Brainstorming business expansion ideas for my buddy

A buddy of mine blows glass for a living, fashioning it into pipes and bongs. Been thinking about how he can take his business to the next level to where he can make more money and feel more fulfilled. Plus, his wife owes a ton in student loan debt. So, let’s brainstorm today on how he can expand his craft.

1.) Make art. I’m wondering why he hasn’t tried his hand at creating glass art that can be sold at any of our local farmer’s markets or art festivals. Because people in this city have a bunch of expendable income and are looking for reasons to part with it. I know one local artist who does amazing work (paintings) and perhaps should introduce those two to see if they might spark one another’s creative energies.

A quick google search brings up this example. Here’s another example. Beautiful stuff. Sure to sell. The main problem would be showcasing what’s being offered. Which brings me to my next idea…

2.) Create a website for greater exposure. Gallery add-ons are available when hosting through GoDaddy, and this needn’t be an expensive site to maintain. Heck, I’ve built numerous websites over the years for my businesses and various interests. Here’s an area where I might be of service to him. Plus, I own a quality Nikon camera with a tripod for capturing detailed shots of his work. Mostly my friend sells his work to stores here and in other Midwestern states, but why not sell directly to interested locals? Why not tap into our local market more directly? Setting up a web presence will go a long way in aiding him there.

3.) Branding. Wouldn’t hurt to come up with a name to attach to his work so that others can more easily remember and identify it.

4.) Making more connections. Another local couple I happen to know and work for recycle discarded metal into art. They’ve proven successful in marketing their wares through the local farmer’s market, and perhaps they would be interested in collaborating with him on a project. Plus the artist I mentioned already above, plus another friend of mine who’s also an artist and very handy. All these people should come together to see if they might possibly inspire and teach one another. I should help facilitate them coming together to meet to see what might then spring from that.

Ooh. Maybe we need to arrange a backyard cookout at my best guyfriend’s house one day soon. Start there and then introduce him to the others later on.

5.) Local advertising. I’m now thinking about those ads in the bathroom stalls at the bars where we hang out. Cheap advertising there. It’s a way to get a name and a site out there to curious onlookers. Plus, I know the owner of a headshop down the street whom he’s also met and done business with and I bet she’d be willing to let him put up a poster or set out some business cards whenever he gets ready. Beyond that, there are a couple other well-known headshops in town that he already deals with and maybe they would be open to showcasing his expanded line of products. But the artistic stuff should probably be marketed separate from the bong-related stuff, seeing as how they’d be offered to different clienteles. But one way to get his work seen would be to offer (at a low price or for free) to a local business something really cool that he made and to allow word of mouth to work its magic. I can think of one bar right off the top of my head that would probably love to showcase something interesting from him. The possibilities would be endless there since this is an artsy town with a lot of interest in locally-owned businesses.

… Will keep thinking on it. And then will present my ideas to my buddy to see if anything strikes his fancy. He has an amazing talent that could take him in all sorts of directions, if he’s interested in taking it to the next level. And I now know a bunch of people with money thanks to my own line of work, so I can sniff around and figure out where best to market his wares. There truly are all sorts of possibilities here, so long as he expands his line of products. Because currently he’s dealing in a niche that holds appeal only for a select few, but why stay there? He has the skills to make all sorts of interesting, one-of-a-kind stuff, and people love unique pieces for home decor. There’s too much money in this city not to exploit this market. He’s an unusual guy with an unusual skill set that isn’t common to this area, and I think he could really capitalize on this opportunity if he’s willing. Says he needs the money, says he wants to grow his business — well, let’s think of how to make that happen.

A good first step will be just putting him in touch with other local artists who are proving successful in marketing their own products.

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