Hi Shari, sorry I just jump in here now :P
First, I have to say your bear is great so
as everyone said please put your chin up!
I just started bear making and not started
bear store(in web)yet so can't advise you
anything but I just wanted to say I do love your bears and I hope you will continue your great work.
I just check-out the Bear Pile and it sound
so exiting !! I want to join too !!!
I have to make my own web-site
first but I would like to register Bear Pile
for option 2 and 3 ! Is that what you did too ?
But before all that, when I'm ready,
I will start to sell my bears from this forum "Bears for Sale" .
Shari, I'm sure you can accept payment by paypal if you and costumer has paypal account right ?
OK, Louise--cheap! What do I know, I'm just an immigrant. :/
But you'd be amazed at what people spend here in Toronto, especially on 'high status' items like (poorly made) clothing, gift wrapping, SUV's for . . . jumping curbs (?), candles, garden ornaments, Williams Sonoma doodads, and crapola of every description. Not to mention decorators, dog-walking, cat grooming, child-care, taxis, lawn care and hair styling. City stuff.
Any ideas on how to tap the market?
My son-in-law and his partner have set up their own renovation business. Part of their business plan is to hang around the Home Depot and similar stores, where people buy all sorts of do-it-yourself stuff for projects they can't actually do themselves and never get done. Ambulance chasing, I call it, but they've picked up a number of jobs this way! Adrian used to work at Rona, the Canadian Home Depot, and he knows the turf well.
So maybe around Christmas time I should plan to hang around the high-end shops downtown with an armful of bears? :D
I know Eileen. I love to polk fun at fellow Canadians. We are a rather funny sort aren't we? I think I have noticed that people are just not aware in Canada about bear collecting on a large scale. What I mean is when ever I go to the post office I always get inquiries about bears and how successful build a bear is. They don't seem to understand the concept of an artist bear or that there is even a difference.
When we had our show in Tofield I had a few say well I can by a bear at Wal Mart for $10.00. Just need to educate the Canadian market about the collectable aspect of OOAK and handmade Artist bears.
We should make that our MISSION!
Hugs Cheap Louise
Absolutely. Let's do 'er. You take the west end of the country, and I'll take the middle (Nancy's got other things to do). I know that one of our bearbuds is from Nova Scotia, but can't at this particular senior moment remember who. Anyway, let's draft her for the east coast. Anybody else?
So how do we start convincing people that life without a bears is . . . unbearable?
I'm tempted, in a few moons, to try my hand at teaching a beginner-bear course at the local library, just to stir up some interest before the Christmas rush. I doubt it would pay anything, but I could charge for kits. Why not? I may be a beginner myself, but I've already made enough mistakes for a dozen beginners.
http://www.bearpile.com/signup.cgi on that page I do option 3 - I just put them on my links page and then when I post a bear it appears on the front page which if sold through them I give a 10% commision to them. That is the only cost ever involved. I have not yet sold any bears through this site, but others seem to have success.
Hope that helps,
You canadians..... TEACH TEACH TEACH!!!
I just started reading this post and as I did I was thinking 'teach a workshop' then Eileen said it and I cheered!
When you do this advertise anywhere inexpensively you can. Put fliers up at the grocery store, department stores, laundry mat, hair salons, library, church, crat shows, fabric stores, any and everywhere they'll let you!! Don't worry about having more people interested than you can fit into a class. You can always schedule another one. Some folks are willing to have a 'home party' and invite a few friends over to make a bear with you. I've done a number of these parties and it's a blast! Advertise in your local paper too if it's affordabe.
The first workshop I ever scheduled flopped - no one signed up. They'd never heard of doing such a thing. Then I scheduled another one a month or two later, advertised all the same places and then some and started getting phone calls. By my fourth one I had a waiting list. It takes folks a while to warm up to new ideas.
Do it Eileen!!!!
Maybe you can get our Tammy Wamboldt to take on Nova Scotia. I believe she's taught children's classes at her church. (Read that on her website.)
Thanks for the encouragement. I think you're right. I've taught university, high school & elementary (volunteer), Girl Guide origami, Sunday school and community-center quilting. Not to mention my current one-on-one tutoring. I love it. And bears.
I guess it's a chicken/egg thing . . which comes first, the bear artists or the collectors. I've been expecting the collectors to just show up somehow, but maybe the better way is to create more bearmakers. I don't know. But it sounds like fun!
What do you experienced bearmaking teachers do about supplies? Do you make up kits for each participant? Ask them to bring their own stuff? Make up hardware & eye kits and ask them to bring fur, thread and stuffing? Is it cricket to give them a commercial pattern, or do you need to supply an original?
Shari, your bears are adorable and I am sorry to hear you didn't sell your latest one, I thought he was great. So hang in there. ;)
I am also glad that Daphne had mentioned Teaching classes, another way of at least bring you some sort of income in. You would need to supply one of your own patterns to do this.
The other thing I thought of, and I am not sure if anyone else has already mentioned it, is to approach exclusive teddy bear shops and see if they could sell your bears on consignment.
Also try http://www.theteddypatch.com
* No Registration Fees * No Listing Fees * No Reserve Price Fees * No Re-listing Fees, though there are limits as to *how many times you can re-list
Good Luck, just don't give up, everywhere is suffering at the moment, especially retail and sky high gas prices :(, etc.
I agree! Us Canadians must take matters into our own hands. I was thinking about teaching some felting classes. I know our community centre is very active so I'm thinking of starting there. I'm a little worried about it, not sure how it would go. Do you think that because I'm 26, people won't want to take a class from me??
Also, when you post all the ads everywhere ( great tip by the way ) do you put a picture of the possible finished product?? I'm not sure if I could sell a felting class without a picture at least.
Also, how do you go about pricing such a thing?? I guess I would need to work out the costs for kits, but what else would you charge for??
Great ideas though.I was also thinking that bec. my mom is now part of the red hat society, I could try and sell them a class as well. That's something we could all try.
WELL - it is now my turn to be "depressed" i have listed 4 bears (4 that the bidding has ended on) and only sold one..... even though it is off season, i am really upset...... felted bears sell like hotcakes.... maybe i should be felting instead? maybe my bears just arent as good as i thought...
Kimbee....I will say what I think here because it's important and becauseI know you are down that your bears didn't sell. I would be willing to bet the reason your lovely bears didn't sell had absolutely nothing to do with the bears, and everything to do with the photos. When buying something sight unseen..people need to be able to see the item through your photos almost as well as they would be able to see it if they were holding it. You need to spend som time experimenting with your photos and make sure the pics you are putting up are the best possible quality. In my opinion...if the pics aren't fantastic, you are wasting your advertising time and money. I would highly recommend getting yourself a reasonable quality digital camera and practise, practise, practice. I believe that even Judi's and Shelli's and Sue Ann's bears would be hard pushed to sell if people couldn't see the wonderful quality and detail of their workmanship thru their great photos.
But most importantly of all...don't give up....just be resolved to improve the quality of your pics...then your bears will sell themselves!:D
Hayley, I think that's excellent advice. Thanks for stating it so clearly (and for the compliment, too, by the way.)
Again quoting my beloved mentor Michelle Lamb... She told me early on, when I was asking her for selling tips, that she believes top-level photography is one of THE most important factors behind finding a collecting audience, most especially when your main sales venue is going to be the internet. You've gotta market to your market!
May I quote my own Bears&Buds article, where I restate that gem of knowledge Michelle so kindly shared with me, and write:
"While it takes a great and wonderful teddy bear
to form the foundation of a superb photograph,
it’s not the physical, in-the-flesh bear itself, but
rather, your photograph of that bear ...
which ultimately sells your
bear in an online or print format environment...
...Collectors... must see, know
and feel (your work) before they
will commit their (hard-earned cash) to your hands...
The bottom line for the bear maker seeking an
audience, is this: the ONLY way you can give
your audience visceral, emotional, textural
experience within the detached, two-dimensional
nature of the Internet, e-mail or print digitized
environment, is through your photographs."
Gawd, I'm such a blowhard. But I'm also a sometimes insecure people pleaser who, believe it or not, is hesitant to venture out on a skinny limb unless I'm very, very sure of myself. And I'm very, very sure that Hayley -- and Michelle -- are giving you the best possible advice about how to sell bears online.
Grab a better camera, more lighting, a light tent if possible (you can make your own), a backdrop (1.5-2 yards of WHATEVER from your local fabric store)... and practice. I swear, within hours you will see 99% improvement in your photos, and ultimately, improvement in your sales. And don't forget to crop, to focus the eye on your work!
It's that easy, but you've gotta begin with the right tools. Take the leap!
You're right Danni..and I worried about hurting Kim's feelings too....but then I weighed it all up and decided if I was Kim, I'd want to know...and who better to gently point you in the right direction than friends who truly care about you huh?
I know Kim will take it all as it was intended.;)
Kim, I have a hard time with my photos. They are never clear enough, close enough, in fact most of the time they look as if they've been taken in a tunnel!!!:rolleyes:
If I do get a good (ish) one, it's more by luck than judgement. I do take lots and lots of the same bear, I can then get at least one decent (ish) one!! I was going to get a photo programme too so that I can lighten them etc if they need it, a lot of them come out very dark.
Keep you chin up!:)
you guys are great... i am going to my dad's this weekend they have a pretty good digital camera and plenty of outdoors and indoors locations to take pics... I know that i need a better camera, better lighting and editing software but since i have invested so much already into my bears and havent sold one and this year (well the last year and half) we (my huband and i) have ventured into many money spending things, first, the wedding on October which we paid for ourselves with no parent help, second the purhcase of our first house.... i dont even want to think how much money we spent on the wedding.... i should have just run away and get married!
But, i agree with you gals, and no, you didn t hurt my feelings... i like honesty, especially when you put it so mildly! LOL..... you guys are great.... on to searching for a camera.....
Hayley , you give such good advice, and Shelli, and all of you!
I have always said this too...A picture is worth a thousand words! How true!
Your pictures are even more important than your description. I have seen very lengthy descriptions for bears going into every detail and the pictures are very mediocre. On the other hand I have seen wonderful bears with very little text added. A happy medium would be great pictures with an accurate pleasant and not to lengthy description.
I have people email me with questions that would be answered in my despription...but this only shows me the many people go straight to the pictures. Vision is our strongest sense and your bear needs to speak to your audience through your photos.
My pictures got much better when I bought a light tent. It made HUGE difference. I also like to go outside on an overcast day to get natural filtered light. You never want direct sunlight it can cause unattractive shadows...and may make your bear squint! Also, natural light shows true color. I never need to tweek my outdoor pictures.
In this business you need to sell yourself. Like Sue Ann said, advertising in magazines is a great way to show your bears. It is expensive but worth it. Not everyone goes on line and some people just plain don't "do" ebay.
I'm a little late jumping in here. I was roaming the beautiful Cape Breton, Nova Scotia countryside on vacation with my family for a few days. Actually , Shari I was in your area yesterday and would have stopped in if I knew where you lived. I was thinking about you anyway
Yes, I agree we Canadians are a cheap bunch. I was in business with a friend last year and we did a few shows, consignment, and presentations to women's groups. Everyone loved the bears, but few were willing to open their wallets. Locals thought the prices were too high- $50 for 12" Mink Bear !!! I can't give them away- Yikes.
All of the bears that sold at the shops went to American Tourists.
I agree we need to educate, but that might be easier said than done. Our local fabric store offered a bearmaking class. There was also a Bear Supply store owned by a guild member that closed down last year, and our Teddy Bear Artist Guild is apparently in " Sleep Mode" and not taking any new members.
However, we can't give up trying.
Depressing, Tammy, but I have a sick inkling that you're right!
Sitting here waiting for my last leather-needle wound to stop bleeding, I'm thinking of offering myself to local schools this season, maybe putting on a little show (moms invited) about "The History of the Teddy Bear". Slide show! Bears to pass around! Music! Business Cards for the moms!
They might be able to say no to me, but not so easily to their kids. Just a thought. :lol:
Hi Tammy,that's so funny,I was up your way on Tuesday but wasn't sure how to contact you.I was thinking about you :D
You must be talking about Joan Murray,she was my first contact with bear artists and I did a little show with her group a few years back at a mall.They were trying very hard to educate people about artist bears.I didn't have any luck getting into the guild though,are they still active at all?
She closed down when I was really getting started but I found my way on my own :lol::lol: