Biz Miss

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Notes on Licensing January 7, 2010

Filed under: Intellectual Property — bizmiss @ 7:59 pm
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I’m a big fan of automatic income, so I was excited to learn about CardsInk, a sort of Threadless-type site for greeting cards.  The web site made it seem so easy.  Submit a design, get votes, get paid.  I thought I would submit my Tanks design, so late this afternoon I signed up for an account.

I was dismayed to read in the user agreement, however (ALWAYS read the user agreement, even if it’s long), that if you submit a card design, CardsInk owns the license to it, exclusively, forever.  They only pay $100 for a successful design (plus a potential $50 for reprints), so in the end I had to say no.  Frankly, the amount of time I put into Tanks! is worth way more than $100 to me, and so is the potential profit from printing and selling the cards myself.  That might not be the case for hundreds of their other members, which is fine, but I find it a little underhanded that they make NO licensing info available before you sign up.

On the other end of the spectrum, Mrs. Grossman’s sent me a really generous licensing agreement today.  They agreed to let me make and sell my mandalas and prints, and to display them wherever I like for ten years for free as long as I credit them for the original sticker designs.  More than fair, I think.

They also posted one of the images to their Facebook page and commissioned a mandala with instructions to put on the wall of their factory store.  And they’re sending me free stickers!  It really doesn’t get any better that that.  No wait–actually, it does, when MRS. ANDREA GROSSMAN HERSELF says that the mandalas are “the best and most creative use of stickers I have seen in a long time.”  The six-year-old inside me crapped her pants when I read that.  To celebrate, I put all of the mandalas up in my Etsy shop, with the requisite line of credit:

Original sticker designs by Mrs. Grossman’s Paper Company.

Bottom line: always do your homework when it comes to licensing–whether you’re the licensor or the licensee.  Some companies that seem cool and indie might have some shady fine print, and some bigger, more established companies might be surprisingly supportive.  And of course, never ever sell work that uses someone else’s designs without permission–even if you bought it.  Owning an example of a design does not equal owning the rights to that design.


Stickering on the High Seas November 23, 2009

Last week A. and I got back from our week-long Caribbean Cruise with Sweet Travel.  It wasn’t the ideal trip since both of us had to work, but it was still a lot of fun and we hung out with four of the most amazing women you’ll ever meet.  Also, the comedy shows were really great–Erin Foley and Sandra Valls were my favorites.

I mostly worked on my sticker mandalas while we were on the boat.  I didn’t have time to make all my own stickers, so I just used the Mrs. Grossman’s stickers for these.  I’m hoping to do more in the future with my own stickers.  It took me a few days at sea to not get dizzy staring at them, but by the time we made it home I had five completed. I printed and mounted them on thin plywood and now they are at The Lab gallery here in SF waiting for Postcard Show 13.

If you don’t know anything about The Lab’s Postcard show, you should really come and check it out.  Dozens of artists participate, and all of the work is affordable.  Original works max out at $50 and multiples max out at $20.  Awesome if you’re a collector or you have art lovers on your gift list.  I’ll have the mandalas there for $15 if you want to take one home.  You can also find me volunteering there the night of the 6th, but I recommend going to this show as early as possible.  Most of the best pieces sell out right away.


Palette October 30, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — bizmiss @ 4:54 pm
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Oh man, I don’t know about you, but this is probably the most enticing palette I’ve ever had to work with.


I got them all today at the Pine Street Papery in Sausalito, which is actually on Caledonia Street.  I got about eight sets of each of these for $70 total.  Not a bad investment if you consider how many mandalas they will create.

The Mrs. Grossman’s site says I can only make fifty art pieces with their stickers.  Not that I intend to make more that, but it seems kind of bogus to market a product primarily as an art material and then limit the number of pieces your customers can make it.  I can’t think of any other example of this.

Hopefully the Bay Bridge will be open again by Monday, so I can go to the East Bay and pick up my little wooden bases.  Then I can really get down to business.  In the meantime I’ll work on making my own stickers so I have everything ready to go.  The anticipation is killing me!


Craft Fair Report: Bazaar Bizarre San Francisco December 16, 2007

Yesterday I participated in the San Francisco Bazaar Bizarre, a large holiday craft fair (~100 vendors), that was held this year in the County Fair Building in Golden Gate Park. The Bazaar Bizarre is organized mainly by Jamie Chan of Mary Jane’s Attic, along with help from her family and friends. I honestly don’t know how she does it all–heading up the Bazaar Bizarre, teaching Science, running her own fiber arts business, organizing events for the San Francisco Craft Mafia, and writing for blogs like CraftGossip’s Indie Craft Blog–but this woman is my hero. Jamie is one of the nicest people you will ever meet and never seems to break a sweat. She even has time to shop at her own events! Jamie is now the owner of some Sweet Meats, and I have added her needle felting kit to my Christmas list.

The first Bazaar Bizarre in which I participated was part of the Maker Faire earlier this year. It went extremely well from both a sales and marketing perspective but I think yesterday’s Baz Biz went even better. The publicity for the fair was excellent and the place was packed from opening to closing. Jamie made sure everything ran smoothly, from parking spots for load-in, to wheeling around the dolly when we all broke our tables down. There were food and drinks for vendors, Craft Fair Survival Kits from the folks at The Sampler, and stickers courtesy of Mrs. Grossman’s, one of the fair’s sponsors. Everyone seemed to do a brisk business and the building was warm and well-lighted.

As usual, I was not totally prepared for this event. I had all of my display stuff together, most of which was still packed up from the Baz Biz in May, but I was sadly lacking in inventory. In the rush of online holiday orders, I’ve been having trouble keeping up. I was still sending out packages on Thursday. I had about a dozen meats and a few t-shirts left over, and I made another dozen or so meats on Friday. I rationalized that since it was exactly the amount of goods I sold in one day at the last fair, I would be fine. But holiday fairs are a separate beast from spring fairs. People are shopping especially for gift items and they spend their cash much less critically. Yesterday’s Bazaar Bizarre ran from 11-6 but by 3:30 I was sold out of everything other than a few pairs of earrings. I received a lot of congratulations from shops and other vendors who saw my “Sorry, Sold Out” sign, but the truth is, I just wasn’t adequately organized.

You see, I’ve always been somewhat of a slave to the “tyranny of the urgent.” I tend to put the retail sales of plush meats above everything else. Especially in December, this is my primary source of income, so even though it keeps my business from moving forward in a timely fashion, it becomes my top priority. Orders also realistically need to get out within a week of their receipt, so despite not being the most important item on my business plan, it’s the item that usually needs to happen the fastest. In the end, this just pushes back the even more important stuff until it, too, becomes time critical. But you don’t want to have to rush things like new product development, publication design and trade show presentations.

Now that the fair is over and I have the slimmest of financial cushions, I’m trying to get back to what’s important rather than what’s urgent. Luckily, I can rest easy knowing that I will never again have to sew a dozen plush meats the day before a holiday craft fair, because by the time the next one rolls around, I will have boxes of them already made. It makes me really look forward to the next Bazaar Bizarre. Who knows how much I might be able to sell when I don’t sell out?

Bazaar Bizarre SF 2007