My granny and mother are the ones I thank for introducing me to the world of handmade jewelry and crafts. From a small child I began beading bracelets and necklaces for them to sell at local shows. I was always super excited because it gave me pocket money to buy myself items from other vendors. (No wonder I'm such a shopaholic, I started so young!) I remember following the Pow Wow trails in the summer and meeting all sorts of fascinating people. Dancers, Drummers, Singers and other Pow Wow trail followers, I was deeply exposed to parts of my culture.
While my family doesn't pack up for every Pow Wow anymore, we do participate at events when we can. This weekend up in Moosonee/Moose Factory, Ontario there is one taking place. (I also understand there is a hockey tournament happening!) My mom is up there visiting from Toronto and staying with my grandmother. They asked me to send up jewelry for the sale. I had happened to have a hand beaded basket in my inventory that I knew would get a lot of attention, so I sent that as well.
Now let me share that my granny is a very good business women. She's worked with other well known Aboriginals in Toronto and when she was still living there had made a very good name for herself (especially as a moccasin maker.) So when she saw the basket, her immediate idea was to have a raffle for it. I had valued the basket at $60 and she has already exceeded that amount of raffle tickets for it. Of course I am aware that many people use raffles to fundraise for their events and such. But taking a hot item out of your shop and raffling it off can really improve your profits, and something other shop owners can consider during slower sale periods.
Most of my business practices come from my mom and granny. We make and sell a fair amount of dreamcatchers and medicine wheels, so along with every purchase we include a little description of what they mean. My granny also purchases Tamarack Birds from the men in her community. These items have a history to them as well, but of course, leaving them on display for their natural beauty isn't always enough. Adding a little ribbon to these tediously handcrafted items give them a little extra. Majority of the bead stores and resources I have now, are the very same from when I little and watched my family make their purchases. Even my customer service skills are rooted from my experience with family. Smile! Be friendly and helpful no matter who is looking at your product (even if they are 5 years old or giving you a hard time)
Although I do feel I have a fair amount of my own experience with selling my product, I still have a lot to learn. My family is not familiar with setting up shop online, which is where I have the most learning to do. As I've shared before, I'm working my way through the countless amounts of information online to make it in the online world, word by word, sale by sale, I know I'll get there!