Business Advice?

I have committed to having a stand at a local Christmas market in November to showcase my ceramics which will hopefully kick start a business that will support my portion of the bills in the long run so that I no longer have to work where I am currently working… *gets dreamy look in her eyes*

The thing is that I cannot paint hundreds of pieces with the hope of selling them during the market days (I have to pay upfront for my bisque and paints and glazing etc which might result in me being severely out of pocket if I don’t manage to sell anything at all).  What I am planning to do is to paint some really excellent pieces (how vain am I?) that range in design to suit a wide selection of tastes and hopefully sell them all but to also in the process get some orders from people who attend the market (I am having cheapo business cards made for this purpose)…

The deal is that I need to pay the lady who is hosting the market 20% of my sales, but my question is this – does that include any possible orders that I might obtain from the market at a later stage?  Ethically I feel that I need to pay her 20% of the orders that are placed by people while physically at the stall as they will be sales I made directly due to being at her market, but have been confusing myself as to whether these “sales” are considered “proper” sales in terms of the deal?  I 100% feel that any orders I may get from people who have taken my card and contact me *after* the market has concluded are not liable for the 20% commission… I need to iron out these details with her before I confirm the stall to avoid any confusion as to commission rights further down the road.

Advise please – what do you think is the correct method of commission payment in terms of sales vs orders placed?

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11 thoughts on “Business Advice?

  1. Yes I also agree. I think it should be 20% for sales made at the fair. This can be seen as reimbursment for using ‘services’ that would not have been there if it were not for the fair. At the end of the day you are the one that is providing the service so it is simply a one time referrel fee. Repeat customers will return if they are happy with the work YOU produced……not because they like the fair. 🙂

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  2. This is my pipe dream too. I’ve agreed to do a Saturday at a harvest festival in October, but between working my real job and everything else, I doubt I’ll have time to have things made. So I’m planning on not doing it now.

    I would say you only owe them 20% of what you sell there. Any sales that occur from the market are your’s, that and there is no guarantee that prospective sales will become sales.

    Hope this helps.

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  3. Sam, not sure about the comm story, but I for one have seen your work and even own my own little peace of that heave and I would LOVE to buy from you. Why not add a section on your blog where you can post photo’s of some of your stuff and we can email you orders?
    I’m dying to buy some stuff for myself and for family and friends!

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  4. Did they give you some kind of written agreement?

    “20% of my sales” – If your intent is to take mostly orders, then yes, all concluded orders should be considered as sales. I assume there would be upfront payment/a deposit involved.
    (can be quantified on the day of the market)

    “does that include any possible orders that I might obtain from the market at a later stage?” – No
    (cannot be quantified on the day of the market)

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  5. I would just ask. I’m guessing you aren’t the first one to run into this and she may already have a policy in place. I wouldn’t think it should include future orders, but I also wouldn’t want her to feel screwed over and not let you sell there again.

    I would argue that future orders could be cancelled or changed so it would be hard to iron out everything the day of the event.

    Good luck!! I would love to see some pics of the finished products. (:

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  6. Hi hon, I don’t know anything about commissions, just wanted to say that I hope your stuff sells and that you will have an overwhelming amount of interest at the market!!

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  7. Hi Sam
    I totally agree with Shaz that you should make a space on your blog for your friends to order from. As for the market – tricky but I would clarify with her up front. I’m guessing that 20% of sales from the market and any orders placed at the market. Any orders thereafter would not qualify. Good luck and hope you make a mint!!

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  8. Thanks for your ICLW comment — you’re the first potter I’ve met online! I would love to see your work, either at a Show and Tell or through the online store that people have been suggesting.

    My own inclination is that orders placed at the show deserve commission but orders placed afterwards (either first-time referred from the show or follow-up orders) would not. Say another artist does not do orders but just sells what they have on hand. Someone buys a piece at the show. Later, that customer tracks down the artist and orders a matching set to go with the first piece. I have never heard of a situation where the original show would get commissions on all future work sold to customers that you met at the show. However, it seems like most times there are commissions when you place orders at a show. For example, if you’re running credit cards for the orders, you may use the show’s credit card setup to do so, and clearly you could not place the order without the show.

    If you know anyone else who is presenting at that show, you might double-check with them. I’ve never sold any of my work — I just fill up my own cupboards plus the occasional gift or prize for my blog.

    I would also like to make a case for printing up non-cheapy business cards. I think that glossy cards with a photo of one of your signature pieces would add a lot of credibility to your “business”, esp. since most people will be placing orders for the future. They need to trust that if they give you money, they really will get a product, and that the product will be what they expect. When I go to arts shows I tend to see glossy postcards (somewhere around 4 inch by 6 inch or a little larger) instead of business cards — easier to see the detail on the photo, and harder to lose when you’re walking around all day. The card could also mention your new etsy site or other website where you will display everything, further adding credibility and also upping the chances that people will buy. It’s a lot easier for people to see what’s in front of them than to visualize something that doesn’t exist. Then, even when you sell a piece, if you’re able to recreate another one exactly like it, you could leave the picture up on the website rather than considering it “sold.”

    Finally since you’re new to this I’d like to mention the idea of liability insurance. I’m not sure how things are in SA (hopefully better), but here in the US if a pottery makes a coffee mug, and the handle breaks off and the customer gets hot coffee spilled on them, the customer can sue the pottery. Liability insurance protects you from such litigation. My pottery teacher recommended it for anyone who is selling any of their work. Stuff like that is exactly why I keep my work instead of selling it — that, and I haven’t made enough volume yet for my own needs much less to sell it all!

    Good luck!

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  9. Pingback: Anyone interested? « Communiqué

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