Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Starting Out Checklist

written by Tasha McKelvey

Things to Do When Starting Your Own Art or Craft Business

(assuming you already have the skills and/or talent to create your art or craft)
  • read books about starting your own art or craft business
  • research and decide where you will sell your work (online, craft shows, galleries, wholesale, consignment, your own retail shop, etc.)
  • research and determine start-up costs (studio expenses, business fees, craft shows fees, production costs, marketing expenses, display equipment, photography expenses, etc.)
  • determine how you will pay for your start-up costs (your savings, a loan or credit cards)
  • rent or buy studio space if needed and/or retail space if you are going to have a retail shop
  • set up a checking account for your business (separate from your personal checking account for tax reasons) to make expense payments from and deposit sales into, it doesn't have to be an expensive"business account" it can just be a regular checking account with your business name on the checks
  • set up an accounting system to record sales and expenses
  • research and apply for legal registrations required for your locality and the federal government (taxes, business license, fictitious business name registration, sales tax collection license, and many many more if you plan to have employees)
  • research your business insurance needs (car insurance, liability insurance, health insurance, etc.)
  • research wholesale sources for materials you need to make your work - this will help keep your expenses low
  • have business cards made - also consider getting letterhead, postcards and/or brochures (these items come in handy when establishing yourself as a real business for such things as obtaining loans, setting up wholesale accounts for supplies and equipment, obtaining gallery representation)
  • photograph or hire someone to photograph your work (good photographs of your products are necessary to get into shows, sell your work online, promote your work to galleries and shops, etc.) note: most large art and craft shows still require slides of your work; some are now transitioning to digital photography
  • apply for art and craft shows, wholesale markets and gallery jury processes early if you plan to be selling your work through these outlets (many art and craft show application deadlines are 6 months or more before the show date)
  • design and purchase display equipment for art and craft shows and/or for your own retail space (tables, shelves, hanging racks, table covers, show canopy, jewelry display items, pedestals, carpet, etc.) be creative in designing your display
  • decide what methods of payment you will accept for retail and/or wholesale sales (cash, check, credit cards - for credit cards you must set up a merchant account through a bank - see resource links)
  • determine shipping methods if you will be shipping products (carriers, packaging for shipping, etc.)
  • set up a website (your website might include: images of your work, basic info about your business, products for sale, a calendar of events, your biographical info, wholesale information, shops and galleries that sell your work, etc.)
  • don't forget to have enough inventory of your work so you don't seem unprofessional to buyers
*This list was made with Artist living in the United States in mind, but will still be useful to those of you in other countries*

*This list is meant to get you thinking about the business work involved in setting up a new art or craft business*

*The web has many resources available to find out more information about any of the items on the list*

*Before you sign up for any business service on the internet, I recommend doing research on the company providing the service - this might include talking to people who already use the service*

Warning: This blog is designed to be a forum for suggestions on Art and Craft Business Issues, not legal advice.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Naming Your Art or Craft Business

written by Tasha McKelvey

Naming your art or craft endeavor can be difficult . . . or really easy. I think it's a lot like naming a band, it can be really fun or a chore. A chore that you put off until you have to have a name for your first gig - then you make something up on the spot.

I made up my business name my last year of college with my first real art show just weeks away. It's a boring name, but its functional -
Pottery by Tasha McKelvey. It tells you who I am and what I do.

It also saved me some paperwork.

My choice of a business name included my full name - so I didn't have to file a
fictitious business name registration. If a business name does not identify by name who is responsible for the business, then the government wants that business name registered. This process also keeps two business within a certain area from operating with the same name, which would lead to confusion. Back to the naming a band thing - two bands with the same name equals bad.

Note: I have read that a business name must have first and last name or just last name in order to be exempt from filing a fictitious name registration, so please research your local laws on the matter.

Now days, you can usually look up local laws on the internet for your individual localities. There are a lot of other registrations you might need to fill out: business license and sales tax collection registration to start.

With all that said, a made-up name for your business can be really fun. My all time favorite business name is
Fat Beagle Pottery. It's in North Carolina and they do have a fat beagle (or at least they did at some point). I have a fat beagle and I'm a potter, but they got the cool name before me. It's in a different state, so I could use the name in my state (unless its copyrighted), but I wouldn't. It would be like stealing in my opinion, but I do love the name.

Warning: Local laws and regulations differ from state to state and even county to county or city to city. Always check to find out what your local laws require of a business owner. This blog is designed to be a forum for suggestions on Art and Craft Business Issues, not legal advice.