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Monday, June 19, 2006

What Are We Doing? no. 3

What Are We Doing? #3

I'm posting later than I expected. Sorry about that! But I promised to talk about some of my plans for the bead group I started in London, and while life has been overtaking my beading a lot, I think having some concrete goals keeps me from straying too far.

Most beaders would agree that they all have a secret goal of making a living by selling what they make. It's hard to know where to start, though, or how, or if you should, or who to ask, or... see? Once you start looking for questions, it's easy to get lost in them.

I thought that we could start simply. A logical first step seems to me to be to test the water and see what kind of reaction our work gets. I would like us to adopt a charity, and try to raise some funds for them by auctioning some of our work. I had originally thought this would be something we'd do some evening and make an event of it, but one of the group members suggested that having the auction online could give us a broader audience and possibly attract bigger bids. The charity I had in mind is Macmillan Cancer Support. Having relatives who need care, and knowing many people who have had cancer or had loved ones who did, I'm particularly in awe of the work of this group. If it went well, I'd love to make it an annual event, and properly adopt them as Our Charity.

The nice thing about a charity auction is that it would give us a chance to see what sorts of things people liked, what they bid on, what styles got interest, and all that kind of thing while freeing our brains from the mind games we play when selling for ourselves. "Well, those beads cost me £35, so I need that plus the time it took to string, and I had to buy crimping pliers..." "Ooo, if my necklace makes at least £200, I can afford to get away this weekend instead of staying home and watching paint dry..." and all that. Once you donate something to an auction, you're free to cheer it on with less personal pressure, and pay more attention without an attack of stage fright as your creative offspring goes under the hammer. Plus the money goes to a great cause, which never hurts!

The next thing I wanted to try after that was getting together to fill a table at one of the markets. There wouldn't be the pressure of having to generate a table-ful of stock all by ourselves, and display it, and cart it all by ourselves, and we wouldn't all have to be there all day. We could do it in shifts, and some people might not have to come at all. Again, we could learn what items brought people closer to the table to look, which actually sold, what prices people seemed to like, and maybe even see which markets fit our styles best.

After that, try a regular stall for a while, and if that went well, a shop! And of course there's the question of keeping track of the money through all of this. I would love to pool our resources, maybe having a fraction of each sale go into a group fund, and use the money to purchase tools for the group - things we might not buy on our own, like kilns, tumblers, torches, and so forth. And of course communal tools would need a home, so renting a studio somewhere would be logical - somewhere to keep the tools and focus on beading, and at that point of course we could have our meet-ups there!

These may seem madly ambitious, these ideas. But there's no point in having small dreams! If we never try, we certainly won't achieve anything. We might as well aim high, and just see how far we get!

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