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Artist Spotlight: Doles Orchard Box Shop

Artist Spotlight: Doles Orchard Box Shop

Emily Chelate, Limington, ME

Doles Orchard Box Shop is the daughter of a small family fruit growing farm in southern Maine. After Doles Orchard started selling their fruit to one of the local breweries, they fell into making custom wooden boxes for them as a convenient project during the winter months. A new business was born - custom wooden gift packaging and engraving services for the specialty food and beverage industry - but with creative minds, and the tools on hands, they now find themselves in boutique shops around the country!

Describe Your Work

I have a wide range of products, from our original wine boxes and beer totes that use traditional woodworking tools and methods to which we add a variety of engravings, to decorative snowflake ornaments and elaborate Advent calendars. I have a good balance of both a technical and creative mind, so when I get an idea for a product, I am able to use the laser to essentially cut pieces that fit together like a puzzle. Fine laser cut detail makes my work attractive, but its important to me to maintain the ability to customize my designs which allows basic ideas stretch across a variety of shop themes, styles, and locals.

How did you get started in the crafts business?
We were originally a basic box building wood shop, but we bought a laser machine in order to add logos to our products - once you start playing around with one of those, its hard to stop. It was really for fun at first, while I waited for projects to finish in the machine, I would sit learn more about the design software and come up with little ideas... then it turned into bigger ideas, and more elaborate projects. We would sell some things seasonally at our farm stand, and we tried out a local trade show trying to get more business for the box shop, but it was the little laser-cut gift items that were the bigger draw - so I just kept creating!

How long have you been wholesaling?

We've always been a wholesale company.

What are your top 3 marketing methods for reaching new buyers?

We focus on trade shows, some grassroots marketing through a few retail shows, and for the custom packaging side, we add in some direct marketing efforts.

What percentage of your business is Wholesale? Retail? Commission, etc.?

We are 90-95% wholesale. Depends somewhat on the year/retail shows that we pick up.

How has IndieMe helped your business?

We just started on IndieME, but I have pretty high hopes. We got some great orders right from the start. There are a lot of opportunities to get seen, paid or not. Certainly has forced me to get better pictures of my products - I've known that's a weakness for for us, and it helped to have the extra push to get it done - you can't sell a beautiful product online without equally beautiful photos!

What advice do you have for new craft artists?

Its so important to offer the whole package! On here folks need to see your quality in the photos you take, but you also need to make it easy for shops to present them to the public/their clients. From protective packaging, signage and even a custom display for your unique product(s) - whatever your product requires to show it off, make it available to your buyers!

What advice do you have for new craft galleries?

Don't be afraid to ask! Questions about products, how to display a product, what seems to work for others, how your artist wants to get paid, etc. Never be afraid to ask!

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