Okay, Artists & Graphic Designers... you all are so beautifully positioned for building branded product because you have already created the design or have the capacity to do so, which will drastically reduce your cost.
But, why should you prioritize this?
Offering products produced under your brand name is an incredible profit center and meaningful way of establishing brand-preference with your audience.
How? Well… to begin, products are a straightforward way to monetize your art beyond the canvas by entering new mediums. You are diversifying your revenue channels, which in turn leads to a more healthy business model. Further, products allow you to create deeper connection with your audience as they will soon interact with your work on a daily basis whether it’s fluffing a pillow, admiring their powder room wallpaper, lighting a candle, or wearing a pareo poolside.
TIP: Generate a list of all of your past collectors and begin thinking about what products they would be most drawn to. You will be able to use this list as a jumping off point when building your business case and revenue projections for your first product… you already have paying customers so what are you waiting for!?
Next key point … When you go so far down on the value chain that you work directly with the manufacturer, which is our specialty, you gain tremendous control over costs which allows you to sell at both Wholesale and Direct to the Consumer.
TIP: When connecting with potential manufacturing partners, be sure to request tiered pricing to help you understand what price breaks you can expect now or in the future. Inquire about what elements of your product are negotiable, such as the material or hand-sewn verses machine made. These are examples of the “levers” you can pull to get better pricing when you are communicating directly with your production team rather than a broker.
You also have the ability to pull different levers as far as design and construction goes to develop a product with unique "features & benefits" that will meet your customer's needs and have them come back again and again.
TIP: What are your target features and benefits? These will be the critical differentiators that set you apart in the marketplace. Categories to consider as you outline your target features and benefits:
Have you ever licensed or been approached to license your work? I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that it wasn't quite the experience you had imagined or been led to believe... it's because someone else holds the reigns. Developing your own product keeps the control in your hands and allows you to choose which partners you would like to collaborate with in the Sales channels.
Vetting your first vendor(s)
Vetting your first vendor(s) starts with the first communication and it continues for years as you weather different experiences together. We recommend as a good practice to have between 1-3 manufacturers for each product should something happen to your number one producer. If cut & sew is a leg of your supply chain, have between 1-2 alternates to your primary.
Whether your value proposition is value driven or quality driven, a certain level of quality is always an important factor when choosing a manufacturer. A few recommendations for determining quality are below:
-Set aside $$ to produce samples of your own product
-Request photos of their facility
-Request references; speak with their other customers
Responsiveness / Communication
Having a strong line of communication with your production team is essential. More specifically quick responses, clear communication, and immediate action. You can begin vetting their response time with your first correspondence and this will give you a window into how they will communicate once you become a customer. Knowing you can trust that they will answer when you reach out and act quickly will serve you well in the future as changes or quick decisions need to be made to orders. Remember, you’ll have paying customers on the other side of this.
As your markets and product lines grow, flexibility in all things will grow increasingly more important, too. For example: You will want to be able to adjust your Minimum Order Quantity, negotiate lead times, and even payment terms. Before you engage in a business relationship with a manufacturer, be sure to get a solid understanding of what flexibility you have with order quantities and lead times.
For example, if you are producing internationally, ask: What is your busy season? What is your slow season? What are the dates of your Holidays and how does this impact production schedules and lead times?
Tip: Italy literally shuts down all production for the Summer Holiday for 6 weeks. These 6 weeks are leading up to the busiest season of the year for my customers! It’s a delicate dance, and it makes all the difference in the world as long as you are aware and can plan.
The next section includes TIPS for finding a Product Manufacturer as well as Terms & Payment, which can be found in the Sourcing Strategy section of the Product Development 101 online course.
A few recommended products for Artists...
Ways you can work with us:
We specialize in helping brand owners find the right product manufacturer and do this through 1:1 consulting engagements as well as DIY online programs and workshops.
A tasting of our offerings below
VIP Direct Connect
What do you think? What questions do you have? We look forward to hearing from you!