November 22nd proved to be an excellent day for a student arts market. Leading up to the event the five of us had worked hard to spread the word. Flyers had been posted all around campus and the community. Emails had been sent, Facebook posts were happening multiple times a day and our website gave the instant impression of a cozy fall day. We were interviewed and featured in the State Press and East Valley Tribune along with being included in Jeff McMahon’s cultural calendar. It took a few day’s after opening up to receive artist submissions before we got some response. All of our hypothesizing and data collecting had shown that student artists need a place to sell their work and someone else to organize the event. When we weren’t getting a strong response from artists to submit to sell their work at the student arts market we got nervous. It wasn’t long, however, until the theories from effectual entrepreneurship and the idea of lowering risk by canvasing and data gathering came to fruition. Our total artist submission reached 25. The market featured a wide variety of photography, knit scarves and hats, comics, piggy banks, duct tape bags and wallets, jewelry, dresses and paintings. I was able to do half of my Christmas shopping at the market! Casey Moore’s was an excellent location for the market and they were an incredible partner to have. They were extremely supportive and enthusiastic from the first pitch. They strongly support the arts and student endeavors. We felt happy to hear that they likewise greatly appreciated this partnership. Things were rolling and when the opening of the student arts market came around at 2 pm the sun was shinning, our artists were excited, our tables were ready and our signs and balloons were hung. By 2:10 our first three sales had been made! I loved walking around and seeing the student art and engaging in conversation with them about their work. I enjoyed some delicious fish and chips from Casey Moore’s. My biggest highlight was working with my fantastic classmates. Everyone contributed greatly and I was surrounded by incredible talent. Early on in the semester we had recognized that as a group we highly value helping artists support themselves. Seeing SAM happen gave us great satisfaction. It is easy to say that the first event of SAM was perfect. Our customers were happy and spent a lot of time getting to know the artists. Our artists were happy and able to sell their work. After everything was cleaned up and taken down we finalized the books. The result was that not only did we break even but we made a small profit. SAM was an absolute success! Thanks to Linda and her arts entrepreneurship class, classmates with vision and compassion, artists with drive, Casey Moore’s with extreme generosity and a community with a growing desire to support the arts I have come away from this experience with greater confidence in my ability to bring about success in the arts market. You can’t put a price on that!
We did it! SAM has come and gone and I’m going to go ahead and say it was a success. Very early on in the semester, the five of us defined what success would mean in this project. We decided our venture would not be a failure if in the end we broke even.
In his UDACITY videos, Steve Blank stresses the point that the founders have got to be the ones getting out of the building, asking questions of potential customers, talking about their ideas. On Saturday, I understood the importance of the founders being very present for the launch, as well. There were so many questions, so many small things to do (some we had planned for and some which were overseen). Sure, we had volunteers, but it was the 5 of us that truly were passionate about standing outside for 6+ hours; making sure the tables looked just right; greeting each artist as they arrived to set up; greeting each customer who walked through the entrances.
The feedback from our audience was GREAT. My job was to man the info table. Geared with my clicker for attendance and clipboard for a mailing list, I was fortunate to be on the receiving end of many excited, kind and complimentary comments about SAM. Most people thought it was a brilliant idea, some assumed we did it every week, many were super impressed it was student artists.
It was interesting to pay attention to which artists were selling a lot of work and assume why. We had a wiiiiiiiide variety of art and craft showcased; from large canvas paintings to $5 crochet hats. Some of the work seemed really underpriced to me (maybe from the artist lacking in confidence for their work? Or perhaps new to the art market scene?), while others priced artwork on the high end (usually it seemed justified, due to size or detail of the work). However, many of our 115+ visitors didn’t appear to be overly wealthy art connoisseurs (I mean, who knows, but the $650 paintings didn’t sell, so I think it is a safe assumption….). Artists with fairly inexpensive work (under $50) sold more, as did the unique gifts, like Molly Schenck’s clay polymer piggy banks (see below and Nathan Smith’s comic books and stickers.
Looking forward to debriefing with my fellow entrepreneurs on Wednesday. I’m proud of us as a collective and I think it went as smoothly and as well as we could have hoped, given the planning time and circumstances. And, like I said earlier, we cannot forget that originally we said we’d consider ourselves a success if we broke even. And we broke even!!!!!
As part of the SAM project I’ve thought a lot about how to engage particular types of audiences and different kinds of customers segments. This morning I had to stop at the gas station and as I was standing there, pumping my gas, I looked around and noticed the different types of customer segments that were also at the gas station. I began to wonder what it would take for me to market to each different customer segments that was around me. There was a Hispanic family of four individuals, a mom and dad and two young kids. There was also what looked to be three high school or college students in different cars, whom I assumed were friends, and were chatting with each other while they waited for their gas. Last, there was an industrial work/construction truck with two construction/manual labor men drinking coffee and chatting next to their truck while they waited. How could I sell SAM to each of these different customers segments?
For the Hispanic family of four, I would approach them by highlighting the fact that there would be pieces for under $30, great for people of all ages. For the high school/college students, I thought it would be more important to indicate the fact that the art pieces would be unique, like nothing that anyone else has, and they would be supporting other fellow students. Since I did not know the exact age of these what I assume to be students, I might first check to see how old they are to see if they’re actually college students. If they were, I would also spotlight the fact that it is at Casey Moore’s next to ASU, which might be enticing for college students. Finally, for the construction/labor workers, I would focus on the fact that there was going to be unique pieces of art but also the fact that it would be the perfect place to get holiday shopping done for their families way before the holidays. That way they would not have to deal with the madness that is Christmas shopping or holiday shopping during the end of November and December. As well as the fact that these types of gifts can not be found anywhere else and purchasing them would show they actually thought about what they were purchasing for their families, not the traditional things that they may always purchase.
From this experience, I thought it was interesting that just by looking at various customer segments the same one product could be marketed in very different ways and still have the potential to be effective.
SAM: Student Art Market is coming up soon. Very soon.
As we dove into a week of tying up loose ends, I found myself remembering one of our first class periods. The reading that week pointed out the importance of choosing who you enter into a new venture with. As you hit obstacles, you’re going to want to have people by your side who can help troubleshoot, instead of leaving you alone to face the challenge. You want to have the type of team who will question how much work you’re taking on, not because they don’t think you’ll deliver, but because they actually care about your well-being and how far you’re willing to stretch yourself.
Throughout this process, we’ve all been pushed outside of our comfort zones. For some, that meant approaching our potential audience to pitch an idea. For others, it might have been helping to maintain a web site for the first time or building out 3 year projections. For me, it was learning to fully trust a new set of business partners. I’m accustomed to sharing major responsibilities with someone that I’ve been working with for nearly a decade. There’s a level of understanding, nuance, and safety that develops in that length of time. Although, I’ve known most of my team for about a year and a half now, the idea of creating a venture of this nature came with real risks. Would we make back our investment? Would people show up to the event? Would we all make it through in one piece? Would this project succeed or fail?
Our event is only 4 days away, and instead of feeling stressed out about the impending activities, I’m excited. While I know that our team is not only capable, but exceptional, it’s hard to predict how everything will turn out.
Stay tuned to find out next week!
This week I:
- Posted 8 ½ x 11 Artist Submission flyers around campus, all over the art building on ASU’s campus and at Cartel, the coffee shop next door to Casey Moore’s (the location of the market).
- Emailed theatre professors and graduate students asking them to spread the word about artist submissions to their undergraduate students.
- Emailed my circles of friends, fellow graduate students and student artists whom I had met previously to encourage them to submit their work.
- Passed out 20 art submission small flyers and about 25 general SAM flyers to First Friday attendees in downtown Phoenix.
- Left a pile of small SAM flyers at my yoga studio for fellow yogis to pick up.
- Posted several Facebook statuses on the business page and invited every single Arizona contact I have to ‘like’ us.
- Directly emailed the presidents and vice presidents of two campus art clubs to encourage them to submit art.
- Spoke directly to approximately 10 potential student artists.
Guess which garnered the most interest?
You guessed it: talking directly to people is what hooks them. While walking around downtown Phoenix’s First Friday with Emily this weekend, artists really seemed interested as they heard more and more about SAM. Many of them weren’t students but had student children, student friends, student partners, etc., so I gave out a lot of flyers. Artists also perked up once they heard that we would set everything up for them and all they needed to bring was themselves and their art.
I also had the chance to talk to about 5 ASU student artists. Three of them are in one of my classes and I’ve been bugging them about SAM for weeks, but one of them happened serendipitously. I complimented her on her cool iPhone case, which, she informed me, she made herself.
I used to make these all the time and sell them on Etsy.
A lightbulb goes on in Ashley’s head.
HEY! I’m in an Arts Entrepreneurship class and we are organizing an art market on November 22! You should totally sell these!
She told me to send her the info and she would definitely consider it AND pass it along to her friends.
Though emailing and social media takes time (oh so much time), ultimately, standing or walking around outside and talking to people takes even more time; time that graduate students don’t have much of. Nevertheless, if we really want a minimum of 15 artists to sell their work on the 22nd, we’ve got to keep talking to people directly.
Next week I will:
- TALK TO ARTISTS at:
- ASU Art building
- In classes
- At Cartel and Casey Moore’s
It’s funny how momentum can pick up on an endeavor like this.
After weeks of discussion about getting out of the building, and how to define our audience, we made some huge decisions over the last two weeks.
Our team came to a consensus to name our event SAM (Student Art Market), and by the end of one night of furious emailing, had launched a web site, a Facebook business page, and created an array of PR teasers to help promote our event. This is critical, because the event is soon, only a little over two weeks away.
This creates some real challenges with the process of developing customer relationships. Our goal, to get, keep, and grow customers is being pushed into an tight timeline, and we have to work our hardest to strike up meaningful conversations and connections that will translate to attendance at our event. This time crunch has also created the necessity for additional meeting times outside of class. We’re establishing a marketing plan, determining the logistics of the event, and beginning to map out our 3 year projections.
It’s exciting, to put it simply. We’re beginning to see these ideas snowball into a real event. It’s taking shape, and we’re the ones who are doing the shaping.
After a great meeting with David at Casey Moore’s last Wednesday a date was set for our Student Arts Market. We are excited to announce that NOVEMBER 22 is the day! Mark your calendars! We’ve definitely marked ours and have jumped on this excellent opportunity. No more than 24 hours later we got our website, facebook and email up and running. Check us out at http://haveyouheardofsam.wix.com/sam2014 or go on facebook and find us at https://www.facebook.com/StudentArtMarket. This week has been exciting as we’ve been feeling the fruits of our labors. Our teamwork has reached a new level. Getting all of our media up so quickly required timely response, collaboration and support. Each of the five of us has offered unique talents and skills and we’ve been having a lot of fun. Along with developing our marketing plan we have also been sharing our good news with our potential student artist exhibitioners. We have also been careful to continue to brainstorm as a group all logistics so that the Student Arts Market will match our great vision. It is very rewarding to see how all of our preparation through research and filling out and keeping our business model poster updated has allowed us to bring things together quickly. There is definitely buzz around the Student Arts Market and anticipation for positive outcomes. We are very happy to have our venture hosted by Casey Moore’s. The parking lot opening from the restaurant will make for an excellent place to showcase our artists and provide a casual atmosphere for our community.