If you’re thinking of turning your interest in upcycling into a business, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier. The following 6 steps are aimed at getting you mentally and financially prepared for your exciting new venture.
Train Your Eye
One of the most important and hard to qualify traits you may need to hone in your quest to become an upstart upcycler is to train your eye. What this means is that you will find it easier if you allow yourself the time and space to develop an eye for potential.
A great place to start this process is the library.
There are many books and resources available which can help you to solidify (and ground with theory) any ideas related to aesthetic or design practice. Having an idea of historical context, aesthetic development, and of broad-based eras and movements will help you understand the potential in any objects you encounter, and whether they’re suitable for restoration or modification.
Knowing the potential value of an object is only one part of a much larger learning curve. Another part of your growing arsenal of skills will be in the ability to envision how to best revamp and revitalise an old item. Being able to evaluate, budget and decide how much time, effort and resources you’re willing to dedicate to the process will also be of huge importance.
Having quality touches and finishes will set you apart from competitors and cheap replica designs. Upholstery suppliers are a good place to start – choosing a fabric, texture or colour palette may be all you need initially to get your creative juices going.
Know Thy Market
You may find that it’s harder to set up your business than you’d imagined – or, that your potential customers and suppliers are located somewhere geographically-distanced from where you’re planning on conducting business.
The lesson to be learned from this is to plan ahead and to know thy market.
It’s a good idea to do some research into your target market, and to figure out some ways in which you can best bridge the gap between yourself and your potential customers – before committing time, money and energy into the process.
Point Of Difference
There’s no use starting a business that’s going to have to compete with thousands of other businesses locally by doing the exact same thing as other businesses.
In order for your upcycling business to flourish, it’s important to market your ‘point of difference’. Generally speaking, a point of difference is a marketable trait which is unique to your product. Think of design quirks, use of quality touches or of eco-credentials. Find a way to promote these differences and put your stamp on your product.
Another key element to take into account is related to pricing – how much to charge, how to charge, and how competitively to price your items.
Part of creating a price structure will come through understanding your target market. If you’re upcycling furniture into modern, trendy magazine-worthy pieces, your pricing structure will be different to someone upcycling fringe or niche fashions.
Search out items of similar quality and appearance to your own and have a look at how they’re priced. Are they being purchased? Is there a market to price things at a similar cost? If so, it may be a great place to start.
Once you’ve figured out your marketable point of difference, it’s time to find a way to get your product to its intended audience. Finding a way to market and project your products is an art in itself.
Think about using social media apps as well as traditional media as an adjunct to your promotions. Social media users are often willing to share and promote your products for you if you present them with incentive. It also helps to build a community around your business.
Starting an upcycling business takes time.
There are skills you will need to acquire and hone, and some lessons to be learned through trial and error – but there’s also a whole lot of fun and freedom in running your own business. If you’re ready to take the next step, get reading, get writing, and get designing.