hello, just wondering - how many of you have a public store/studio? I am tucked away in the countryside and am wondering about opening up in the city ( 25 min drive) to grow my business. Any thoughts are appreciated!

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Just reading Victoria's list of items reminded me of my retail days.  If I had my dream answered, I would have a beautiful little hat boutique that would also be a working millinery studio.  Of course, it would run beautifully whether I was there or not, and making a living would be no problem.  Yep, I just snapped back to reality! Monika, I wish you the best of luck with whatever you decide!  I too, am tucked away, living on a farm, outside a small town, where most of my work would not be appreciated, so I certainly do understand the direction your mind is going!  I am just returning from a three day art fair in the closest big city to me, and am fighting a restlessness about my business.  The good thing about the art fair is that while other artists really struggled with traffic, I had a constant stream of attendants telling me how beautiful my work was, making purchases, and placing custom orders. (Of course, all my hats were mauled in the process, and will need to be re-blocked etc.)

I have outgrown my small bedroom studio, and am taking over the rest of the house.  Thank goodness, my children are grown and my husband travels a lot, or I would seriously be in trouble.  I need more room, but to get more room, I need to make more money, and so it goes.  I want a studio where I can have clients come in for fittings, but for years designed clothing and had clients in and out of my home----not going there again.  I need my privacy, and need to keep my home my oasis. I know from my previous experience that I do not want to be tied to regular hours or interrupted while I am working--that is just me, not everyone is as old and crotchety as I am when they work.

While I was at the fair, a neighboring artist approached me and told me about another fair he does, and told me that my work would be perfect for it.  Two women in the process of opening a ladies boutique gushed over my hats and asked if I would consider selling on consignment in their shop.  Another man approached me and said that he is making a historical movie, and wanted information about me possibly making historically accurate men's hats. Several other men, gently touched my men's hats, checking the hand stitching and detail to linings, and said the hats looked just like the hats their fathers and grandfathers wore.  One elderly gentleman in a wheel chair kept coming back to my booth to stare at the hats, telling my husband how beautiful my hats were, and how they reminded him of the hats his father had.

I guess my point is--no matter where we are, if we find the right avenue, we should be able to build our businesses. I know that you are aware of the many pitfalls of owning your own shop and if not, Victoria will be a great resource, but until you make that all important decision, art fairs might be a way to test the waters in different cities or areas.  I know for now, I am leaning that way, and waiting to see how much actually materializes from my recent experience.

Thanks for starting this thread, I will be following with great interest.

hello Bridget, thanks for your input!

there is certainly a great deal to think about and consider. Luckily I'm not in any great hurry, since I have a very nice studio at home, but separate from the house. I might have the opportunity to have my own separate space within - adjacent to another business, which would certainly have advantages, e.g. instant foot traffic, some flexibility with hours, cost etc.

I do however love the solitude of my studio when it comes to working and am considering how this would be affect me and the "creative flow".

In an ideal dream world, I would of course have my separate workroom upstairs and a "shop girl" tending the store.....Dream big, they say ;)

There could perhaps be another scenario to consider: having a studio in town, but upstairs - more of an office situation, which has to be cheaper than a retail outlet + possibly renting a shop front for display/advertising....

I will keep you all posted on my progress :)

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