Felting as a Business?
I hope you don't mind all these questions I'm asking but I love to pick peope's brains when I get the chance. I find I learn so much that way. Could you tell us about how you developed your felting into a business? I know that there are a lot of people who do this as a hobby but would like to go further with it and develop felting into a business but they aren't sure how. Perhaps you could go over things like what venues you sell your work in, how you got into teaching, how you determine pricing on your figures, whether you sell wholesale/retail or both, whether you do any marketing/PR/advertising and any other helpful business tidbits.
Thanks so much!!
I know you have been waiting patiently for this one!
I have a small business, Tiberose Designs. Presently I teach nationally and private lessons in my studio. I sell my work when teaching, through my website and invitational gallery exhibits. My pieces are one of a kind. I do not do production work nor do I sell wholesale. I do accept commisions on occasion.
Here is the quick version of my feltmaking beginning.........
The business side to all of this happened after spending two years teaching myself the art of felting. I took a few intro felting classes and then had the opportunity to take a class with Pat Spark making a cone-shaped gnome. In her class we rolled wool into a cone shape, wraping flesh colored wool around the facial area and topping it off with a colored hat. The base wool was gottland. The cone shape was wet felted and the face was needle sculpted using needle and thread. We added details with embroidery floss (teeth, eyes, etc.). Pat introduced me to the felting needle. She gave me several to try. At the time folks were using them to attach wool locks to felt. I loved the tool and immediately my mind was reeling with ideas. I stopped by the next day to show her what I had made...a witch(it was close to Halloween time). She gave me a few more felting needles to replace the ones I had broken and I was off on my dimentional felting journey. I was asked to teach knitting at our local sheep and wool shop and progressed to feltmaking. I am a natural when it comes to teaching having taught printmaking and papermaking to undergrads at Graduate school and substitute teaching art in our local school districts. I was asked to teach at Doll Community College by Gloria Winer (my dear fairy godmother) and haven't stopped teaching since.......I have been fortunate to have enough teaching opportunities come to me with no need to market myself. A very unusual situation indeed.
Presently I am not doing any craft shows. For several years I had a booth at the Rochester Museum and Science Holiday Exhibit. It is a well attended show and was quite profitable until 2002 when our economy took a nosedive.
As you can see my business is far from traditional and yet still evolving.
Presently I work in a doctor's office three days a week(giving us security during this economic time and flexiblility to teach), one to two days a week for studio time, care for my aging father with Alzheimer's one-two days each week and lead a very active life with the rest of my family, husband, son, and daughter which includes a menagrie of animals(alas no sheep or goats). I have a wonderful supportive family! Busy I am and juggle I must!
I do hope I answered your questions.
Deborah - Thanks so much! You sound like you need about 10 pairs of hands to get all that done I find it interesting how each path is different but the process of creating ends up being the vital key. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer such a long question!