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Posted on Getting the word out

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#1 posted 11-17-2012 09:27 PM

Fritz, I don’t know what the market is like in your part of the world, or what the competition is like. You want to make furniture for sale and that is great – but I think to get the word out you need to offer what people can’t walk into a furniture store and simply buy.

There’s not a lot of incentive for someone to commission a table from a furniture maker, when a store has a variety on display, priced to compete with all the other furniture stores and available to take away or have delivered in a week or two. It takes a very special client looking for something unique, with the will and money to commission a bespoke piece. My experience is that those clients are few and far between.

I really think it would be better if you were to market yourself as a maker of built-in or made-to-measure furniture for a start off. If someone wants an entertainment centre built into an alcove, they are not going to be able to go shopping for that… or stuff like storage under the stairs, or kneewall drawers, built in wardrobes etc.
If you could do those sort of things well, the free standing stuff will come – but it takes time.

As for getting the word out… I was fortunate that my wife is a nurse and told virtually everyone where she works that I was having a career change, my first proper paying job was putting in cupboards in the kneewalls of a dormer bungalow for one her colleagues, a friend of that couple liked the work I did and wanted a double doorway with fan lights at the top making for a remodel, that turned into about a half a dozen jobs, her daughter was an interior designer and she had more remodelling work… and it just kind of built up like that.

Again, I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world, but I didn’t find leaflets helped at all, advertising in the local paper wasn’t really worth it either, – it’s hard to break into a market where the few people who would get something made already know someone who they, or friends and family have used before.

I know a guy who makes really unconventional pieces from mostly structural veneers, so mostly swoopy, asymmetrical things, he gets his work by setting up a stall at a big ‘Design for Living’ expo once a year. I think it costs him a lot to get prepared for this and to pay for the floor space, but it works for him and keeps him busy until the same show the following year, so that might be worth considering.

If you know anyone who has a craft store or deli, it might be worth making a piece that you could put in their shop, as an advert for what you can do – but it would want to be something that’s going to get noticed.

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