Finest Imaginary’s Kim shares her handmade selling tips

Finest imaginary, cactus jewellery

I’d say the overwhelming promotional success has always been word of mouth. Treat your customers well, give them an ‘experience’ (make your customer service, packaging excellent), and they’ll recommend you to their friends.

Finest Imaginary was born in the summer of 2007, the brainchild of Kim Lawler (Interactive Arts BA Hons, coffee drinker and kitty lover) and her ambition to transform a serious obsession with stories, monsters and make-believe into sweet jewellery, clever notebooks and ‘awwww’-inducing accessories. Kim designs each and every item in the Finest Imaginary range from her studio in Hudderfield. We tapped Kim for her top tips on selling, markets, promotion and pricing. Take heed Folksy sellers, this girl knows her stuff… 

How did you start your business?
I first started my business when I was fresh out of university, people were just starting to sell their work online at the time, so it was an easy transition. I’ve always been quite technically minded, so I didn’t hesitate with setting up an online store.

How do you sell your work – online, wholesale, markets? Which one works best?
All of the above! I sell my work through my own website and several online market places. The online side of my business is steady, and it’s my main revenue stream. As I ‘work on the internet’, I find it easy to keep up with. I also have stockists around the world, and I’m steadily growing my wholesale accounts. Wholesale is brilliant as it helps me get my business name out into a wider field.

Smaller markets tend to be quite slow… well-established, larger and busier craft fair (while costing more for your spot) have always yielded better results for me.

I used to do quite a few markets, but over the past couple of years I’ve decided to just concentrate on a few larger markets around the festive period. Smaller markets tend to be quite slow, and once you take into account your time (and what else you could be doing with it!) it makes you realise how unproductive they can be. Well-established, larger and busier markets (while costing more for your spot) have always yielded better results for me.

I think a combination of all those sales portals keeps my business running smoothly – it’s really hard to pin down one or the other as being the best. Looking at my takings for the past year, it’s all pretty evenly spread.

Finest imaginary, seller tips

How do you promote your work?
I’ve pursued several methods of promotion for my work, from online advertising, sponsorship, to giving away items. For me, and my business, I’d say the overwhelming promotional success has always been word of mouth. Treat your customers well, give them an ‘experience’ (make your customer service, packaging etc excellent), and they’ll recommend you to their friends.

One of the best things I ever did was get myself an accountant. I know it’s an expense many small-scale makers can’t afford, but I can honestly say that my accountant ended up saving me money

I’ve actively started to steer clear of giving my products to ‘goodie-bag’ style promotions. From the outside it looks like a good deal, you’ll get exposure just for giving some of your items to people, but in reality it can screw up your cash flow.

Burger Coaster Set, Finest Imaginary

Kim’s Burger Coaster Set for Finest Imaginary

Do you work on your own, or do you have people who help you?
I’m a solo-worker in the main, but at busy periods I’ve been known to draft in the help of friends and family. As my business grows, I can definitely see the potential for outsourcing certain aspects of my business, or taking on a part-time employee. Ideally, someone will perfect cloning within the next 12 months!

kim lawler, finest imaginary

Is there anything you’ve found particularly difficult?
One of the things that haunted my early years of running a business was dealing with accounts. I swear I used to wake up in a cold sweat about my tax return! I struggled through, of course, but one of the BEST things I ever did was get myself an accountant. Obviously, I know (from experience!) that it’s an expense many small-scale makers can’t afford, but I can honestly say that my accountant ended up saving me money in the long run by helping me work out several expenses that I couldn’t before. There’s a tonne of help out there for doing your own accounts and tax returns, too, so definitely take a look in to the free courses offered by HMRC and the like.

Keep on top of your costs and DON’T under price your work. There’s nothing worse than seeing a competent maker selling their work at ridiculously low prices.

What’s your top tip for Folksy makers?
Keep on top of your costs and DON’T under price your work. There’s nothing worse than seeing a competent maker selling their work at ridiculously low prices! Be a nice boss, and give yourself a pay rise. Selling your work at lower prices is going to do nothing for your business, you’ll just become apathetic to your craft and start producing sub-par products. You’re also actively harming our industry by promoting the ‘cheap’ tag on handcrafted/studio-made goods. Let’s reclaim the Artisanal Quality price tag, eh?

Don’t underprice your work… you’re actively harming our industry by promoting the ‘cheap’ tag on handcrafted/studio-made goods. Let’s reclaim the Artisanal Quality price tag, eh?

 

finest imaginary interview

Read our interview with Kim on our Tumblr, or visit her shop, Finest Imaginary, on Folksy.

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  • October 31, 2013

    Lizzy

    Loved reading how u started im thinking of joining folksy myself, ive always been artistic and loved making my own stuff from a very young age but time passed by and five children later ive lost alot of confidence and just the thought of starting up petrifies me especially the business, tax,accountants etc i feel very out of my depth.

  • November 3, 2013

    Charlotte Pearce

    I’ve recently joined Folksy and having made a couple of small sales I get the sense of how exiting it is to sell something you have also loved making.
    Your article is inspirational and gives many useful tips to us newbies. Great read.

  • July 31, 2015

    Rebeca

    I am so glad I ran into this article. Especially when I get to creating my other products. Thanks for sharing.

  • July 31, 2015

    Diane Lee

    Some great advice and especially a reminder about not selling too cheap – it’s true you sometimes feel a pressure to sell at any price but if you want to enjoy the making process it is important not to give in. Thank you Kim for sharing this valuable advice. x