There is an abundance of female sellers and female-friendly products in the craft industry so I wanted to write an article representing men that make various crafts. However I couldn’t find a wide enough variety of male crafters locally, not to say that they don’t exist, they are just hard to find.
Instead I turned my attention to local sellers that are trying to appeal to the male demographic, which includes the significant others who are unwillingly dragged to craft shows. What products are available to that particular group and what are current sellers doing to grab their attention?
Three local crafters graciously offered their insights on this topic:
Vick, from Adimaa, which features sleeves & cases for iPads, iPhones, MacBooks & other gadgets.
Karen, from Erinyes Designs, which has a unique urban knitwear line for the fashionable and discerning.
Amber, from Element Botanicals, which offers simple and effective handmade body care products. The products contain gentle botanicals and fruit derivatives combined with gentle base ingredients and pure essential oils.
Why are you choosing to target men when women are (by a larger margin) more active consumers on Etsy, craft shows, etc?
KAREN: Initially, my focus had been almost exclusively women clients, but through word of mouth and as male friends of mine encountered my pieces, they began to ask me to make them things. So, last year I designed several pieces intended primarily for men, and one of those pieces, ‘Composition’, has become one of my most popular pieces among men and even with women who have bought it for themselves or for their male partners. This year I designed the men’s pieces to be as much stand alone feature pieces as the women’s and some of them are actually my personal favorites including Brighton and East London.
I would say that my current focus or targeting of customers is equally directed at men and women, but I have found that men are looking for unique pieces, and well designed pieces that are masculine, but still have an element of luxury without being ostentatious, or too showy. It is my conversations with a number of men that inspired me to focus more time on creating men-attractive pieces that they would want to and seek to purchase for themselves. It is still women who are my primary purchasing base, but I think that there is a segment of fashion-interested men who are interested in finding things that appeal to them
How are you marketing your products to men?
VICK: Marketing is not one of my strengths, and while creating I become so involved in the process of creating that I tend to forget about the whole business aspect of it, which is marketing and selling. I believe a majority of artists/ crafters do fall in this category and I am not an exception. I am doing a little bit of marketing by targeting men’s style blogs and other technology related forums that men frequent. I also use social media channels to some extent but am not really very punctual and consistent at it.
KAREN: I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about this lately. The usual routes of artisan shows and online markets such as Etsy tend to draw many more women customers than men, so appealing to men through those avenues is by proxy; women buying things for men.
So, this year and even last, in my lookbooks I’ve elected to use male models with strong masculine features, men who are identifiable to other men, so that there is not this disconnect between what is being marketed at them, and who they are in their own lives. I want my potential male customers to feel like they’d wear the pieces they see because they make sense to them as seen on other men. Additionally, I’m focusing on marketing my men’s pieces to male oriented boutiques, as I think there is a better chance of finding my male customers through those places than in shops that are dually oriented.
I’ve also done hands on marketing and feedback with male customers both potential and actual. I’ve had them test wear pieces and give me feedback on them. And, I have two very trusted male friends with great style sense with whom I can discuss new designs.
One of the things I am hoping to do this year and on an ongoing basis is collaborate with a menswear designer in terms of designing accessories for their overall looks.
What have been your experiences with male consumers?…as buyers on your Etsy store or ones you have encountered at shows.
VICK: My experience with consumers both at Etsy and Trade shows has been positive. It is not that male consumers act differently, I think most consumers act in the same fashion they look for a product that is of use to them, is well made and priced right. The only difference that I do note at times is that male consumers make a decision to purchase or not to purchase pretty quickly.
KAREN: All of my experiences with male customers have been incredibly positive. They’ve been open in expressing their opinions of what they like and what they hope to find when looking for pieces for themselves. I really appreciate their honesty and directness and hearing what it is they are looking for. I obviously enjoy designing all of my pieces, but in terms of my own personal aesthetic, I tend to wear the men’s pieces I design more often than the women’s…so I think I’m really open to hearing what male clients are interested in.
AMBER: We have experienced both ends of the spectrum and everything in between here! There are those who walk right up and engage us with fantastic questions and there are those who sort of hover, unsure of what they’re looking at! Some of our most loyal customers are men…once they have been won over by simply sampling the product, there is a great response. We once had a gentleman try to eat a fresh face masque at a farmer’s market and he came dangerously close! (He even had his own cracker to put it on!) Then again, the most loyal fan of our avocado hair masque was in fact, a nice guy with shiny, long hair.
And lastly, Vick, as the only male on the panel, do have any comments you have about being male and doing the type of work that you do?
VICK: I grew up in a household where everyone did everything, it was never demarcated that this is a women’s job and this is a men’s job. I saw my father cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry and other household chores besides his professional day job. I saw my mother doing everything at home, and doing a professional job at one of the state government’s offices.
I know people find it’s a little strange for a man to be using a sewing machine; these are stereotypes that we our society and we have created over the years. I feel that everyone should be able to pursue whatever his or her interest is without gender getting in the way.
Do you have a favorite male crafter or male-friendly product to share with us?