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Making to Sell, Part I, with Sarah Chapman

Please welcome our new guest blogger, former CWC-speaker Sarah Chapman of Tribe Katalyst. Today’s post is part 1 of a 4-part guide for those creatives who are thinking about selling their wares but are not quite sure where to start. (By the way, Sarah apologises to those creatives who provide services – this post is solely product focused I’m afraid!). 

Hi Everyone! I’m Sarah, and my business Tribe Katalyst is an agency that represents designers to retail and assists them with their communications. I am very lucky because I get to work with awesome creative peeps on a daily basis, helping them develop their businesses.

Perhaps you are a jeweller who has recently finished studying. Maybe you are working 9-to-5 but are designing and printing textiles after hours. Perhaps you are a mum who illustrates hand-made cards once the kids are tucked up in bed. Or maybe you are a Jill-of-all-trades who makes a variety of hand-made goodies that you’re just dying to see if the public will love as much as your friends and family!

Whatever your creative offering, there is a ‘channel ‘ to suit if you decide that selling is the next step down your creative path (channel being marketing lingo for ‘means of distribution’ btw!)

Remember Kirsten’s marketing post a few weeks back about the 4Ps of marketing – product, price, place & promotion? My posts will concentrate on the different ‘places’ and ways you can sell your goods. I will shed some light on a number of distribution options so you can make an informed choice about the most appropriate strategy for selling your wares.

First up, it’s important to ask yourself – why do I want to sell my product? 

Is it:

a) Because you want expand on your hobby and get some commercial experience while you’re at it?


b) Because you want to take your creative expertise and turn it into a fully-fledged business?

Your answer will help determine the most appropriate channels for your product in order to achieve your bottom line ie. what’s most important to you.

Remember there is no right or wrong here. At the end of the day, it’s about your own personal goals and aspirations!

The thing is, different distribution methods require different approaches to production, so it’s best to get straight about why you are making to sell before you go too far down any particular distribution path.

If making to sell is more about supplementing your main income, or because you feel the world would be a better place if peeps could get their hands on your crocheted bikinis, then your sales strategy is likely to be more product-centric.

If you are making or designing as a sideline to another gig it’s unlikely that you’ll be analyzing market trends before you stitch, sew, paint, draw, mould or (insert your preferred creative outlet here!!) Your production and sales process is likely to involve creating items that you love and enjoy making, working out a price that seems appropriate and then hoping the products sell!!

On the other hand, if you want to make a living out of your art, craft or design, then the reality is you’ll have to be far more market-centric. It’s likely you’ll do market research before going into production mode, that is unless you have psychic powers and know what products are going to be ‘so hot right now’ in the future!

Market research will help you figure out if your product offering can fill a niche or at least give similar products a run for their money (and their customer base!) Once you know your market segment inside out you can create fabulous goods to a price point, which in turn should result in you bringing home the bling!

Basically, if you are going to sell to make a living, your approach to production will need to be more strategic and considered. 

After all, you’ll want to make sure you are backing a potential winner – your livelihood will depend on it!!

Once you know why you want to sell, you can then make an informed decision about which sales channel are going to work best for you and your business vision.

Next week’s post will provide an overview of various sales channels, looking at indirect versus direct distribution and consignment versus wholesale.

Posted by: Tess McCabe
Categories: Advice and Tips, Starting a Business | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Making to Sell, Part I, with Sarah Chapman

  1. Madeleine says:

    You had me at 'crocheted bikini'….

    Seriously though, such a great post and really resonating, considering the decisions I am in the process of making at the moment.
    Look forward to part 2 and the part about wholesale v consignment, such a sticky one!
    Thanks Sarah and Tess xx

  2. Cassandra Allen says:

    Thanks for this, looking forward to the next post. Got a little project brewing in the back of my mind…