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Friday, March 20, 2009

Quilling and the Economy

You can’t turn on the television or pick up the newspaper, without getting barraged with talk about the economy. It amazes me that while us “little folk” have to work everyday to pay our bills while so many CEO’s are mismanaging their companies and then expect us “little folk “ to bail them out. It trickles down to all of us in one way or another. I have had a number of customers who are getting back into quilling to help pass the time while they are laid off from work; others who have said they plan to start selling some of their work to supplement their income; we even had a customer ask if we were going to stay in business! (I certainly plan to!)

I usually follow the discussions on the Yahoo quilling groups, (at the very least I skim over them), and there has been a lot of talk about pricing finished work and what sells at craft shows etc. Those of us, who quill, know how labor intensive it is; unfortunately the general public does not. So the question that always arises is “How do I get paid for the time I put in on my work?” My personal experience selling at craft shows (granted, this was many years ago, but I don’t think it has changed that much), was good for getting exposure and developing a customer list, but I found most shoppers were looking for bargains. It is hard to compete in that kind of market, especially if there are also tables of “imported” handcrafts throughout the show. In this economy, you will also get a lot of “shoppers” who are really just browsing to pass the time. But there are still many people who have jobs, who are not struggling, and who are still shopping. Perhaps we (quillers) need to be looking at some different venues.

I was out with my sister recently, (which is unusual, since I am almost always here working at Whimsiquills), and we stopped in a little shop that sold stationery, cards etc. I’m sure the name of the shop had something to do with paper, but I can’t for the life of me, remember what it was. There was actually a mannequin in the window who was “dressed” in a paper outfit made from wrapping paper. At any rate, because it said paper, I went in to browse. There were all kinds of neat paper items . . . calendars, bookmarks, and lots and lots of cards. Not the usual Hallmark cards, but cards made from handmade papers, watercolors, a cute line of cards (pardon the pun) that had little clothes lines across the front with baby clothes hanging up, very clever . . . and very expensive. I got to thinking about it and wondered why there were no quilled cards.

It is just a thought, but maybe some of you who are looking for an outlet for your work, should visit some of the more upscale shops. I have seen some beautiful cards (many that would be suitable for framing) and quilled bookmarks that I am sure would sell in these kinds of shops. I would suggest keeping the actual quilling fairly simple, but dressing up the card with pretty papers/borders to make the quilling stand out. I noticed that most of the cardstock was white in the shop I visited, perhaps using the colored cards and envelopes that are now available would make them stand out a little more. I would suggest leaving the inside blank, that way flowers or hearts could be used for birthdays, engagements, or weddings etc. They could be packaged in those crisp, clear cellophane envelopes that seal. The clear envelopes will protect the quilling in the shop and not detract from it. Another possibility would be approaching upscale gift shops and/or frame shops. Perhaps some small framed pieces that could be sold as gifts to the “upscale” customers who shop there


Clareen said... are so right!!! I've been thinking about a little coffee shop that is also a gift shop. And it is supported by more well off customers. It's that part about getting the right amount of quilling for the right price - I'm still working on that one...

Charlotte said...

Pat...My sister works in a SMALL beauty shop who's clients are the sweetest ladies most of whom are RETIRED. The economy has not affected them because they still get their hair done every WEEK. When they saw the quilled shamrock earrings I made for my sister on St. Patrick's Day they all went CRAZY. They suggested I set up a table at the beauty shop with some finished projects as well as me sit at the table so they could watch me during the quilling process. They said I could sell things already made as well as take orders. Just another idea.

Sonya said...

Pat, I agree with the craft show comments. People who shop there are not willing, for the most part, to pay for, what is in reality, an art piece. Even if is a card. When I was still doing them, I had better success just setting a table at a private school or business (you have to have an in-person), from previous customers, friends etc. I do a lot of quilled keepsake invites and give them as gifts, this has gotten me other paid ones from when they are displayed at the weddings and events! Always put a card on the back and/or cards on the table so admirers can find you! Also make your gift quality cards that you give able to do double duty as a framed piece! You can get referrals that way also.