I had the opportunity to email chat with Marlo Miyashiro of The Handmade Showroom about her business and how people can apply to sell in her shop. Enjoy her sage words:
If you could go back in time - what would you tell little Marlo when she was just starting out creating her own business?
You know, I spent a lot of time trying to figure out a good answer for this question and the thing is, knowing myself and how I've always been, no matter what sage advice the older me would try to give to the younger me, I was a stubborn enough child that I probably wouldn't have listened anyway. So, maybe that's it. I'd have to tell myself that even though everyone is telling her that being stubborn is a bad thing, that in the grand scheme of things, it's actually a huge asset when it comes to pursuing a business. Not everyone has the tenacity it takes to run a business, so use that stubborn streak to forge your own way and you'll do great!
If there was any part of your job that you could make some magical entity do for you (and it would be done perfectly every time) what would it be?
Oooh. Just one thing? Hm. Well, right now I'm working on creating over 8000 individual bar code labels for every single item at the Showroom to try to improve our inventory tracking before we get to the Holiday. It is absolutely the most mind-numbing and butt-numbing chore ever in the history of ever. If there was a way for me to just hand over my full inventory list and have someone create accurate bar codes on the tiny labels we need in less than a month, that would be a dream come true. But such dreams tend to cost a lot of money to get done in the real world and as a first-year business, that is in short supply right now, so I am paying with my personal time. But I think it will really be worth it in the end so I'll figure out how to get the job done somehow!
On a typical day - what percentage excited are you -- and what percentage terrified?
On a typical day I'm probably 50% amazed that I am actually living out the dream I've had since I was the little girl that made my mother buy things from me in my bedroom "store" (yep, I totally did that!) and 50% completely overwhelmed with the sheer quantity of tasks and decisions that need to get done every day. It's a lot to handle, but my gratitude for the support we've had from our friends, family, artists, and our helpers outweighs any fears I have by a wide margin - that's what keeps me going every day!
Can you outline what you look for in the shop -- what criteria they need to meet in order to apply to sell their work?
Currently, we look for high-quality, handmade work of contemporary design by artists in and around the Pacific Northwest region of the US. The quality of both the product and the packaging is a really big deal for us, since we are mainly a gift store that caters to the professionals that live and work in Downtown Seattle along with the visitors we have throughout the year. We require that the artist have a business license and a cohesive line that we can present as the artist's collection.
Selection is mainly based on category availability, quality of product, quality of packaging / branding, price point, and customer demand. There are many times when we see applications with work that we personally love, but now that we are getting to know our customer better, some products just won't connect with them which means we have to decline an artist for that reason alone. Other times we love a line and would totally carry it in the store, but we just don't have room in their category at that moment so we have to keep their info on file until we can find a way to fit it in.
As far as responding to applicants, we are thankful for every application and try to let the artists know either way, but to be honest, it's been really difficult to keep up with the volume of applications we've gotten in over the past year with all the changes we've gone through from pop-up to transitionary to permanent storefront. We are doing what we can to catch up though, if only to apologize for not replying sooner!