How do you handle shipping, fulfillment + distribution?
Instead of using a distribution company, I’m doing it all myself now repping myself all over the state of Alaska with tourist shops and different businesses. That’s going really well.
I used to use a company out of southeast Alaska to do the distribution. I would send them all the products and then walk away and hopefully some rep would take care of all of that and I would get a check every quarter. That was okay for a while, but then I stopped getting the checks but was still selling stuff and was spending so much time trying to be on top of them because I wasn’t getting the money.
So I decided to take that all back myself, which I did not want to do, I do not want to be doing wholesale. But sometimes people aren’t going to do the job you want, so you have to do it yourself. So that’s where I’m at. My bedroom now has a closet filled with clothes and cards and boxes of envelopes.
I’m a list maker so this winter when I started to take on the distribution myself I sat down and made a huge list of all the options, sent them all sample packs. I reached out to as many as I could and heard back from most of them. I started an online webpage where they could order wholesale products and that took off right away. So now I’m really stoked.
I think that would be pretty fun, especially here in a small town where they don’t really see a lot of contemporary art. It would be cool to introduce them to a wider view of the art world, show them they can make and sell their own screen prints.
The whole digital revolution has made our lives easier and we can communicate right to our audience. We’ve seen steady growth of 10 to 20% a year and with the digital revolution those numbers actually are going up because it’s a lot easier to get our films than it’s ever been — it’s one click and you can download it.
So it’s actually made our product one, a million times easier to market — we have our social media outlets where we can directly reach out to our consumers and our fan base. Two, we have this amazing digital platform where people can buy their tickets on their mobile phone and just go to a show. And then we actually know our audience better than we ever have and can communicate with them directly.
We also put out a ton of free content every year. We’ll do 100-200 Instagram posts with clips, we’ll do 25 different segments on YouTube. So we’re very much a part of that revolution of sharing content and getting it out there. But then we also sell our movies on iTunes and then they’re picked up after a distribution window of 18 months and they go on SVOD (Subscription or Streaming Video On-Demand) platforms. So if you join a subscription service you can see our movies that way. Or they’ve been free on Red Bull TV two years after we put them out.
It’s interesting though because you see it come full circle. Everyone was like, Well, I’m just going to make my own YouTube videos. But then that space gets crowded and all of a sudden marketing people are like, Well, now we need to have more experiences and live events for our consumers.
We try to offer our partners the full package — a big digital presence and a 150-city global film tour. And then we have our film distributions online as well and on TV.
Some people want a big old painting and sometimes I say, It might be cheaper for me to just come to your house and paint it there and leave it rather than shipping it. So still working out the kinks.
I got it down [when it comes to shipping]. I go to U-Haul and buy those mirror boxes with those corners. You just have to reinforce it with some really tough wood or plastic. The only thing that’ll happen to it is if literally a pole goes through it.
But that’s why I don’t like to do the big ones ‘cause the big ones cost a lot of money to ship. I did one that cost more to ship than I charged them.
I enjoy selling one-off prints, where they’ll come to my online store, I pack a print and send it to them. But it just feels like a waste of my time, honestly, when I’m sending one $25 print even if it only takes me five minutes to do that. It’s that diversion of attention. I’d way rather allocate that five minutes towards putting together a proposal for a big project for Patagonia.
I actually just hired someone part time and part of my goal for them this year is to find more wholesale and consignment accounts because I have two accounts now and make a few thousand dollars a year with them and it’s zero effort. Once or twice a year I send a box of prints to them and that’s it. It’s so easy.
If I could have somebody get 10, 15, 20 of those accounts, all of a sudden that’s 10 to 20 grand in passive income. And to have that would be really, really nice.