Hi, I wasn't sure if this is the place to put this topic or not, but I have been struggling with whether or not I should start to try to sell my bears more seriously. I have been making bears for about 4 years now. I think my bears are good, but no where's near as good as the bears I see at shows or at bear selling websites. I am not sure how to try to start to sell them. I am not able to go to local craft shows because there is no one willing to watch my daughter. I have thought about putting my bears online on a teddybear selling website, but I don't have a business. I am not ready to start a business, but I am curious to know if my bears are sellable. Does anyone have any suggestions? Has anyone else struggled with knowing when to start selling your bears? Thanks. Ruth
I think we all struggled with this question at some point. My somewhat flip answer is: It's time to start selling your bears when you have too many of them to keep! But since you asked, I'll also share some of the two full pages of advice given by Gillian Morgan in The Book of Teddy-Bear Making.
" ...before we part, it's important to ensure that what you are making are the best possible quality hand-made bears, not home-made bears. There is a huge difference between the two. Every bear has individual appeal, but you owe it to yourself to ensure that the bears you make are well crafted[...], and that, if you sell them, the person buying is getting good value for hard-earned money. It should also be the job of most responsible bearmakers to ensure that each bear made is not only appealing visually, but is constructed to the very highest standards."
Morgan goes on to detail every conceivable element, from eye placement and attachment to whether or not you can feel the joints. It's intimidating, but having some kind of ideal also means there's something to work toward.
All that being said, you really have to decide for yourself when your bears are good enough for you to give selling a try. You'll no doubt continue to improve as a bearmaker as the years go by, and it's easy to see this on ebay if you look for an early bear by a well-respected maker. She or he was probably not quite as good at it then as they are now.
Ruth, I think that sometimes we just have to give it a try, and see how it goes. If your bears sell, than it means they are 'sellable', meaning that somebody out there is willing to part from their money to own one of your creations. I also think that you don't need to commit to any serious 'business thing', at least at the beginning. Just try it out and see how it goes, you might just do like many of us do, sell some of your bears, be proud of it, and earn some money for your teddy bear making to go on....or decide that it goes so well that it can be a full time job.
You could try selling from e-bay, etsy or even Bearpile. I'm sure there are many other venues, I'm suggesting what I also tried.
Yet early bears have an appeal of their own. I think the test is if people want to buy..I have seen many of my early bears and I am often amazed at how my bears have changed. Should I not have sold them then...I am glad I did...even though they are very different now . Were they a poor effort...no they were just what did then..and they still got adopted..probably faster than nowadays! There are many well established makers of bears who can't sell readilynowadays even though on paper according to the rule book..they are pretty much perfect. If people want to buy what you have to sell then you go ahead....I think new artists are the future and it keeps the industry interesting and gives customers the opportunity to collect new bears. Listen to honest appraisals and don't listen to family and friends who will either go OTT on the praise or do what my sister does, she says everything I make is terrible!
Haha...but it keeps my eye on the prize...and it stops me being too confident. She loves me really ...she just doesn't collect bears or have the family blinkers on that my mother used to wear..' ooh our Jennifer...you are clever....it's BEAUTIFUL....can I have it!!' was what she would say.. Now she's not here to dish out the praise....
But she said that about everything I ever did....so I think a bit of maternal bias was in play there!
So if ever my sister says something is good I know I have scored!
I agree with everything everyone else has said, specially Francesca- that if you give it a try, and your bears sell, they are sellable
I think one of the advantages we have here in Australia as far as knowing if your work is up to scratch workmanship wise, is being able to enter hands on competitions, which are judged for things like joints, stuffing, eye setting etc, not just overall appearance, so knowing how your workmanship stacks up is a lot easier. Eye appeal is however really personal, and you'll never know if your bears have that if you don't give it a go.
I'd also like to say, you *don't* need to start a business to sell your bears. Just give it a try, there are inexpensive venues (Bearpile isn't very expensive). It might be a bit tricky to get attention from collectors at first, so be prepared for that and don't be discouraged if you don't sell everything first go, selling bears can be a little bit tough at the moment.
Thank you for your suggestions and honesty. I have thought about putting a few of my bears on BearPile. One or two of them might sell. I have been in touch with a couple of teddy bear artists over the past year. They tell me I should try BearPile and come up with a business name even though I don't have a business at this time. My family tells me "What are you going to do with all those bears you are making?" and my husband tells me "Don't get into it." I get confused about what to do. I think my bears are good (not the same as the successful artist bears which are great of course), but they are cute and may sell for a little bit of money. Do you think I can put them on BearPile and use a business name that is not registered? I thought about using my first name, and I have come up with a busines name that I can use; but it is not a registered official business that I would have. Also, I don't have a certificate of authority, so I would be selling as a hobbyist at this point and would only collect taxes for New York State sales. To get other opinions on this, do you think this would be okay?
"If you do what you have always done, then you will always be who you have always been. " I don't know who said this but it always helped me get unstuck and move forward. Answer this: When you are 90 years old, do you want to look back on your life wishing you should have tried to sell your bears but never did? You don't want to look back on your life with regret, do you? So jump in and give it a try. You have nothing to loose and everything to gain. that is my two cents. I hope you give it a go.
I guess I don't need to worry about the business thing right now.
I agree, Ruth. Just do some web searching to make sure the name you've chosen isn't already being used by someone else. Then if you make some sales, you can figure out how to handle the IRS obligations. Good luck to you!
You don't need a business name. I don't use one for my bears.... Artists in other fields don't feel the need to have a business name, so don't let that stop you Bearpile is an economical way to give selling a try, just put up some pieces you feel proud of and good luck with it!
I am probably a bit unusual as I sold the second bear I made to Australia, via ebay and have been selling ever since. I knew that if I wanted to continue I had to at least recoup some money to pay for further mohair purchases, as I could not afford to buy otherwise.
I do find that selling is a great learning curve and it does teach you so much about the market and what sells. Not that I am saying you should make a popular style just because its "in". After a year of making and selling fluffy bears I realised my heart lay in old style bears and turned away from the more popular style.
Like Jenny I have a nemesis, my daughter, she is soooo objective it's unreal and my mother too likes every bear I make LOLOL My daughter firmly keeps both my feet on the floor and I know I have hit the jackpot if her eyes widen, I have yet to get a wow from her.