In a world that goes faster and faster, they work slowly, making unique products, one by one, piece by piece, using manual techniques used since ancient times. However, experts believe that this sector offers great growth prospects, as long as companies update their knowledge of business management and integrate a commitment to innovation in their business vision.
It is about preserving traditional craft techniques, but also updating other facets of the business, such as the marketing of products, their design and, of course, joining the car of new technologies.
At present, the artisan sector groups more than 120 trades and most of them represent great business opportunities. Especially those that are related to fashion (textiles, accessories, leather goods, jewellery…) or decoration (furniture, ceramics, wood…).
What plays most in favor of this type of business is the profile of potential customers: a buyer with high purchasing power, who seeks exclusive products with a high cultural level that allows him to assess the meticulous process of manual production that characterizes the artisan products. The segment of customers with high purchasing power has experienced significant growth in Spain in recent years.
If you are interested in this type of business, it agrees that values some premises:
Multi-faceted entrepreneur. This is a deeply complex sector if we take into account that the person in charge of the company is usually at the same time directly responsible for the whole life cycle of the product: design, manufacturing, promotion and marketing. Without forgetting that all these tasks must be added to those of any company (taxation, payroll…).
Important investment Initial investments may be high in some cases. You have to make large investments when purchasing the products, without knowing exactly in what period of time it may take to sell that material.
They also require significant disbursements those businesses that work with raw materials that make even more expensive the product made by hand, as in the case of jewelries, whose initial investment can amount to 300,000 euros.
Supply problems. You can also find difficulties when buying raw materials. In addition, sometimes they will force you to make volume orders above your needs. Although we only manufacture seven pairs of shoes a day, we are required to buy 200 pairs of heels at one time. That is a risk that you run, you have to assume in advance that that type of heel is going to sell well.
Once warned of the setbacks that may arise, you should know the main guidelines you must follow to adapt a craft business to the current reality:
- New forms of promotion. New technologies are basic for the sector and should represent one of the main forms of promotion. They are a source of information access for any potential buyer or customer. Today no one can doubt the advantages of a web page of each business: it works as a business card and contact for customers, advertises in the national and international market and you can even sell your products by this means.
- The associationism. The Spanish Foundation for the Innovation of the Handicrafts pleads for the grouping of artisans of the same sector to facilitate and reduce the control of costs of the raw materials. On the other hand and pursuing the same objective of cost reduction, they are also considering the possibility of making a grouped product offer, that is, implementing points of sale in which products manufactured by different artisans are marketed. If they are related to tourism promotion in the area this option can be an interesting way to increase sales.
- Collaboration between different guilds. Another area that we are investigating and that we believe can give a lot of play is the collaboration between artisans from different subsectors. For example, if craftsmen engaged in forging join with wood experts and potters, quality garden furniture can be obtained.
- Constant renewal of the product. A 21st century artisan has to be someone with a very innovative profile. Innovation is a constant exercise: you can not innovate for the collection of the current year and then stay stuck, but you have to prepare carefully for the production the following year. We must take maximum care of the designs of the products and be always up-to-date in terms of trends.
- Attendance at fairs. The attendance to fairs of the sector is a good way to publicize your product, especially when you are in the phase of introducing it for the first time in the market. They also represent a good option to attract new customers and to establish contacts with other artisans that interest you.
- Subsidies. Depending on the autonomous community in which the company registers, you can receive public aid aimed at supporting the financing of the creation of web pages, the acquisition of machinery or training processes. You can go to organizations such as the Foundation for the Innovation of Crafts to advise you.
GREAT BUSINESS VARIETY
In addition to the aforementioned, there are many other companies that have triumphed in the artisanal market. All of them have in common the fact of having found a subspecialization within their sector. We present some of them:
- Manufacture of musical instruments. More than craftsmanship, the manual manufacture of musical instruments is an art. In Barcelona there are several craft workshops specialized in this sector.
- Farriers. A rafter followed the advice of those who told him that there were very few left and that those who dedicated themselves to this trade could make a very good living. He has experienced it in his own flesh and his fame as a farrier has taken him to the Arab Emirates, where he attended the celebration of the World Championship to supervise the sheik’s horses’ hooves.
- Design of cars. A Catalan company has embarked on the idea of manufacturing cars in the old way and manually. Each year, they only manufacture 12 units and each of them is personalized for each client.
- Ceramists. Artistic ceramics is another of the manual sectors that offers great business possibilities.