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Should I or shouldn't I


#1

I have a chance to rent commercial studio space in town. this is a
studio on the main drag, above (2nd story) my fav coffee shop and
neighboring with other artist studios, which are rented by friends of
mine. They REALLY want me to have that space.

This is not a store front. it would be mostly space for classes (I
can teach some jewelry techniques and probably Accordion, despite my
fu&&ed up hands), open studios, rehearsal space for the band, and
work space (it could probably also serve as a main office for a
webpage building service for artists, that I’ve been trying to get
going for a while)

The draw backs aRe: 2nd story space, people would have to walk up a
flight of stairs to get to it. The doorway is narrow and not very
visible (a jar of paint could fix that)

not really a store so per se

several recent shop burglaries in town

I don’t know, whether I can generate enough to pay the rent every
month (it’s not a whole lot of rent, but still) especially, since
tourist season woulod be almost over by the time I could move into
it, and I’d have to rely on local biz for the winter

I’d loose at least one consignment outlet in town (she’s been making
noise about me having my stuff in too many local shops already)

it’s a good space, two large rooms, own Bathroom, great light and
view, clean, great studio neighbors (my friend of 8 years, who’s also
a very accomplished musician on her own and the singer in my band,
and is going to be teaching card / backstrap weaving and using the
studio for recording and practice for her own line of music) the
other studio neighbor is a localy well known pagan painter. The
coffee shop on the bottom is shaping itself up to be one of the
nicest hangouts in town…

opinions, advice? input? things to look out for? encouragment? hold
me down because I’m nuts to even think about it?

I do have the option, to do some classes (once a week) out of my
friends studio, if I don’t end up taking a studio myself

I really don’t know!!!
Sparrow


#2

Hey Sparrow:

I have made a lot of bad decisions over the last few years- but hey
I learned and it made me a better business person and a better
jeweler. My advice to you if you can not pay the rent now- it is
most likely you will not be in any position in a few months from now.
I have a storefront studio in a really hip neighborhood but the
neigborhood lacks real shoppers. Everybody in my hood goes to the
groovy coffee shops and bars and buys cheaps clothes at some of the
boutiques but for jewelry and my store its not enough to pay the
bills. I rent space in serious shopping districts on the weekends to
make ends meet. Build up your business first so you will not be in
a situation where you are dead broke and unable to pay your bills or
at least save up enough money where you can relay on our savings for
a short time. Also, you got to have a well thought out business
plan. I use to think business plans were a waste of time-but now I
always have two plans- a long range plan with my ultimate goal - and
a plan that gets me through the next few months- a plan to make some
cash and try to stay on top of things. Its essential.

If you want more advice you email me off list

Cheers!
DeDe
dedemetal jewelry


#3

Sparrow - It sounds like a wonderful space for working and has some
potential for selling if the “main drag” has the right kind of foot
traffic or visitors. People can be enticed to go up one story with
the right kind of draw. However it would seem that you should be
able to pencil out ahead of time sufficient income from some source
(classes, band rehearsal, studio rental or some such to at least pay
the rent. There are always lots of expenses besides rent and if I
were going to jump off the cliff (so to speak) I would at least want
certainty that I could pay the rent - I thought Dede’s
recommendation about the business plan was a good one - a business
plan that would include an outline of the various possible sources
of income you could generate in your new space. Sheridan Reed


#4

Only you can decide where the balance is between passion and
reality. If it was me, I would want very much to go for it, as I am
more than ready to find my own space and change the way I approach my
art. On the other hand, I still count too much on the living I make
from repairs in someone else’s shop to walk away from that when I
have a family to support, car payments to make and all the usual
stuff. That nasty dose of reality is all that keeps me where I am,
and also keeps me always looking for a better way. While I might not
be averse to the ‘starving artist’ syndrome for myself, I won’t
impose that on my wife and kids. As we have seen in another thread,
these are harder times, so you must decide if you can take on the
added burden of that rent without putting yourself under. Throughout
our years in business, though, we have ultimately made our decisions
based on the theory that we won’t be able to live with ourselves if
we don’t give something a shot. Looking back with the 'what ifs’
isn’t nice. Jim


#5

Sparrow, This is what I have learned from the last five years in
busines…

Our first space was too small, ground floor and store front. We
thought, groovy, here is a town that needs some fresh art, we could
hold our classes here and all will be well. We discovered that
selling jewelry in a town that has no clue between Kraft and Craft,
is not where you want to develop a high end clientele.

We found a place across the street and upstairs. This has worked
out OK, and even though our place has grown, I was surprised to find
out how many people don’t like to haul their stuff upsairs. If I
had to depend on our local traffic to survive, we would have closed
down the first week. I attribute our staying power to solid
marketing.

Teaching jewelry, is very different than rehersal space, and their
are many on considerations to be made. One is liability insurance.
Another is proper ventilation. Are people really going to haul
their instruments up and down the stairs? If you teach jewelry
classes at night, do your paying clients want to listen to music
rehearsal?

I would suggest sitting down with a piece of paper and generating
lots of questions which will work their way into a plan. I agree
with Dede. Write yourself out a business plan.

Good luck!

-k
Karen Christians
M E T A L W E R X
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Ph: 781 937 3532
Fx: 781 937 3955
www.metalwerx.com
email: @Karen_Christians
Board Member of SNAG


#6
    it's a *good* space, two large rooms, own Bathroom, great
light and view, clean, great studio neighbors (my friend of 8
years, who's also a very accomplished musician on her own and the
singer in my band, and is going to be teaching card / backstrap
weaving and using the studio for recording and practice for her own
line of music) the other studio neighbor is a localy well known
pagan painter. The coffee shop on the bottom is shaping itself up
to be one of the nicest hangouts in town... 

Hi Dagmar- Here is some personal experience and input:

I shared a space for a couple of years with a sculptor/artist who was
a good friend of mine. She thought it would be a great idea to share
expenses and be able to hang out on a more regular basis, but she
wasn’t prepared for my work schedule (I rarely get started before
noon or stop before midnight), the generally strange vibe that my
creative process generates (I talk to my stones as I’m cutting them)
or the fact that several of her clients wound up purchasing items
from me instead of her. It created much tension even though we
weren’t “competing” for dollars, or so we thought! Eventually she
returned to school and asked me to take over the entire space for the
remainder of the lease- I had made no plans for her leaving and was
left with a very difficult decision as well as a financial hit.
Fortunately the people who owned the building understood and charged
me half-rate for the remainder of the lease. This lady is still a
good friend but there will forever be a bit of tension that only
comes between friends who have shared financial responsibilities
that didn’t work out.

I’m now part of an informal multi-discipline artistic community (I’m
a musician/lapidary/jeweler, my bandmates are also
painters/sculptors/graphics designers, our spouses are stained
glass/painters/sculptors, and several others of our friends
collaborate with us in different media), and what has allowed us to
co-exist and maintain our friendships/marriages is a very simple
rule which we maintain as sacrosanct: Artists’ work and is theirs and
theirs alone- we collaborate to spread the word and open up
opportunities wherever one or more of us go- but we don’t get
involved in each others’ financial dealings (except for those of us
in the Band) and we don’t share space if it costs money. Our
recording studio has done triple-duty in the past as a children’s
play area, corporate offices for the Band and a healthcare practice,
and primary graphics and webmastering space. It is now a
recording/rehearsal studio and corporate office for Emerald Rose only
and life is much better for everyone concerned. There have been some
situations in the past few years that we might have been able to
"make a killing" if we commingled our influences and finances, but
after all was said and done one or more of us has said “whew! I’m
glad I/we didn’t get wrapped up in THAT!”. I guess the lesson I’ve
learned is that if you want to go into business of any kind with
friends or acquaintances there should be a very specific and
detailed agreement outlining everyone’s responsibilities, social as
well as financial. If I’m unable to commit and “make it official”
(ie: put it down on paper and everyone sign) then it’s usually not a
good idea. As far as having the right demographic traffic to sell to
the masses versus comfortable surroundings, I’ll go for the best
traffic density every time… I can relax in comfortable surroundings
with friends and family after work; much more so after selling mucho
items during a busy day!

BTW- who is your painter friend? Being a Pagan meself and a part of a
major Pagan band I just might know this person… contact me offlist
if you would like so we don’t clutter this most excellent forum.

Just my .02
Clyde Gilbert
Greenwood Studio


#7

Hey Sparrow, Perhaps you could find another jeweler to share the
space with along with the rent. I have heard of these co-op studios
being quit successful, especially if there are larger tools one of
you might have while the other one lacks. And also another person to
throw ideas at. There was just an article in Metalsmith Summer 2003,
you might want to check it out.

Just a thought
Joe


#8

Hey Sparrow, I can feel your vibes all the way to Virginia - you’re
just quivering like jello over this issue. Excitement is part of the
fun but can lead you astray ! I think DEDE is right on, so I won’t
duplicate. The first thing that strikes me is : What Will The Coffee
Shop think of a band rehearsing upstairs ? Even accordian playing ?
You shouldn’t count on that being a multi-use space until you check
with the neighbors most affected - and the zoning regulations for how
many people you can have in that space at one time, etc. etc. It’s
about more than being able to pay the rent. Don’t get your cart
before your horse, slow down, make the business plan and another one
still for Worst Case Scenario ! Miracles can happen - but
probably won’t - success is about a lot of really hard work and sweat
equity before you see any $$.

I sure do wish you all the best though. Music to Jewelry By ? Do
have fun.

Pat


#9

I was once part of a group studio on the 2nd floor – in the best
shopping district in town. The door was well marked and we had an
intercom clearly labeled – and people still got confused. Being on
the second floor is a huge disadvantage if you’re hoping for traffic
for a store. For classes, though, people find out about the
classes, and are willing to walk up a flight of stairs.

It sounds as if you don’t have a clear business plan. Teach some
jewelry, some accordian, do websites. It sounds very scattered.
And if it sounds that way to me, how’s it going to sound to
prospective students? The environment with the coffee shop and all
the friends doesn’t sound terribly conducive to work.

If you take the space, have a clear business plan for generating
income from the space in a way you couldn’t otherwise. Who else is
teaching in your area? How long will it take you to develop a
following of students? Can you teach an array of classes – not
just beginner? Can you pay the rent out of other funds until the
new ventures start making money? For how long? Will all the
teaching interfere with your jewelry making?

Will you end up just working for the space?

Elaine Luther
Chicago area, Illinois, USA
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Studio 925; established 1992
@E_Luther


#10
I was once part of a group studio on the 2nd floor -- in the best
shopping district in town.  The door was well marked and we had an
intercom clearly labeled -- and people still got confused.  Being
on the second floor is a huge disadvantage if you're hoping for
traffic for a store.  For classes, though, people find out about
the classes, and are willing to walk up a flight of stairs. 

Id definitely use it as space for classes, rather than walk in sales. for straight sales Iwould get in on the monthly art walk, where different shops host music and artists exhibits, Id do open
studio for that night, maybe with a small booth outside. Adds in the
local paper are fairly cheap, there are plenty of community boards to
stick flyers onto and a full page press release is a whooping $80
(which I think, the other studio owners would gladly jump into to
share the cost)…no, Im not an advertising genius, as you can tell...but its a small town that supports a lot of outlying
communities and word generally spreads fast

It sounds as if you don't have a clear business plan.  Teach some
jewelry, some accordian, do websites.  It sounds very scattered. 

Its essentially what Ive been doing for the past few years. I`m
very good at all three of these, and it seems to work.

And if it sounds that way to me, how's it going to sound to
prospective students? 

um…out of past experience…the reaction has a tendency to swell
my head.

e.g.: most people around here know me for the music I play. So I get
stopped at the grocery store and stuff by people Ive never met before. then these same people may see my jewelry work at a gallery in town, but maybe dont put 2&2 together, next, they see my booth
with me at a crafts show…the look on their face is often price
less.

yes, part of me enjoys that kind of attention :slight_smile: but Im actually very shy and humble, if I dont have a large box with buttons and
keys to hide behind…

The environment with the coffee shop and all the friends doesn't
sound terribly conducive to work. 

I work sometimes better when I have easy access to other people to
bouce ideas (and half finished projects) around and I`m usually
pretty disciplined about production time. (5CDs in the shuffler is my
usual time to MAKE new things)

If you take the space, have a clear business plan for generating
income from the space in a way you couldn't otherwise. 

see elsethread…I`m 15miles out of town in the woods

Who else is teaching in your area? 

nobody

How long will it take you to develop a following of students? 

I have a few (maybe ten) people who`s phone # I have that were
interested in classes and quite a few that I run into on a regular
basis also.

So far Ive mostly been thinking about doing hobby classes ( beaded link chains, simple forging and wire working projects simple polymer clay canes and sculptures, beading...) Im not sure how much interest
there would be for more extensive learning. I`ve also done some
classes at the local schools with the kids (1st -6th) which is
something I enjpy very much

Can you teach an array of classes -- not just beginner?  Can you
pay the rent out of other funds until the new ventures start making
money? 

sometimes. depends on my other outlets…

For how long?  Will all the teaching interfere with your jewelry
making? 

Probably not for a while…it will interfere with my gardening,
horse training, house fixing…:slight_smile:

Will you end up just working for the space? 

maybe for a while…its really not that much money for rent (my average intake/day throughout the summer, when I was still living in the big city, since Ive lived here, I can buy great food for the
entire month or pay all of my other bills off the same amount), this
is just a very poor area.

Thank you very much for your input,you`ve brought up a couple of
things that made me think Sparrow


#11
I shared a space for a couple of years with a sculptor/artist who
was a good friend of mine. She thought it would be a great idea to
share expenses and be able to hang out on a more regular basis, but
she wasn't prepared for my work schedule (I rarely get started
before noon or stop before midnight), the generally strange vibe
that my creative process generates (I talk to my stones as I'm
cutting them) or the fact that several of her clients wound up
purchasing items from me instead of her. It created much tension
even though we weren't "competing" for dollars, or so we thought!
Eventually she returned to school and asked me to take over the
entire space for the remainder of the lease- I had made no plans
for her leaving and was left with a very difficult decision as well
as a financial hit. Fortunately the people who owned the building
understood and charged me half-rate for the remainder of the lease.
This lady is still a good friend but there will forever be a bit of
tension that only comes between friends who have shared financial
responsibilities that didn't work out. 

these studios are all their own entity. I am thinking about sharing
the studio I would be renting (which is two seperate rooms) with
another artist. Im also at a point of my life, where I value written agreements, having gotten into "yousaid-he said" spats myself often enough regarding business situations, that Im not ready to rely on
someones words alone.

Your artist colony sounds like a great project! I`ve sofar (music
wise) been mostly a soloist, the band being my pet project :-))

Thank you for sharing your first hand experience and insights with
me (and eveyrbody else) Sparrow


#12
Sparrow, This is what I have learned from the last five years in
busines..  Our first space was too small, ground floor and store
front.  We thought, groovy, here is a town that needs some fresh
art, we could hold our classes here and all will be well.  We
discovered that selling jewelry in a town that has no clue between
Kraft and Craft, is not where you want to develop a high end
clientele. 

I hear you. we have an interesting mix of people living here in this
valley. the per capita quota of artists is extremely high, but there
aren`t a whole lot of jewellers (one other shop in a different town,
and one of my neighbors where I live) Many of the people who live in
town, while their live styles and attitudes are more conservative
than in the outlying communities, have a feairly refined taste due to
long exposure to many art forms (my opinion) every show I did in this
area has exceeded my expectations… My Jewelry is also not all that
high end. most pieces are somewere between 50 and 200, I have a real
difficult time making pieces over 300. I also have Hair accessories
and other fashion items, which are somewhere around $20

I think somewhere around $25/student/2hr session would be ok for
jewelry classes.

We found a place across the street and upstairs.  This has worked
out OK, and even though our place has grown, I was surprised to
find out how many people don't like to haul their stuff upsairs. 
If I had to depend on our local traffic to survive, we would have
closed down the first week.  I attribute our staying power to solid
marketing. 

point taken. must take marketing classes!

Teaching jewelry, is very different than rehersal space, and their
are many on considerations to be made.  One is liability
insurance. Another is proper ventilation.  Are people really going
to haul their instruments up and down the stairs?  If you teach
jewelry classes at night, do your paying clients want to listen to
music rehearsal? 

I would schedule it in a way that classes and practice arent at the same nights. Thanks for pointing out the insurance. I hadnt thought
of it yet

I would suggest sitting down with a piece of paper and generating
lots of questions which will work their way into a plan.  I agree
with Dede.  Write yourself out a business plan. 

Thank you so very much for your good advice!

Sparrow


#13
Only you can decide where the balance is between passion and
reality.  If it was me, I would want very much to go for it, as I
am more than ready to find my own space and change the way I
approach my art.  On the other hand, I still count too much on the
living I make from repairs in someone else's shop to walk away from
that when I have a family to support, car payments to make and all
the usual stuff.  That nasty dose of reality is all that keeps me
where I am, and also keeps me always looking for a better way. 
While I might not be averse to the 'starving artist' syndrome for
myself, I won't impose that on my wife and kids.  As we have seen
in another thread, these are harder times, so you must decide if
you can take on the added burden of that rent without putting
yourself under.  Throughout our years in business, though, we have
ultimately made our decisions based on the theory that we won't be
able to live with ourselves if we don't give something a shot.
Looking back with the 'what ifs' isn't nice. Jim 

Nope its not fun to look back on missed opportunities... Im already
a starving artist…I`m just not sure, whether having a studio in
town would make me into a more starving artist or a less starving
artist :-))) Sparrow


#14
Hey Sparrow, Perhaps you could find another jeweler to share the
space with along with the rent. I have heard of these co-op
studios being quit successful, especially if there are larger tools
one of you might have while the other one lacks. And also another
person to throw ideas at. There was just an article in Metalsmith
Summer 2003, you might want to check it out. 

This studio is really more for cold work (CARPET) classes and
display. Id be too nervous about the carpet to fire up the torch or make a big mess with the buffing wheel etc. Ill leave that for the
shop at home, which has a cement floor and open windows. there are
plenty of other artists in this area, not a whole lot of jewellers
though. But I`m open to sharing with somebody compatible.

Is there a copy of the article on line? there is no magazine shop in
town

Thanks for your thoughts
Sparrow