Artist Profile: Kim Dailey

Meet Kim Dailey of Dailey Woodworking. His background in sales and running a gallery has helped him to become a successful craftsperson and entrepreneur. Kim shares his experience and some of his secrets.


ABI: What is your background, and how did you get started in your own business? 

KD: My background is in sales. I was an on the road salesman for over 15 years. I started out building furniture and then my wife and I had built our own house and I was building our cabinets and furniture for it. In the early spring of 2000, I wanted to make a set of bunk beds for our young daughters, so I bought a lathe to make the legs and spindles for it. Once it was in my basement shop, I realized that I had absolutely no idea how to make anything on it. So I bought a few pen kits and taught myself how to turn making pens. The third pen that I made turned into an order for fifteen and we were off and running.  We ended up buying the set of bunk beds.


ABI: At one time you ran several galleries, but needed to make a big decision about your business. What happened?

KD: In 2006 we were artisan owners in two galleries along with about 25 other artisans and I realized that I was putting more time into helping to run the galleries than I was into my own business. All the while I was working at least 60 hours a week as a salesman. I needed to make a change. But I wasn’t sure if I wanted to concentrate on retail or wholesale, so I attended the Arts Business Institute program in Philly at the summer Buyers Market show. I tried to absorb everything that they were teaching us in that three day program, but I got the most encouragement by actually talking to artisans on the show floor. I exhibited at my first Buyers Market in February of 2007.


ABI: Please share some strategies you have used that helped you succeed at wholesale trade shows.

I knew from being a gallery owner that products that are finished off, sell really well.  And by finished off I mean that they are sent to the gallery ready for sale in some type of box or package that the piece goes home in. You alleviate a problem for both the gallery and their customer this way. For instance, my mills and grinders come packaged in a nice gold foil box with crinkle fill inside along with the mill. The person purchasing the mill doesn’t have to worry about how they are going to wrap an irregular shaped object. It’s been taken care of for them.


ABI: What have you learned from your background in sales that has served you well as an artist?

KD: One of the things that I learned as a salesmen was that you have to make yourself stand out in order to be remembered. I learned that showing appreciation for my customers for their business made me stand out from my competition. I now send out thank you cards with a picture of one of my products on the front (which is different from the piece that they bought) and inside the card is a personal thank you from me. It amazes me to this day the responses that I get from these cards. I’ve even had orders placed with me based on the pictures on the cards.


ABI: What is your bestselling item and why?

KD: My best selling item is a cork screw and bottle stopper combination which comes in a velvet pouch. I make the handles in both woods and acrylics. I believe it is popular for a couple of reasons. One, it  fits into the men’s market very well, and two,  it’s priced right, with most galleries selling it for less than $40.00.

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  1. Very informative interview. I really like the idea of sending out thank you notes. I am going to try that. Thanks!

  2. Diane Townsley says:

    Great success story and great tips. I love the suggestion of the thank you card with a photo of his other work, brilliant! I usually just scribble a note on the invoice, but that’s so much more stylish and memorable. I’ll have to put my thinking cap on about how I could package jewelry in a more finished-off way. Probably with a focus on a ready-made display.

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