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THE COMPETITION: Underestimate Them At Your Peril!

Posted by learntobead on February 3, 2021

The Workshop

The weekend had arrived.

I slowly glanced around the room, at each and every participant, all seventeen of them, sitting quietly around this very large classroom table, eagerly awaiting what was to come before them. Our guest Jewelry Design Instructor standing at the head of the table. Me sitting at the other end.

Two very special days with this super-hero Instructor. She guiding them step-by-step through the processes of design and construction. Demonstrating how to use the tools. Then the technique. Then the discussion about strategy and materials. And finally, beginning this fabulous necklace project design.

The excitement was palpable. No one could contain themselves. They were lapping at the starting gate. Eyes on the prize. Working together with a celebrity designer. Hearing her thoughts. Seeing her in action. Becoming at least a Facebook friend. Hoping to be able to finish by the end of the next day. And show it off the next.

It took two years to get to this point.

I had arranged everything.

My plans methodical.

My organization without question.

My calendar and schedule to the point.

But until that moment we all entered the classroom, finding our seats, laying out our tools and materials, making sure our water or coffee or tea was at hand, snacks carefully positioned along the center of the table, our guest Instructor passing out the instruction kits … until that very moment, I wasn’t sure this was all going to happen.

The Advanced Study Was To Culminate In 
 A Masters Class In Beadweaving and Design

I am a jewelry designer.

I own a bead store.

I have all kinds of clients and customers interested in various aspects of jewelry making and design. There are bead stringers. Also wire workers. Some fiber artists, silversmiths, and lampwork artists. Toss in some hand-knotters and braiders. The occasional biologist and physicist who use beads in their experiments, and we meet the beading needs of quite a large range of people

One group gets my special attention — the bead weavers. These are people who like to use those tiny little seed beads and needle and thread, and make jewelry, tapestries, embellished clothing, and sculptures, and whatever they can think of. Our bead weavers have a special Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group which has existed for many years. One of the earlier projects this group pursued was to study the life of a well-known and well-respected bead artist and designer. At the time we studied her life, she had already become a celebrity designer and teacher in the bead weaving field.

The question before the group: What makes an accomplished bead weaver and jewelry designer?

Was it family upbringing? Special innate talents? Schooling? Happenstance? What influenced her in her development as a bead artist and designer? Were there ups and downs? Was the career path linear? How important was it to have a mentor or special teacher? How about comradery — what kind of social network did she have, and how important a role did that play?

The group picked their target. I phoned her, and explained what the group wanted to accomplish. I asked if she would be willing to be interviewed, probably about once a week, and she agreed. And that began our adventure and exploration which lasted a little more than a year.

The Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group, to say the least, was very excited. To have this kind of access to a master bead weaving artist and designer was extraordinary. And they had many, many questions for her.

So, my routine began with asking the group what questions they had. Then I would phone the instructor and we would talk about 30 minutes. I reported her answers back to the group. There was some group discussion. Then we generated some more questions.

There were questions about how she got started. She was a seamstress. How she got into beading. She was hired to work in a bead store. How beading became a passion for her. She began to teach classes. She saw how she could integrate the techniques she used as a seamstress into techniques for weaving beads. Did she have a mentor. The woman who owned the bead shop had been a basket weaver, and adapted those techniques for bead weaving. This person was very inspirational, and took her under her wing. Was there any happenstance. Someone was wanting to start a major bead weaving magazine. They came to town — San Diego — to interview several bead weaving artists to see whom they might highlight in the first issue of the magazine. Our Instructor was one of the chosen few.

Over the year, we talked about variations in several bead weaving techniques, and how she came to choose the variations she preferred. We asked what it meant to her to have a design sense. We discussed other bead weaving artists, what of their history she was familiar with, and how they came to specialize in certain techniques over others. We were inquisitive about her selection of materials. We asked questions about what it was like to teach, and how her approaches were similar or different, given the varying skill levels of her students.

During the summer, I asked her if I could arrange a 3-day workshop with her in Nashville, Tennessee. We decided on the weekend of June 21st, about 1 year later at that point. We planned to do two projects — a simpler bracelet, and a more advanced 2-day necklace.

I added the dates to my calendar. I created my marketing plan and schedule. And did not give it much more thought, since the workshop was not to happen for about another year.

Competitive Conflict #1:
 The Local Bead Society

I had been an active member and supporter of our local bead society until the year previous to when my Advanced Jewelry Design Study Group began its study of the artist and designer.

As a store owner, I actively promoted the bead society. I garnered them a large membership. I offered steep discounts to their members. I steered many opportunities their way. I let them use our classroom spaces. I provided materials for their activities at no cost to them. I assisted their planning, program and development committees. I worked with them to write their bylaws.

Everything worked smoothly for many years. But then it didn’t.

Bead society officers were elected every two years. In that last election before I discontinued my relationship with the group, three of the four officers elected — the president, the vice president and the secretary — no longer managed the society and functioned in the members’ interests, nor followed the bylaws.

The society had a bylaw that stated that every program had to have a prespecified date, on which, if that program looked like it would lose money, the membership had to vote whether to continue with the program, or cancel it. The officers ignored the rule. They scheduled several workshops of interest primarily to themselves, many which had nothing to do with beading, over their first two years in office. They drove down the $8,000 the society had in the bank to a little under $1,000.

The officers made themselves the chairs of all the organization’s committees. Refused to do the monthly reports to the membership, including information about the society’s bank accounts.

The officers refused to let the treasurer have access to the bank, or any signatory powers as specified in the bylaws.

The three officers spent society money on lavish gifts for themselves.

And on and on.

Which is why I withdrew.

The Society Wanted A Workshop Too

About six months after I had booked our workshop with the Instructor, the bead society officers approached this same Instructor, and cleverly booked a workshop the weekend before ours. They did not pick any particular workshop projects at that time. I had already done a lot of pre-marketing, so the message about our workshop and our dates was very visible and out there way before the time they approached our Instructor.

We’re in the same town — Nashville, TN. Our potential market of possible participants is virtually the same. The market was not large enough to support two workshops. I did not find out about their plans until 3 months before our workshop was to begin. That’s the timeframe when they began their marketing.

The Instructor should have had more control over the situation. But she did not. She thought the bead society was located in another part of Tennessee, where there would not be a major conflict.

So, here we were.

I proposed to the Instructor and the bead society the following, hoping for a compromise:

a. We would keep our June 21 weekend date

b. We would do the two projects that the Instructor and I had agreed upon.

c. We would hold the workshop at my bead store

d. My advanced students would get first priority for available seats, which would still leave room for a large number of additional participants

e. The workshop would be marketed as a joint project between the bead store and the bead society

f. The bead society could have all the proceeds, which would have been several thousand dollars

The bead society said No!

I held our workshop as planned and scheduled.

The Instructor canceled their workshop, and told them she would never do a workshop with them again.

Competitive Conflict #2:
 Another Local Bead Store

My bead store is located less than half a mile from another bead store. I view them as friendly competition. They see me as the enemy. The two stores have different mixes of merchandise. Some customers overlap, but I view my market area as a 5-hour driving radius around Nashville. They view their market as Nashville only. They offer classes, but come from a craft perspective. They teach steps. I offer classes, but come from a design perspective. I teach theories and applications. We do not attract the same customers. We do not attract the same students.

For me, the presence of both stores, plus a Michaels craft store across the street creates a lot of synergy — more things to buy, more things to do, more customers to entice into learning beading and jewelry making. For the other store, they assumed loss of sales, loss of students and loss of customers. The reality was that our businesses presented more of a continuum than any overlap.

But having this Instructor teach here was a coup. It was status. Power, Legitimacy. Credibility. It was an endorsement of who I was, what I was, and my way of thinking. And the other bead store owners — a husband and wife — wanted all of this for themselves. They were not happy.

We may have been seen as some kind of enemy in this instance. Or, perhaps conversely, as a friend providing more opportunities to bead artists and designers for fun and professional development in Nashville. I guess it depends how you think about competition and where you are standing.

The first thing the other store’s owners tried to do was steal the workshop for themselves. Not long after I had booked the Instructor that summer, they called her. They asked her to reschedule the workshop the same weekend, but at their bead store instead. Even before she told them No!, they began a premarketing campaign. Emails, signage, phone calls — all indicating that they were to host the Instructor the weekend of June 21st. And after she told them No!, they continued their premarketing campaign anyway.

This confused lots of people. Many people thought I might be lying about our program. Luckily, I was interviewing the Instructor weekly, and reporting back to our study group. I included summaries in our marketing materials we sent out to all our customers each month. Eventually, the other bead store stopped their marketing.

The wife who owned the bead store found out the Instructor was doing a workshop in Kansas City. This was about 5 months before our scheduled date. She drove all the way to Kansas City from Nashville. She arranged to meet the Instructor at the hotel lobby one morning, on a pretense and supposedly to show her and sell her some specialty Czech glass beads. They had never met in person before.

The Instructor told me that she had come down into the lobby, and the wife began pulling out displays of Czech glass. But the conversation quickly turned to the Nashville workshop. The wife asked the Instructor to change the venue to their bead store. The Instructor again said No!, and sent the wife on her way. “Creepy,” was the word the Instructor used.

There was more to come.

Three weeks before the workshop, the husband this time phoned the Instructor. He asked her when she would arrive, and which airline she was flying on. He told her that he would pick her up at the airport.

She was already suspicious of the couple. She told him she had other arrangements.

And one more thing.

For three days during my workshop — Friday and Saturday and Sunday, the husband parked his car in the parking lot. Directly in front of my store. Headlights on. He was there all day, every day. As if he were taking names of the customers coming into my store.


Underestimate Your Competition At Your Peril

Looking back, it all seems so much fun — great stories to tell. An adventure in competitive competition. But it was very important to take competition seriously then, and seriously now. It is important to know…

1. What competition is

2. Who you competitors are

3. The specific characteristics of your marketplace

4. What your competitive advantage over your competitors is

5. How to get the message across to your clients and customers — current and possible — about your competitive advantage

Many businesses do not take the time to truly understand their marketplace, and all the competitive forces within it. They may spend some time listing some differences between themselves and those they compete with. Lower prices. More accessibility. Better quality. Faster service.

But the differences in and of themselves do not make the difference between capturing your market or not. It’s the visibility of these differences. And the credibility of how these differences are conveyed. And the risk and reward calculus of your customers. Your competitive advantage is not the quality or price of your product or service you are selling, but your ability to make this information known in the market, and believable in that market, and valued in that market.

1. What Competition Is

Competition is a process utilized to influence outcomes.

Competition begins with perceptions of differences in status or position, and the subsequent recognition of contradictions between market reality and personal or organizational expectation. Status or position can relate to things like wealth, power, attention, income, market share, access to scarce resources, prestige and fame.

A person or business makes the decision to compete when those contradictions become personally or organizationally untenable. Survive or die.

The motivation to pursue competition, then, is to enhance or impede positive or negative changes in status or position.

A strategic competitive response, intuitive or formal, is developed. It is an opportunity for action based on an assessment of the relative risks and rewards for acting versus not acting.

This competitive response and pursuit can take two forms: 
a) cooperation, when a common goal can be shared, and both can gain,
 b) conflict, when a common goal cannot be shared, and the gain for one is a loss for the other.

Whatever the response, competition can incentivize. It can set in motion positive things which make the person or business more efficient, more effective, more responsive, more actively learning, more adaptive, and more innovative. Or just the opposite can happen.

Competition is never a fixed state of affairs. It is a journey. So the rivalry has a lot of give and take, and ebb and flow, to it. Things can improve for one party, and diminish for the other. Things can improve for both. Just as easily, things can deteriorate for both. These can lead to compromising ethical standards. These can lead to financial ruin.

2. Who Your Competitors Are

Your competitor is anyone operating in your market — whether individual or business or network or organization or even an event or other more abstract thing — which can influence outcomes related to your status or position.

This might relate to the products you sell. This might relate to the services you offer. This might relate to your design sense, ideas and philosophy. So, you want to get a handle on how your competitors CAN INFLUENCE THINGS, and WHAT RESOURCES AND CONNECTIONS they have on hand to exert such influence, and what their MOTIVATIONS are for wanting to influence things.

Understanding Your Competitors

You cannot compete if you do not have a thorough understanding of who your competitors are. Their understandings and assumptions. Their business strategies. Their operations. Their client / customer base and how they market to them. Their perceptions. Their expectations. Their skill sets. Their level of resiliency and ability to adapt to changing market conditions. How they position themselves within their market.

You cannot compete if you do not have a good estimate of how many competitors you have, and whether they are direct or indirect competitors.

Your competitors include any individual or business which might deter a potential client or customer from choosing you. Some of these individuals or businesses will be obvious because they compete directly with you. Another designer. Another design business. Another business, but not specifically a design business, which sells the same types of design products or services you offer.

These direct competitors may be in the same locale or service area you are in. They may be online. They may have a print catalog. They may be registered as ancillary employees with another service.

With direct competition, you want to be as visible or moreso than they are in order to attract and retain clients and customers. Visibility means that people know who you are, where you are, and the relative risks and rewards for patronizing you rather than one of your other direct competitors.

Indirect competitors are those who do not offer the same products or services that you do; however, the products and services they do offer satisfy your clients’ or customers’ needs in a similar way. They are viable alternatives to what you offer, as understood by a shared or overlapping client / customer base. You must always ask yourself, to understand these indirect competitors, what all the alternatives to your products and services might be.

For example, people buy jewelry for many reasons, one of which is to be adorned in an appealing way. That same person, rather than buy jewelry, might meet their same need by getting a tattoo or buying another accessory like a handbag. Jewelry purchases might be seasonal, timed to special holidays and occasions or the schedule of the partying circuit. At other times, these same people might be attracted to other artistic products and services. In the winter, they might think more about getting a knitted sweater. In the spring, they might think more about planting a garden.

To reach your client / customer base when they are involved with your indirect competitors will still require strategies to increase your visibility. But the specific things you do might be very different, than when competing for the attention of clients and customers who visit your direct competitors. You will need to change your field of vision. You may redefine your client or customer based into different sub-groups. Your marketing messages will probably be very different. Where you place these messages, and when you schedule these messages to go out, may be very different.

3. The Specific Characteristics Of Competition In Your Marketplace

You cannot compete if you do not have a good understanding, not only of who your competitors are, but also, how good they are at competing. What is their position, both in terms of status and location, in your market place –marginal or core? What is their strategy for pricing and how does that relate to clients’ or customers’ perceptions, wants and needs? Do they offer discounts? Payment terms? Do they have anything related to special status, such as awards? What kinds of marketing do they do, and what is the content of their messaging? Are there cultural or social things which impede or enhance their competitiveness? What is their history, how did they get started, how did they keep going? How adaptive and resilient do they appear to be as market conditions change, and what kinds of things make you draw your conclusions?

How Do You Define Your Market Boundaries?

It is very important that you have a clear understanding of how people find you, or find where your products and services are available. This will influence what marketing messages you want to send, where you want to post them, and how often you want to post them.

Some of this information may involve mapping out local shopping behaviors. An example, 25% of your clients or customers visit both the local mall and your business or where your products or services are on the same shopping trip. Another example, 15% of your clients or customers interact with you or your products or services three times each month.

Other information may be specified in terms of how extensive the driving radius is, such as, 50% of your clients or customers are willing to drive 1 hour to get to you, your products or your services.

Within your market boundaries, you may have some sub-markets or market niches. This might break down by age or by income or by gender or by some other variable. You might have clients who want fully customized services, or those who want boiler-plate.

Your physical, geographic market boundaries may have little to no relationship to your online market boundaries. In fact, you may have several different online market boundaries, given where and how you create your online presence.

Concurrently with all your analyses, with a simple review of your various competitors advertising and websites, you can determine how they define their market boundaries. This might trigger new ideas and understandings for you in your own marketing efforts. Or it might create new competitive puzzles to solve. It might give you a better way of calculating whether any one marketing approach is worth the costs.

Also, ask yourself, are there any gaps in the market which you might exploit? Conversely, are any parts of the market oversaturated, and should be avoided?

How Do Your Competitors Position Themselves?

Your same products or services can be presented within your market or market niches in a number of different ways, and through various combinations of circumstances and contingencies.

Based on the packaging and presentation, different existing and potential clients or customers may vary in what resonates with them. That is, even though the products or services may be the same or similar, people won’t always recognize how all of these may equally meet their needs, wants and demands.

The circumstances surrounding the packaging and presentation of products or services is known as positioning. It is important to know how your competitors position themselves. Ask yourself: Am I positioning myself similarly or differently from my competition?

This information about positioning helps you differentiate what you offer from what they offer. It helps your clients or customers compare you to your competitors in a way which influences them to believe that they would trust purchasing from you rather than them.

What Is Their Pricing Strategy?

One of the most visible aspects of your business is how you price your products or services. Your prices provide a concrete measure your clients or customers can use to compare you to your competition. They are perhaps the most singularly important way you recruit and retain your clients or customers.

Obviously, it is critical to get an understanding of how your competitors price things. Do you use a similar or different strategy for pricing your products or services? How appealing are your prices? Are prices in line with what people in your market area are willing to pay? Do your clients or customers trust you in how you value things in order to price them — especially if your prices are higher than your competitors?

Do any of your competitors offer discounts? Are there volume requirements before giving someone a discount? Do they offer different payment options? Terms?

And many designers find they often have to compete with other designers who under-price their products or services, sometimes even below their costs, because they are unaware of the business fundamentals of pricing. There is no good competitive strategy here except to ignore them. Under-pricing is a yellow flag that these designers will not be able to provide a quality service or product, and won’t be able to survive very long as a business.

What Are Your Competitors’ Strengths?

You want to fully understand what clients and customers like about your competition, and like more about your competition than your own business. Then you ask yourself, are these qualities or products or services you need to adopt and include in your own business. Or maybe differences in appeal come down to how you market yourself. Or maybe these are things you need to ignore and not try to offer.

Examine the backgrounds and skill-sets of the owner, and if a larger organization, that of the staff. How much does this lead to their success?

Have they had any particular wins? Can you learn from those?

What Are Your Competitors’ Weaknesses?

It is not only the strengths of your competitors which you need to be aware of, but also their weaknesses. This may further help you identify both your own strengths and weaknesses. This may help you understand how your clients view the strengths and weaknesses of both you and your competitors. It may help you better sharpen your marketing messaging or reveal how to add to your list of products and services.

Often competitor weaknesses in design businesses relate to those businesses trying to impose one design solution on every situation. They have no adaptive skills. They aren’t very resilient. Their knowledge and skill-set in design is shallow and limited. They have difficulty overcoming unknown or unfamiliar situations. They do not know how to engage with their clients in a fully empathetic way.

Has your competitor had any particular failures? What can you learn from those?

Your competitor’s weakness may have less to do with the competitor but rather some deficiency or disorganization in your market. You might learn how that competitor has tried to respond to market imperfections, and take that into account when formulating your own responses.

What Are Your Clients’ or Customers’ Views and Understandings
 of Your Competitors?

Clients and customers make or break your business. It is what they perceive and what they expect and what they value which are critical. Every business, whether a 1-person office or a multiplex, must be able to anticipate the understandings people have who use their services, or who may use their products. And then ditto for that of your competitors.

Additionally, every business needs to have an arsenal of competitive strategies for aligning the understandings of others with those of the business. Do you know what your competitors’ strategies are towards this end?

You may think you offer quality products, but they may not know or may not recognize this. You may think your hours of operation are sufficient, but they may not. You may think your design sense is current and fashionable, but they may not or may be unaware. You may think you have better messaging, connections, and relations with your clients and customers, but they may feel that moreso with your competitors.

One place where all these dynamics converge is online through facebook likes, customer reviews, customer comments and the like. It is important to devote resources towards managing and participating at these types of nexus points.

Always do some reality-checking: How do the understandings and views your customers have of the competition or your own business coordinate with your own understandings and views?

What Are The Primary Ways Information Is Exchanged 
 About The Sale Of The Types Of Products Or Services You Sell?

How do people find out about you? About your competitors? How do they know what your sell? Where you sell it? The value? The opportunity to buy? What happens if they are dissatisfied after the sale?

There are all kinds of options.

– Print advertising in newspapers and magazines

– Ads or classifieds in directories and neighborhood papers

– Marketing materials like brochures, business cards, hand-outs

– Online promotions — banners, search engine ads, search engine listings, classified listings, online calendars

– Indexing of websites

– Links from other websites

– Online reviews

– Articles written about you, in print or online

– Co-marketing with a compatible business

– Relationships with your suppliers or distributors

– Classes you teach

– Trade fairs, exhibits, art and craft shows you attend or participate in

– Attendance at social or business events

– Sponsorships

– Word of mouth

It’s that last one — word of mouth — where you usually get your biggest bang for the buck. So you need to think of ways to drive it.

4. What Your Competitive Advantage Over Your Competitors Is

Part of driving that word of mouth is establishing in clear, visible, legitimate and valuable terms what your competitive advantage or advantages are over those of your competitors.

Your competitive advantage(s) are all the reason someone should contract for your services or buy your products rather than those of any of your competitors. What are those 5–10 things about you and your work that sets you apart from, and perhaps makes you better than, your competition?

There’s always something to differentiate yourself from your competition. Even if your products and services are the same, your pricing is similar, your turn-around time the same, your choices of design elements very similar, there are always other things which come into play and with which you can use to differentiate yourself. You can be a better manager of relationships. You can be clearer and more directional about how to develop your business, and assist others in developing theirs. You can deliver an outstanding customer experience better than anyone else.

5. How To Get Your Message Across To Your Customers 
— Current And Possible — About Your Competitive Advantage

What gives any individual or company a competitive edge are four values:

1. Authenticity

2. Rarity

3. Individuality

4. Legitimacy

You want to position yourself so that you stick out among the competition. This is true geographically. This is true in cyberspace. This is true in the marketplace of ideas, feelings, and values.

Start your strategic planning by focusing on the client or customer, their needs, wants, demands and decisions to buy. Get a solid handle on their thinking, their understandings of the marketplace, their understandings of your business and those of your competitors. Get very detailed about their shopping behaviors.

Last, you want to build relationships and emotional connections with these clients and customers. You want to be known as someone who hears, listens and understands them. You want to be a part, not only of the present, but their history and future, as well.

Design your communications and your interactions to maximize your advantages. You have core convictions — Authenticity. You are a unique source for things — Rarity. You can tailor what you do to the needs of each client of customer — Individuality. You can justify why patronizing you makes more sense than patronizing someone else — Legitimacy.

Ask yourself: What devices do my competitors employ to get their messages across and build customer loyalty in terms of authenticity, rarity, individuality and legitimacy?

Messaging About Your Competitive Advantages Is Not A One Shot Deal

Managing your design business and growing it means you have to be constantly learning about it and making necessary adjustments. Learning about your business in relation to the competition provides a myriad of clues and ideas. Anticipating the shared understandings of your clients and customers allows you to refine your business in a very positive way. And don’t forget to assume that your competitors are assessing you at the same time you are assessing them.

Keep a running list of your ideas, and as they evolve or change.

a. What you do better than your competitors

b. What your competitors do better than you

c. Things your discovered, learned about, and might exploit, and which might be incorporated into your own thinking

d. Things you have learned and insights you have gained which you might leverage into new innovative ideas

Keep on improving. You want to at least match your competition, but better yet surpass them. They are not the standard. Don’t copy them. Innovate, don’t imitate.

Workshop Post Mortem

So how did competition play out after my workshop?

The bead society lost a lot of members, and soon closed down. But many of their members stopped coming into the store. As one former bead society member and former store customer put it: It was more important for her to have a group to come to every Tuesday night, get out of her house at least once a week, and be with others who shared her interest, in spite of any wrong-doing on the part of the bead society officers.

Having a bead society in the area, and maintaining a visible presence in it, was very cost-effective for the store. They were 300 ambassadors spreading good word of mouth about my business. The bead society was also influencing people in the community to take up beading and jewelry making as a hobby and avocation. These were things I didn’t have to utilize store resources for.

My bead store competitor is still in business. To this day I do not think that the owners there recognize that we are different businesses. We have different values and goals. Our customer bases overlap some, but we provide different experiences and attract different market niches.

I try to minimize a sense of Us vs Them. I always refer customers to them and to Michaels. To me, the local customer does this calculus. Is it less risk to find what they want locally, see the real colors and real quality, and get it immediately, or is it less risk to try to find what they want online? With three stores merely blocks apart, it lowers the risk to shop locally. This is incredibly advantageous. I don’t think the other bead store recognizes this.

I was lucky to have approached the design of my classes differently from the traditional craft, step-by-step, learn mechanics approach. The internet, where now you can get all these types of step-by-step classes for free, has driven the value of this type of class to $0.00. My classes focus on the art and design aspects of beading and jewelry making — things not easily conveyed in video tutorials online. So my competitors — the bead store a few blocks away, as well as Michaels — have significantly reduced the number of classes they offer. At the same time, I have tripled mine.


Other Articles of Interest by Warren Feld:

Should I Set Up My Craft Business On A Marketplace Online?

The Importance of Self-Promotion: Don’t Be Shy

Are You Prepared For When The Reporter Comes A-Calling?

A Fool-Proof Formula For Pricing And Selling Your Jewelry

Designer Connect Profile: Tony Perrin, Jewelry Designer

My Aunt Gert: Illustrating Some Lessons In Business Smarts

Copyrighting Your Pieces: Let’s Not Confuse The Moral With The Legal Issues

Naming Your Business / Naming Your Jewelry

Jewelry Making Materials: Knowing What To Do

To What Extent Should Business Concerns Influence Artistic and Jewelry Design Choices

How Creatives Can Successfully Survive In Business

Getting Started In Business: What You Do First To Make It Official

So You Want To Do Craft Shows: Lesson 4: Set Realistic Goals


I hope you found this article useful.

Also, check out my website (www.warrenfeldjewelry.com).

Enroll in my jewelry design and business of craft video tutorials online.

Add your name to my email list.

Visit Land of Odds online (https://www.landofodds.com)for all your jewelry making supplies.

Subscribe to my Learn To Bead blog (https://blog.landofodds.com).



360 Live Media, Who Is Your Competitor? 8/28/2017.
 As referenced in:

 Info Entrepreneurs. Understand Your Competitors. Canada Business Network, 2009.
 As referenced in:

Grey, Ingar. 6 Advantages To Knowing Your Competition. Bizjournals, 5/3/2016.
 As referenced in:

McCormick, Kristen. 5 Things You Should Know About Your Competitors. 12/22/2016.
 As referenced in:

Misner, Ivan. My Philosophy About Competition, 6/21/2010.
 As referenced in:

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All Dolled Up Competition – 2013 – Announcement

Posted by learntobead on May 14, 2010

Beaded Art Doll Competition

Theme: Transformations
Deadline 8/31/2013

Create a Beaded Art Doll by manipulating beads and forms into an imaginative tactile and visual 3-dimensional representation of this year’s theme: Transformations .
And then writing a Short Story (between 1000-2000 words) about your Beaded Art Doll, what it represents, and how it was created, starting with the sentence:
“As she turns towards me, her hands no longer seem familiar;
her face, once recognizable, now unexpected;
her aura, a palette of changed colors,
I want to share, but can’t all at once.
She is transforming, before my eyes, as if I wished it to happen,
for whatever reason — fun, mundane or sinister — I’m not sure.
But as she moves and evolves, a special insight occurs to me,
so I name her… “

The Fifth 2013 ALL DOLLED UP: BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION is offering a first prize of a $1000.00 shopping spree on the Land of Odds web-site (www.landofodds.com), and a Runner-Up prize of a $400.00 shopping spree on the web-site.
Entries will be judged by a panel from The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts. These distinguished Beadwork and Jewelry Artist instructors will judge each doll based on
1. INSIGHT: The Bead Artist’s inner awareness and powers of self-expression through sculptural beadwork, particularly in terms of how well this year’s Competition theme is incorporated into the piece.
a. Primarily, how well a particular stitch or stitches (or any other technique for applying the beads and embellishing the doll) is (are) executed within and around the piece.
b. Secondarily, how cleverly the internal structure/form/body of the doll has been created/constructed/chosen in relation to the artist’s goals.
3. USE OF BEADS/BEADING AS ARTISTIC MEDIUM: To what extent the doll may be viewed as a work of “art”, rather than “craft”; has the artist fully utilized the power of the “bead/beading stitch” as a medium for art — an expression of color, light, tactile sense and emotion; to what degree does the piece make you want to view the doll from all sides?
4. VISUAL APPEAL: The overall visual appeal of the doll.
5. QUALITY OF WRITTEN STORY: How well the written short story enhances an appreciation of the Beaded Art Doll, as well as the Artist’s talents in design, insight and implementation.
We Need Submissions!
A Beaded Art Doll is a physical representation in three dimensions, using human figural and expressive characteristics, through the creative use and manipulation of beads. Beads are a unique art medium, allowing multidimensional surface treatment, and phenomenal opportunities for interplay among colors, light, shadow, texture and pattern. Beaded Art Dolls submitted as entries for this Competition should be immediately recognizable as a “Doll” as defined above.
That said, Beaded Art Dolls submitted as entries for this competition may be realistic, surrealistic, whimsical or imaginary. They may be humanistic, animalistic, caricatures, cartoons, impressions or abstractions. The doll may take many forms, including a figure, purse, box, vessel, puppet, marionette, or pop-up figure.
Beaded Art Dolls should be between 8” and 36” in size. The surface area of the doll must be at least 80% composed of beads.
The doll’s internal form and structure may result from many techniques, materials and strategies. The bead stitches themselves might be used to create the skeletal structure. Various forms of cloth dolls might be stitched or embellished with beads. The underlying structure might be made of polymer clay, wood, ceramic, porcelain, Styrofoam, wire, corn husk, gourd, basket weaving, yarns, cardboard, paper, cotton, or some combination of materials. It might be a found form or object.
The Artist is given wide leeway in techniques for how the doll is to be beaded, and may use one particular technique or several. Techniques, for example, may include bead weaving stitches, bead embellishment, bead appliqué, bead knitting, bead crochet, bead embroidery, lampworking. For the 80% of the surface area that must be beaded, these would NOT include the application of rhinestones, sequins, nailheads or studs. The beads may be of any size, shape, color and material. [For the remaining 20%, any material is OK, including rhinestones, sequins, nailheads or studs.]
The Artist may include a doll stand or display support with the Art Doll, though this is not a requirement. This stand or support may be an off-the-shelf piece, or created from scratch by the Artist. It may be a base, a created setting, a decorative box, or frame. The stand or display support need not be beaded.
The Artist may interpret and apply the theme “Transformations” any way she or he chooses. The Beaded Art Doll might be thought of as a plaything; or as a visual representation of a person, feeling, spirit or thing; or as a tool for teaching; or as a method for stimulating emotional development or healing.
As an object of art, the goal of the Doll should be to make a statement, evoking an emotional, cultural or social response, either by the Artist her/himself or by others.
The Doll must be an original work, and may be the work of one Artist or a Collaboration.
Dolls have been a part of human existence for many thousands of years. Whether part of a ritual or part of child’s play, dolls function as symbols for meaning. Sometimes these meanings are broad social and cultural references; other times, these meanings focus on an individual’s relationship with oneself.
ALL DOLLED UP: BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION is more than a beauty pageant. It is a design competition. The Competition will take into account the Artist’s intentions and how well these are incorporated into the design, both in terms of the use of beads/beading, as well as the construction of the doll’s form.

The Fifth 2013 ALL DOLLED UP: BEADED ART DOLL COMPETITION is offering a first prize of a $1000.00 shopping spree on the Land of Odds web-site (www.landofodds.com), and a Runner-Up prize of a $400.00 shopping spree on the web-site.


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New Beading Competition Announced

Posted by learntobead on September 3, 2009

The Illustrative Beader:
Beaded Tapestry Competition
Deadline 8/31/2011
Download Official Rules

by Land of Odds, Be Dazzled Beads, The Open Window Gallery, and The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts

The Illustrative Beader:
Beaded Tapestry Competition
Create a Beaded Tapestry by manipulating beads, cloth and fibers into an imaginative detailed, tactile and visual representation of this year’s theme:Mystery Genre Book Covers .


And then write a short Artist Statement (between 1000-2000 words) about the general story-line of the book which the cover represents, how you made choices about what things to include on your cover, the materials and techniques you used in creating your book cover tapestry, and your strategies for adding a sense of dimensionality to the book cover tapestry.


The First Bi-Annual 2011 THE ILLUSTRATIVE BEADER: BEADED TAPESTRY COMPETITION is offering a first prize of a $1000.00 shopping spree on the Land of Odds web-site (www.landofodds.com), and a Runner-Up prize of a $400.00 shopping spree on the web-site.



Here we use the concept of “Tapestry” in its broadest sense as a stitched, sewn and/or woven wall hanging. Your tapestry may be woven, loomed, stitched, quilted, cross-stitched, crocheted, knitted, sewn, braided, knotted, embroidered, macramed, beaded and the like. Your tapestry will combine fibers/threads/and/or cloth and beads in some way, and must consist of at least 70% beads. Beads may form the background canvas of your piece, and/or may be used to embellish your canvas, and/or as fringe, and/or as stitchery covering parts of your piece. Your piece should be mounted or framed in some way, ready for hanging on a wall. Your tapestry may utilize many different techniques. In addition, as a “Mystery Genre Book Cover”, your Beaded Tapestry should woo and entice the viewer to want open that cover and read the book!




Entries will be judged by a panel from The Center for Beadwork & Jewelry Arts. These distinguished Beadwork and Jewelry Artist instructors will judge each beaded tapestry based on

1. INSIGHT: The Artist’s inner awareness and powers of self-expression through needle arts and stitchery, fiber arts and beadwork, particularly in terms of how well this year’s Competition theme is incorporated into the piece.
a. The range of techniques employed within the piece, and how these are combined and executed.
b. The degree the Artist is successfully able to incorporate 3-Dimensional elements and give depth to the finished piece — layering, embellishment, embroidery, movement, optical effects, color tricks, shapes, textures, patterns, and other structures
c. The strategic and parisomonious placement of visual elements throughout the piece
d. The details — how creatively, strategically, and to what extent story details are presented within the Tapestry
3. USE OF BEADS/BEADING AS ARTISTIC MEDIUM: To what extent the Beaded Tapestry may be viewed as a work of “art”, rather than “craft”; has the Artist fully utilized the power of the “bead” as a medium for art — an expression of color, light, shadow, tactile sense and emotion
4. VISUAL APPEAL: The overall visual appeal of the Beaded Tapestry, and how well it tells a story and seems to grab the Viewer’s attention and motivate the Viewer to want to, in this year’s case, read the book.
5. QUALITY OF WRITTEN ARTIST STATEMENT: How well the Artist’s write-up enhances an appreciation of the Beaded Tapestry, how it captures the theme, as well as the Artist’s talents in design, insight and implementation.





A. Length and Width: The Beaded Tapestry may be oriented vertically or horizontally. One dimensional leg should be shorter than the other, but no shorter than 8″. The other dimensional leg should be longer than the other, but no longer than 25″. The relative lengths of the shorter and longer dimensions should approximate The Golden Ratio where the longer side is 1.60 times the length of the shorter side (L=1.6*S). Thus, the smallest possible piece would be approximately 8″x13″, and the largest possible piece would be approximately 16″x25″.

B. Backing and Framing: The Beaded Tapestry should be afixed to a secure backing, from which to attach a hanging mechanism, and which is secure enough to support the Tapestry, as it hangs on a wall. This can be as simple as using a piece of foam core or wood panel, or can be more elaborate. The piece may be supported with a frame, and a paper or cloth backing. Any backing/framing/matting will not be counted in the measurement rules and limitations. Thus, if the Beaded Tapestry were 16″x25″, and a frame and matte resulted in a finished piece that was 20″x29″, that would be OK. If the Tapestry is meant to hang like a curtain on a rod, using backing would be optional, depending on whether the backing will help or hinder your piece.

C. Hanging Mechanism: The Beaded Tapestry should have all the mechanical attachments affixed to the backing/frame that allow it to be hung. This might be picture wire strung across the back, or a picture hook, or a dowel that slides through the piece at the top like a curtain.

D. The Tapestry Canvas: The Beaded Tapestry will work off a canvas of some sort. What this canvas is and how it is created, would be up to the Artist. The canvas might be loomed (or stitched in some way) with threads, other fibers, cloth, or beads, or might be a stretched cloth, or might be some kind of surface (or webbing, netting or string-curtain) off of which to work your Tapestry, like bead embroidery off of ultra-suede.

E. The “Cartoon”: The cartoon is the designed image/sketch for your piece. This image should be original, and not have been submitted to any other contests or competitions. The judges are especially interested in how you transfer your cartoon to your tapestry, how you incorporate details, and how you bring dimensionality to your piece. The cartoon, thus final Tapestry as well, must include the Title of your chosen book.

F. The Use of Beads and Fibers: Beads must comprise at least 70% of the the surface of your Beaded Tapestry. A bead is an object with a hole in it. It may be applied to the Tapestry with stitching or sewing. It may be glued. It may be wired. It may be encapsulated. Your final Tapestry may be done with 100% beads, or with a mix of beads and fibers. The judges are especially interested in seeing a mix of techniques within your piece.

G. Relating Your Tapestry To This Year’s Competition Theme – Mystery Genre Book Covers


1. Based on a real book: Your Book Cover must relate to a real, published book.
2. Interpretation of Cover Design must be your own. While it’s logical that you might use elements from an existing cover, it must NOT be a copy of the book’s existing cover.
3. The Title of the Book must be incorporated into your Tapestry design
4. Your Artist statement should reference the book’s title, author, publishing company, and date of publication.
5. “Mystery Genre” refers to fictional and non-fictional books which deal with the solving of a crime.

H. The Artist’s Statement: Write a short Artist Statement (between 1000-2000 words), covering the following topics:


1. List the Title of your book, the author, the publishing company, and date of publication.
2. A synopsis of the general story-line of your book. Tell us the story progression. Highlight key characters including the hero or heroine, the victim, clues, mysteries, double-entendres, the murder weapon, the solution/resolution and the like.
3. Why did you choose this book?
4. How did the story-line influence you in your book cover design choices? What details did you decide to highlight on the tapestry? What details in the story line did you decide Not to highlight on the tapestry?
5. What materials did you use to create your book cover tapestry, backing and framing, hanging mechanism, canvas?
6. How did you transfer your Cartoon sketch to your finished Tapestry?
7 . What techniques did you use in creating your book cover tapestry
8 . What were your strategies for creating the Title on the tapestry — fonts, sizes, materials, placement/positioning?
9 . What were your strategies for adding a sense of dimensionality to your book cover tapestry?

I. Your Book Cover Tapestry may be done either as an individual or as a collaboration. If a collaboration, please list all the “collaborators” with your submission. Identify one person of the group to be the lead and contact person.



We Need Submissions!

A Tapestry is a form of textile art, traditionally woven on a vertical loom, and composed of two sets of interlaced threads. Threads running parallel to the piece create the tension. Threads running back and across along the width create the pattern or image. It is these threads which show in the traditional tapestry. Tapestries were very portable. They could also be draped on the walls of castles for insulation during winter. They could be hung as decorative interior elements and displays of wealth. The “Cartoon” — that is, the design image — ranged from the purely decorative to tales of heroicism, mysticism, or religiosity. Often, to make these loomed pieces feel more 3-dimensional, they were embellished with beads, pieces of glass, and pieces of mirrored glass, which would create fascinating interplays with light. The beads might be used to create border fringes, or might be sewn into or embroidered onto the tapestries themselves.

In our The Illustrative Beader: Beaded Tapestry Competition, we define the idea of a “Tapestry” very broadly, to include any stitched, sewn and/or woven wall hanging which combines some kind of fiber and beads. Fiber might consist only of the threads used to stitch the beads, or it might include quilted materials, yarn, cord, of anything that might broadly be called Fiber. The Tapestry might be loomed with fibers and embellished with beads. It might be loomed with all beads. The Tapestry does not necessarily have to be loomed in the traditional sense. It might also be knitted and embellished with beads, or quilted or cross-stitched or crocheted or braided and somehow combined with beads. The Tapestry canvas might begin with stretched, appliqued, or quilted cloth. The surface area of the finished Tapestry must be 70% made from beads.



THE ILLUSTRATIVE BEADER: BEADED TAPESTRY COMPETITION: is more than a beauty pageant. It is a design competition. The Competition will take into account the Artist’s intentions and how well these are incorporated into the theme, the design, the materials, the use of techniques, the use of details and elements which create dimensionality.

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