The Migration of a Craft Business to Online Marketing

Guest post, from Russell Pool…

It could feel like a figure of speech– being one of the nation’s premier handcrafters of wood precious jewelry boxes, along with an on-line entrepreneur who e-tails the majority of my items. The advancement of the handcrafting world and also its migration to internet marketing could sound like an odd juxtaposition, but in fact, has become a significant element to the sustainability of the craft sector in the US. I ought to recognize; my company wouldn’t be here today if I had not made the change. If you are in the craft business and have not produced an online presence, read on.

A little background might be helpful, as my job path was rather unique. In the mid-80’s I left law school and also moved to a monastery in the northeast. Lucky for me, it had a surprisingly well-appointed woodshop. What began as a contemplative leisure activity quickly advanced into a vehicle for me to discover and also show my connection to spirit. As I participated in a quiet and also reflective state, information that could escape others’ notification ended up being prominent and also required my attention. My love for the spiritual qualities of equilibrium, appeal, and getting things “naturally right” helped me via the difficult years of mastering the disciplines of woodworking.

My passion for woodworking quickly found an outlet when I was asked to develop some designs for jewelry boxes for a pal. As I explored numerous style attributes for the fashion jewelry boxes, I started thinking about the possibility of earning a living by developing containers for precious items. A vision of making outrageously beautiful pieces that would that would touch individuals’s hearts and also remind them of their inner lives started to take hold in my mind. In 1994 I relocated to Durango, Colorado and also started my business, Russell Pool Fine Woodworking. My prototypes for jewelry boxes rapidly became prominent as I began to wholesale them to luxury craft galleries and also galleries around the United States.

In order to get into as many galleries as possible, I attended many juried wholesale shows, such as the Rosen Team in Philly and also the American Craft Association show in Baltimore. I likewise went to some local retail shows in the southwest. While I achieved success in obtaining my goal of having my boxes marketed in the best galleries in the nation, I found that in spite of hard work, long hrs, as well as impressive product, it was challenging to make ends meet and to justify the quantity of individual and economic investment.

In 1999 the world wide web, as it was called then, was just starting to be taken seriously as an advertising tool. I began to envision what it might be like to sell straight to the client rather than through galleries. While it concerned me to surrender the safety of the standing orders each show produced, this business to business advertising and marketing model and the high margins simply were not sustainable. I determined to develop a website and my spouse and I collaborated to style, compose copy as well as develop product photographs. I really felt a bit like a traveler in the New Globe, not a lot of maps and also nobody in my situation to request guidance from. However this business case for the site was convincing– offering my products directly to customers at two times their wholesale price made the margins a whole lot a lot more practical. The site went live that autumn as well as I spent most of the Christmas period on the phone selling items — my website provided solid financial outcomes. And the rest is past history.

Here in Durango I still invest a bunch of time focused on the work I like most — making sensational wood products, getting the details straight, and also speaking to customers that are trying to find something nicer than the shabby, machine-made designs that occupy most of the internet. I have actually likewise had to find out a whole lot– regarding SEO, as an example, as well as how you can work with web designers and other marketing experts that can make sure that I continue to utilize cutting edge modern technology, within the tradition of handcrafting. Handcrafting and online e-tailing– it is an odd juxtaposition but without it, my job as a handcrafter would have been curtailed many years ago.