After an artisan’s work juries into Indiana Artisan, becoming part of the brand, they attend a required bootcamp that explains “here’s what’s in this for you.” Every year, the list of benefits gets longer.
At the bootcamp, we explain that Indiana Artisan benefits can be taken a la carte. A lot depends on both where the Artisan’s business stands in its growth and development and the Artisan’s own business plan. Very few take advantage of everything, but there are benefits that all leverage to further grow their businesses.
Most Indiana Artisans take advantage of one or more of the sales opportunities – participating in the annual Indiana Artisan Marketplace tradeshow where they reach both a wholesale and retail market; participating in the annual Indiana Artisan Holiday Marketplace, the holiday showcase in downtown Fort Wayne of the best work coming from Indiana today; retailing via the Indiana Artisan store inside the French Lick Resort Hotel; following up on Indiana Artisan-provided leads with specific retailers; networking with other Indiana Artisans to uncover their own possibilities; attending workshops/conversations on pricing, target market identification, business planning, and more; having their shop/gallery/store/studio be part of one of the nine Indiana Artisan trails; and leveraging the Indiana Artisan brand so their work stands out as being among the state’s most exceptional. There are many additional, more subtle ways Artisans can leverage the organization to increase sales and business growth, and those are presented at the bootcamp. Bootcamps are a time for Q&A, and nearly all of the organization’s offerings have come from conversations at these gatherings, when Artisans talk about their individual needs and how they can be helped through the support of a larger group.
EDUCATION and NETWORKING
Many Artisans have expertise in a particular area. Some own galleries and can explain how to price your work. Others sell through national chains and can explain how that came to be. Some food Artisans in particular, such as Oliver Winery, have grown into dominant positions in their market over the course of many years and can explain how they reached today’s success. Some Artisans began pursuing their work after successful careers in professional areas such as photography, law, finance, graphic design and more, and they are willing to lend their expertise.
Indiana Artisan hosts regular gatherings all Artisans are invited to. Sometimes it’s a workshop led by a prominent speaker on a particular topic. Other times it’s a “conversation,” our word for a workshop led by a fellow Artisan, also on a specific topic. Conversations are sometimes in-person and, increasingly often, via webinars. They include “How to photograph your work,” “How to price your work,” “Time Management,” “Deciding whether wholesaling fits your business model,” and many others. Both the workshops and the conversations play a dual role. The educational benefit is obvious, but these sessions also bring Artisans together for casual networking, and that oftentimes results in benefit greater than the education.
The regular contact between Indiana Artisan and the Artisans allows us to get to know one another fairly well. We oftentimes refer to Indiana Artisan as “the family,” and now that it has grown to nearly 200 artists and food producers in nearly 60 counties, when someone in the family needs something there’s a good chance someone else has it, has done it, knows about, and/or has some advice. If the need is shared by many, perhaps the issue becomes a workshop or “conversation” topic. The point is that the organization stays in touch and is always available as a resource as Artisans seek to expand their businesses. How that happens is a varied as the needs, but the organization seeks to make it happen whenever it’s needed.
THE 5,000-FOOT VIEW
The Indiana Artisan brand gives meaning and recognition to high-quality Indiana-made art and food. To accomplish that, Indiana Artisan is:
• promoting art, hand-crafted and value-added food products made in Indiana, telling the stories of local artisans who produce them;
• encouraging artisans to leverage the Indiana Artisan logo and branding;
• providing access to entrepreneurial support and technical assistance;
• providing Internet representation via the Indiana Artisan website;
• helping artisans increase revenue and market growth through trade shows, retail displays and outlets, online representation, and collaborative statewide promotion efforts; and
• aiding and promoting local efforts to develop artisan-related, tourism-focused trail development throughout the state.
For art and value-added foods to be part of the organization, artisans need to successfully complete the jurying process. Applicants can be for-profit or not-for-profit corporations, as well as unincorporated individual artisans. Participants will include any artisan who, or business that:
• produces a visual arts product, hand-crafted by the applicant, or under the direct supervision of the applicant, that can be purchased
and taken by, or shipped to, the buyer (commissioned or made-to-order work, nor candles, nor soaps/bath/body products are eligible
at this time);
• creates works that contribute to the positive reputation of the artisan’s business and to the brand development of quality Indiana-
made/produced art, fine craft and food/drink;
• desires their art to be part of a set of locally produced goods branded as made in Indiana and carried in retail outlets, as well as sold via the Internet;
• creates their art in Indiana and has been located in Indiana for at least one year prior to the date of application;
• would benefit from entrepreneurial support – education, workshops, and on-site assessment;
• will participate in locally developed artisan trails promoted to in- and out-of-state travelers interested in place-based arts experiences;
• seeks to reach the retail market through participation in trade shows/marketplaces.
Launched in 2008 by the Office of Community and Rural Affairs, the Indiana Arts Commission, Indiana Office of Tourism Development, and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, Indiana Artisan today is a non-profit corporation that continues its mission of helping Hoosier artisans who produce fine art, crafts and value-added foods expand their businesses. It does this by leveraging the resources of partners statewide, as well as the four state agency partners and their statewide networks.