Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gallery of the Month : Allanstand & the Southern Highland Craft Guild

Q: Why did you decide to open a gallery? How long have you been open?
A: Allanstand Craft Shop has roots dating back to 1908 when Francis Goodrich opened Allanstand Shop on Main St in Asheville, NC. Today Allanstand Craft Shop is located at the Folk Art Center and is one of the five shops of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. The Guild shops represent artists who live in the southern Appalachian mountains, from Maryland to Alabama.

Q: Describe your gallery, the work you carry, etc...
A: Allanstand Craft Shop exhibits the finest traditional and contemporary crafts made in the southern Appalachians. All work is made by Guild members who are juried into the organization based on the mastery of their craft. Allanstand features jewelry, wood, pottery, natural materials, metal, glass and mixed media.

Q: What is your price range of the products you sell?
A: Prices range from $10 to $10,000. This wide range offers something for everyone-whether it be a handcrafted keepsake from their trip to the mountains or an art quilt surely to become a family heirloom. The bestselling price range is typically under $100.

Q: Do you have special events?
A: Allanstand Craft Shop is located at the Folk Art Center which hosts special events throughout the year. The events include Fiber Day, Clay Day, Wood Day and Heritage Weekend. Guild artists share knowledge of their craft through demonstrations and hands on activities. The events often include live music and traditional entertainment such as clogging and storytelling.
You can find an event schedule here.

Q: Do you offer special services?
A: Yes. Allanstand offers the following special services: shipping, gift wrapping for the holidays, gift certificates.

Q: Do you sell online?
A: The Southern Highland Craft Guild operates an online store at www.southernhighlandguild.org
Q: Who is your customer base?
A: Located on the Blue Ridge Parkway Allanstand Craft Shop is a favorite stop for tourists to the western North Carolina mountains. Conveniently located just half a mile from Hwy 70 in east Asheville it is also a great spot for locals to find unique gifts. Given the Guild’s history and reputation Allanstand also appeals to collectors, whether they are searching for a traditional white oak basket or a contemporary glass sculpture.

Q: How do you promote your artists / store?
A: Various forms of media are used to share the mission of the Guild including advertising in newspapers, magazines, television and online at www.craftguild.org. We work closely with the Chamber of Commerce to familiarize visitors with the area and all that the Folk Art Center and Allanstand have to offer.

Q: Where do you find your artists / product?
A: All artists are members of the Southern Highland Craft Guild. Each Guild shop manager evaluates members’ work based on how well it will be received in their particular gallery. While drawing from the same membership, all five shops have their own uniqueness and personality.

Q: What is hot right now?

A: Scarves, greenware, functional pottery
Q: What do you think the next wave or trend is?
A: Navy blue is the “new black” with home d├ęcor. Eco-friendly items such as natural baskets, fiber wearables.

Q: What changes have been made from when you first opened the business?
A: While deeply rooted in tradition the Guild evolves to meet the marketing needs of an ever changing membership. The Guild’s mission is to bring together the crafts and craftspeople of the Southern Highlands for the benefit of shared resources, education, marketing and conservation.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Valentine's Day Jewelry

I'm really not one for holiday themed jewelry or hearts, however I always bring these Abacus Hearts Pendants out at this time of the year. They are currently available in my Etsy shop for a limited time. See them here."How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death." -by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday at the Bench...BMAC prep

I have been busy getting ready for the upcoming Buyers Market...replenishing my pillaged sample set and designing new work. I always feel a little ADD at this time of year...a huge list of "to do's" and too many ideas going in too many directions. This week I have been (trying) to concentrate on adding to my Marquise Collection and am really excited about some of the results. I still have tons to do and nothing is complete yet, but here is a sample of what I've started:
These bracelets are quickly becoming some of new favorites...especially the forged one! I wore it all day yesterday to test the balance and it is perfect...so simple, graphic and elegant.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Going to NYC

For years I have been wondering about the NY International Gift Show: "Is it a show I should do? Will my work & price point fit in? Will I be exposed to a different market?" And within the past two years, I have noticed more and more of my peers participating in the Handmade® section of the show. So, I decided to take a quick trip to NYC to see the show in person next week! I will have a few extra hours in the city, so I plan to go to the new Museum of Arts and Design and have drinks with some friends...I'm totally excited! I'll let you know what I think of the show when I return...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

looking BACK so I can look AHEAD...2008 to 2009

I feel like I walked through 2008 in a fog. It was a personal year of sorrowful lows and wonderful highs...and a business year of significant achievement and constant self-doubt. I have been wondering what happened to 2008 and what are my expectations for 2009. Luckily, I recently discovered Alyson Stanfield's Art Marketing Action Newsletter and her annual "Acknowledge Yourself and Celebrate" checklist via Margaux Lange's blog. As Margaux said in her post, "It's easy to forget sometimes how much we accomplish over the course of a year....Try answering these questions for yourself as a way to feel inspired about your progress before moving on to writing your goal lists for 2009." So I did just that!

How did you promote your art and your online presence?
I really concentrated on creating an online presence this year...
  • opened my Etsy shop
  • started my blog
  • occasional contributing author on the Etsymetal blog
  • opened a flickr account
  • was accepted onto trunkt
  • invited member on Handmade Contemporary Jewellery
  • joined facebook, crafthaus and twitter
  • launched my new website (still working on some glitches)
  • mailed postcards to craft show retail customers, informing them about my new website, Etsy shop & blog.
  • answered a few blog interviews
  • upgraded my lup rocks designer account (this happened at the very end of the year...but it still was 2008!)
I also did my usual print advertising plus some new ads...
  • advertised in NICHE magazine and the Buyers' Market of American Craft's show guide
  • participated in co-op advertisement in American Craft magazine (with 9 other artists)
  • participated in co-op advertisement (for Etsy) in BUST magazine
  • participated in co-op advertisement in American Style magazine (with 3 of my galleries)
  • participated in co-op advertisement in New York magazine (with CBL Fine Art)
What technological skills did you learn or improve?
  • blogging / a tiny bit of html
  • refined my digital photography and Photoshop skills
How many people did you add to your mailing list?
  • I added both retail & wholesale customers to my mail list...but I no idea how many.
Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?
  • Frank Stankus of the Jeweler's Resource Bureau (via emails)
  • Brian Clarke : amazing master silversmith (via smithing workshop in Ireland)
  • Steve Midget : mokume gane jeweler extraordinaire (via Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show)
  • several members of the Etsymetal team : always supportive, challenging and an invaluable resource for knowledge and inspiration!!!
Whom did you mentor or help out?
  • I helped Alyson1234 and many others on Etsy with wholesaling issues, resources, etc.
Did you create a new business card, portfolio, or other marketing piece?
  • utilized new logo (which was designed 11/2007) on business checks, address labels, invoices & letterhead
  • developed a tagline
  • logo promo stickers (for jewelry boxes, envelopes, etc.)
  • stock # labels w/ logo (for wholesale orders)
  • postcards ( as mentioned above)
What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
  • sinking & crimp raising
What did you try that was completely new?
  • crimp raising
What did you try that was uncomfortable, but helped you grow?
  • opened an Etsy shop (I was concerned that my work would not fit in and that my wholesale customers would not be happy that I was selling online)
What worthy cause did you support in some way?
  • several small monetary donations to various charities
What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
  • National Museum of Ireland (the Archaeology & Decorative Arts sections)
  • The Georgia Museum of Art (The Ring Shows: Then & Now and Putting the Band Back Together)
What resources did you discover?
  • Gem Show in Asheville, NC & several suppliers that were exhibiting there
  • I also discovered many resources that I haven't used yet, such as ponoko...

How did you improve your studio habits?
  • didn't
What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
What seminars/workshops/lectures did you attend or teach?
How did you enhance your office or studio environment?
  • didn't
What organizations were you involved with?
  • Etsymetal !!!!
  • ACC (membership only - no active participation)
  • Southern Highland Craft Guild (membership only - no active participation)
What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
  • 2008 NICHE Awards Finalist (in 2 catagories)
What articles were written about your work?
  • INDESIGN magazine, “neck and neck” July 2008
  • INSTORE magazine, “men’s jewelry” June 2008
  • NICHE magazine ,“Sparkle, Dazzle and Shine” Spring 2008
  • Jewelry Resource Bureau website, "What Works: Selling Your Goods on the Etsy Craft Site" written by Frank Stankus
  • and several blog nods....
What exhibits, grants, contest, etc. did you submit your art to?
  • NICHE Awards
  • Saul Bell Design Awards
Where did you save a wad of money?
  • I cut back on hired help (regular employees and sub-contractors). For the first time in 7 years, I had only a few weeks of hired help . This was a good and a bad thing...
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2008?
  • I opened my Etsy shop! As I said eariler, I was worried and doubtful about Etsy. However, it ended up benefiting my career in many ways:
  1. I sold well above my goal on Etsy
  2. I received a few engagement ring / wedding band commissions through Etsy
  3. I gained a great wholesale account through Etsy
  4. I discovered and was accepted into Etsymetal (an invaluable resource of information, inspiration and friendship)
  5. learned about blogging, trunkt, flickr, twitter and crafthaus; all via Etsy or Etsymetal
  6. I was interviewed by Frank Stankus of the Jewelry Resource Bureau about my experiences with Etsy