Joy Stember founded the Metal Arts Studio in Abington, Pennsylvania two years ago, and has achieved a great deal of success in her craft business already.
A recent issue of Niche Magazine presented Joy’s story about her background in ceramics and metal at Tyler School of Art, and a trip to Israel which inspired her to devote much of her time to creating Judaica for the fine craft and gift market.
Joy spoke to the Arts Business Institute about making smart choices, and how she has used sound business methods to develop an audience for her high-end work despite a sputtering economy. She made a major career decision when she quit her job to become a full-time artist in 2010.
Was she nervous about making this move? “Not really,” said Joy, who had been saving money for this purpose, and was fortunate to have equipment handed down by her father, a jewelry designer. She developed a line of products using mostly pewter and brass, ranging in price from under one hundred dollars to several thousand.
She states that having higher price points hasn’t been an issue, and she has frequently attended craft shows where her work has sold out. Joy understands her target customer. They are primarily Jewish, well-educated, and interested in collecting meaningful objects which become family heirlooms.
Many purchases are for wedding gifts. She encourages customers to customize their orders, thus creating more personal value for them. The client becomes more intimately involved in the process and the design, and become very excited about owning a piece of her work. Her wholesale accounts are primarily museum stores and synagogue gift shops, and reorders are brisk.
Joy’s marketing strategy includes lots of advertising. She runs ads in Niche Magazine, American Style, American Craft, two local papers geared toward the Jewish community, and online as well. Professionally created color catalogs are available in paper and digital form. Her bio is available to be displayed with her collection. Postcards with multiple images from her line are also used to drive interest.
Her website shows the complete line of Judaica from the Metal Arts Studio, as well as candleholders which are suitable for the general gift market. Joy sells her work at elite retail shows such as the Smithsonian Craft Show and also wholesale at the Buyers Market.