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nancylee

Do You Have Seasonal Lines?

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nancylee    30

As the snow flies outside, I'm looking at a simple bird feeder I made last year hanging in y big window, and thinking about seasonal lines. I know that I need to have a base product line: urns, keepsake jars, kitchen goods, some ceramic jewelry. But I have been doing research and it indicates that a seasonal line should be created and marketed every season.

 

I have to say, I'm somewhat flummoxed as what to create for a Fall and Spring line. I think bird feeders, birdhouses, they can go Spring or Summer. Frog houses would be summer, as would windchimes, etc. But beyond that, I'm not sure what items would be in those categories. 

 

So I guess what I'm asking is:

- do you have seasonal product lines and, if so, every season

- where do you get your ideas for each season?

Thanks,

nancy

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nancylee    30

Might I ask where you did the research that said you, a potter, needed seasonal lines?

It's a handmade product line video and blog. Setting up product lines and marketing them.

 

It's not just for potters. It's for any handmade products. I'm asking, because I'm not sure if all the seasons would apply. I can see Winter (Christmas) and Summer/Spring, but like I said, I am flummoxed over 4 seasons! 

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GEP    863

For me, it wouldn't make sense to do this. If an item doesn't sell out during its season, it has to be stored until the following year. My studio doesn't have space for storing inventory long term. And I don't want to tie up my labor/materials in work that I can't sell until next year.

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MatthewV    258

My artistic pottery can be seasonal -- and a month behind!

 

I wouldn't put too much emphasis on specific holidays. Hearts may sell more around this time, flowers at Mother's day, angels at Christmas... they also will work throughout the year.

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GiselleNo5    464

I thought about doing seasonal lines in the beginning based on the colors, plants, flowers, etc. of the season but decided against it. 

 

As Mea mentioned I have no desire to have piles of pottery gathering dust. I have wildflower stuff that just screams spring and summer and I sell it year round. :) 

 

I make sure that I make items in a range of colors to be suitable for more than one time of year. So I make a pie plate with leaves, I will offer it in spring green and in a spicy pumpkin color to cover my bases.

 

Certain colors are just generally more popular but I don't notice colors becoming more popular at specific times of the year at all. I don't think people really buy much handmade pottery based on that since it's more of an investment than the average novelty mug. I know I buy kitchen items based on the decor of my kitchen. 

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yappystudent    40

Generally I only design and make things I'd want to own myself. My decorating taste is pretty specific and when I waver from it, projects tend to be tedious and finish up ugly.

 

For the winter holidays I designed some simple rustic leaf ornaments. I make a few at the end of each work session using scraps from hand building and glaze them with just about any rustic pottery glaze.

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Roberta12    135

I think the closest I come to seasonal is simply finding a new glaze.  In the house I tend to decorate with warmer colors in the fall and winter, cooler in the spring/summer.  I prefer a white wine in the summer and red in the winter.   So I sort of do the same with pots, I might have some warmer colors in the fall/winter and slightly cooler in the spring/summer.  I agree that if I were making birdhouses, that would be spring/summer and during the holiday season, I will make ornaments and smaller things for gifts, but that is about as seasonal as I get.  Like has been said, I don't want seasonal specific items sitting around in the off season.

 

Roberta

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I think the only season specific items I make are Christmas ornaments.

Yarn jars sell more when the weather's cold, so I stop making them around March/April, and start making them again for the fall.

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JBaymore    1,432

Closest I come is Summer Chawan and Winter Chawan.  And ones good for either.  And I make any/all of them at any time of the year .

 

As an artist, I've always taken the approach of "Make what you love... and find the market for it."

 

best,

 

.................john

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nancylee    30

Closest I come is Summer Chawan and Winter Chawan.  And ones good for either.  And I make any/all of them at any time of the year .

 

As an artist, I've always taken the approach of "Make what you love... and find the market for it."

 

best,

 

.................john

That is interesting that you say that about making what you love. In this video I've watched several times, the woman said that making just what we love is a surefire way to fail. And I do get that in a way. But I have been making urn after urn, and it made me not want to do pottery at all any more. So I think there needs to be a happy medium, maybe? Having said that, I could be 100% wrong, cause I know nothing about making a living from pottery!! 

Thanks!

 

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GEP    863

For me, I use a venn diagram. Things I want to make, and things that sell. I try to stay within the overlap area. I don't feel constrained by this, there's a lot to explore in that overlap area.

 

I also think that no matter how much you like to make a certain item, you can grow to hate it if you have to make too many of them. That's an important factor for staying in business long term. Having enough variation so you don't get bored. Having enough leverage to say no when needed.

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LeeU    330

I had never heard of a venn diagram. I looked it up and it makes a lot of sense. Mea-would you be willing to share an example of how to use one with a few ceramic items? I imagine this would be taking characteristics of forms, glazes, bodies, marketability, personal challenges/likes ????? but maybe I am not hitting the mark. I can't imagine not making what I love (why bother?) and I am not seeking to generate income or reputation, but I would like to pay for my clay. So I am becoming somewhat motivated by selecting out & putting some focus on the items that people are responding to/requesting. I need to be smart about it and this "overlap" area sounds like a good place to be.

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GEP    863

It takes a lot of trial and error. Sometimes I think I have a great idea and nobody wants to buy it! So relunctantly I have to let it go. The Individual Pie Dish was an example of that. Sometimes I have a design that is surprisingly popular. But maybe it's complicated to make, or prone to failure. It has to go. Compost Pail comes to mind. They were space hogs in the kiln, and I had to source the charcoal filters, which turned out to be a real pain. So I stopped making them. Then the fad ended shortly after that anyways.

 

In terms of items that survive, again it takes time to know for sure. But some items eventually prove themselves to be constant good sellers, a design that I'm really proud of, and not fussy to make. Those are the keepers. The number builds over time.

 

On a larger issue, my pots are all glazed in a very neutral palette of grays. I've often hear polite suggestions that I should add some color. But I have no interest in that so i won't go there. The polite suggestors don't realize that I sell pots as fast as I make them already, so I don't need their business. People who share my aesthetic values really appreciate that I've committed to it, and they buy a lot! So sticking to your venn diagram attracts a better class of customers too.

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JBaymore    1,432

 

That is interesting that you say that about making what you love. In this video I've watched several times, the woman said that making just what we love is a surefire way to fail.

 

I disagree with that thought.  It certainly IS a recipe for failure if you do not understand marketing....... but that will catch you no matter WHAT you make.  As has been said here...... it is about object making AND selling.

 

 

People who share my aesthetic values really appreciate that I've committed to it, and they buy a lot! So sticking to your venn diagram attracts a better class of customers too.

 

Right there is the key. Newer people to the field should remember that finding the market for what you love, and nurturing and attending to it, takes as much work (or more) as learning the craft aspects. 

 

It is amazing how many "niche'" markets there are out there for objects.  If you are a single person studio.... you don't NEED a "mass market" (unless you want to the be the "pottery Walmart"). 

 

If you decide that to live at the lifestyle you are comfortable with you need to sell $100,000 worth of work a year........ that is one $100,000 piece, one hundred $1,000 pieces, one thousand $100 pieces, or ten thousand $10 pieces.  Each of those price point markets is different no matter what the object you make....and you need to understand who those people might be and how to reach them.  (Unless you are Jasper Johns.... you likely won't sell that single $100,000 mug ;) .)

 

There is no one "right" answer to success in this field.  Lots of ways to be 'full time' in ceramics.  The wonderful thing is.... it is ceramics. :)

 

best,

 

..................john

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GEP    863

Here's another current example of my venn diagram in action. I have been selling a berry bowl design for the past few years. It's a great seller. I'm getting tired of it. So I've been working on updated designs, and I think I've developed one that is a winner. I'm not going to quit making the old one cold turkey. I don't think that's smart. Instead, for my upcoming show I will pack four of the old design (the usual quantity) and one of the new design. At the beginning of the show, I will display them side by side, and see what happens. It's not just about which one sells first, it's also about what people say about them. After I know what happens, I will decide my next steps. 

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I just spent the last 2 days in a creative business/ and entrepreneurship forum. Presenters for the last two days, all having direct experience in creating and growing their artisinal or creative brands, have been giving talks on all manner of business aspects, techniques, tools, business plans, marketing plans, mission statements,etc. Etc etc.

 

People talked a lot about marketing, consistency, brand growth, consistency, and oh yeah, the need for consistency across all your communications. The focus was on creating your voice and solving a problem with your product, and on how to communicate with your audience. Eveyone emphasized the notion of needing to use what you love and what you're passionate about, and how to find the people that share that passion for the feeling you're trying to create with your story. Every presenter there spoke about the importance of building your own story and how integral that was to their success.

At no point did anyone advocate just making and selling whatever people asked you to. As a creative, you're selling your own take on whatever it is you're making. And like Mea said, sometimes that does overlap with what some people want. But it doesn't overlap with what everybody wants.

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GiselleNo5    464

My own ideas pull me in so many directions that if I listened to everybody else's ideas too I would be completely unable to focus. I have learned that the word "no" is a useful tool. Many times in my life and in my business I have said yes when my gut whispered no and I have regretted it every time. 

I am saying no to all custom work right now. (I do not consider glazing an existing design in a different color to be "custom". If I don't like the idea of the color combination I say no.) If someone wants to design their own pottery, they should take a pottery class and make it. I'm not interested in someone coming and telling me to make them a pie plate that is x by y and holds z. I don't need that stress. How am I going to make a picture in their head match the picture in mine? 

 

I do, however, write down all suggestions even ones I don't plan to make because if I see a trend I will often work something up that fits a demand or be inspired by a suggestion. A friend asked if I would make her a Southwestern planter and suddenly I had this flash and now I have an entire new design line called Southwest Desert because of her offhand suggestion. Same with a friend who asked if I would do a "pineapple" design on a pie plate. Bam, the idea popped into my head so well formed that making it almost didn't feel like work. The reason I think these worked is they were very loose suggestions and they both coincided with something I already had an interest in. 

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JBaymore    1,432

 Eveyone emphasized the notion of needing to use what you love and what you're passionate about, and how to find the people that share that passion for the feeling you're trying to create with your story. Every presenter there spoke about the importance of building your own story and how integral that was to their success.

 

This.

 

best,

 

..............john

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