Can you already hear the naysayers saying that’s not possible?
Niche Artisan Textiles
Why it’s hot:
Barriers to entry:
What does the future look like?
- What is the market that you’re targeting exactly?
- Aim small miss small, and then if you aimed at the right target and hit it in the center, you will achieve great results
- We aimed at serving Icelandic sheep farmers who wanted lopi yarn for the glory of God and the joy of all peoples.
- What are you striving to become best at and how can you eliminate all other distractions?
- Marie Condo – Does it spark joy?
- Be an essentialist and learn to say no to what’s non-essential
- The first seven years of our business we continued to say yes to more and more things, and it became increasingly frustrating to find our niche. In the last seven years, we found the true value of saying no was that it allowed you to say yes to the niche which represented us best.
- What’s your plan for safety and ergonomics?
- 25,000 hours later I wish I would have thought about this from the start
- In the 14 years that we were in business, our industry had over 15 injuries that rendered people’s lives forever changed that I personally know of. Movements and capabilities that they will never get back.
- For lack of understanding ergonomics, my career in production was cut short and I had to develop an exit strategy from day to day operations.
- Do you really want to offer all these possible options?
- Giving your customer access to all the options that the niche artisan textile equipment has at its disposal is so complex that it becomes confusing to the customer, and it’s very difficult to keep it all organized, let alone properly educating your customer.
- It’s very important to keep your ordering process simple and straightforward – less is more.
- We let our customers know that we were craftsmen and artisans and that we were committed to making all things beautiful. We kept detailed recipes that allowed us to repeat any product that we had made for them in the past, as long as they had provided us with the same raw materials.
- How well does that process or product scale?
- Just because you can make something doesn’t mean you should offer it as a product to others.
- Some things don’t scale well, and you must develop it and let the process mature before it’s brought to market – this allows for the process to become simple and efficient so that you can deliver the shortest turn around time to your customers.
- What does your customer actually want?
- The voice of the customer is invaluable. Take time surveying your customers to know what do they expect? What they prefer? What are their aversions?
- When we first started out we surveyed the entire ISBONA member list asking questions that would better help us understand our market. We used this data in developing our business plan.
- What is the creative process, and how experienced are you with it?
- Your customers need to rely on your creative expertise, which requires that you continue to master the craft of textile. The machines and tools cannot be your enemy but an intimate friend.
- While your customer is very concerned with the value you are able to create with their raw materials, you should never assume that the customer knows or understands what’s best to do with their fiber or what that requires.
- Do you have the patience and discipline to become a craftsman?
- Who will teach you skill development/insights,
- Are you a good student? Niche artisan textiles require a lot of hands-on research and application always keep reading and studying in your field – expanding your expertise.
- The lack of artistry and craftsmanship are very easily recognizable in the marketplace. Your job is to know the how and why of making all things beautiful.
- How mechanically minded are you?
- How comfortable are you at turning a wrench and wiring electrical circuits if it was a requirement of your job?
- Sure you can hire someone to do it for you tomorrow, or in a week if they have time, but being able to fix it now and get things back online is so much handier and way more profitable.
- How good are you at the problem-solving process?
- Every day is similar to a story problem, but none of the variables are ever the same, different fiber, different environment, different product
Resources for further research:
- Forbes: Millennials Are Ready For Crafting
- Craft Beer Slide Share by Brick+Bond
- Belfast Mini Mills Ltd
- Stonehedge Fiber Milling Equipment, LLC
- The Craftsman by Richard Sennet
- Essentialism: the disciplined pursuit of less by Greg McKeown
Until next time,