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Cleveland Artist Spotlights
Jackie Adamany is a crafter, designer and owner of Handcraft Your Career, a consulting firm for designers, artists and craftspeople. When she started her craft business she found that there was some information about how to do it, but it was scattered throughout the internet. Through many hours of searches and reading, she found a lot of bits and pieces and had to fit them together to develop a business model. After a few shows she realized she wanted to get into the wholesale market, and again, she learned to trust her gut and do the research. Two years and 35 wholesale shops later, Jackie realized she must be doing something right. People started to ask her, “What’s your secret?” and a new business was born.
Jackie didn’t start out as a business consultant. She had been sewing all her life when she started making her own bags to match outfits or for different occasions. Every time she went out she would get great compliments, and people almost wouldn’t believe her when she told them that her bags were handmade and she was the designer. “Once, when I went out with my husband and set my bag up on the bar, this woman ran up to me and said ‘Where did you get that?’ I told her I made it and she said ‘Well, I’ve gotta have it.’ Right then my husband looked at me and said ‘That’s it. You have to start a business.’”
With her time consumed primarily by her full time position as a Marketing Director, she decided to commit to one show, Cleveland Handmade’s Last Minute Market. “I sold more bags than I had planned, probably about 15, which really floored me. I probably underpriced them, but I got a lot of great feedback.”
For her, getting feedback is easier than for most. “Well I’m not shy, so I would just ask. People would come up and say ‘That’s a nice bag’, and I would respond ‘What do you like most about it?’” Often people would pick out specific things like the pattern or the fabric. Just socializing with the people who came into her booth led to some fabulous insights; and the booth itself was a conversation starter. “I had the craziest booth. My girlfriend had an old Christmas tree she was going to get rid of. I took the center pole, added some dowels, and made a rack. I had a tree of bags! It was a Christmas show so it worked.”
Every show she went to she would walk around and see what she liked, noticing the height or the color of booth displays, or how she was treated. “I learned a lot just by doing shows” … and lots of them.
Then, one of the best things Jackie says she did was find a mentor. A friend told her about MicroMentor.org. It’s free, and they match you with someone in your area who can speak to your business concerns. Jackie’s mentor was an attorney and CPA in Cincinnati and it was a perfect business match. After doing so many shows and trying to balance retail with wholesale, her mentor told her that maybe it was not the right direction; “take a step back and refocus.”
Examining the resources she had put together, her background in marketing, and her success as a craft artist, Jackie Adamany found her path – sharing her knowledge and consulting others. She still devotes time and energy to creating quality bags, and she’s loving the relationships she’s building as she builds up those around her.
If you are like us, you may wonder how she does both, and how she feels about building up the competition. Her answer is that she is extremely organized, and the competition makes her work that much harder. She schedules out the hours devoted to social media, to blogging, to creating handbags, or to consulting before starting her week. “You need to be extremely organized and on track.”
One last piece of advice she gives to all those starting out, who might not have a marketing background, is to find out what you don’t know. Then find someone who does.
Attend one of Jackie’s workshops, or find out more about her work at http://www.handcraftyourcareer.com/.
View an outstanding feature about her in Crain’s Cleveland Business http://www.handcraftyourcareer.com/crains.PDF