Monday, 16 August 2010

An Open Letter to the UK Handmade Industry

Mary Portas: Fashion industry consultant has released a response to a call for advice from the UK handmade Industry. The response was triggered due to an innovative marketing campaign which encouraged makers to sign a petition and display a badge (image above) on their blog or web page.

This letter offers honest and direct advice to all of those designer makers trading handmade goods. To compete with the big boys handmade goods need to be stylish, sexy and desirable to stand out. 

1. If you're selling online, look at Topshop, ASOS and Liberty - these are your competition for share of £'s spent. Then look at Etsy. Spot the difference.

2. PR - of you've got a product that deserves space in magazines, you'll get it. Write a lost of ten magazines you want to appear in. Then call them. But add your point of difference. Tell the press why you are unique.

3. Think about produce adjacency's on your site. Yours are all over the place. I noticed an absolutely gorgeous necklace that was placed next to an odd glass painted tile - what is this saying about the necklace? Segment the range to lifestyle and end use.

4. Pricing - you say in your letter that you'd like handmade to be a "viable, affordable choice". If I am honest, at first sight some of the pricing seems quite premium. I find £25 for three egg cosys a bit steep. However if under the produce there was a beautiful design, fabric and source story which I as a customer can pass onto my friends, then I might not shirk at that cost. Remember Status Stories are the Status Symbols replacing logos, brands and general bling. 

I think each point offers independent designer maker's something to consider. Portas also highlights that handmade goods will stand out if they are beautiful , stylish and presented in a sophisticated way. I like the last point which references "Status stories are replacing logos, brands and general bling..." The narrative surrounding the product is really important and what separates the handmade from the mass produced.

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