Selling Creativity Helps the Craft Industry Grow
Once those new curtains are hung and the hand-colored Easter eggs are displayed, the resulting rush of pride is what keeps so many crafters coming back for more. "There is something to be said for creating something," Domine says . "A major benefit and motivator of crafting is the intrinsic value of accomplishment, the self-worth and pride that come from creating a handcrafted item."
Companies that cater to that desire for self-fulfillment--at an affordable price--can thrive no matter what the economic climate. The key is to stay fresh and relevant: after all, you must show that you can think as creatively as your customers.
One such success story is iLoveToCreate, a Duncan Enterprises Company based in Fresno, Calif. Founded in 1946 and still owned and operated by the same family, the company continues to expand its product selection thanks to targeted research into customer needs and expectations.
"We have experienced substantial sales growth for the past four years," says Valerie Marderosian, iLoveToCreate's chief creative office and senior vice president of sales and marketing. "Prior to the economic downturn, our specific product categories were growing steadily, but growth the last four years has been significant across each of our brands."
One way the company has stayed ahead is by keeping up with trends in DIY fashion. Their fabric paints and markers--sold under brand names including Tulip, Puffy and Scribbles--appeal to kids and teens who want to put their own twist on T-shirts, hats and jeans.
"We track trends very closely, especially those in fashion and home décor," says Marderosian. "Tie-dye has been very prominent on fashion runways around the world for several years, and our Tulip One-Step Tie-Dye program has experienced substantial growth year after year. Neon colors in fashion are an unquestionable trend right now and those colors are selling ridiculously fast."
The company's own self-image has been a key aspect in its continuing success: iLoveToCreate positions itself as selling creativity, not crafts. "We've heard from so many consumers that creativity has helped them heal emotionally and physically," says Marderosian. "It's not always about what you end up with, but rather the experience of using paint and glitter and glue to express your emotion. Creativity really is a powerful force."
Numerous other craft-oriented companies have made the same connection between their products and their customers. They're not just selling paints and beads, they're selling self-fulfillment--and Americans are buying.