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by Sarah Von

Small Batch Story :: Garden Apothecary

 

Jennifer Lee Segale is a professional in the fields of natural science. She owns a landscape design company Wildflower Farms, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, and specializing in organically sustainable gardens. She also owns Dirty Girl Gardening a “horticulture collective” with the organic beauty/bath line, called Garden Apothecary. Garden Apothecary  features organic whole botanical sugar scrubs, water refreshers and other bath products.

 

You use only organic ingredients in your products.  Why should people opt for organic body products over chemically-based ones?

 

Organic body products are much more beneficial than chemically-based (petroleum-based or synthetic)  body products for a number of reasons. Aside from the heavy environmental impact, and the terrible side effects you can get from chemicals and synthetic preservatives, the main reason I create and buy organic body products is because of how it makes me feel. Our skin is our largest organ, and as much as it helps shield us from harmful temperature, chemicals, and bacteria - it also absorbs.

Our skin is packed with nerves that keep our body and brain in touch with the outside world - what you put on your skin significantly effects your overall health. My products are made with healthy, organic botanicals, most of which you can see, touch, and smell. And in the shower, that small interaction with an organic vanilla bean or piece of red rosehip, sends messages all over your body - helping to restore your skin, energize your body and intrigue the mind.

 

Although chemical and synthetic products are often necessary in the materials and products we use and consume, I don’t think it’s necessary in bath and beauty products. What is more attractive? Using a product with ingredients defined as “vanilla fragrance” that have been manipulated in a lab - or using a product that has exclusively been fragranced with one solitary, whole vanilla bean that you can hold in your hand and enjoy.

 

 

Essential oils are nigh-on magical.  What are some of the things that they can do that might surprise us?

 

Essential oils constantly surprise and inspire me, and I’ve been especially fascinated with how clove oil works. Some of the properties in clove buds are anti-fungal, anti-septic, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, and help health problems such as cavities, cough, blood impurities and even asthma. Such a fascinating plant with a vast ethnobotanical history. I love incorporating whole botanicals in my sugar scrubs for their unique healing properties.

 

 

What's the biggest business lesson you've learned so far?

 

I think the biggest business lesson I have learned so far, is that [italics] I am a limited resource, just like any other aspect of my business, and I need to constantly fine tune how I use my time and energy.

 

 

If you weren't crafting gorgeous organic body products, what would your life look like?


If I wasn’t making these products, my life would be fairly similar. I own a landscape design company, raise heirloom chickens, pick flowers and obsess over everything dirty. My life would continue to revolve around natural science.

 

 

Lastly, describe the type of world you'd like to design.


I’d like to design a world where bourbon, cupcakes and chocolate were mandatory food groups. Where flowers grew faster than setting concrete, bugs could talk back to you and everyone spent their time doing only what they loved.

 

Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!

 


Sarah Von is a Vianza contributing columnist and interview wrangler.  If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll be privy to all sort of tweets about small business, good ideas and, um, cheese.

 

 

by Tara Swiger

Masterlist: Right People

 

On Wednesday I gave a quick rundown on how to define your Right People (aka, your Target Market, those people who want what you sell) and today I’d like to share some more sources for diving deeper.

 

For starters, I first heard the term “right people” from my friend Havi, in this post or maybe this one. If you are even a little shy about sharing your thing and growing your business, her blog is full of help for dealing with all the stuff that comes up when we do our thing.

 

“Resist the temptation to be too general in the hopes of getting a larger slice of the market. That's like firing 10 bullets in random directions instead of aiming just one dead center of the mark--expensive and dangerous”

-Entrepreneur, Target Market

 

Still not clear on who your Right People are? Check out this Inc article on narrowing your Target Market.

 

But remember: it’s not about only defining them - knowing your Right People means that you start talking to them. You speak their language, listen to their stories, and share your message.

 

Who are your Right People?

Tell me about them in the comments.

 

by Sarah Von

Snapshot:: Wraptillion

 

This is a guest post by Kelly Jones of Wraptillion. She was raised by encouraging entrepreneurs, engineers and artists. Naturally, she started her own jewelry design business, transforming American-manufactured hardware components and titanium aerospace industry waste into elegant industrial jewelry. Wraptillion jewelry is proudly carried by museum shops, galleries and boutiques, who adore its unique, comfortable style.

 

What is your more prized creation - the coolest thing you've ever made, with your own nimble hands?

 

I’m always most excited about the newest thing, so I’d say the forthcoming Scarab Bracelet Encasing the steel hardware in titanium rings, with everything held in place by tension, yet keeping it flexible – it was a challenge! I’m wearing the test piece constantly these days to test durability and comfort, and am really looking forward to offering this design soon in a bracelet and necklace.

 

 

What is the worst piece of business advice you've ever been given?

 

“No one makes a living selling art.” Hah! I’ve found it much more helpful to focus on making things happen than to assume my goals aren’t possible from the beginning.

 

 

What was the biggest entrepreneurial epiphany of your career?

 

That I love the business side as well as the art, and that I’m good at both. I truly enjoy making connections with retailers who delight in my jewelry and want to pass their delight along to their customers.
 For me, business is about those connections, and also about fair trade: just as I take pride in paying another artist fairly for their beautiful work, I am proud when someone appreciates my work and pays fairly for it. Business should be celebrated as an artistic community; I don’t enjoy making art in a vacuum. And I don’t find that good business people must be terrible artists, just as good artists don’t have to be terrible business people.

 

 

Give us your top 3 indie artisans/designers to watch.

 

Madame Scodioli:Wonderful scent combinations and extremely clever gender-neutral products, perfectly packaged in her own inimitable style (Laudanum is a favorite)

 

A Need To Create: Colorful and oh so fun, this button jewelry is artfully designed and beautifully made, with tremendously wide appeal (I adore my custom bracelet, made from my grandmother's buttons)

 

Fossdesign: Creator of my logo and other printed pieces, and an absolute genius at interpreting a business style into art; also creates amazing posters and cards, occasionally made available for sale

 

 

If you could offer one sage snippet of wisdom to aspiring designers, crafters & artisans, what would it be?

 

Not to be afraid to truly try. I think sometimes we’re all afraid to put too much of ourselves into our work – what if we give it our all, and fail anyway? But I’ve found that every time I truly throw myself into things, new possibilities open so quickly and so numerously that it really becomes more about choosing the best path for me, not pure success or failure. The trick is, it only happens if you truly try.


Thanks so much for sharing, Kelly!

 


Sarah Von is a Vianza contributing columnist and interview wrangler.  If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll be privy to all sort of tweets about small business, good ideas and, um, cheese.

 

by Tara Swiger

Indie Business 101: Right People

 

This is the fifth installment of our ongoing  Indie Business 101 series.

So far we’ve had Getting StartedTools of the Trade, Scaling Production and Marketing Basics.

 

Last week, I said that marketing was sharing your message with your Right People, in absolutely everything you do. Traditional marketers call this your Target Market, but my friend Havi coined the term “Right People” and I just prefer it so much. You’re Right Person is  your ideal customer. It’s the person who loves what you make, has the money to buy and then tells all her friends about it.

 

Your Right People are the people who will support you and share your thing and celebrate with you.The people who will be delighted when you share your true youness in your work.

I do not mean people with the most money. Or the most power. Or the people who will tell you what to change.

 

Your Right People may change as you change, but you will always have Right People.

You can sell offensive, ridiculous or downright crazy stuff and it will be just perfect for the Right People.

You never don't have Right People, they just might not have found you yet.

 

The only way to create something that doesn't have a Right Person is to create something bland, generic or vague. When you create things that don't come from your own strengths and passion (your youness!), you'll have a hard time finding your Right People....because no one gets excited about mediocrity.

 

Sidenote: if you don’t like the people who seem to love your work now (or if they’re always complaining about the price) - look at the message you’re sending and where you’re sending it. Are you aiming at the not-quite-right person?

 

How to find your Right People

 

1. Get clear on your message and the benefits of your thing (see last week’s email)

 

2. Communicate this everywhere on your site and in your descriptions.

 

3. Define the person who will need this. 

Where else does she shop?

What does she love?

How does she talk?

    (I’ve got worksheets to help you do this in this class)

 

4. Figure out where she is. 

What is she reading, listening to, or watching?

Where is she the moment she decides to buy what you sell?

Where does she go to look for your thing?

 

5. Go there.

 

Once you go there, where they are, you listen to them. You find out how they talk, what they’re searching for and how your thing changes their life. You ask questions. You make connections. You, above all, show them that you are a real person and that you are longing to serve them.

 

Who are your Right People? Where are they at? Share in the comments!

 


Tara Swiger is our Community Wrangler, a crafter of independence, and a Starship Captain. She’s right in the middle of a writing a book on Marketing for IndieBiz’s for Cooperative Press and she’d love to distract herself by hanging out with you on Twitter.

 

 

by Sarah Von

On The Reality of Working With Artisans A World Away

 

This is a guest post from Harper Poe. For four years, she has been leading Proud Mary, an online shop that brings gorgeous handmade goods from Guatemala and South Africa to consumers all over the globe.  Lovely throw pillows, sweet bags and neck ties + fair wages and professional development = win/win.  You can befriend her on Twitter or Facebook.

 

The most challenging part of my business is timing. Working with artisans in developing countries is extremely rewarding but with the rewards come a healthy dose of stress in regards to getting the products from the producer’s to our warehouse in time to send to retailers.

 


For example, we work with three different weaving groups, two sewing cooperative and a pom-pom cooperative in Guatemala. Our production goes through the following phases:  weaving fabric (this takes up to three weeks), at the same time the pom-poms makers start putting together by hand the pom-poms, then sending the fabric and finished pom-poms to the sewing groups to make the final products (bags, pillows), delivering final products to warehouse in Guatemala City, then to our storage facility in Charleston, SC. 

 


With each extra step there is room for something to go wrong.  In Guatemala most of our artisans take buses for town to town to deliver their part of the pie. Sometimes roads are down or buses are not running. This is all part of it so; to alleviate stress the key is to add time when you’re giving retailers a lead-time.  They should understand that unlike producing in a factory all of our goods are hand made throughout the entire production process. Humans make errors, humans have personal emergencies, humans forget.  Handmade is not perfect.  We will always try our best to deliver our goods on time but recognizing and appreciating the fact that “things happen” and it will get done (maybe not according to your initial plan) will keep you sane. 

 

Some practical ways to manage the process is to have a facilitator on the ground in the country where you are producing.  Our facilitators keep up with our production, update us on the status of our orders, and help arrange shipping.  We just started working with a small weaving group in the highlands of Peru.  Our facilitator is an amazing young lady who discovered the cooperative while doing a grad school project on environmental issues in Peru.  She was so taken by the group of weavers that she decided to work with them seeking out designers to collaborate with and get their goods out of Peru to other markets.  She is extremely passionate but also extremely efficient and organized, a perfect combination.

 


 


 

Sarah Von is a Vianza contributing columnist and interview wrangler.  If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll be privy to all sort of tweets about small business, good ideas and, um, cheese.

 

 

by Sarah Von

Snapshot:: Luminology

 

Inspired by the modern, peaceful beauty of over-sized cement fire pits, Angela Sands set out to design a miniature version to bring her love for the outdoors inside the four walls of her home. With porcelain as the vessel and scented soy wax for fuel, a large wooden wick creates the soothing crackle we’ve all grown to love. The result, Luminology,  is a unique and natural candle that engages multiple senses and inspires celebration in the everyday.  You can befriend her on Facebook and Twitter.


What is your more prized creation - the coolest thing you've ever made, with your own nimble hands?

 

What comes to mind are two art installations I did kind of last minute - by the seat of my pants. I framed a large square piece of sod and hung it in an indie art gallery. Super simple yet it had a lot of impact. I thought it looked great in contrast to all the paintings.

I did another installation around that same time with fine gauge string. I wrapped the string, starting at one floor-to-ceiling column to another that spanned maybe 20 feet, spacing the string about 2" vertically all the way up. It created a wall you couldn't see right away but once you noticed it, it stopped you in your tracks.

 

 

What is the worst piece of business advice you've ever been given?

 

I don't feel I've received bad business advice thus far. I've received a lot of great business advice! The advice I need seems to shows up for me when I need it to. Maybe I have received bad advice and I just haven't realized it yet!

 

 

What was the biggest entrepreneurial epiphany of your career?

 

The most important thing I've learned thus far is that, in any given situation, no matter how utterly hopeless or complicated things may seem, the simple act of making a decision will always move you forward. Decision making has been the hardest thing for me to feel confident about. I finally did something radical and decided that there is no such thing as a bad decision. Even deciding to do nothing is valid. From this point of view, I am free to make decisions without fear. Things move along quite nicely.

 

 

Give us your top 3 indie artisans/designers to watch.

CasaMidi

Lisa Jones

Ann Hartley

 

If you could offer one sage snippet of wisdom to aspiring designers, crafters & artisans, what would it be?

 

I have three:

1. Give what was freely given to you (advice, inspiration, time, etc.). In other words, share!

2. Realize that people buy the story behind the product before they buy the product itself. It's usually not about the money.

3. Make everything as simple as possible. But not simpler. ~ Einstein


Thanks for sharing, Angela!

 


Sarah Von is a Vianza contributing columnist and interview wrangler.  If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll be privy to all sort of tweets about small business, good ideas and, um, cheese.

 

 

by Tara Swiger

Masterlist: Marketing Basics

 

This week I wrote about  the very first steps of marketing your indie business crafting your message. Today I’d like to share the best advice from around the web on making a clear, concise marketing message that can guide everything else you do.

 

CopyBlogger’s Marketing Basics include describing features, not benefits and making your marketing indespensible.

 

Improve your message by starting with why.

 

Megan Auman has a great tip:

Use customer feedback to refine your marketing message”

 

And if you’re thinking about changing up your message, remember that Seth Godin warns:

“Most of the time, creative entrepreneurs lose interest long before their marketing message loses its power.”

 

Write it, refine it and find new ways to share it.

And while you’re at it, share your message (or your favorite link of the week), in the comments.

 


Tara Swiger is our Community Wrangler, a crafter of independence, and a Starship Captain. She’s right in the middle of a writing a book on Marketing for IndieBiz’s for Cooperative Press and she’d love to distract herself by hanging out with you on Twitter.

 

by Sarah Von

What Indie Means To Me #2

 

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about Indie Business in all its incarnations.  We shared what indie means to us and then we asked some of our favorite designers and artists what ‘indie’ means to them.


Indie means you’re the boss! It also means you’re the boss? Set your own schedule!  Wait, who scheduled you on Saturday night?  Oh yeah YOU.  Miss out on girl’s night out!?  Probably.  But you might just have a free afternoon for one of your friends or family when they really need you.  It means shopping the clearance rack today, so one day you’ll be able forget about money woes. Indie means following your heart and working harder/smarter/faster than you ever have in your whole life to make things your never thought possible happen - every day.

 - Shelly Saber, GS Lillian Jewelry



Indie to me means freedom, individuality, originality, entrepreneurialism and independence. It means celebrating the beauty of imperfection and appreciating the time spent making something. It means starting up a new and exhilarating way of making money. Every single thing you earn is from someone who wants to buy something YOU have made. Isn't that amazing? What a joyful feeling, to hear someone say 'I love your work'. Your creation, from your brain, hands and heart.

 - Helen Smith, Nell Clothing



To me indie means creating and running a business without a big corporate shadow, and comes with the freedom and ability to switch and change with the tides. Indie means putting names to faces, and having that personal relationship with customers that corporations just can't match.

 - Kim Lawler, Finest Imaginary



‘Indie’ is about connections. When you shop indie you know the creators of the work you're buying. They’re often the ones handing you their product or emailing you a tracking number. You know an indie biz owner's name, face, and contact details, they don’t hide behind corporate speak and layers of management. An indie biz always has the fingerprints of the owner on it.

 - Kim Laurenson, Cupcakes and Mace

 


Sarah Von is a Vianza contributing columnist and interview wrangler.  If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll be privy to all sort of tweets about small business, good ideas and, um, cheese.

 

by Tara Swiger

Indie Business 101 :: Marketing Basics

 

This is the fourth installment of our ongoing  Indie Business 101 series.So far we’ve had Getting Started, Tools of the TradeScaling Production

 

Marketing is, simply, communicating your message to the people who want what you’re selling. Marketing is every bit of communication you do, it’s the crafting of the message, and it’s the deciding (and reaching out to), your Right People. Once you know the message and the people, the rest is choosing the right marketing tools and employing them (like yourwebsite, Facebook, events, SEO, the press, even customer service)

 

Everything you do is marketing. From naming your business, to scaling production, to taking photos, to choosing retailers to carry your lines. Any printed (or digital) thing your company produces is marketing material. Even your tags. Especially your price. The heart of marketing is to make it fit seamlessly with everything you’re already doing and let it help you make all new decisions.

 

Each bit of marketing (whether you mean it to or not) communicates something to your people. Higher prices, being in fancier boutiques and using luxurious materials creates one kind of message. Discounting, impersonal invoices, and slow customer service communicate another message.

 

The first step is to determine what you want the message to be. What do you want to communicate to buyers (both retailers and the end customer)? What is your company about? What’s it’s values, priorities, and points of pride? What universe does it exist in?

 

If you’re not sure where to start, start with this:

 

I provide {the experience your product provides} to {type of person who loves it} with {what you sell}.

 

For example, for my yarn company, I might say:

I provide happiness via color + texture to curious knitters with eco-friendly, handmade yarn.

Now, you can see how that message comes through in the product itself:

 

 

and in everything else I do: the website, the goofy contests, even the pictures and words on a salespage.

 

There’s your message!

 

The next part of marketing is to make sure you’re sharing your message with the Right People, and we’ll talk more about that next Wednesday.

 

What’s your message? Share it in the comments!

 


Tara Swiger is our Community Wrangler, a crafter of independence, and a Starship Captain. She’s right in the middle of a writing a book on Marketing for IndieBiz’s for Cooperative Press and she’d love to distract herself by hanging out with you on Twitter.

 

by Sarah Von

Snapshot:: Nell Smith Textile

 

Nell Smith is an award winning surface designer, creating fresh, modern prints by hand using traditional silkscreen techniques. Simplicity is key to her design aesthetic: inspired by Japanese cartoons and Scandinavian textiles. Her bright and friendly designs adorn a variety of products from bespoke organic cotton children’s clothing to contemporary homewares.


What is your more prized creation - the coolest thing you've ever made, with your own nimble hands?

 

I hand cut all the stencils I print with and always feel most proud of the most complex ones, like the record player or typewriter. This isn't always reflected by the popularity of a print though - my bestselling design has to be the giraffe!

 

 

What is the worst piece of business advice you've ever been given?

 

This is a tricky one! I've been really lucky to get some great advice for free through a mentor and a business advisor. Ceramicist and lighting designer C.J O'Neill helped me when I first set up my business with advice on costing and pricing, which was a real eye-opener!

Paul Shambrook from Business Link NorthWest also advised me assisted in rewriting my business plan. I've been fortunate. I think the worst business advice has probably come from myself - I made all the usual mistakes in terms of pricing my work too low and having crappy photographs. My business is relatively new however and I'm learning all the time!

 

 

What was the biggest entrepreneurial epiphany of your career?

 

Getting a studio at Manchester Craft and Design Centre was a huge breakthrough! After years of uncertainty, doubt and struggle, everything seemed to fall into place. I finally finished my Masters in Textiles after having to take some time out and immediately the studio came up. Total serendipity.

Having to write a business plan and preparing for the interview really focused my mind and I was (and still am!) very proud to get the studio and to be surrounded by established designer makers.  Having a support network around me is so important. I spend half the week working from home and after that I'm desperate to get back into the studio!

 

 

Give us your top 3 indie artisans/designers to watch.

 

I'm going to have to big up my studio mates! They're a talented bunch.

 

Jane Blease, stunning handmade lampshades
Lily Greenwood (aka Liz Evans), gorgeous butterfly collages and paintings

Kathryn Edwards, narrative canvases


If you could offer one sage snippet of wisdom to aspiring designers, crafters & artisans, what would it be?

 

Keep looking for a way in. I tried freelancing and went to many interviews for jobs I wasn't right for before realising that I would be much happier working for myself. Also - listen to your customers! Lots of people asked me if I would print my designs onto babywear, so I started doing it and it's now my bestselling range. Thank you lovely customers!


Thanks for sharing, Nell!



 

Sarah Von is a Vianza contributing columnist and interview wrangler.  If you follow her on Twitter, you’ll be privy to all sort of tweets about small business, good ideas and, um, cheese.

 

why do so many product lines fail? Too many designers, indie retailers, & suppliers rely on creativity alone—and guesswork. This blog is all about taking the guesswork out of making what you love, so you can make a living. With tips! And checklists! Read more about our not-so-covert mission.

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