Monday, May 2, 2011

Craft Business - Joint Ventures.

A joint venture is the collaboration between two different businesses on their way to succeed. By offering a service to business owners you can promote your home business for free – and we makers know free advertising is almost impossible to find nowadays!

Part One: The Experience

My husband met the 'The Old Riga' tea bar owners before their business even started, as he made the electricity installation for the place. We became good friends along the way. A few months after the opening, I needed a place to make a showroom for my hand crafted jewelry and I didn’t want to make it at home, so I asked them if I could borrow a "room" (the bar is a 100 year old house, restored but untouched, so the distribution has rooms) for the jewelry party. They would get more than 20 customers eager to try their delicious tea mixes and I would have a beautiful environment and an easy-to-find location for my exhibition.

They were more than happy to accept. We discussed all the details of the display. I even made sketches of what I wanted and tried to keep space to the minimum. As they are crafty people themselves, they added very helpful suggestions.

Not only they didn’t want a percentage of my earnings (I offered them a 30% of sales) but also gave a wonderful treatment to the party attendants, which spent a little fortune on their exquisite teas and coffees. The party was a complete success for both parts.

The owners gave us this gorgeous painting for the display!

Since then our businesses have made many things together. I had a henna booth every Saturday during the whole summer, made a free Tarot reading session on last year’s Halloween party and most important, we have recommended the other’s business to as many people as we have been able to. Word of mouth is the strongest advertising system of all. We have taken all our friends to the bar and I make many customer appointments there instead of at my house, which is a great alternative when you don’t want to (or don’t have time to) clean! We constantly provide ourselves with flyers and business cards. We discuss better ways to improve our work and share what we have learnt along the way.

Their Halloween party is their biggest hit in the year. Last year more than 200 people passed along the night, and we’re talking of a really small place, on a really small city, and on a country where Halloween is not celebrated almost. This year, since we have re-opened the tattoo studio and have started selling prints of my artwork, what we needed was some promotion, so we are making promo packs for them to give in a free raffle. Every person gets a ticket as they enter and at midnight the raffle will happen. In the promo packs, their flyers and business cards will be included. We will have a small booth for our prints and other little beauties related like buttons, notepads, cards and stickers. Most of the everyday customers there are Goth teenagers so I’m sure a few will find something to buy!

Our henna booth: hard work but oh so beautiful!

Part Two: The Theory

The generosity on both parts is the key to successful joint ventures. On your side, you must be creative and offer different things because what a small business needs is variety. Sometimes it will be more profitable for you; sometimes it will be more profitable for them. You have to learn to give before you learn to earn. The more generous you are, the better karma and luck you will have, and the more opportunities you will find along the way. All long-term artists know very well sales can come from the most unsuspected places and situations, so do as much as you can to help.

It is important to build a respectful and loving relationship between the other business and yours. You have to love what they do too, so they will love what you do. Joint ventures based only on profit rarely ever succeed because both parts have selfish goals. Know the people you work with and care for them.

Do not ask for too much. Remember your "host" business can be very busy too! If you are displaying your work at their shop, keep everything as simple as possible for them. Provide them with a price sheet with their and your percentage so they don’t have to calculate that themselves. Also provide them with simple packaging or bags if needed. Anything that makes the transaction smoother is a must!

Present a good project for your stand or display. Making your own displays or buying pre-made ones, keep in mind the style of decoration the other business has and try to make it look like part of it.

On the other business side, do not accept deals where you have to do all the work by yourself. If you sell crafts, the shop owner must be not only open to your ideas, but willing to add their own.
A shop owner that does not feel passionate about your work won’t make you sell. We are only good at selling what we love, so if you make gothic chokers look for people who love gothic chokers, not teddy bears.

Even if the shop owner is your best friend, keep all terms clear and offer a private contract between both parts for anything that could be regulated. You don’t want to lose a friend!

Part Three: Epilogue

If both parts respect each other, joint ventures are not only a very profitable way for both businesses, but also an amazing personal experience of growth and help. The amount of knowledge you will get from seeing other people work and grow their businesses is one of the most valuable experiences you will have on your way to success, so be creative and think of an idea for your sister-in-law hairdresser salon, your school mate boutique or simply go to that place where you love to shop and offer a fund raising, a face painting party for kids or whatever your creativity suggests you. Only those who dare win!

Written by Carolina of Supra Monster

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