Millie Kaufman of Hevea Arts creates an appealing greeting card line that really connects with her customers.
The Arts Business Institute spoke with Millie about her work, and how she became successful selling it wholesale.
ABI: Your work is three dimensional. How did you develop this idea and what is the reaction?
MK: My dimensional work developed out of trial and error as most things happen with artists. I was just experimenting with layered papers, and the first card I made dimensional was the sunflower. It all started with one card, and every card thereafter became dimensional as well. Early on while selling my cards as craft shows, I would make two of the same card, one flat and one dimensional. The dimensional always sold quicker than the flat card. So after my little experiment, I only made dimensional cards.
At trade shows people always walk by my booth and have a need to touch my cards. It’s as if they are unsure if the artwork is raised or not. It has gotten to a point, that I am seriously considering placing a sign next to my cards that reads, “Please Touch”.
ABI: At first, you only sold your work through local craft fairs. Then you exhibited at the Buyers Market of American Craft. What happened?
MK: The Buyers Market of American Craft opened my business to buyers who appreciated my handmade greeting cards more than the people who attended the small craft fairs where I sold my cards. The buyers looked at my cards as artwork versus just another “run of the mill” greeting card. By the end of my first Buyers Market show, I had orders from all over the United States and it was the start of a great relationship with many gallery owners. The Buyers Market gave me the inspiration and confidence to continue with my greeting card business. In addition, the classes offered by The Arts Business Institute were a useful resource to learn about selling my work wholesale. I now have customers who collect my work, frame the cards and display them year round as artwork.
ABI: Do you still sell your work retail to the public?
MK: No, I don’t sell my work retail. For starters, I don’t wish to compete with the shops that do carry my work. If I sold retail, I would have to insure that my prices were higher than the retailers so that I would not be taking business away from them. In addition, there are the extra costs of setting up a merchant account and shopping cart to my website that I do not want the extra hassle of doing
ABI: What types of specialty markets are you selling to?
MK: My specialty market is Judaica. My Jewish line has done very well for me. I design cards for Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah, Passover and Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebrations. Most orders for my Jewish cards come from temples who are looking for something different as far as cards as concerned. I won a Louie Award from the Greeting Card Association last year for my Rosh Hashanah card showing a Torah and Shofar.
ABI: How often do you add new designs to your line?
MK: I add new designs all the time. I find it is a great way to keep in touch with my customers. Instead of just contacting my customers for an order, I contact them about new designs and then I hear from them and they place an order.