, and what is going on with those organisations. If you are unable to fulfill deliveries, commissions or stock drop offs, let people know. Make sure that you are all on the same page about when you can work together again. Strengthen your relationships from afar.
It should go without saying too that if you’re sick then don’t do anything except get better! If you want Netflix reccomendations, book suggestions or recipe tips, get in touch and I’ll provide my best ones.
Stay safe x x
Hone Existing Skills
Just taking time to practice is great too. Unfortunately the one thing I have been most focused on practicising is wheel pottery, which following the closure of my studio is now out of reach. However, spending time to do more experimental drawing and painting and even sculpting with air dry and polymer clay is valuable. These are the kind of not necessarily commercial projects that I find do well on social media too. Use this opportunity to find out your half finished projects and finish them off.
Build your Social Media
We all need to stick together at these times. Social media can be a great way to do that. Building a new audience now and keeping them engaged can also mean potential customers when everyone is feeling a bit more financially stable again. Most of my advice, like this, is around not generation immediate income but fostering resource, relationships and opportunities for a stronger chance of building your business back up quicker and bigger on the other side. Visit Instagram for some #drawthisinyourstyle competitions for the chance to reach new audiences and improve your skills simultaneously.
Tidy up your Online Store
If you are like me, you probably have a few bits you have been meaning to put on your online store but haven’t had chance yet. Well here it is! It’s also good to review things like your tags and keywords, your shop description. It is probably a good idea to add an announcement about how COVID-19 will affect your domestic and international deliveries too. If you don’t usually do this, delve into your shop stats and learn a little bit more about what drives traffic to your site and how you can apply this to your listings.
Products Old and New
Now I am not implying that you have the capital to do this right now, but if you sell products then now is a great time to look into future ranges. Research suppliers, design new things and by Christmas ordering time you will find everything quicker and easier. Can you photograph existing and new products at home? That’s a great way to pass the time and revamp your online shop a little too.
So many of us may be trapped at home, contemplating cancelled commissions, lost markets and lack of online orders. Good news is that there is lots you can be getting on with the strengthen and promote your business for when this all eventually blows over. It WILL blow over. In this article I’m going to look at a few things you can do to ensure that this time isn’t wasted and that your business is as strong as it can be when it starts operating on full steam again.
This isn’t necessarily very helpful to those in need of cash now, but that’s because I don’t necessarily have those answers when everyone is feeing the pinch. The situation is unprecedented and there is a great economic loss all round. Each country has different benefits available for the self employed so you’ll have a better idea than I can direct on where to look for immediate support.
This article will be in three parts, because we have plenty of time to chat about it and I have lots of ideas!
Shine that Website
First thing is first, update your website! If you tell me that your website is already up to date well I don’t believe you. Go through all the pages. Make sure your blog is looking healthy. Ensure your recent commissions are on there and all the info is up to date. The beautiful thing about blogging is that you can write and schedule blogs for as far in the future as you can imagine. Use this time to write blogs for the future. You can save time to work on new commissions when they start coming back.
Learn New Skills
You can get a free trial on an excellent website called Skillshare. You get 7 days as standard but if you go to cancel they extend your free trial further. There is lots to learn on there, including really specific lessons for professional artists. I am currently learning about vectoring my art. I haven’t studied art past the age of 14 so it’s a resource I find especially helpful. If you want to learn a new craft altogether, YouTube itself is an absolute goldmine. I have previously found it an especially great resource for all things knitting.