Coffee in the New York Skyline mug, "Shakin'" by Eddie Money on the iPod (it's not called the Shame playlist for nothing). It has already been a Morning (see Stranded in the South for details). Now it is time to put on the glass artist hat, hit the ground and mix metaphors.
Yesterday was a big day. I virtually met a woman (talked on the phone) who makes natural soaps and body products and supplies one of the galleries I am in. The gallery owner recommended I call her about information on avenues for expansion into the department store/large catalog marketspace. The soap and personal products are her weekend gig (in addition to two small children and a husband). During the week she is a product stylist with--again--her own styling business. She was a font of information and in addition to all the good tips she gave me, she gave me one lightbulb-exploding one. We were talking about tradeshows and she recommended that I do the Atlanta Gift Mart in January--not with all of my work, just the Archetype Industrial pieces which I am ready to take to a new market. We talked a bit about booth design and I said I was really happy with what I did for the Buyer's Market of American Craft. She said it was good I had developed a strong booth design as establishing corporate identity is key in this space.
She went on to say that a great e-commerce website is also crucial (and her soap site is gorgeous). I had to admit that my website pretty much, well, no way around it, it sucks. And there is no e-commerce in it at all. Now here is the lightbulb exploder: She recommended giving photos of my booth to whoever does my website so they can see how I present my work and design the site to match. Wow. It is so obvious and makes so much sense. I have struggled (and brought hell to the lives of friends and family who have tried to help me with my website) for the past three years trying to build a site about who *I* am and what I see as the roots of the studio (Siyeh Peak/Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana) and I completely ignored the work. My work is bright, primary, visceral colors, and my websites have been muted, soft earth and nature tones. Maybe that reflects me, but it does NOT reflect my work.
We talked a bit more about website design firms and she pointed me to BizAtomic. I filled out their on-line form and Nicholas called me to talk over my needs. After about an hour of his time, he said that maybe their service were of a higher level than I need right now. The only e-commerce I want to be able to do is have galleries with wholesale accounts be able to login, see the current catalog and order on-line. Most of those accounts have Net 30 terms and even those who don't I need to call about scheduling anyway so I can get the credit card info then. So I don't need to be able to process payments on-line.
Now here's the kicker from them: Nicholas said that they often recommend another company, EZNetTools, for customers who need fewer features and would like to keep the costs down a bit, but still want excellent quality and service. He gave me their phone number and the name of a person to talk to, told me their monthly e-commerce hosting fees, and said he would call me this afternoon to see how it went and what I decided to do! He said that I can always start there, and if my needs outgrow their ability, I can move to BizAtomic. And it's not even like they are friendly rivals in the same place: BizAtomic is in Florida and EZNetTools is in Idaho.
So I called EZNetTools and the long and short of it is I have hired a web development company to create and host an e-commerce site for me with everything I had hoped to have this year for a price I can afford. And the process was so slick! As we finished talking about the costs, etc., my sales rep gave me a url that began with his name, and when I went there, I saw my quote in detail! As I read it over I saw an item that wasn't right and when I brought it to his attention, he corrected it and it disappeared from my screen. I printed it out, signed it and faxed it back, and we start development today!
I told Dave this whole story last night and, nerd that he is, he kept going on darkly about how they were all post-modern operators ala Bruce Sterling: constantly looking ahead for the next angle, the next deal, and going to take me for all they could get. I don't think I ever got across to him that at least the woman I talked to first gave me all the information and advice free for nothing--no expectation of future gain.
So a great big thank-you goes out to everyone who has helped me, offered to help me and commiserated with me about my website travails. I hope the worst is behind me now.
On other topics (because of course that isn't all I have to do right now) I fused a full kiln load yesterday and it came out great. In the load are a 15" bowl, 2 11X7 sushi platters (fused together) 20 sushi plates (fused in sets of five), 4-8" plates (fused together), a 7.5" dish, and a 16X24 hanging panel. Whoo hoo!
Even though I was planning to do two slump loads today I am not going to have time so I am going to do the last fuse load of the week. Today I have paisleys and Morceaux de Verre to do--and I get to try out my new Silberscnitt circle cutter for the paisleys. I also need to get my accounts receivable updated in Quickbooks, order plate stands, mail invoices, fax w-2's to the accountant and get the first batch of web content to the website developers. I still haven't decided what to do about the computer thing, and I still haven't heard back from The Publisher about book contract signing and book scheduling, but those and unpacking/sorting my current studio inventory can wait till tomorrow.