Let's face it, the past couple of years and more-so 2011, the most overused and debilitating expressions for us creative entrepreneurs has been 'due to the current climate' or 'as a result of the economic downturn' and so the list goes on.... and on.
Not wanting to make light of the changes that have affected so many of us financially and otherwise, with a New Year, I believe that it is always an opportunity for growth and reflection as to what has gone before, and what we intend to do differently.
This is what I have learnt: the way forward in terms of business models is for independents like ourselves with the help of organisations such as UK Handmade is to lead the way, and create the future we want to see and be part of.
People are looking for more intimate design pieces, be it the likes of my good friends Catherine Marche http://Bijoux.CatherineMarche-Designs.com, who designs exquisite jewellery with precious gemstones, then there is Jannet Ellis who produces flower cards, the likes of which I have never seen before http://www.freshasadaisycards.com, and the great and the good as featured on UK Handmade.
You can't argue with handmade detail, the quirkiness of say an appliqué abstract pattern applied to a bag that doesn't want to be mass produced, or baby items that celebrate not only the birth, but the growth of a child. We have to relish in our creative skills, being handmade makes an item that much more precious, and we have to value our work, and put a value on our work.
In some, if not most cases what lets us down is our marketing or lack there of, people don't know who we are, or how to find us, I know this was definitely the problem for me when I launched my website last year; however this is where I am placing more of my energy for 2012 along with my designing, all of which I am really looking forward to.
Making changes: encourage positive feedback and comments, so that you can learn and see what modifications need to be in place, and above all trust your gut instinct, it's there for a reason. When I first launched the website having collapsed in a state of exhaustion, from the sheer magnitude of all the work I had done so far it was overwhelming, little did I know that the work was just beginning. All of my garments were on mannequins, and my friends and family said 'they look great', a lot of them had already seen the finished garments first hand, so they knew about the finish, detail and work that went into each and everyone of my girls.
Then I was put in touch with a chap called Jerome Redfarn http://www.inkyfilms.co.uk who as luck would have it used to do filming for the catwalk shows in Paris, London and Milan, I asked him to review the website, he emailed me back to say "Coral love the garments, but the mannequins just are not working for your type of garments, they need to be on models to bring them to life, sorry to be the bearer of bad news".
'What! (I thought) don't you realise how hard I have worked, how long it took me to get this far, and now you are saying that I have to re-shoot all of the garments again, and on models, where I am supposed to find these models, and a photographer - thanks Jerome'. This kept playing over and over in my head, you know how it is, however, deep down even when I launched the website I felt that something was missing, the edge that I needed, something that expresses what my work is truly all about. Could it be that simple as to putting garments onto models? How much was this now going to cost? Knowing that he was right I couldn't let the thought process go, I had to get my garments off mannequins and onto models, but how?
A week later I attended a marketing workshop run by Jane Milton of http://www.notjustfood.co.uk she's a brilliant speaker, and the marketing information superb, sitting next to me was a young lady who introduced herself as Paula, she asked if I was Coral of Coral Turner Couture, thinking that my name is on some massive billboard that I missed, I got all excited, smiled and said "yes, how did you know" she replied "because you were the first person to sign in before me", I couldn't help but to punch her gently on the arm!!
Paula Hemmings it turns out is a photographer http://www.paulahemmings.com, I told her of my plight and we exchanged details and arranged to meet, Paula agreed with Jerome about needing to bring the clothes to life, we then set a date and schedule for the photo-shoot, Paula even arranged the models and make-up artist, my task was to turn up with my garments and accessories. Within a couple of weeks Paula had worked her magic, and a transformation took place which drew my breath away and had Jerome's seal of approval.
Getting traffic to the website was still a bit on the slow side but the comments on Facebook and my emails were astounding. My website could now fittingly have the title 'Couture On-line Boutique', in December the site was closed for maintenance and change of hosting company, then shock horror, all of my work got lost in transition, forget about translation!! January 1st 2012 I had to start all over again, but guess what, as a result of all that I had learnt last year, and the upgrades to the website I now had a faster, sharper website with additional features I didn't have before, guess who's smiling now!!
Yes there is still lots of work to do, and for anyone with an on-line business it is a continuous work in progress with SEO's (Search Engine Optimisation), defining your niche, and the list goes on, the beauty is, that it is all doable, and yes it does make you stronger.
On that note, don't shy away from your greatness, but look for more ways in which to shine and promote your business. To your good fortune and creative success. Coralx
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