Craft Conference reveals challenges that affect both Craft and Fashion in BC

We recently attended 40th anniversary conference at Granville Island, from October 17 – 19. The Craft Council of British Columbia, a charitable arts service organization that creates opportunities for artists to exhibit, sell and produce art and provides a voice for artists and craft organizations, organized the conference. We quickly identified that the challenges that craft has are similar to the challenges that fashion has in BC.

The conference was named 10,000 Hours of Craft Invested after writer Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. He believes it requires 10,000 hours to understand one’s chosen discipline and to become proficient.

 Craft is a  significant niche market

Our interest in this subject is a result of our marketing research into fashion and interior design niches where we identified that Craft is a significant factor in fashion. This has also been recognized in the October 2013 edition of British Vogue as well as the European Union.

We attended the following sessions:

1. Craft and British Columbia’s Economy,

2.J J Lee-Craft Invested: 10,000 hours

3. Successes in Online Promotion

4. Marketing Forum – Round Table

Tell your story and  incorporating marketing

The overriding theme was that success comes from “telling your story” about your craft and your philosophy.  The other theme was about understanding marketing then incorporating it into your craft business.

It was evident that there is a challenge as to what come first, marketing or craft. The same dilemma, a new fashion designer faces at the beginning of their career. The question we ask our clients “Is there a market for your product”? Have you done market research?  Who are your competitors? All this before anything is produced, but if you are a crafts person or fashion designer with a vision and burning desire to create something, this can get in your way.

craft 1

Members of the Craft Council of British Columbia

craft 2

Lack of government support

The parallels facing both local Fashion and local crafts also struck us. The overall lack of any government (municipal and provincial) understanding or support of both fashion and crafts. Recognizing that both fashion and crafts  create a significant amount of jobs, impact on culture and the local economy. Much funding is given to the “traditional arts”.  Both provincial and municipal governments have the attitude that Fashion and crafts are businesses so they do not qualify for assistance. Does a painter not sell their art, a theatre not charge admission etc. It is time to rethink this approach and recognize our talent within.  The conference made us think again about our dream that a Business Skills Incubator for fashion designers be funded and (after the conference) that this incubator include crafts as well.



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