Trauma recovery fund for victim of a hate crime.

As I am working hard on starting a brand that both celebrates pride and supports the LGBTQ+ community, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this fundraiser for a trans individual who was a victim of a hate crime right in my own home town.

This hurts my heart. I have donated and I am sharing in case you want to donate, too.

You can read the full story and donate at Trauma recovery fund for our girl.

My Unique Selling Proposition

Work was absolutely nutso last week which is why I’ve been MIA. So I have finally figured out my Unique Selling Proposition (USP). The formula to follow is “My shop is THE …. (enter USP here).”

So here we go:

“My shop is THE place for tees, pins, and small accessories with one-of-a-kind designs that celebrate PRIDE and support the LGBT+ community.”

It should be noted that a USP doesn’t have to be catchy – this is not your shop’s tagline. But it should be descriptive, specific, and identify what sets your shop apart.

Now I’m learning about the market, such as all the various rainbows that represent different parts of the LGBT+ community. I have been having fun creating some designs. Here’s a little taste of some potential button designs that I’ve made so far:

Recognize the pigeons? I went back to my original designs and put rainbow scarves on them. Haven’t decided whether or not I will add words to these.

Working title for the brand is Freyja’s Rainbow (named after my daughter).

Next on the business track will be lessons on pricing your goods.

Til next time! Davida

Current struggles with my niche and product

I’ve been thinking long and hard and I have been struggling over a lot of different aspects around my niche and product, and I have been having strong doubts about every decision I make. It’s been really hard.

Thoughts about my potential product

As the 4 readers of this blog already know, I create digital illustrations and surface pattern designs. Whatever product and niche I land on – I know that at least part of my Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is my illustration style is very much unlike other design styles currently out there. I’ve had a lot of good response to my animal patterns and illustrations specifically, so I was thinking about focusing on mostly animal-based design.

Until I started taking the course on how to market and sell your art-based products, I’d been creating my illustrations and putting them up on various print on demand (POD) sites, mostly Redbubble, and it was mostly for fun. However, now that I’m getting serious about all of this and want to turn this into a real revenue stream, I don’t want to use POD for my product for many reasons:

  • Very little control over pricing (this is the biggest con for me)
  • No control over sales or discounts (at the mercy of the POD site)
  • Long creation and shipping times
  • No control over product quality
  • Any marketing I do will be, at least partially, for the POD and their products, not my own

Of course, the pros of POD are there, too; someone else is handling customer service, they provide a trusted platform, I get to offer a variety of products I’d never ever be able to produce on my own.)

Since I don’t have the capacity, or knowledge, to be hand creating products at home, this means that my product is digital, which means digital download items, such as digital prints, digital paper, digital stamps, digital clipart, digital greeting cards, digital stationery, etc, etc.

From my market research, here’s what I’ve determined are the people who consume digitals.

People who buy digital goods

  • Professional creators making physical products for sale, usually paper products such as cards (I notice most digital creators sell separate commercial licenses for this market and from my research: they sell quite well)
  • Amateur makers who are printing and creating at home, such as scrapbooking, decoupage, copper and silver etching, etc.
  • Jewelry makers
  • Home decorators
  • Cricut and/or Silhouette users
  • Bullet journalers and other journalers
  • People who want to upload to products and/or fabric at print on demand sites

Providing digital products is very attractive for many reasons: no upfront costs, no packaging and shipping from your home, your prices can be quite low which allows for more impulse buying opportunities, and I already provide technical support for a living already in my day job so I’m very comfortable providing that for my potential customers.

Thoughts about my niche

Here’s where I landed with my niche. I have two LGBT+ children. My daughter is in her early 20s and we sat down and had a long talk about this – she loved the idea of me producing LGBT+ designs with animals. This does exactly what my course says to do: intersect two separate markets: animal lovers and LGBT+. I love this idea for many reasons. For one, it’s polarizing (probably in more ways than one!) which the course also says is important. Also, there are a lot of LGBT+ people out there who have been rejected by their families, and I love the message: here is a mom who is accepting and loving and supporting and celebrating her LGBT+ children (like Sara Cunningham who is a stand-in mom at same-sex weddings).

I would also like to donate a set percentage of my profits to The Trevor Project to further my support for the LGBT+ youth and community out there.

This niche feels nice and narrow and creating the illustrations and patterns would be a joy (so many rainbows!). I’m happy here.

My struggles (is there anybody that made it this far?)

I finally got here. The course instructs to start by defining your niche/customer and then develop the product – not the other way around. You don’t want to start with your product and then go looking to see who your customers is. When I do the market research to identify what my potential customer is and what they are buying, NONE of it is digital. They are definitely purchasing cute physical goods, but completely digital goods already feels like a fairly narrow niche in itself!

In fact, if you think about it, I would be intersecting THREE market niches: animal lovers, LGBT+, AND digital-only consumers.

This is very, very uncomfortable for me, and my gut says it is a bad idea. From the research from I’ve done, LGBTQA+ animal designs ON DIGITAL ONLY PRODUCTS does not have market that I could find. When I think about marketing for this, it actually feels more difficult.

My gut says I should be providing physical products for this niche. But it opens up a whole new can of worms for me. Suddenly I’m going from what I am good at, and have time for: digital design, to an area of the complete unknown. And the upfront costs of producing physical goods is daunting. And having to deal with packaging, shipping, ordering stock, etc etc – is so out of my wheelhouse that it very nearly paralyzes me.

But here’s the thing, putting my products on physical products is really attractive to me. So there’s that.

So here are my questions

  1. Are digital download products a narrow enough niche of it’s own?
  2. Or perhaps digital download products with a focus on animal-based designs – would that be a narrow enough niche?
  3. Am I right to be skeptical of the intersection of LGBT+ and digital only products?
  4. Would any of you advise taking the leap into having my products manufactured?

(Apparently my market for this post is people who like to read overly long diatribes.)

And of course, just writing this all down in a readable way has already helped to clarify my thoughts and I’m leaning in a particular direction, but I’d still love to get thoughts from the community!

Thanks for reading! Thank you even more for commenting!

Surface Pattern Design layout types

TIL all about layout types in surface pattern design in the Surface Pattern Design class I’ve been taking at Textile Design Lab . I’ve been looking for this info for a while now, but hadn’t yet found a good resource for it! One of the many reasons I signed up for the course.

As a class assignment, I am creating a Pinterest design board for each type: 40 best Textile Design Lab images on Pinterest in 2019

Here are the most common layout types:

Set
Motifs are placed on a grid and are evenly spaced and symmetrical
The repeat is either straight or half drop.
Common markets: home decor, wallpaper, quilting, paper products
👉 My Set Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

Tossed
Motifs are placed in a scattered yet balanced way. This is like my pigeons pattern from Day 33.
Common markets: Stationery, quilting, home decor, children’s. Even and balanced.
👉 My Tossed Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

Free flowing
Motifs are placed in an asymmetrical, flowing way keeping a lot of open ground details.
Common markets: Fashion, home decor
👉 My Free Flowing Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

All over
Motifs are arranged in a compact and balanced way.
All markets
👉 My All Over Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

Textures
Marks used to create the appears of a surface
All markets
👉 My Textures Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

Stripes
Motifs or color palette are used in long normal strips
All markets
👉 My Stripe Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

Border
Motifs arrange parallel to the edge of the fabric
Common markets: Fashion, home decor
👉 My Border Pattern Layout Design Pinterest board

Defining the customer first

In the workshop I am taking we are to define who our ideal customer is first, and then develop the product that customer would love to buy. We are to start narrow, with a single customer persona and a single product, and then expand from there.

I did a lot of brainstorming over the past couple of nights and came up with a long list of attributes, titles, styles, abilities, and interests that spoke to me.

Of course, the type of work I want to do will inform my choices here. I’m not going to define my customer as white mid-60s dude who loves golf and ships in bottles. However, neither should I take what I already do and try to twist reality to create a customer who will buy what I’m already trying to make.

Obviously I want to create products that involves one of three things: surface pattern designs, illustrations, or creating tutorials.

I love love love creating tutorials (I even have one up on Skillshare!) — but I feel that I would be in a better place to create tutorials when I have some real credentials behind me. No one wants to learn from another amateur, right?

Anyway, below is the list I have come up with. Just writing this down made me realized how scattered and wide my area of focus was! Getting this down to a really specific profile or ideal customer is going to be a real challenge for me. Surely this is really hard for everyone to do, right?

Anyway, I thought I’d put down my huge list here. To be clear, this is a complete dump of all descriptions I could come up with that actually made me think “Yes.” My next steps are to dramatically cull, edit, and choose from this list. Something where I can say that my ideal customer is a geek mom in her 30s who loves crafting and DIY, and knows her way around a computer. Actually, that’s not too bad. I just typed that all out without really thinking about it. Maybe I should listen to my subconscious. Or maybe I should print out a poster of these words and throw darts at it.

WHO

  • DIYers
  • Crafters / Makers
  • Home decorators and designers
  • Geeks / Hipsters
  • Academics
  • Amateur designers

ATTRIBUTES

  • Disposable income
  • Impulse buyer when the bar is low
  • Heavy online user
  • Wants to be unique
  • Tastes run to the unusual, quirky or humorous
  • 20-40s
  • Tech savvy

STYLES

  • Retro/Vintage 70s
  • Mid Century Modern / Mod (50s,60s)
  • Eclectic
  • Whimsical
  • Novelty/Kitsch/Curios
  • Modern
  • Minimalism

ABILITIES

  • Tech savvy
  • Web savvy
  • Cricut
  • IPAD / Apple
  • Adobe
  • Graphics programs

INTERESTS

  • Pet lovers
  • Wild animal lovers
  • All animal lovers
  • Science
  • Astronomy
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Self improvement
  • Time management
  • Budgeting
  • Bullet journaling
  • Crafting and crafting supplies
  • Stationery
  • Digital creation
  • Home decor
  • Paper
  • Office supplies
  • Feminism
  • Environmentalism
  • Body positive
  • LBGTQA+
  • Self Expression
  • Activism
  • Bookworms
  • Grammar nazis
  • Word lovers
  • Music lovers

So here’s the deal

I’m stopping my 365 days of design early. Really early. But it’s all for very good reasons:

  • I made sales. A lot of sales. More sales than I thought I could do with just slapping some designs up on Redbubble!
  • I found my style. I finally felt like I wasn’t copying someone else’s style or the styles that I see everyday on Instagram. I was doing my own work that came from the core of my creative self. And those were the patterns that sold the most!
  • I had enough patterns that I was proud of to submit my work to UPPERCASE magazine for their upcoming Surface Pattern edition. Even if I don’t get selected, just the fact that I felt confident enough to give it a try speaks volumes.
  • My imposter syndrome slunk away. I’m sure it’s still lurking around the corner, but hey, at least it’s feeling ashamed of itself right now.

But most importantly, I am actually trying to build a viable side business. I have a full time job that I work hard at (and I actually love), and I am a mom, and a partner. As such, I have limited time and limited energy and if I want to move this forward and grow my business, I need to focus for a bit on the actual business side of things.

So far I’ve been doing the spray and pray method of promoting my art, now it’s time to develop strategies, get focused, and do what needs to be done to take this thing to the next level. I’m currently taking a workshop to help me out on that aspect, because this is territory that I’m pretty unfamiliar with.

No regrets. This is not giving up; this is making the right decision to move to the next stage because it’s the right time. I’m really proud of myself, and really excited for the next steps.

Happy 2019!

Davida

Design 75

I took the pussywillow design from yesterday and turned it into a repeat pattern. One part of the process to make it into a repeat pattern is to pull it into Illustrator and do an image trace. I’m usually quite satisfied with this process, however this time due to the painterly quality of the original, I felt like it lost a bit too much of the qualities that I liked. It went from a painterly feel to a definite vector image feel. I have to think how I can try to do this same thing in photoshop where I can retain the original quality. I might try this again tomorrow to see if I can figure it out.

It’s still quite pretty though, here it is on Redbubble!