We had an inventive and fruitful discussion of the question: How can Pueblo makers make money?
The announcement for the meeting said:
We have had brainstorming sessions before, with helpful results, on the needs of Pueblo creatives, artists, and makers. Based on discussions with the Pueblo Arts Alliance (Karen Foglesong), the Pueblo Library (Sharon Rice), and TickTock (Emily Gradisar), I will lead a discussion based on these questions, which focus on selling, not on making. If you can’t attend, I welcome your input via email reply.
- What types of events bring you good sales? Holiday bazaars, summer community events, the Pueblo Chile Festival, etc? How do you find out about events? What types of events does Pueblo need more of? How much do you pay to participate in such events?
- Where do you physically have your items for sale? In local stores or other venues? What places work well for you?
- Where do you virtually have your items for sale? Facebook, Etsy, Pueblo Arts Alliance online store (https://www.puebloarts.org/shop-local-art/), your own webpage, etc.?
- What are the benefits and drawbacks of physical sales versus online sales? Do you aim to sell in Pueblo or nationally?
- How do you maintain contact with your previous customers? Email, Facebook, Instagram?
- How do you use social media promotion? Sam says nerdforge does this really well.
Eugene Watson of Watson Woodwooks said he advertises with Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/watswood/), although Etsy hastaken away a lot of control. You can pick which products to advertise and they automatically do the advertising. Google almost gives you too much control, so that you need to hire someone to handle it.
Monique said that many local food producers, such as Jojo’s Sriacha (https://jojossriracha.com/), Formula 55 (https://formulary55.com/), and Blackbox (https://blackboxprovisions.com/), get most of their business from outside Pueblo. Local high end food products such as theirs are not sold in say King Sooper’s.
Online platforms and opportunities that Pueblo makers and artists can use:
- Supporting Pueblo: https://supportingpueblo.com/ Sell on Supporting Pueblo: https://supportingpueblo.com/sell/ . The Supporting Pueblo shop was created by the City, County, and Chambers during the pandemic and is now run by the Latino Chamber. Monique said the Pueblo Food Project used it for their online pantry. The platform is free and takes no cut of the income, but none of us were sure if it is still active.
- The Pueblo Arts Alliance platform https://www.puebloarts.org/
- Shop: https://www.puebloarts.org/shop-local-art/ Email Karen (email@example.com) to get listed.
- The Pueblo Arts Alliance FB page (https://www.facebook.com/PuebloArts) is featuring an artist or maker.
- The Pueblo Arts Alliance will have a show in November in the Liminal Space gallery at the Arts Alliance for small works; entries will be accepted Nov 1 and 2, and the show will open 5th, 5-7 pm. The show runs through Nov 28.
- The Pueblo Makes website (https://pueblomakes.com/) has:
- A directory of useful links for makers (top of the home page). Email Zach at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.
- A directory of makers (https://pueblomakes.com/makers.html ) – send a photo and brief bio to Zach at email@example.com to be added.
- A calendar (bottom of the home page). Send events to Jane at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Zach and Jane will work on improving the Pueblo Makes page. Jane will update the calendar. Zach updated the page with other links during the meeting.
- Kayci said that library meeting rooms are used for some little bazaars and are free, but COVID-19 restrictions limit the number of people who can be in the room and the Library won’t promote the event. The meeting rooms are free to book. Rawlings is being remodeled, but the branch libraries have such meeting rooms available.
Van’s items are listed on Etsy (https://www.etsy.com/shop/WoodTurningArtByVan?ref=simple-shop-header-name&listing_id=990957064) and on the Arts Alliance shop with the same info in both spaces. New to Pueblo Makes, Van said he makes wood items as hobby; when he sells an item, he buys a new too.
We agreed that the most successful Pueblo artists and makers are selling outside of Pueblo.
We discussed selling items at in person events, such as craft bazaars. The consensus was that COVID-19 will again prevent there being many events this year. Russ, for example, said the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center is not doing their event this year. Karen said she hasn’t seen any notice for the one usually at the State Fairgrounds. The Chieftain has run, in the past, a big list of all the events, but we don’t know if they will do that. Someone said there has been no notice of the usual bazaar by the Pueblo West Women’s group either. Emily said that Corwin Middle School will be holding a crafts fair.
Jane mentioned that she had seen Lois’s wood items displayed at Books Again, the used bookstore just down the hill from the Rawlings Library. Lois said that the glass display case contains some of her turned items; the bookstore gets half the revenue. She said she uses her other turnings for gifts and raffles but the store gives her a little outlet.
We had a long and very positive discussion of the possibility of creating an annual festival, focused on the work of creatives, artists, and makers in Pueblo. Such an event should attract people from outside Pueblo to come here specifically to shop. Kacie said there were some vendors at the multicultural festival, but we don’t know how well they did in sales. Karen said that people who attend the Chile & Frijoles festival seem focused on chile, beer, and bands; the Arts Alliance made very few sales at that event. Emily described some of the ideas the Pueblo Makes group has looked at, such as a lost arts festival in Australia and some successful festivals in Pittsburgh. Emily described a possible week-long event, with opportunities to buy, to take classes, and to make. The group was very enthusiastic about following up on the idea of an annual event.
I-25 is promoted as an art corridor from Denver to Santa Fe – how do we get people to stop off in Pueblo? Lois emphasized the importance of having road signs to direct people to events, the way people point towards houses for sale. Karen said that Jeff Madeen rented a billboard north of town to direct people to BloBack Gallery; he said that no one who came in while the billboard was active said they came in because they saw it. If that billboard would have worked, groups could have pooled money.
Karen volunteered to approach her contact at the Chamber of Commerce to see if they would be interested, since they developed the Chile & Frijoles Festival.
Monique said the Chile & Frijoles Festival does make money for food vendors, but it “Put us in a box.” People pay double the price for chile peppers on Union Avenue, instead of going out on the mesa and buying from farmers. She mentioned the concept of Brooklyn Fleas (https://brooklynflea.com/), a series of outdoor markets throughout Brooklyn. She also pointed to Chelsea Market, also in New York (https://www.chelseamarket.com/).
We discussed small footprint cheap spaces for makers (e.g. 6 by 4 foot table) in a store, perhaps at the Pueblo mall. We have all this diversity of offerings: can we get them in one place at one time, keep the lights on, and get people used to buying local? Convert the people shopping at the Hot Topic store at the mall to buying from a local designer? The underground already knows that we have creatives but sometimes even our own neighbors don’t know about us.
Karen volunteered to call the mall. Would they donate space? But who would staff it? Monique said the mall is the place where Puebloans go to hand out and spend money. Perhaps we could have a cart right in front of Hot Topic. Maybe the mall would donate a space for 6 weeks during the shopping frenzy of the November/December holiday season. Kacie, who teaches art in Rye, said high schoolers might volunteer to staff the booth since they are looking for internships and want to show off their own work.
Karen reminded the group of Artists’ Sunday, in the lineup after Thanksgiving: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Artists Sunday, Cyber Monday. See https://artistssunday.com/ to download and use their advertising material. Karen stressed that the items from people in Pueblo Makes qualify in her mind as art.
We recognized the need to educate local people about the great items that are available from creatives, artists, and makers in Pueblo. The Arts Alliance web page is taking on that message. You can send Karen a photo of some work, with a bio, and the page will feature you. Educating the public as key component of turning around the public in Pueblo. Monique said the same in food space and even more true for specific unique products. People were shocked when we were distributing local broccoli.
She mentioned the recent meme: the work of local artists is not sitting in cargo ships. Here is an example from Facebook:
We lamented the proliferation of calendars. Can we make the calendars all one, but shared on many sites? A calendar committee was formed: Zach, Jessica, Jane, Karen.
We turned to announcements.
Eugene Watson said that he is looking for help, someone, for example, to do some sanding, detail work with the router, or finishing, as examples. He has more work than he can handle. The position would be part time (up to 20 hours per week) and paid. The person would need some woodworking experience. Kacie said she might have some students. Contact Eugene at email@example.com.
Monique announced the Food Entrepreneur Development Program starting in January 2022; see https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NjyxrjQYnW2FKUnS4fmvHkrE2WuSWfdt/view?usp=sharing. The 15-week curriculum is targeted at entrepreneurs making food products. There will be an incentive after the completion of each module. For example, after completing the finance module, the person will get a Quickbooks subscription plus 2 hours consulting. They want about 10 people for the first class and will cover tuition for this inaugural class.
Monique also reminded us that registration is open for the Sun Soil Water Summit to be held November 12-14 at Pueblo Community College, including a pitch competition Friday. She is looking for four beautiful objects to use as awards, instead of plaques; they should be food related and from a local artist. The awards are farmer of year, business of the year, coalition member of year, and advocate of the year. $10 registration, but scholarships are available. See https://pueblofoodproject.org/sunsoilwater/
Kayci said that the All Pueblo Reads book is Flavor, by Yotam Ottolenghi, and involves a virtual event and virtual lunch. More information is here: https://www.pueblolibrary.org/BookloversBrunch.
Gregory had sent this information before the meeting: “With the recent launch of Pueblo Star Journal, Kadoya Gallery and Blo Back Gallery will be launching PuebloPop which will be an online destination directory of events for artists, creatives, makers and entrepreneurs. This new place will be an extension of the Pueblo Star Journal. I can explain more at a later date, but wanted you to know about our launch as people ask me everyday where they can find out about events. The events site is currently in final development with design ‘pop’ and a lot of fun. We are event integrating an SMS alert system which you can opt in and be reminded of a particular event before it takes place.”
Jane said there will be an open house at the CSU-Pueblo Department of Engineering, in the Technology building Saturday, October 23, 9:30 – 12:00 PM.