The Idaho Made Blog

Chapter 1

Hi!

Welcome to the newlyminted Idaho Made Blog.   Going forward I plan to share local events,information about our wonderful artists and other interesting topics that popup.  Fair warning, I’m not a trained writer. I’m one of the lucky artistswho get to call Idaho Made home.  These posts will be very casual, like aconversation with a good friend.   I want to start my first post with whatI feel is the most important topic of Idaho Made…..who we are and what makesus, us. Let me introduce you.

A long time ago, in agalaxy far, far away

If you’ve spent anyamount of time in downtown Boise, you may have noticed our quaint little localshop stationed just on the edge of downtown Boise in the Old Boise building.Appropriately named Idaho Made, every item in the shop is handmade by localIdaho artists.  It all started in 2010 when a group of local artists whosold their work on Etsy decided they wanted a full-time physical location tosell their handmade work.  This group of artists banded together to run anArtist Collective called Idaho Indie Works from 2010 to 2015.  In 2015 anopportunity occurred that allowed current owners Molly, Steven and Sarah totake ownership of the store.  After restructuring and rebranding to whatis now Idaho Made, the owners were able to use what they learned from theirinvolvement in Idaho Indie Works.  They determined what worked well andwhat could use some improvement from the collective structure.  Molly,Steven and Sarah share a deep desire to empower local artists. 

The force is strong withthese ones.

All three owners, beingartists themselves, wanted to continue to have a year-round space that wouldallow local artists to create and sell their handmade items without the risksor time commitment associated with traditional methods of selling handmadeproducts/art.  Prior to the transition to Idaho Made, the main options forselling handmade products consisted of:

*Owning/operating yourown retail store.  Let’s be honest, most artists want to createbeautiful art to share with the world, not run a retail store, not to mentionthe tremendous upfront costs associated with running a store.

*Committing mostweekends to running a booth at a market/craft fair. HUGE timecommitment.

*Hoping you made it bigon Etsy or

*Finding a retail storethat would sell your items for you.

Realizing that thesetraditional methods left a lot of amazing local art from being shared with thecommunity, they decided to do something unique. They wanted a space for ALLtypes of local artists. To be clear, I’m not dissing on the options above,rather explaining that it tends to leave a lot of artists out of the running.

Here we haveIdaho…..(Made)

Rather than runningIdaho Made like a traditional retail store where everything that is sold in thestore is bought at wholesale (a discounted price) and sold at a retail (anincreased, for profit) price, Idaho Made owners decided to run the shop similarto the collective of which they had previously been a part.  Although nota true collective, which by definition involves an organization that is ownedand run jointly by its members who share in the profits and benefitsMolly, Steven and Sarah decided to take the best of the definition“run jointly by its members” who “share in the profits and benefits” andoffer it to local interested artists, while protecting artists from theriskiest part-ownership.  As a member of Idaho Made, I trulybelieve we get the best of both worlds.

By offering a variety ofdifferent membership options, the owners were able to create that year-roundenvironment that allows opportunities for a larger selection of artist from allover our beautiful state to share their amazing products.  Of the 60+local artisan members, we are a tremendously diverse group.  Some of ourmembers have created a full-time career, life and income sharing their art withthe community (and world). Others have another “more traditional job” liketeacher, speech therapists, graphic design artist, crisis counselor, restaurantmanager as well as many others, in addition to sharing their art with us. Andstill others, like myself, share my art as more of a hobby.  Personally, Ilike having something just for myself, my very own, separate from my career asa stay-at-home mom and spouse.  Idaho Made truly has created anenvironment for everyone.  Our membership options include: workingmembers, non-working members, consignment members and wholesale members.

It takes a village

Each member of IdahoMade is an independent artist.  As independent artists, we are responsiblefor our own product, pricing and inventory.  Regardless of the type ofmembership, the role is equally important to running the “collective.”

Our workingmembers include the beautifully unique artists that welcome you each timeyou are in the shop.  They are the ones ringing up the sales, answeringthe calls and questions and sharing with the community about our amazingartists and city.  They are the ones running the daily operations of theshop.  Each working member works between 4 hours and 16 hours a month,depending on the yearlong contract they agreed to. Working members pay amonthly amount based on the number of hours worked.  Although working membersare not actual employees of Idaho Made and, therefore, not compensated for thehours they work in the store, the amount they pay per month is directly relatedto the number of hours worked.  More hours = less monthly fee and viceversa.  Most of the profits that come from sales of the items sold in theshop goes directly back to the working member artist.  As a stay-at-homemom, I LOVE being a working member.  It’s my time to interact with adulthumans and enter into the community.

Our non-workingmembers are just as important and play a critical role to the store'ssuccess.  They pay a little bit more of a monthly rate and they receivethe same large portion of profits from the sale of their items as the workingmembers.  Being a non-working member does not mean these members are neverin the store-quite the opposite is true.  They are often seen stepping into help with extra shifts during the bustling holiday season and often pop inthe shop during regular business hours to see how they can help, often timesgiving a much needed bathroom break to the working artist. Their increasedmonthly fee helps pay for all the “needs” required to run a retaillocation.  This includes costs such as rent, utilities, paper products(bags for each item sold), computers, QuickBooks etc. It costs A LOT to run aretail store.

A consignmentmember is a unique option the owners created for artists which the twopreviously mentioned memberships didn’t work for.  As mentioned, Molly,Steven and Sarah wanted to empower a wide variety of local artist, not justthose who could work in the store or could pay a higher monthly “fee.” Consignment members receive a smaller portion of profits from their items soldand pay a very small monthly fee.  This is often a great option to try ifan artist is unable to commit to a full year contract, aren’t able work in thestore or don’t need or want to sell a lot, but still wants to participate inthe artist community with very low risk.  Like non-working members,consignment membership fees help pay for the requirements needed for running aretail store.

Finally, the ownersoffer the option of wholesale as another way to open doors andsupport local artists whose needs are not met by the other membershipoptions.  The artists who wholesale their products to Idaho Made offer anincredible importance to the store not traditionally offered in a collectiveenvironment.  Unlike the other memberships, the wholesale artists do notpay a monthly “fee” to have their products sold in the store OR receive themajority of profits from their product sold.  Instead, they receiveupfront compensation at wholesale price determined by the artist.  Theowners then determine what the appropriate retail price is. Profits made fromthose products go directly back to the store.  Shockingly, you might thinkthat these straight profits would turn into money in the owner’s pockets. This is where the owners’ deep desire to empower local artists becomes again,very clear. Rather than keeping the profits for themselves, the owners investdirectly back into the store. They find ways that will provide the most benefitto the members of the collective. Remember my statement of sharing inthe profits and benefits without the risk for the artist?  It’snot a joke.  Profits from wholesale products have fully paid for marketingcampaigns and rebranding as well as new equipment and point of salessystems.  Each and every artist involved with Idaho Made is equallyvaluable regardless of how they are involved. It very much takes a village.

Home

I recently celebrated my4-year anniversary of becoming an artist at Idaho Made.  In that time, Ihave made some incredible friends and learned so much from the people I havemet.  For me, it feels like home.  If you haven’t yet stopped by theshop, please come in and say “Hi” next time you are near and for those of youwho continue to come support handmade and local, I can tell you it means theworld to so many of us.  I look forward to sharing with you so much moreabout Idaho Made and our incredible artists.

Until next time friends,

Kelly – Kelly2creations


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