Over the years, since Inspirit Arts started promoting headwrap vending as a viable profession, I've watched a number of entrepreneurs open and close their headwrapping businesses. They didn't take my classes, and bit the dust within a year. There are various general reasons why businesses tend to fail in the first year, however almost everybody who failed at a headwrapping business made one or more of these three mistakes.
THEY FOCUS ON SELLING. I realize that it's a bit counter-intuitive, but demonstrating headwrap styles with the intention of selling scarves doesn't really work. The selling mentality stops vendors from engaging people in a way that encourages them to buy. People don't like being sold to. They like getting value for free.
WE FOCUS ON TEACHING. Our Headwrapping for Entrepreneurs classes are really teacher training courses. I give step by step instructions on how to give hands-on tutorials and create a memorable experience for shoppers. When we give away value (a free tutorial), the headwraps sell themselves.
While sellers tend to be desperate and pushy,
Inspirit Arts headwrap teachers are fun and nurturing.
THEY SEEK TO IMPRESS. Headwrap professionals are usually tempted to wear and demonstrate elaborate headwrap styles. We feel an urge to show off our scarf tying skills in order to razzle and dazzle the crowd. This is a trap that inhibits vendors from making a living. The more complicated a style, the more people are impressed, but the sales are made. The bottom line is that people buy what is easy and practical.
WE KEEP IT SIMPLE. The Inspirit Arts Headwrap Vendor Method is limited to simple everyday wrap styles that our customers casually wear to the gym, work, school etc. We call them 'beginner's wraps'. Some of our customers ask for full cover styles, however most ask for partial cover 'crown' or 'criss cross' styles. The multi-cultural look appeals to a vastly diverse range of people, and are accepted everywhere, even in corporate America, because they are basically glorified headbands. The most important thing, is to teach very simple styles that give people confidence that they can do it themselves. Also, vending is a numbers game. The faster a vendor teaches easy to learn styles, the more customers that vendor can tend to in a day.
Complicated styles make learners loose confidence,
and the vendor looses a great deal of time & income
Easy to learn scarf tying lessons feel good,
and create memorable experiences for shoppers.
THEY OFFER COMMON FABRIC. Let' face it. Most women are happy to get a free headwrap styling lesson and not buy anything because they already have plenty of scarves at home to wear. Also, it's typical for festival shoppers to save their money for the most unique product that isn't readily found in stores.
WE OFFER HAND WOVEN HEADWRAPS that most shoppers have never seen before. People typically say "WOW!" when we show them the intricate detail and craftsmanship. Our script for giving one-on-one tutorials puts a lot of emphasis on the comforts of light weight, breathable, non-slip fabric that never needs to be tied tightly. It only takes 2 or 3 minutes before our customers learn to appreciate the difference between ordinary scarves and Inspirit Arts headwraps that were woven, one thread at a time specifically to be worn on the head. Inspirit Arts sellers get a lot of return business because our products are not easily found in stores.
Extraordinary hand woven head wraps are not available in stores,
so shoppers keep coming back to Inspirit Arts Vendors for more and more colors.
I freely share this information hoping to slow down the rate of headwrap business failure.
Headwrapping is a wonderful money making profession and fundraiser only if the vendor is properly trained.
~ Sylvia NebSa Harmon, aka Miss NebSa
ABOUT US: Inspirit Arts Vendor Academy
We have a very rare and unique specialty: Teaching entrepreneurs and fundraisers how to customize their own turn-key vending method so they can have more fun earning more profit when selling in small spaces at public events. The content for live workshops and distance learning programs come from our newsletter and forthcoming workbook.
~You are invited to learn ~
Besides teaching vendors to sell their own products, the Inspirit Arts brand is a complete line of fair trade hand-made hair and fashion accessories made by craft co-ops world wide. We highlight headwrap fashion because giving one-on-one mini scarf tying lessons to shoppers creates memorable experiences for them in a hands-on ‘feel good’ kind of way. We offer payment plans in our wholesale store for smaller business start-up packages, and larger 'ready-to-go' vendor booths full of crocheted hats, embroidered purses, beadwork, jewelry, hand woven headbands and head wrap hair scarves
As a social enterprise, the purpose of Inspirit Arts is to alleviate poverty in developing countries through our
VILLAGE TO VENDOR PIPELINE
Our strategy is training micro franchise vendors and affiliate marketers to meet the demand for hair and fashion accessories made by global artisans.
Feel Free to connect with us at InspiritArtsAcademy@gmail.com, (937) 546-9400
Now that I'm a semi-retired vendor and a full time vendor coach, I get to visit shows and just watch what untrained vendors do.... or more accurately, I observe what untrained vendors DON'T DO.
They don't have a way to draw people to their tables.
They don't engage shoppers within 2-3 seconds.
They don't demonstrate or teach shoppers anything
They don't create memorable shopping experiences.
They don't display products in customer friendly ways.
Many of them don't even stand-up, smile or talk to people.
The bottom line is that 99% of vendors are struggling because
THEY DON'T BOTHER TO LEARN A TURN-KEY SELLING SYSTEM
Optimistic vendors always hope to make lots of sales despite their lack of salesmanship.
This is a tall order, and precisely why vendors who don't study salesmanship, usually need a job to make ends meet. Finding shows with lots of hungry eager buyers is hit or miss. You get lucky from time to time, but that's not good enough. Most of us need consistent predictable income.
Vendors who don't make enough money, usually make lots of excuses.
The most common excuses blame uncontrollable factors or blame other people for ruining their income. Shows are labeled lousy because....
"There aren't enough people here"
"This weather is bad for sales"
"The organizers did a poor job"
"People are only buying food here"
"They put my booth in a lousy location"
"This is such a weird crowd"
"The music is too loud"
"The booth next door is ruining my sales".'
"The timing is all wrong"
"The entertainment was awful."
"These people are broke"
"There are too many vendors selling products like mine"
All the excuses above are valid. However, all vendors have the ability to respond to the demands of any show situation. They can start learning how to get consistent predictable income when they...
STOP BLAMING OUTSIDE FORCES AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
It doesn't matter if a crowd is small, weird, alien, or the walking dead. Shoppers will buy enough if the vendor knows how to sell enough.
My customers often tell me that I could "Sell ice to Eskimos".
It's ok if you don't know how to sell ice to Eskimos, because that's what I teach. All you have to do is show up, and then practice, practice, practice until you achieve mastery.
The first step is completing the form at www.InspiritArtsAcademy.com
EXPEDITO was a great East African Artist...and a good friend who really helped me. Without him, I dare say there wouldn't be any Inspirit Arts.
When I saw the Kenyan number on my caller ID, I thought it must be Expedito calling to tell me the dates of his art exhibit in Boston. We were both excited about reuniting after around twenty-five years of loosing track of each other. It wasn't Expedito on the line, but his son who thought I'd want to know that Expedito died last month of a heart attack.
I feel extremely grateful for what this man did for me. He trusted, helped and believed in me, when nobody else did.
Way back in the early 80's, I tried to get Kenyan artists to work together and replace the imported European made greeting cards in stationary stores with African made art cards. After doing a market research and developing a business plan, I tried to give the project away, just to get rejected by all the artists I knew.
Greeting cards weren't used in Kenyan culture, so none of them believed that little pictures on folded paper was a viable product. People got really suspicious of me when I showed how they could earn incredibly high profit margins from selling locally made cards at the inflated imported prices that foreigners and tourists were used to paying. This seemed too good to be true, and I was labeled a swindler. Since I couldn't even give away the business plans, I decided to do it myself, if I could convince a famous African artist to collaborate with me.
At that time, I only knew Expedito by reputation. He was probably the most sought after artist in Nairobi, and considered very elusive (because he shunned the lime light) , and also very exclusive because he habitually turned down lucrative job offers that most artists spend their entire lives dreaming for. I knew that if I could get Expedito to design greeting cards for me, the other artists would pay attention and eventually agree to work collectively.
I'll never forget the day Expidito showed up at my door, holding a note I'd written practically begging him to give me a chance, even though I had very little money, and no experience. I remember how excited and nervous I was meeting with a genius of his caliber. After thinking I'd made a total fool of myself trying to explain my vision of unifying artists, Expidito asked when I wanted to get started. I screamed and he laughed watching me do the happy dance. A few days later, he returned with a pile of drawings for me to choose from, and take to print. It was hard to believe.
I decided to elaborate the greeting cards by attaching hand made earrings to them. Being known for his carved wooden combs, Expedito offered to make some miniature ebony comb earrings for me to put on his drawings. I gave him some money as a deposit. He came back with a few hundred pairs of extremely intricate combs that he had hand carved for me. They were super thin and about the size of my big toe nail. I had never seen such quality craftsmanship before. I remember being awe struck, and asked to return them because they were worth so much more than the price we'd agreed upon. Expedito just smiled. He had a certain smile that communicated, "... and this too, shall be continued , my dear'. At that moment that I realized how much he wanted to support Inspirit Arts.
In the following years, Expedito and I spent time together and developed a solid friendship. before we lost touch when I moved from Kenya to Swaziland. He was always so mysterious and spiritual, clearly connected to another plane of existence. No matter how hard I tried to get him to explain his poetry and other things to me, he always forced me to wait for his answers, while encouraging me to try intuiting answers for myself. I always wondered if he'd ever make a pass at me, but he was more interested in talking about ways to mobilize artists and improve the world. Despite his generally serious demeanor, we always found something to laugh about. Yes, we sure did laugh a lot. I'll remember him with a smile on both our faces.
Here are some links to the Kenyan media.