Entrepreneurship In Action: Artisan Marketplace Spells Success For Budding Entrepreneurs
Monday, February 7, 2011
Posted by: Matthew Montoya
By Fran Verotsky
Director, HACC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies
Harrisburg Area Community College, Harrisburg, PA
For a novice artisan trying to turn natural talent into a business, connections can mean everything, but where to get them? For Donna Damgaard, the answer was at Talkabouts, an informal networking session offered by the HACC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies (IES). "I had started my beaded jewelry business, but I needed some confidence boosting. I got it there,” said Damgaard, who operates Beaded Blessings out of her Lemoyne, PA, home.
She heard about the partnership between the IES and Perry County Council of the Arts through the monthly lunchtime Talkabouts and soon began offering her wares at the Artisan Marketplace of Perry County.
The Artisan Marketplaces, also held in York, and in Adams County, are co-sponsored by HACC IES and offer budding artisans more than just a place to sell their arts and crafts. "Artisans are provided the opportunity to network and share information with other artists and they receive support and technical assistance from HACC business counselors,” said David McNaughton, a business counselor for IES. The Perry County Council of the Arts, the Gunnar Galleries, and the York Arts@City Arts Gallery also provide support and counseling, he said.
The purpose of the Artisan Marketplace is to promote and provide rural artists and artisans with the opportunity to sell and market their crafts over the holiday period. In addition the HACC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is available to these artists to provide technical assistance in the promotional, business, marketing, pricing, and product development areas.
The artists benefit from the galleries' expertise in the areas of product presentation, lighting, mood setting, sales tracking, and store management. Together, the partnership with the gallery and the IES offer the artist and artisans all the benefits of current and trend-setting marketing concepts and delivery.
Damgaard, 52, found useful information that she could apply to her business – things like how to price her jewelry for the central Pennsylvania market and how to take advantage of marketing opportunities. "People know people who know people. Inevitably someone will know of a situation or an opportunity that could benefit your business,” she said. "It's great to have a place to network.”
Damgaard also appreciated that the Artisan Marketplaces draw holiday gift shoppers. "Jewelry is one of those things you can do without if the economy is bad, but the marketplace gave me a place to offer my things where people come looking to buy,” she said.
Perry County husband-wife crafters Larry and Jane Shull have sold their creations at every Artisan Marketplace there is. Larry sells his metal art, and Jane offers fiber creations by knitting and felting wool purses or by shrinking old wool clothing in the wash and then fashioning them into mittens, bags and more. "The Artisan Marketplaces have been good connections for us. The more we get our name connected with HACC and the Perry County Council for the Arts, the more e-mails and invitations to other shows we get,” said Jane, 56, a Capital Intermediate Unit teacher by day. "It works out perfectly for us,” said Larry Shull, 57, a recently retired physical education teacher.
"Am I marketable?” was the question that plagued photographer Stephen Pidcock of Lancaster. A year ago, Pidcock, a self-employed craftsman, brought some photographs to the Artisan Marketplace in York and began working with Kathleen Snavely, an HACC business counselor. "That was a turning point for me. I didn't sell anything, but I got encouragement and confidence to take another step,” said Pidcock, who calls himself a "vertizontal” photographer. He has since shown his work at art shows at Mt. Gretna, Chadds Ford and Bel Air, MD, where he recently took a first place ribbon in photography.
The HACC Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies is designed to increase the economic vitality of the region through business development. This is accomplished through a balance of credit programs offered through the Business, Hospitality, and Technologies Division and non-credit programs offered through the Workforce and Economic Development Division of the college.
The credit programs allow students to choose the program that best fits their educational needs whether it be a certificate, or associate degree in Entrepreneurial Leadership.
The non-credit programs assist individuals in the planning and training required to develop and/or manage a successful business venture. This is accomplished through courses, seminars, individual business counseling, and networking opportunities available through the Fulton Bank Small Business Center @ HACC.