gift set

Bill Batson Dishes Advice On Artist Collaborations

Columns Retail

Pooling Resources To Create Gift Boxes Has Advantages For Small Business Owners

By Bill Batson

Collaboration is often the currency of small business, particularly when those enterprises are artist-driven. First and foremost, artists love to make art. But they also like to sell their art in the many ways it becomes a consumer product.

Like every small business owner, time and resources are finite, which is why partnerships are so valuable. For the past few years, I have joined ranks with two other Nyack artists to create the “Nyack Holiday Gift Set,” which includes a mug, cookies and tea. The project collectively celebrates the community where we work and live, but it also gives each of us a chance to maximize exposure, co-market our products, and share the expense and distribution of our gift set.

Think of it as a gestalt, where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. We each have a locally-inspired giftable. Mine is a mug inspired by the Nyack Sketch Log, a collection of drawings. Lisa Chang of Nyack Sweets makes wonderful cookies. And Preston Powell of Teagevity brings loose leaf tea to the mix.

The three items have synergy. They make sense together, which is a key element of a retail collaboration. All the items belong in the kitchen and they lend themselves to nurture, comfort, and entertaining with friends and family during holidays. It wouldn’t make sense, for example, to include a sock or a gimmick because it would undermine the synergy of the items. That’s an important point to consider when you join forces with other retailers. Stay in tune with one another.

The project began with Josh Wolfe, founder and owner of Skypunch Creative, a Nyack-based promotional product company.

The gift box came about because of personal contacts and connectivity of our daily lives. Said a little differently, it’s all about networking and making the right connections. I find that the best collaborations evolve organically. You get to know someone and their work and voila! an idea that is mutually beneficial reveals itself. The key thing is to recognize when that idea is a good one and to run with it, but to also acknowledge when it isn’t even if you are among friends.

Particularly when you’re working with friends and neighbors on a joint retail project, it’s extremely important for there to be clarity about how it works, where the responsibility lies, and how the costs and revenue stream work. It’s not a bad idea to have some of this agreed upon in writing.

Our first gift box project in 2018 quickly sold out the 125 units we produced. We use a pre-order model to mitigate risk of having left-over inventory. Customers who pre-order prior to Nov. 29 get a discount.

If possible, offer a choice. We do. There are two levels of the Nyack Gift Set: one that is more basic (a mug with a sketch, loose leaf tea, and a pack of mini cookies) and another that is stepped up (two mugs, loose leaf tea and steep, and full size cookies.)

Gift sets like ours can be holiday specific – say for Valentine’s Day or Halloween, or they can be generic enough to be marketed for holidays throughout the year.

But no matter what, put your heart into your product and into the gift box because that’s what consumers respond to.

Photo Credit: Ray Wright