Friday, February 25, 2011

Business Tips: Naming Your Business

by Dr. Cheryl Cottle

Naming your business is one of the most important tasks in your business planning. The business name you select and what will best represent you and what your entrepreneurial venture is about, is a real issue that entrepreneurs must resolve early in the development of their business. Research shows that it is wise to have about three business names that you are comfortable with when you visit your business registration office. A name search is conducted to determine if the name that you provided is already in use by another business. In the event that it is not available, you can draw on the other names that you came up with as alternative suitable names. It is also advised by business naming experts that you should choose a name that you like and that you can live with for many years, although a business may go through a name change as they change.

Business naming experts also recommend that in choosing a name for your business, you must be careful that it does not lock your business within a particular geographical location; doing so can limit your ability to expand and access a wider target audience. For example, with globalization many businesses now have the opportunity to go global, thus expanding their market, and a name that suggest that you are only available for business in a particular area or town would limit your access. Therefore, think of the possibilities for expansion before deciding upon a name.

Research also shows that the name that you choose must be unique to you. The business name should reflect you and not another business entity. Make sure that there isn’t any confusion as to whose business it is when potential clients do a search. Remember that prospective clients can easily find you by conducting an Internet search or while shopping in your district. Having a unique business name also means that you can effectively brand your business and have a unified presence in the marketplace. Your website, business card, twitter, Facebook, blog and other marketing tools can use the same name and image.

Very often you find that you come upon a business with a name so close to another that you cannot discern which company it is. For example, a business with a name such as “Cheryl’s Original Designs” and another who chooses the name “Cheryl’s Original Design,” is much too close to be an accident. If the two businesses are located in the same commercial area or has an online presence in the same business sector, this tells your client and prospective clients that you lack originality and may also put in question your credibility. It may also imply that you are unethical and a thief. Trust then becomes an issue in your relationship building with customers and other businesses with which you will like to partner with, and may therefore limit your business opportunities. People question your authenticity and trustworthiness, and may not do business with you. Clients and prospective clients loose trust in your business offerings when they come to know that your business name is someone else’s or that it is so close that you are “piggy backing” on another business marketing and branding.
Research also shows that using another company's business name can also result in a lawsuit. This can result in you having a great financial lost. You may have already established a business presence in a location, you have customers, lots of inventory, and you now have to change your business name. Naming your business is like parents naming their baby. Parents often think long and hard before choosing a name for their precious little ones; and we chose names that the child can live with throughout his or her lifetime. We put love and care into the naming process. Similar to naming a business, you must choose a name that you can live with, a name that is unique to you and what your business focuses on, and should consider both short-term and long-term objectives.

About the Author
Dr. Cheryl Cottle is the founder and chief consultant of Cottle's Professional Consulting. Dr. Cottle is an education and business development consultant, and has written several post for Crafted Spaces. She holds a Masters degree in Instructional Technology and a Doctorate degree in Education and Computer Applications. She has worked as a consultant for over ten years and is also a social media expert, who works with individuals and organizations to achieve their professional and business goals. Dr. Cottle also provides women entrepreneurs with valuable business development resources through her CPC Women in Business group and other initiatives.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Profile: Anna Hewitt

In November 2010, I first connected with Anna Hewitt designer and founder of Seedling Design. After introducing her to Crafted Spaces and our profiles, we started down our journey of multiple emails and eventually a telephone interview. I was pleased to interview her for this Crafted Spaces Profile, and I hope that you will find it insightful.

Anna indicates that she studied Art at collage and throughout the years have sewn and expressed herself creatively. Originally from Maine, Anna and her husband recently moved to Minnesota; and amidst the many changes she decided to further explore her creativity. During the summer of 2010 Seedling Design showed its' initial sprout. This budding new business venture touches on the old fashion art of appliqué. Anna indicates that she loves the shapes and loves working with fabric.

Anna's designs are influenced by her work in community gardens and her commitment to conserving resources as part of daily life. She reuses materials and uses organic cotton where possible. Her market bags are also in support of the growing trend towards using reusable bags for shopping. Anna is continuing to develop her products and when asked what are her major influences; she credits the fabric and indicating that it shapes her work. Each piece essentially evolves out of the colours and patterns of the fabrics she finds.

"I also feel strongly that whatever I make should have a positive impact on people, the earth and our environment. Whenever possible I use repurposed or organic fabric and I strive to make things that can help you lesson your impact on the environment."

Anna identifies that working by herself has been her primary challenge. She has felt "isolated" and "uncertain" about how her work is being received. Like many others who first start off with a desire to work and live creatively, Anna currently works part-time and will like to make Seedling Design a primary business. However, as she develops her creative business venture, she tries to approach things in an organized way, keeping records and moving in the direction of a formal business plan. Her advice to others is to, "do something creative, creating is really important."

Anna currently sells her work on Etsy, but has indicated that "it can be difficult to standout." She has however, been "pleasantly surprised" with the response. She has also sold her work at craft fairs and hope to be in stores this spring. Her designs are practical and have a rustic, homely charm.

Anna also has a blog called The Road to the Farm where she shares her journey; and where since January 2011, she has also introduced interviews with other artist. Seedling Design can also be found on Facebook and have been featured on several Etsy Treasuries. However, when searching for her Etsy shop, please note that there is a Seedling Designs that has jewellery on the same site.

When I think of appliqué, I am filled with fond childhood memories of my great-grand-mothers aprons and table runners. This wonderful art form has been done for centuries; skilfully sewing one or more pieces of fabric onto a larger background to create a landscape of colour and shapes. It is employed by many quilters and perhaps even your mom. If you will like to explore more about appliques, perhaps the following books are a great place to start; Sew Liberated by Meg Mcelwee and Applique: Craft Workshop Series by Petra Boase, both of which have great projects and illustrates various techniques.

*All images contained in this post are courtesy of Anna Hewitt.

Join us again as we bring you an inspirational profile, that looks at two mompreneurs who shared with us their new creative business venture. You are also invited to read and view our other profiles and reviews.

Updated 12/12/13

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Recovering a Chair Seat

This is one of the chairs that I sit on at my studio. I have wanted to recover the seat for some time now. A couple summers ago, my husband and I found this wonderful wrought iron chair as part of a set of three. It was a great find at a little antique shop in Toronto's Roncesvalles area. Since getting the chair I have considered repainting it, but I have a difficult time departing from is shabby chic appearance and love the wonderful charm that it exudes. I did have to redo the seating when I got it, as only one of the three chairs actually had any kind of seating.

The first material I used was a great cotton print that looks very organic and I just loved the texture. However, it has been a couple years and after sitting at my desk day after day, it has become a necessity to change the seat, in the name of comfort. I have purchased several pieces of fabric for this job; including an amazing cotton print from the Designer Fabric Outlet in Toronto. However, I finally settled on something that I feel has both beauty and longevity. The colour also coordinates well with the drapery and space. I hope that this project will inspire you to make the change to a piece of your own.

What you will need:
- fabric
- batting
- foam (if needed)
- scissors
- staple gun
- spray adhesive (if replacing foam)
- pliers (to remove staples)


Step 1: Strip the seat of the old fabric. If needed replace foam and any batting. Remove any glue residue and place new foam on seat (you can use a spray adhesive to keep in place). Cover with some batting for additional cushioning.

Step 2: Reduce the bulk by trim batting along corners and staple in place.

Step 3: Cut new fabric several inches wider than the seat. You can use the old fabric as a guide. Place seat centre on wrong side of new fabric with seat side facing down.

Step 4: Start stapling at the front centre point, then turn the piece and stable on the opposite side, while pulling fabric tightly. Rotate piece and continue on other sides. Continue to pull tightly and secure with staples.

Step 5: Gather the fabric as flat as possible. In this case example the material is very tick, so it was folded and flattened tightly. Secure fabric with staples.

Step 6: Trim excess fabric and batting

Step 7: You can finish the underside of the seat by cutting a piece of fabric (e.g. cotton) a little bigger than the dimensions of your seat, turn the edges in and staple along the edges to cover the raw ends of your chair fabric.

Now you are ready to place your seat back on the chair. Have fun :-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Worksheet: Show Evaluation

In the blog post titled: "Selecting Craft and Trade Shows," I mentioned sharing with you a "Show Evaluation" sheet. This is a little worksheet that I have created to assist with evaluating which craft or trade shows to attend. It is a simple tool that list important factors to consider when making your decision.

This worksheet has seen several changes over the years and it is sure to evolve even more with time; however, I hope that it helps you get started in your selection process. You can gather information from show websites or direct from show management. It is a good idea to ask show vendors for their feedback. If possible, I also suggest asking individuals that have attended the show as customers. You may also want to consider visiting the show for an in-person assessment. You can use the worksheet to organize the information you gather and to rank the various shows under consideration.

Download FREE worksheet --> Click Here!

Please take the time to complete our survey on this topic. Thank you!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pricing Your Handcrafted Products

by Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby

Ok . . . I have decided to write about a little pet peeve I have. In my mind, unless you have an attic full of mice that sing you songs and work diligently through the night sewing your designs; then what's the deal with bargain basement pricing on handmade goods? Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for keeping cost low and products affordable for buyers, but what does it say about the value of one's labour and creativity when a handmade pair of earrings are $5.00 or less?
Over the years I have pondered this subject and I'm yet to figure out what type of margin could possibly be made on these products. As mentioned in my blog on selecting craft and trade shows, the prices of other vendor's products play a factor in my decision making when choosing which shows to attend. I have found it difficult to market what I do, while next to another vendor that under values their products.

When I price my designs I consider a few things:
  1. Cost of the raw materials
  2. Cost of design and labour
  3. Other production cost, including cost of machinery and tools used in production
  4. Cost of packaging and branding
  5. Cost of getting the goods to market, including trade and craft show, transportation, accommodations, sales labour, etc.
  6. The uniqueness of the product
Now, I'm sure I've forgotten to include a thing or two. However, the main point I wanted to get across is that when you price your designs you should consider not only what the "market will bear," and what your competitors are charging, but also what it cost you to produce it and the value you place on your creativity and labour.

When you decide to take your designs to market, you should also consider the impact that your pricing has on those who rely on selling their work as a full time career. Your pricing influences other's ability to communicate and empress the value that goes into generating an original limited edition and often one-of-a-kind product.

Here are a few great links to help you get on your way to better pricing:

  • If you are on Etsy, then take advantage of some of the great articles posted on their blog. Here is a link to one post that speaks to the subject of; "Reevlauating Your Prices."
  • Visit eHow for some simple guidelines on product pricing.
  • The Business Development Bank of Canada also provides a wealth of online information that can help you with this and other issues.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Felt Book Jacket

I have wanted to share this great little project for some time now. It was a lot of fun and is super cute and easy to make. You can modify the dimensions for any size book, journal or binder. There are countless ways that you can embellish this project. I have attached a handmade crochet pin from the upcoming Verona Collections spring collection.

I used a heavy weight felt and did a machine stitch using the same colour as my flower; which added a bit of detail over the chocolate brown felt. You can also add a button or ribbon closure if you like.

Download the FREE instructions on how to make this project.

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