Taking craft global
I’ve already written several times about the high profile networking organisation, the City Women’s Network. And not so long ago I was asked to give a presentation at one of their regular meetings. In fact it was a forum about how to develop a global aspect to your business. These days, it’s not just multinational companies that can operate globally. Even a small, specialist trade like mine can – in fact needs – a global dimension. And of course it’s now possible thanks to the internet.
I was one of a panel of four speakers. You can read about the others here. They all had legal or commercial backgrounds so at first felt I might be rather out of place, talking about my very specialised craft. But when I started to mull it over, I hit on the idea of looking at the issue in reverse.
Most people think of ‘globalisation’ in terms of establishing a presence on every continent. But my kind of globalisation is about bringing the world to my doorstep. I was reminded of a quote by my famous countryman, Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbour, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door’.
I was able to relate how important it was for specialist crafts to group together when marketing to clients globally. TfW has alliances with specialist shoemakers, hat makers, and even gunsmiths. But the big difference between our respective trades and most global brands is that we offer something unique to every client. A can of coke is the same in every corner of the globe, but a TfW suit is unique to the person wearing it.
It was flattering that everyone had favourable comments, mostly responding to the visuals of colour, texture and the look of quality in the products. I had shown images of a hand made shotgun, a set of shoe lasts and broadened my talk to include taking craft global. In Britain, there is an authentic tradition of proper training in these crafts. Support of the ancient guilds and titled craftsmen are renowned. This attracts clients from all over the world.
I explained how the brand is not the item, but the person – the maker; and how that develops through one’s professional relationships with individual clients. An important part of the bespoke tradition is the degree to which a client may participate in the conceptualizing and creation of a unique luxury product. And in talking with colleagues in companies such as Jaeger or Holland & Holland, bespoke is becoming the new luxury experience and ownership means not just buying the product but buying into its creation.
The audience was intrigued with how different my business was to theirs – TfW is not about putting a widget on every coffee table in the world, the opposite in fact. But it was a good fit for the forum.