FRANKFORT — Stanton woodworker Eugene King already does a robust wholesale business, selling his wooden kitchen utensils to shops in 31 states. He wanted to expand his operation, though, to include online retail customers.
Thanks to a recent workshop sponsored by the Kentucky Arts Council, Hazard Community & Technical College and the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED), King is ready to sell to the global online retail market.
Etsy, whose members reported $1.93 billion in gross merchandise sales in 2014, is an online marketplace where people around the world buy and sell unique goods. Craft Entrepreneurship is a program that equips people with the knowledge and skills to start Etsy businesses and earn extra income through their craft. The arts council wants to recruit new partners to present this workshop in communities across the Commonwealth.
King was one of five graduates of the state’s first Craft Entrepreneurship Program held weekly throughout June at Hazard Community & Technical College.
Largely self-taught, King has been making wooden kitchen tools all his life. He was adjudicated into the Kentucky Crafted program in 2002, but he admits he still had a lot to learn heading into the Etsy workshop.
“I maintain our web page and I thought I knew everything until I took this class,” King said. “I learned other things I need to be doing on my own site.”
Class instructor Courtney Howard of Berea said that’s the goal of the Craft Entrepreneurship Program – to give new creative entrepreneurs a different perspective.
“There’s so much more you can do than you actually know. It’s a lot to absorb,” Howard said. “What’s great about this class is it guides you step by step.”
That is the kind of interest arts council leaders want to see statewide.
“It was great to see the kind of success we had in Hazard, and we want the partnership between us, MACED and the college to be the model used across Kentucky,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director.
There are several steps to making that happen at a local level.
The workshop requires some financial commitment at the local level, depending on the community’s needs. It also requires the use of a classroom space with enough computers for all participants. Possible venues for this could be a public library, community and technical college or high school computer lab.
Any person or group interested in bringing the Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program to their community should identify a local agency or organization to assist in securing a classroom space and coordinating logistics. Look for partners like a local arts council or arts organization, county extension office, economic or community development office, chamber of commerce, city or county government, community and technical college, small business administration office or adult education program.
Those organizations that partner with the Kentucky Arts Council to present the Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program receive promotion via the arts council website and through statewide media releases as an official partner, targeted promotion to artists in your region to assist with class participation, assistance in recruiting an Etsy class facilitator, online registration and information and materials to promote the workshop locally.
For more information about bringing the Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program to your community, contact Emily B. Moses, arts council creative industry manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 502-564-3757 ext. 472.
The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, fosters environments for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The arts council, along with the NEA, is celebrating 50 years of service in 2015, which the arts council is recognizing as the Year of the Arts in Kentucky.