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Business as Unusual

We are in the midst of unprecedented times. You’re watching the news for the latest information from the CDC and from local and national authorities about COVID-19.

I really am at a loss for good words. We are not going about our daily lives in the same manner. Some of you are quarantined. Schools, stores, and churches are closed. Restaurants and gathering places are closed. We aren’t really sure when they will open.

All of us who can are practicing social distancing. A new concept.

I’m trying to be more grateful than usual. Grateful that I’m safe and healthy. Grateful my family is, too. And, I’m exceedingly grateful to healthcare workers and the people who are working in grocery stores. Just grateful.

Restrictions, while essential and necessary, are having a definite impact on the art industry. Here is a resource for free-lance artists that you may find helpful.

Show and museum cancellations

Museums, large and small are closed around the country.

Numerous quilt shows have been canceled, including American Quilters Society QuiltWeek in Lancaster, the Dallas Quilt Show, and MQX Quilt Festivals New England. Studio Art Quilt Associates canceled its physical conference and is doing something virtual.

Yesterday International Quilt Market announced its mid-May Quilt Market would be canceled for the year. The organizers are looking at offering a virtual experience.

Also yesterday, American Quilters Society postponed its April show until early September.

Other regional shows are in limbo waiting to see if the government closing guidelines are extended and how that affects its dates.

Smaller guild retreats have been canceled as have individual guild teaching gigs.

The full impact on the small business owner isn’t completely known, but many rely on income at shows, either as vendors or teachers, to support themselves.

As you learn of these, look for ways you can support the people involved.

Replacing lost income

Designers, vendors, and teachers may not be able to replace the lost income. After all, if you rely on a show to bring in customers, those customers aren’t there. Here are some ideas to try to replace some of the income.

Pop-up show online

Put together a Facebook Event and create a show of your products that would have been at your booth at a show. It can be timed for that of the show or not.

Take your classes online

If you were teaching at an event that was canceled, offer the class online. It can be the same class or something different. The idea is to offer something that brings in cash to your business. I see examples all the time. Here are just a few, some are free, some paid:

  • Gyleen Fitzgerald put together a 14-day mini-mystery. Details are here.
  • The Quilt Pattern Magazine put together a free Block-0of-the-Month project. Details, go here.
  • Over in Gudrun’s Quilt Crew Facebook Group, Gudron Erla Gisladottir is running a “Quarantine-along.”

Offer trainings online

Part of your job in running your business is to increase awareness of you and your brand. This is the perfect time to take advantage of the Internet. Schedule some regular Facebook Live sessions to share what you know. Work on building up your YouTube Channel. Do a series of Instagram Lives.

Support your local shops

While you may not be able to visit your local shop in person, you can find other ways to support them. They still have expenses to be met and you want them in business once the virus passes.

Some, like my local quilt shop, Capital Quilts, which is closed to in-person traffic, are offering pick-up service of your orders. You can also order online. Your order will either be shipped or you can drive by and it will be delivered to your car.

This shop has also started a Corona Quilt Challenge. Registrants will make a quilt that expresses their reaction to this time. Everyone receives a yard of mystery fabric and all the quilts will hang in the shop gallery.

One knitting shop in Minnesota, StvenBe, is also offering pick-up service. In the spirit of the times, they are including a roll of toilet paper with every order over $100 while supplies last. I think they are gone by now. 🙂

Other shops offer shopping by appointment.

If you know you are going to make a purchase once the virus has passed, you could purchase a gift certificate now. This may make a difference in your shop.

Members’ Studio Support

One of the ways I support artists in business is through our Members’ Studio Coaching Program. If you are interested in joining us, I’ve opened the doors. If you are practicing social distancing or are in quarantine, this would be a good time to work on your business and get support from a fabulous group of like-minded creatives. Here’s a link to learn more and join us.

It’s been a long time since I offered Creative Arts Business Clinic coaching calls. These 45-minute calls are your chance to pick my brain on whatever area where you need help. We can discuss your biggest marketing and business challenges. I’ll consult, advise, coach, and help you get past the roadblocks that keep you from taking action. You pick the topic. This can be just what you need at this time. These clinics are regularly $147 and I’ve marked them down to $97. Here’s a link to sign up. Use the code RISETOGETHER (all caps) to get the discounted rate. Let me know if you have any questions.

It’s your turn!

How has the Coronavirus affected your business and what steps are you taking to protect your business? How can I help you?

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