weaves magic with
Good Life Marketing
KI Spinners & Weavers
Handmade craft business + shop
Kangaroo Island, SA
WORK BY GOOD LIFE MARKETING:
Social Media Strategy
Online Marketing Strategy
Craft business in a spin
KI Spinners & Weavers is a small craft business with a retail shopfront in the tiny town of Kingscote, Kangaroo Island.
The shop is stocked and managed by a collective of local makers and artisans who are passionate about creating unique handmade products using pure, natural fibres. The guild which lies at the heart of the collective has been operational since 1972.
Advocates of slow living and fine craftswomanship, every piece is carefully and lovingly created by hand, right here on Kangaroo Island.
Their passion for keeping the lost arts of spinning and weaving alive definitely meet the ‘do good work’ philosophy. So I was happy to give them a much-needed boost into the 21st century.
The difficulty of embracing the new
My heart goes out to the KI Spinners & Weavers, whose youngest contributing member is 70. The guild has scraped, scrounged, banded together, and made the best of every opportunity over the past 47 years.
Starting out as a rural collective of farmer’s wives, their numbers have dropped more than half over the years. Less members means less volunteers to tend the shop. And the lack of uptake by the younger generation means that certain basics we take for granted were missing entirely.
There was no Eftpos, despite the fact that the technology has been operational in Australia for the past 36 years. Customers had to pay in cash, or walk a 12 minute return trip to the nearest ATM.
Unsurprisingly, not many card-carrying customers bothered.
Losing sales by the minute
The lack of standard payment options was losing more customers than they could keep track of.
Sometimes customers would leave the store to collect their ATM cash but get sidetracked. Other times they’d just give up on the sale right then and there.
But this was just the beginning of the problems for this small craft business.
Restricted by limited opening hours and an off-the-beaten-track location in a small town, this was going to be one mighty challenge.
When first appearances are everything
Ros Stoldt, the president at KI Spinners & Weavers was very aware of the problems they faced with the store’s appearance.
“Visual merchandising and curating our retail store was a massive challenge. You can’t just chuck it all up there.
There’s an art to curating your work, whether it’s online, in a gallery or in a retail setting. If you don’t do it right people will come to your business, take one look and say ‘Well this is pretty awful, what the hell am i doing here? Let me out of here!’ ”
You’re on Kangaroo Island, a leisurely 1.5hr drive from Adelaide to the coast, then a ferry across turquoise waters. You head to Kingscote.
The sun is toasty. A salty breeze awakens memories of childhood holidays at the beach.
You walk down the main street of town, where you’re greeted with a mixture of modern and quaint cafés, gift shops and art galleries.
There’s no traffic, no smog, and no overcrowding.
You head further up the road, a secret shop you’ve heard whispers about. Something about pure wool, exquisite craftswomanship, and handmade knitwear like you’ve never seen.
You stumble across the sweetest little building, with its freshly painted white exterior and tangerine accents. The flags are flying, the door is open.
You walk in to this:
Stumbling in the dark
Once your eyes adjust from the brilliant daylight to the after-five dimness, you’re greeted with a retail styling nightmare.
The shop is intentionally kept dark to prevent fading of the goods. Smart. But not pretty.
The contribution of independent creators means that there’s no theme or order to the products on offer.
Bright colours push against pastels, and earthy colours are muted by old sheets of blue and red material used as tablecloths.
It is a hot mess.
BUT, if you can see past the mismatched display furniture, the donated hanging racks, the ramshackle displays and the tatty blackout curtains, you’ll find absolute treasures.
Of course, not everyone wants to spend their island holiday rummaging in the dark. How many customers walked out as quick as they walked in? I certainly would have.
And this wasn’t the end of their troubles. Early in my exploration of the craft business, we could see there were more ways sales were being lost than I had time to count.
Crafting a retail makeover
Though I already had vision for what needed to be fixed, my first step was to survey a sampling of customers – buyers and non-buyers, tourists and locals. This is an excellent way to assess what matters most in making or losing sales.
Using the feedback, I put together a proposal for a complete shop makeover and took it to the KI Spinners & Weavers committee for approval.
The aims would be:
a) modernise the look and feel
b) brighten the shop without direct sunlight
c) reduce the visual clutter of the furniture
d) make the actual products the focal point
Keeping to a low budget was of the utmost importance for this tiny craft business. Wherever possible, changes made would be low to zero cost.
Here’s what the shop looks like after the changes were made:
Retail styling on a budget
The end result is a vibrant, light and bright retail space that showcases the handmade clothes and accessories.
This is a summary of the visual merchandising upgrade:
- Disposed of all broken, tatty, mismatched and outdated furniture
- Sourced and upcycled local giveaway furniture
- Organised sanding, modification and painting of shop display furniture
- Replaced rusted fluoro tubes with affordable and modern LED track lights
- Hired contractors required for minor repairs and installations
- Replaced donated blackout curtains with lightweight, translucent modern blinds
- Sourced and installed modern timber and rope hanging racks
- Sourced new matching mannequins and accessories
- Replaced tattered flags with matching new flags
- Curated the merchandise display
Could it be better? For sure.
If it were my shop, we’d rip out that old carpet and repaint the interior in a heartbeat. Plenty of small changes could be made to jazz up the place.
But does it matter? Not significantly enough.
When you’re working with a restricted budget as the KI Spinners & Weavers were, it’s more productive to focus on the most noticeable changes that will delight customers and directly increase sales.
According to the president, the changes have achieved their goal.
“It’s nice to see it displayed or presented in a way that we feel proud of.
The customers feel better, they’re buying more, and we get so many lovely comments!”
“The correct display is hugely important, and Good Life Marketing has taught us that. Sarah has an eye for detail and visual merchandising that we just didn’t have.“
– Ros Stoldt, President of KI Spinners & Weavers
Reaching more customers with marketing
The shop makeover was essential to reducing lost sales, but the brand desperately needed a strategy to increase foot traffic.
The KI Spinners & Weavers store is positioned opposite a petrol station, and a ten minute return walk from the centre of town, with no other retail stores nearby. I give it a walk-by score of 0 stars.
To combat this, the strategy had to be focussed on drawing new and repeat customers from other sources.
I came up with a plan that was far-reaching and efficient. We threw out the old faded, home-print job flyers. I designed modern business cards and flyers and a strategic distribution plan to make the best use of them.
I also put together a digital marketing strategy that resulted in a huge increase in brand awareness and market reach.
Boosting sales with a social media strategy
Just before I started working with KI Spinners & Weavers, one forward-thinking member had done her best to create a basic Facebook Page for the shop.
Unfortunately, the quality of content was sub-par, lacking strategy, visual appeal and calls to action.
I remedied this with a comprehensive social media strategy across Facebook and Instagram, including professional product photography, marketing-driven copywriting, customer engagement, productively scheduled posting and a consistent brand voice.
The results for KI Spinners & Weavers have been enormous, including a 300% increase in Facebook followers and a brand new, highly engaged audience across Instagram.
But much more important than these vanity metrics, this social media strategy has led to phenomenal growth in sales for their craft business, both in value and quantity.
PR to compliment marketing strategy
Part of my marketing strategy for KI Spinners & Weavers included local PR.
In the first round of publicity, press releases were sent to a prominent local newspaper.
The Islander, a weekly paper, is the main source of business news and information for tourists and locals alike.
Subsequent press was pursued, with the newspaper’s journalist visiting the KI Spinners & Weavers shop to interview several makers and publish another feature article about the store.
Business reputation and brand awareness skyrocket
As a result of the online and offline marketing strategies, brand reputation and awareness have improved substantially.
No longer the dingy, outdated shop that tourists and even locals were hesitant to walk into, the store is a vibrant, welcoming space.
The shopkeepers at KI Spinners & Weavers receive glowing comments on the appearance of the store. But more importantly, customers are now able to see and appreciate the fine quality and detail of the products.
Part of the strategy included encouraging online reviews which now abound, providing excellent feedback on the marketing efforts, visual merchandising, and experience of visiting the store.
Pricing strategies for handmade business
But there was one more marketing challenge to tackle still. And it was a doozy…
How to price the handmade goods.
“One of our biggest challenges has always been pricing – the fear that things won’t sell.”
The makers who sell their wares through the shop did not have to adhere to any pricing schedule. Without any retail experience behind them, they were playing a dangerous guessing game.
“The difference between what might work and what might not was just throwing random ideas out into a big blue ocean and hoping it worked.”
With years of experience in the retail market and small brand pricing strategies, I knew what the product pricing needed to rise to. My research validated our instincts, and I tested price increases within the shop with great success.
But despite all the evidence, convincing the makers to set a pricing strategy that valued their work was a delicate process.
“There are a couple of oldies in the artistic community who are deadset against putting prices up. They’re frightened to do it, because they think they’re overpricing their work. But they’re not, they don’t look at the hours put into their craft.
If you think about it, you should be asking a lot more. If you look at inflation and the reality of living, some people are pricing their work at the same prices that were being asked in the 80s!
We were nervous about putting the prices up, but when you realise that that raising prices isn’t the problem… you put the prices up and they sell and you think, well goodness me! This should have been done ages and ages ago! Sarah has certainly shown us that.”
Knowing your target market is key
What KI Spinners & Weavers (like most artisans and makers) need to realise, is that trying to appeal to everyone pleases no one.
Keeping prices unnaturally low repels potential buyers. (Surely, this can’t be real wool at this price? I don’t believe it.)
With a mismatch between value and price, customers couldn’t trust the quality. And pricing to satisfy bargain shoppers was a race to the bottom. ‘Exceptional quality’ and ‘cheap’ just don’t marry.
When I was able to show KI Spinners & Weavers who their true target market actually was, they were able to see clearly.
“There might be people that come in, pick up items and turn their noses up, but they’re not our customers, they were never going to buy from us.
They’re looking to buy generic items like a beanie that they can pick up for $10 dollars at Woolworths or Target. But that isn’t real wool, and it’s made by machines in big, soulless factories.
And there is a place for those goods in the market. But our people don’t want to buy them, do they?”
I helped the team reassess the value of their work – the long hours they put in, the exceptional quality, the pricing of comparable products in the industry, and the uniqueness of each item.
It can be confronting for makers to face what they’re actually worth.
Artists are notoriously bad at valuing themselves. Starving artist mentality still abounds, and renders many small businesses unable to pay their bills.
Thankfully, the KI Spinners & Weavers are smartening up and pricing their goods fairly, reasonably, and for the long-term viability of the shop.
Sales increases from the marketing campaign
The facts are these. During the marketing campaign for KI Spinners & Weavers:
- annual growth increased 31%
- low-season sales averages increased 250%
- overall sales increased by 221%
“The revenue at Spinners has gone up. There’s more pride in our work and we feel happy to see our work being appreciated both financially and aesthetically.”
As much as the results of these marketing efforts have been remarkable, they are not unique. These strategies can be applied to many small businesses with low-to-zero marketing budget.
“Good Life Marketing has been so helpful to us in realising the value of our work. It’s worth money, it’s worth doing and Sarah is the ticket to open your eyes to that fact.”
KI Spinners & Weavers have the potential to take their small, handmade craft business to great heights, without overworking. Every member of the team produces beautiful work, and I look forward to seeing how the shop progresses over the coming years.
HI, I'm SARAH
I’m here to help you work smarter, not harder. I teach passionate business owners how to charge premium prices, attract the best customers, save time and make money with ease.