I decided (very last minute) to submit an application for the Commercial Future Awards. The deadline is midnight tonight and the application only involved a little bit of writing so there wasn’t too much pressure. It seems like a perfect opportunity for expanding my pattern blog, which is why I decided to enter.
Here’s my entry:
You + Your Future:
•What are your skills and passions? Why should we pick you?
•What makes you someone who will benefit from the award prizes?
•What do you hope to be doing 6 months from now?
I don’t believe people can ever reach the highest of their ability in their lifetime, with time and practise even the most experienced of artists can further learn and improve; there is no limit to how skilled a person can be. I have never understood being ‘adequate’ as a settling concept and this critical attitude is what aspires and motivates me to continue working towards being a better artist.
Ever since I was able to hold a pencil and paintbrush I have been hugely interested in creative activities and the notion of expressing oneself through art practises. I have spent many years on improving, enhancing and broadening my creative perspective, abilities and techniques. I have a great love for pencils and watercolour paints and have focused predominantly on improving my confidence and skills in these mediums – though I am able to grasp new mediums, concepts and techniques quicker than most. I am most complemented on my attention to detail and ability to effectively mix colour. In this digital age it’s becoming more and more important to understand modern software such as Adobe Photoshop. I have dedicated a lot of time learning how to effectively use this programme to enhance and edit my art and it’s use has played a huge part in my current works. Fortunately we live in a time where we can find online tutorials for almost anything, so the teaching is always available if you’re willing to look for it.
I have recently become involved in the blogging world and i’m finding the idea of sharing and receiving public feedback very useful. The feedback helps in so many ways, it’s constructive, it highlights my better abilities, it provides new ideas, it helps me understand what’s commercially popular and the best part – it’s free promotion! Over the past few months i’ve been learning about networking techniques and working on expanding my blog exposure, gaining followers and getting people involved. The internet is a vast virtual world and there are so many social rules and techniques to understand. It’s all very exciting, but consistency is key. It’s hard to get people interested in a stagnant page, so all my efforts go into providing new patterns for people to see and get involved with. It’s still very new, having started only in November 2013, but i’m incredibly happy with the direction my blog is taking so far.
Needless to say, 6 months from now I aim to have further expanded my blog topics, my blog exposure and my creative abilities. I would love to share tutorials and creative experiences such as screen printing, digital printing and constructing soft furnishings and garments as well as starting a small online shop selling my own ‘handmade in London’ products featuring the most popular patterns from my blog. I’ve been monitoring the expansion of several long-term bloggers, and through dedication and persistent blogging they’ve become hugely successful – These people keep me inspired and determined to continue to improve and share.
The promotion part of the prize would be greatly beneficial for me and my blog. My views are currently very limited as i’m just one of many millions of internet users, renting one very microscopic blog on this vast space. I also still have a lot to learn about careers and all that is involved, such as self-promotion, branding and networking; this would be massively helpful in the expansion and progression of my blog.
Your Big Idea:
•Tell us about the business you hope to launch.
•Why is this work and business idea important to you?
My main goal is to create and sell my own products through my online shop – linked to my blog.
Over the course of this term I aim to consistently post appealing patterns, using effective networking skills to help promote and expose my blog. Through close monitoring and analysis I aim to discover which of my posts are most commercially popular, expanding then on those themes.
I love the idea of getting people involved with what I do so it’s very important that i’m considering what others like to see as patterns or prints. I’m always asking for feedback and acting upon it. A larger audience would provide a substantially larger amount of feedback so it’s a constant goal of mine to increase my audience.
The internet promotes the freedom of individuality, it provides a free space for anybody wanting to use it and if you execute your space effectively you can create something very big for yourself or your brand. I love the idea of seeing the ‘behind the scenes’ of production and that’s something I feel i’m able to offer. I love sharing the ins and outs of what I do and it seems to really get people interested and psyched up for the final result! When I get a small shop up and running, you’ll be able to see exactly how I made the products, even how I created the pattern that then got printed onto fabric. I haven’t seen anybody else take this approach to blogging/selling yet and I think there could be a space for this online.
•Who are your target customers?
The whole idea behind my blog is that it relates to the majority of people. Using feedback and analytics I can determine what posts are most popular and expand on those themes. I also frequently take requests (from people of all ages and both genders!) and so this gives my blog a very diverse theme. I aim to keep it this way, I don’t want to limit myself to a particular type of customer, but naturally my products will appeal to the internet generation and those who take interest in interior products and home accessories.
Reason to Buy:
•What is the reason for the customer to purchase your product/service?
• Why do they need or want it, is it solving a problem?
•What are the benefits)?
Everything I sell will be handmade by me, in the UK, with high quality fabric. I spent years studying pattern cutting and understand how even effective layplanning and cutting can save money, time and resources. To me, being resourceful and ethical is the key factor when creating products.
I take time and care into making sure the whole experience is unique, starting from the fact that you can see how your product was made. I take pride in presentation and will enhance the experience with decorative packaging. For me, half the fun of buying something is in the way you first receive it. Companies such as Bluebellgray have made me appreciate how a ‘first impression’ can really imprint your love for the product through pretty packaging and hand-made thank you letters. I’m willing to go the extra mile to please customers and create a great brand image.
Also, by purchasing my products you will be supporting a local business, a small business that will never put greed before quality. You’ll be supporting me and what I do, meaning I can continue to produce products that you want and that you have asked for.
How will you make money?:
• How do you sell your products?
• What is it your customers pay for?
• How will you price your goods? Why?
My products will be sold through Etsy to begin with. I aim to start with Etsy as it’s free and easy to start selling with. This will help me prepare for the pressures of producing and shipping and help me understand the quantities I have to work with.
My customers will be paying for:
-The total cost of materials used for their product
-40% of the total cost of materials plus packaging added for labour and profit
I aim to bulk buy materials where possible to keep costs low and to keep my products available to anyone. I’ve noticed a lot of people taking advantage of the ‘handmade’ status and really overcharging people because of this. Hand-making is my passion, not a chore, so overly expensive labor will definitely not be an issue. I will be striving for the best quality of materials and this will be stated in the product description. This means my products will be more expensive than those found in mass-selling stores, but they won’t have a price tag similar to a pretentious boutique.
Find, Engage, Sell, Repeat:
•How will you sell your products?
•How do you plan to find your first customers, engage them, and sell to them?
What will your marketing strategy look like?
I hope to have engaged my customers through my blog, which will be linked to my shop (I aim to have all of this on one website). I hope the idea of seeing the progression of a product will appeal to people being something you don’t ordinarily get to see. I plan on being very open and honest about myself and my products, keeping ethics at the heart of everything I do.
My marketing strategy will stem from consistent blogging. With consistency I should be able to hugely increase my following in a short amount of time. I guess i’ll work on a more substantial plan from there!