The Fin Whale
We visited with a SCORE specialist on licensing this week for a very informative meeting but left with an overwhelming new list of things to do before that can become a reality.
Andersen stoneware's assets are our name, our history, and our designs and original glazes with a long established marketability but, as a family business we made mistakes that resulted in working in a space and staff too small for the size of our complex company.
I have been writing about concept of The Great American Ceramic Designers Crafsmen Network. I have learned that there is a company on the West Coast that is doing what I envision. The Company is Mud Shark Studios. They do mold and production work for others which supports their own studio work. I envision a network of similar operations and have suggested that such operations can be located in low income areas and help to revitalize the economy in a way that utilizes skills within the existing populous- but they can be located any where as long as the circumstances are right.
My thought came about as a result of our own process of producing our items in runs. Each time I did a run of an item I found I had to relearn the little tricks that facilitate the production of that particular piece and so I envisioned outsourcing to other American slip casting production studios that could concentrate on a smaller number of items and perfect the craft of doing half a dozen pieces. There are many reasons why working with multiple studios rather than just one is advantageous- one being that we once had such a set up in the past but with a single out side production studio. That came about at the time when our parents no longer wanted to travel the distance to Portland to operate the production located there and so an arrangement was made with a third party that we would provide the equipment and they would build a space and run the production.
We should have protected our interests by maintaining a productions close to us that we managed but that would have been another set of equipment and another management team. We also should have better protected our interests with a contractual agreement providing that if the other party decided they no longer wanted to run the operation that the transition would be made on terms that would accommodate our ongoing interests. As it turned out the other party one day abruptly decided not to continue and so the production was left to be done in our own small studio space while the equipment , as far as I know, still sits in the space that the other party built.
If there exists a network of multiple production studios, if one studio closes, their production can be shifted to the other studios. I think it could be a very creative endeavor and I would love to see it happen in America, which in my view, in the changing global context may turn out to be advantageous in ways that are not so apparent at this time- but that's a subject for another post.If we ever get to the point of establishing such a network in Maine, MudShark Studios could potentially be valuable consultants.
The discussion with the SCORE mentors included considerations of out sourcing productions outside of this country- as it should, if only because we should understand all options in order to make well informed decisons.
So we are again considering a KickStarter Project with the project being to outsource one of our designs to be produced by MudShark Studios. If there were such a studio in Maine or even a number of such studios, those jobs would be coming to Maine. If we can successfully fund this project and then market it, the project itself can be a working model that might be useful in setting up such a network.
This KickStarter Project project had a similar goal as above and was successfully funded.
Heath Ceramics, which I have mentioned previously in this blog, has an enviable production studio but is also a client of MudShark Studios.
To pull our KickStarter project off, we will need a better marketing plan. I hope to find evangelists who will help to promote the project. This project will be simpler and target a larger and more general audience.If you are reading this and have an idea or contact that might be useful, please let us know! It seems ripe for a consulting business to exists that helps the client with marketing a KickStarter project.
The item that we would produce in this manner will likely be a stand alone item such as a mug, A mug happens to be the example KickStarter uses as what not to offer as a reward- too common- so KickStarter says but there is nothing common about an Andersen mug. It may or may not be the mug shown below- but when working in this manner on a first time basis with an unknown studio, the concept of a carved decorative motif is quite suitable to the method.
This is our first KickStarter Project, targeting the production of a limited edition Sculpture . It never got off the ground as a KickStarter Fundraiser but has proved useful to us in other ways. In this project I was targeting local support being that the projected production studio which we would like to establish locally would benefit the local community the most. However I believe that I over estimated local public awareness of KickStarter.
The new projected project will focus on reaching a more general audience appropriate to project itself, which is a potentially mass market item- or relatively mass market item- relative to the historical production size of our studio.