Where is the New Zealand craft scene heading?

Earlier in the year I wrote a piece for a website about the indie design and craft scene in New Zealand this year. I forgot to post it here at the time so thought I would now. We’re halfway through the year after all so we can see how I did on my predictions … just for larks.

“I’ve run by own creative business – Emma Makes – for a few years now and have spent a lot of time developing and promoting it and becoming part of the New Zealand craft scene.

Over recent years there’s been a real saturation in the market of craft and design – it’s relatively easy with services like Felt.co.nz and Etsy.com to make and sell your own goods (which is a good thing) and shops like Typo have jumped on the bandwagon with craft-inspired goods that are mass-produced.

Bunting from Typo.

Here’s the direction I think 2014 will take –

Selling becomes more personal
I believe that increasingly the pull of the craft fair is over. We all remember the halcyon days (only a few years ago) when customers would turn up because there was a craft fair on and we’d all sell hand over fist all day and go home exhausted and laden with cash. But those days are over.

The big name craft fair no longer exists in that form. Craft fairs are ubiquitous now and selling needs to become personal. Smaller, quality fairs; a sense of occasion; a place people can relax in and properly meet the makers and learn the stories behind the goods they’re buying. Above all there must also be a return to quality in favour of a large fair that’s just mediocre.

Savvy makers will have a strong following that they’re regularly connecting with and will make sure these people are invited to any events they sell at.

It’s not just about numbers
One of the creepiest notifications I’ve received on Facebook recently was to tell me that two people are watching my business page. This is a new Facebook service where you can keep an eye on the increase and decrease of fan numbers on another page.

Increasing your Facebook fan numbers is easy – you can buy them. What really counts is customer engagement and I think during 2014 people will begin to increasingly come to realise that engagement with customers means less focus on what *they* want and more focus on what their customers want.

As a customer I don’t care if you have 400 fans or 4000 (good God stop posting your number count); I care that you’re responsive to me, that you post interesting information and that I can talk to you about questions, compliments and concerns quickly and easily.

A return to special
Why should I buy handmade? Because it’s different than mass-produced, because it stands out from the crowd, because if it breaks the maker will probably fix it.

Foldover clutches by me – Emma Makes

2014 will see a rejuvenation of the handmade/indie design “point of difference” and I see there being a clear separation in businesses with their own strong brand and those that are making without a thought to their point of difference.

Anyone can buy Cabochons on Etsy and stick them onto a brooch back. Many people can buy a commercial pattern, sew it up and sell it as their own.

What will separate the wheat from the chaff this year is those people doing their own thing.  People who’ve got clear direction in their business, are creating their own work and have made a dedication to craftsmanship.

We’ll dial down the neuroses
“Comparison is the thief of joy” is a mantra to live by. We’ve had Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest long enough now that in 2014 I see people settling in to social media and being less neurotic. We’ll become clear on why we’re using social media, use it for our own reasons and stop caring if we haven’t blogged every day because we got a bit tired.

Homogenous will look less attractive as we accept and develop our own style that is interesting, thoughtful and grounded. The time for copying and selling work based on someone else’s is over: those who develop their own look and can stand out alone will be the cream that rises to the top this year.

Let’s say goodbye to
*Bunting necklaces
*Twee and/or baby talk on blogs

Let’s welcome
*unexpected prints
*floral on floral
*Honesty and authenticity”

*Looks like I missed out the popularity of pineapples and watermelons as design features. I’m not sad about that.*

You can find me online at www.emmamakes.com and www.facebook.com/emmamakes


7 Responses to Where is the New Zealand craft scene heading?

  1. yay , emma I am right there with you on all of the above.

    facebook ” freaks me out ” , and that’s why I have never been there and never will , so does this mean I have missed out on a whole heap of potential customers ? don’t know and don’t care , it’s just never going to be me.

    yes, yes ,yes to being individual, ORIGINAL , and doing our own thing .

    can we kiss foxes goodbye too ? : )

    stick to our OWN ideas and use our imagination in our unique designs , embrace and support others of a like mind .

    thank you , emma , for this post , we are definitely on the same page.

  2. m. says:

    yay emma- i like this post very much. i’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot lately. a few years ago i realised markets/craft fairs weren’t for me anymore. i don’t think i’ve ever been a trend setter or follower- i didn’t even realise watermelons were a thing- shame!

  3. Alisa Muir says:

    As a buyer I have no interest in craft fairs. Crowds are not my thing, small talk etc is not my thing.
    I love buying from NZ crafters but prefer online, or if there was one local a small store. I find it more personal. I love that I can ask stupid questions and ask opinions etc while hiding behind my computer screen. lol.

    Agree with the “stop posting your fan numbers” I am so over reading those. I don’t care. I care about the actual content and interesting stuff you share. Not the constant stream of how many fans you have.

    Funny is last year I really liked the bunting necklace thing. I reallllllly wanted one. But rarely buy for myself. But now a year later, DO NO LIKE. Phew, so glad I didn’t.

    Still love bunting though. Just in my home not around my neck.


  4. Loved reading your blog- don’t know what makes you an authority on trends- but I reckon you are spot-on!!
    Even better- It seems I’m naturally doing exactly the right things according to you, without ‘planning’.
    Customers become friends and once they’ve bought (either online or from my studio at home) they come back again and again- which is great, because the only thing I want, is to be able to keep designing and sewing!
    Now if only I could find the urge to post updates more often and keep my sites interesting…

    • tomandemma says:

      I’ll happily say nothing makes me an authority on anything – I just listen and pay attention and spend way too much time thinking. Sounds like your business is enjoyable, which is exactly what I think should happen.

  5. Rebekah Bird says:

    Interesting article, I like some of your insights. I’ve been overseas for 14 years and returned home recently to NZ. So it’s been a learning curve of what sells here compared to the UK. I sell vintage buttons, linens and fabrics if you ever need anything, pop over and see me on facebook!

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