Pick Up Sticks and Craft Business Heroes

As we told you last week, we’ve been included in a couple of books, Craft Business Heroes and The Craft Business Handbook. These are great books, and we like to think that maybe, just maybe, the info we provided to the author Alison McNicol will be helpful to some crafty creative person out there who’s trying to make their dreams come true.

Pick Up Sticks - the early days (at one of our first retail shows)

The stuff about the early days of Pick Up Sticks is fun to read.  Here’s an excerpt from Craft Business Heroes about that time in our career:

Alison:  You each had your own successful careers before joining forces to launch Pick Up Sticks. Whose idea was it?

Sabrina:  “Glena had already opened a jewelry store, and I told her that I had an idea for how to combine photos and jewelry, and wanted to know if she would be willing to try to sell some of my pieces. She said yes, so I made about 20 photo charms; they got a lot of attention in her store.

At the time, I was living in Arizona and Glena was living in New Mexico, and I heard about a wholesale show. We applied, were accepted, and we quickly realized that we had no idea what we were doing! We didn’t know how to write an order, we used waitress ticket books. We had no displays, so we took antiques from my house.

We didn’t know industry terminology like minimum order, lead time, net 30, or exclusivity, so we had no rules. We wrote a couple of thousand dollars worth of orders, and thought, “we’re rich!” But there was the heavy realization that we now had to make all of this jewelry ourselves! Let’s just say that Glena and I stayed up until 3am for weeks, there was lots of vodka consumed, and we never got out of our pajamas!”

Alison:  Describe the early days of your business?

Sabrina:  “We were flying by the seat of our pants! The learning curve was like a roller-coaster ride. Traveling to cities where we had never been, going to market, it was fun, exciting and terrifying all at the same time!”

Pick Up Sticks girls (and Bunny) in New York in 2003

While the early stories are fun, the practical info provided in Craft Business Heroes and The Craft Business Handbook is invaluable.  Alison presents 30 different crafting entrepreneurs’ take on how to make it out there in the retail and wholesale jungle.  Here’s another excerpt of Sabrina’s interview:

Alison:  What have been your experiences, from your very first show, right up until now? Any tips for those considering their first big trade show?

Sabrina:  “Buyers are at market to make important investment decisions, so provide them with helpful information about your line. These are professional, intelligent business people, and they don’t need to be pressured.

Do not “Sell”—EDUCATE.  When you are tempted to “sell”, ask questions instead. What kind of a store do you have? Have you seen our line before? Do you carry anything similar? I know this seems like suicide, but encourage buyers to comparison shop. Ask them to let you know if they find a product that is similar to yours, that is better than yours. This will give you invaluable feedback on your pricing and quality.

Think of your booth backdrop as a billboard. Use beautiful graphics, showing your company name and clear product photographs. Use handouts sparingly, and think small. We give out a postcard with lovely product photography and contact information. We highlight our online catalog. Printing a full catalog is expensive, damn it. Plus, buyers do not want to carry a lot of bulky paperwork.

Glena and Sabrina with Greg and Dilynn from Language Art, two great vendor friends at the Atlanta market,

Have a current customer list; cut the dead wood out before every tradeshow. Serious buyers need to know if there is someone in their area that already carries your line.

Use the lulls in traffic to network with other exhibitors, and for goodness sake be nice to them. Better yet, make friends with other exhibitors, and refer buyers back and forth. Other exhibitors have become our greatest mentors over the years.”

The interview goes on for several pages in Craft Business Heroes.  We’re pretty sure you’re going to want to grab a copy of both books immediately.

At Pick Up Sticks, we believe every creative person out there should find a way to do what they’re best at, believe deeply in what they’re creating, and then figure out how to profit from that skill.  It worked for us, after a lot of hard work, crazy mistakes and botched ideas. We’re living proof that the goofiest plans, hatched at 3 a.m. over a Corona in Sabrina’s kitchen, can turn into a life’s dream.

Published in: on February 8, 2012 at 8:55 am  Leave a Comment  

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