Any Norwich Designer / Makers Out There?

7 01 2010

I’ve got a problem. It’s an interesting problem, so having the problem is not a problem, but I’m having trouble figuring out why none of the approaches I’m using is working.

You see, I’ve got excess studio space, and I can’t use all the equipment I have in it at once, and neither can Ruth Solomon or Marion Steele, who are already associated with the incubator.

I keep talking to individual local designer / makers (as I come upon  them) about the incubator, about what it has to offer in terms of studio space (light, warmth, water, equipment, collaboration, etc. etc.) and about putting their work in the sales space of the incubator. But they aren’t coming by, and they aren’t putting their work in the space, and I need to find out why and fix it.

All through December, I thought they were probably out and about doing shows every week and too busy with that and the holidays to come over and check us out. But the first week of January is almost over, and I have e-mailed several designer makers (OK, not all the ones I originally contacted….yet) and …nothing.

I need to know where to look to find enough of them to fill up the space and to really stock the sales space with a variety of work. I tell everyone who comes into the space, and they all know someone appropriate. I’ve heard of people doing all kinds of work I would love to have in the shop, handmade paper, screen printed fabric and home furnishing, marvelous hand-tied dyeing, felting,… the list goes on and on.

What do I need to offer and who do I need to offer it to? Obviously, I haven’t come up with the right answers so far. Would you all please consider offering me a suggestion? Tell me a designer / maker I should talk to, tell me someone who is looking for studio space. If you work from home, tell me what you would be looking for if you decided to get a studio space. If you did shows before Christmas and have work left over, why is putting it at Pocktorian not something you’re motivated to take action on?

Amended: It’s amazing how writing on this blog inspires me to take actions I probably should have take a long time ago. I just wrote the Costume and Textile Association to join (after knocking myself on the forehead several times while saying “Duh!”).


Strategies, Strategies

22 12 2009

No sooner had I gone to bed tonight than my brain started popping out ideas like popcorn. (One of the ideas was that I should buy a torch [flashlight, Americans] to put beside my bed for writing down such ideas. I already have a notepad that could be moved there. Can I write off the torch as a business expense, do you suppose?)

For Ruth, who despairs of getting started for lack of start-up funds to buy what she calls “real fabric” but has a bag of scraps: The book I brought in the other day about the construction of all kinds of flowers from ribbons. Why not from strips of fabric? Or why not individual petals of different fabrics?

To ward off the “neggies” born of the folk who peer into our space like mice and quickly disappear if spoken to or invited in: Our major selling day was supposed to be Saturday anyhow, the rest of the days for work. And the rest of the floor outside our space is freezing. So why not close the door to the “salesroom” during the week allowing us to work warm in it if we please? Put a sign on the door stating our hours and that people are welcome to come in. (There’s already a sign describing what we are, and several around the door talking of classes and such.) Lets see how many just can’t resist looking in to see whats behind that closed door. And when they do, theyll have an immediate positive response to the heat if nothing else.

For market research and to get people upstairs from downstairs and in from the street and such: Design a 6-per-page or 4-per-page flyer. Every hour we’re open, one of us goes down or out to hand out 10 of these, each time to a particular population which we’ve chosen, marking the flyers. What groups? Men only, women only, women looking over the other clothing offerings, women looking at textiles, shoppers coming out of the nearby fabric shop, shoppers coming out of the nearby yarn shop, shoppers on the street in general, students at the nearby art school, etc. With the offer of 5% off for showing us the flyer, we’ll see who comes up the stairs and in the door.

Getting Ready for the Opening

25 11 2009

I am so excited, so brimming with ideas, which is a good thing, because I’m certainly not brimming with money. However, Barbara Winter’s Making a Living without a Job assures me that ventures that start with nothing have a greater chance of success because they are continually having to think up cost-less ways of getting things done. Well, we’ve certainly been doing that.

On Friday, I went to an event organized by an organization that gives grants to social enterprises. I would not have been ready without all the work that I have already done over the last four months, without all the help and advice from several different quarters that I have been given. I had my premises. I had my budget… actually I had three budgets, bare bones, medium, and dream budgets. They liked my idea, and I left almost certain that my project will be supported. Or course, I could be wrong, but I’m positive by nature and especially so since I’ve felt like I was on the right path.

So, as of Friday, I had my two empty rooms, into which I planned to put a plastic wall-paperer’s table and a folding picnic table along with my knitting machine, a folding camp chair or two, a rigid heddle loom, a tapestry loom, an ancient sewing machine and some materials. I also had Ruth Solomon, who appears to be a magician in coming up with cheap ways of doing things and a great networkers as well, since she’s easily coming up begged and bartered and borrowed and handmade things along with transport for them. I knew she was coming with a mirror, some sewing machines, an A-frame announcement board, and a dress form and a clothing rack.

We two could start with what we had. We’re both quite used to making do. But surely we would sell more if our display was more than a clothes line strung back and forth across the room. Biz-Fizz to the rescue. It looks as if we will have the long term loan of two good sized tables, a mannequin, several chairs, and some slat wall material. The last is something that is bolted onto a strong wall and you can put whatevery you like, hooks, shelves, hanging racks for clothes, into the slats, very very versaltile.

We now have a good sized sturdy cutting table by putting the two tables together, we have a table and chairs to hold incubator meetings and classes, we have enough chairs for all 5 of us (eventually) to be working at once. My dreams are coming true as fast as I can dream them.