Often I have been asked on my blog if I run classes and could employ people and/or for some kind of guidance in this field.
Recently amongst the many calls I receive for some guidance was a call from Rida Farooq who also wished for some direction in this matter, staying in UAE.
Firstly, by no means, am I, an expert but I could only provide some of my own experience in this field.
I am a papercrafter and create handmade greeting cards, altered art, book binding and recylable items. To view a full range of my cards and papercrafting creations, please click here. In the past I have taught in schools and institutes but realized that these venues provide a large limitation on budget and generally dont fullfill their pledge when they advertize a product to their clients.
Therefore, I decided to offer private classes for children as well as ladies. I offer classes from my home at the Arabian Ranches every quaterly. For the children, there is a beginners and advanced art class covering all aspects and mediums of creating art works including water colors, arcylics etc. And for the ladies, classes are limited to the various aspects of papercrafting. I am not a sewer (which I would have loved to be !)
5 years back, I chose not to get involved in full time business for various reasons which do not apply now. But becoz you could be in a similar situation I am disclosing it to you.
1: My kids were alot younger and I prefered to do something on the side, rather than jump into a full time commitment which I may not be able to fullfill.
2: Business, in this part of the world is rather complicated with the involvement of trade liscence, visa procedures, having a partner’s constant involvment ( to have a business in Dubai or UAE, one must have a local “arbab” who is the local representative or sponsor of the business, although his involvment could be limited, in terms of finance and decisions, nevertheless, one has to pay him a fee on an annual basis, depending on the individual case )
I too, like many, prefered to manage from the comfort of my home while waiting for the right opportunity. (Which by the way, may not be the most ideal situation for you, but it “WAS” for me.)
Having said that, now, for what you should do, if you feel you have a talent which has the potential of bringing in, monetary gains ? Well, Primarily find out what exactly you wish to pursue ? You have the choice of selling your product or selling your skills ? Which would you prefer. That is ‘THE’ most important question. Please realize that most people who visit us in our homes or our friends, are going to praise our “ART” skills, becoz that is the polite thing to do, but are they appreciating it so much as to buy it ?
Next, having determined which direction you choose, “NETWORK” … It is a KEY WORD. Talk to people at work or spouces’ friends, or neighbours, friends of friends and spread the word that you can offer some skills or you have products which you would like to sell. Which ever, but first find out from your community, what response you get.
Another important aspect is “LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION” as they say in the business jargan . Perhaps you reside rather far from where your potential customers are. Well, then you have to find a way or a channel to come to them, if they cant come to you.
Here, I can also suggest that selling online is also another option. It has benefitted several folks, I know. And its really not as complicated as we make it out to be. There are several sites where you can join to be able to sell thru eg : ETSY.
One drawback about handmade items is that , being handmade, naturally they are always above the regular prices, and there is generally only a particular kind of clientele which appreciates handmade. So reaching them is the question here.
In my opinion, ARTE ~ Artisians of the Emirates, provides an excellent and very balanced platform for the new hobbyist. They are a monthly “souk” ~ exhibition/fair where you can participate on a monthly basis once you register with them. What I would advise to some one like Rida, is that you should probably visit one of their exhibitions/fairs which is held every first friday of the month at the Times Square on Sheikh Zayed road. Get a feel of how they exhibit and what are the kind of products that sell, talk to the vendors, and see how you think, you can place yourself there. You can reach arte from here : ARTE or join their facebook group here : Arte
If you feel more confident then this could be one way you could choose to move in. Another permanent option is where you take up a space/store/shop in a small sized mall or a larger mall. Depending on your budget, these are the basic two ways to go in. Both can turn out to be fruitful provided you believe you have what it takes to make it suceed.
I know of ladies, who have started out from Arte, moved on to get a space thru the Freezone but they struggled, becoz they were located far from the reach of the “REAL” client and I also know of women, who persisted with home business for years before actually opening up large size stores in more renowned malls. We all have our own situations to deal with, so in the end, it boils down to what your situation and budget is like.
I could go on forever on this subject but the most important thing is, that you set your priorities right first and see where you place your hobby/skills. There are scores of books written on this subject. But the bottom line is, as my closest friend Judith put it when I was in a delimma too, was “Running a store/shop/full fledge business is like getting on an ongoing threadmill” If you get what I mean. Are you 100% committed ? If so, and if not so too, trying out opportunities is alot better than waiting to let things happen to us, get out there, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH and atleast make an effort to know where you stand with your product.
If I can be of any help. Feel free to contact me.
I hope you found my little article informative, inspiring and educational. If so, kindly leave a comment to tell me how and what you feel.