Holding your cards tight-Creative Entrepreneur
I've been in business now for just over a month, albeit planning my business opening for over a year.
I have reached out to and have mentors both from friends in business, and people I have never met. The creative entrepreneur world is full of people near and far, more than happy to help out a new creative business owner.
Since my opening, I have been posting on social media all my products, lines, projects, as well as upcoming products and lines I hope to carry. Being transparent and eager, I have not held my cards too close to my heart. I am enjoying the freedom, as in my former life you held your cards close, always!
I am learning from other creatives that the biggest struggle they've had, or have heard is other entrepreneurs not playing in their own sandbox, taking ideas, not giving credit to someone else's work, and not playing fair. I have personally seen this occur through the world we know as social media and its frustrating to see someone take an idea, claim it as their own, and not give credit to the person/artist who created or did the work.
Creative entrepreneurs are a different breed than your average entrepreneur. We, many times, don't have the business mindset and knowledge most business owners have. We also don't have capital, partners, and money.
Creatives want to share their love of what they make, refinish, or create with others, and often times under cut themselves financially. They just want to be in this big world of business, sharing what they do.
Maybe they make wood crafts, pottery, paint furniture, paint pictures, make soap, the list is endless. The reward is when someone buys their work, or hires them to do commission work. The joy that brings a creative is something you can't understand unless you are one of them.
The support creatives have for others is amazing. Creatives will share ideas, suppliers, wholesalers, or craft and workshop ideas with similar minded creatives. Building off of (not stealing) the creativeness of others. All they ask is not to steal their exclusive ideas, and give credit to the artist who created it if you are sharing it.
I am a retail business, selling modern farmhouse home decor and accessories. Most of what I sell is exclusive to my shop, and that is by design. Many suppliers/wholesalers have territories which means that other retailers within X km of a current retailer can't sell their products.
I am also building my business as a DIY'er, running workshops using mineral and milk paints and IOD transfer and stamps. I want to share my knowledge with others, so they can buy my product lines to embellish their homes. Transfer of learning. I also see painting furniture and accents as therapeutic and essential self care...paint therapy, with me as the paint therapist (hmmm maybe a branding idea).
I was very open about my excitement with a new paint line I was going to try. I just don't sell paint, I try all the paint before I decide on selling. I want to be completely satisfied before asking my clients to purchase.
I didn't hold my cards close, shared the line openly and publicly, and the projects I was doing with it. I was deciding if I wanted to retail this product as it required a substantial investment. I made that decision after a few weeks, and reached out to the company, only to learn that a week before another retailer secured the line, and due to territory, I would not be able to sell the line. Did this retailer take the line from me, no as I didn't secure the line, and this retailer jumped on something I was debating. Did this retailer know I was after this line...who knows. My loss is their gain.
Luckily, I applied to two milk paint lines to retail, both made by the same company, Homestead House. I was approved to retail Homestead House Milk Paint, before I contacted the other line to move forward with a retail application.
Homestead House is a Canadian, family based company who has been in the milk paint business since the 1980's. They are also the parent company and make and manufacture Fusion Mineral Paint.
The other line Homestead House creates and manufactures was created in collaboration with an American blogger and painter who calls herself Miss Mustard Seed. If you don't follow her on instagram and facebook, you must.
As an ethical retailer, I noticed there was another retailer of Homestead House in Charlottetown so I approached them to inform I was going to be selling the line, so we could share the sandbox. Not compete, but compliment each other's sale of the line. As it turned out, they were getting rid of the line, as they don't do workshops, so selling it was difficult. I bought up some of their remaining inventory for less than wholesale so we were both happy.
So with that, do I plan to hold my cards closer moving forward...a bit, especially where my workshop ideas, and new product lines are at stake unless I have secured the product. Am I angry that another retailer took a line I wanted, no. Lesson learned for me as a new business owner.