Craft producers urged to collaborate to innovate for global markets
‘Modernising Traditional Jamaican Craft’ was the topic for discussion at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC’s) Virtual Biz Zone Webinar recently. Laura Jones, senior lecturer at the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts (EMCVPA), while speaking to producers in Jamaica’s craft industry, raised the question, “How do we innovate and remain competitive?”
According to the Creative Economy 2022 Report, “The global exports of creative goods represented US$524 million in 2020, while world exports of creative services reached US$1.1 trillion.” Jamaican craft entrepreneurs can benefit from the global demand for these creative goods.
INVEST IN TECHNOLOGY
With Jamaica, “Still in its developing stage of craft production when compared to Africa, Japan, India and some parts of Latin America”, Jones said. “We have to invest in tools that improve efficiency and enable production, and this doesn’t mean that it always has to be high-tech. Bamboo is one of our traditional materials we use, but we can no longer be using cutlass. We have to find other tools to help refine the objects that we make.”
“It’s not enough to just be creative or just want to make things. We also have to streamline our product offerings. Sometimes we do too much. Too much can confuse our customers. Start to focus on the things we do best,” she added, directing those in the creative industry to discover their niche and perfect it.
Jones raised the issue of Jamaican craft entrepreneurs refusing to work together, “If we are going to remain in the game, we have to learn to collaborate. We have to shed the idea that ‘everybody is going to steal my idea so I won’t share with anybody’,” she said.
However, the creative expert is encouraging persons to utilise intellectual property (IP) registration to not only protect their creations but to reap monetary rewards, “Even with the conversation about IP registration, that is very important. But if it is you are not monetising that IP asset, why do an IP registration?”
“The point of IP registration is to monetise. So, you are protecting your asset because you want to be able to gain as much from that asset before that IP expires. If you are only seeking to protect your ideas because you can create ideas, and you go to JIPO only to protect those ideas, then you are not being business-savvy,” Jones continued.
CREATE AN EXPERIENCE
To increase one’s selling power, Jones says it’s not enough to just create, “Move from just creating a product to creating an experience. More customers are buying into the experience that you have; the experience you may have with this maker; the experience you may have with this retail space. We are not just selling a product any more, we are selling experiences.”
“If you can’t do it by yourself, get help”, she said while answering the question of how entrepreneurs can innovate and remain competitive, “There are agencies like JBDC that are there to assist individuals, makers in the sector – utilise it”.
Jones encouraged craft entrepreneurs to apply the nine pillars of the business model canvas to their craft operations, to see their business move to the next level. These include defining customer segment; defining their value proposition; defining strategies for getting customers, keeping them, growing them; detailing resources; how to get products to customers; identifying and establishing key partnerships; identifying all costs; and understanding how to make money.
Entrepreneurs may join the Virtual Biz Zone Webinar every other Tuesday at 10 a.m. on the Zoom platform.Visit www.jbdc.net to register.