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Teleconference Looks at Prospects for Selling Handcrafted Goods

April 14, 2009 — Local artisans interested in selling their handcrafted products in distant lands attended a teleconference Tuesday, sponsored by Delegate Donna M. Christensen, to find out how to reach their goals.
The conference was a continuation of a series of seminars that began in 2007 aimed at showing business owners the basics in preparing themselves to look at markets beyond the Virgin Islands, developing market strategies and defining shipping procedures.
The meeting, held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce and University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center, was held to ascertain the level of interest and ability of craft artists and businesses to make a trip to Denmark.
"Because of our close ties and shared history, the goal is to begin the trade mission with Denmark and assist small-business owners and craftsmen with exporting their products," Christensen said.
The delegate wants to explore the possibility of the mission with Denmark because the Friends of Denmark have planned a trip there this summer. She was hoping the artisans could go along with the Friends and get group discounts and package deals on flights and accommodations.
Talking to the group from Denmark was Peter Stanby of the Denmark Department of Commerce. He said flight prices with no applicable discounts cost well more than $1,000. The general feeling of the group was the prices were too high.
There wasn't any guarantee from Stanby that there was a place for the artists to sell their products during the trip the Friends have scheduled.
Jamila Hammad from Calypso Art Quilts asked if there were any art shows or fairs to attach themselves to. Christensen agreed that a better approach might be connections with a larger expo. Stanby said there was a housewares show in February and one in the fall that generates thousands of visitors. He told the group that Denmark is small and doesn't have many trade shows.
Mariel deChabert-Percy, owner of Eden South, asked if there is much interest for V.I. products in Denmark. Stanby said he didn't know of any specific product interest other than St. Croix being a travel destination for Danish people.
Pamela C. Richards, former tourism commissioner, suggested the artisans start a little closer to home in the fall with the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show in Barbados.
Christensen agreed that first of all they should pursue the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show. She said she would take the conversations to the Economic Development Authority and the Tourism Department to see what kind of help and support they can give the craft business owners.
"I will look at any way to support and expand local business and help get people export-ready," Christensen said.
One teleconference participant welcomed the news.
"This will really help put the Virgin Islands on the map," said Yoki K. Hanley of Itiba. "We will finally get the help we need for export."
Tuesday's teleconference was attended by 15 artisans on St. Croix at the UVI Small Business Development Center at Sunshine Mall, while 11 people attended the conference at the Niskey Center on St. Thomas. Some of the businesses represented from St Thomas were Caribbean Specialty Foods, Hand Painted Company and Bush Tea of the Virgin Islands. On St Croix there were business owners from Sistah Art, Calypso Art Quilts, Itiba, Eden South, Yemaya's Color Improvisations and more.
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April 14, 2009 -- Local artisans interested in selling their handcrafted products in distant lands attended a teleconference Tuesday, sponsored by Delegate Donna M. Christensen, to find out how to reach their goals.
The conference was a continuation of a series of seminars that began in 2007 aimed at showing business owners the basics in preparing themselves to look at markets beyond the Virgin Islands, developing market strategies and defining shipping procedures.
The meeting, held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Commerce and University of the Virgin Islands Small Business Development Center, was held to ascertain the level of interest and ability of craft artists and businesses to make a trip to Denmark.
"Because of our close ties and shared history, the goal is to begin the trade mission with Denmark and assist small-business owners and craftsmen with exporting their products," Christensen said.
The delegate wants to explore the possibility of the mission with Denmark because the Friends of Denmark have planned a trip there this summer. She was hoping the artisans could go along with the Friends and get group discounts and package deals on flights and accommodations.
Talking to the group from Denmark was Peter Stanby of the Denmark Department of Commerce. He said flight prices with no applicable discounts cost well more than $1,000. The general feeling of the group was the prices were too high.
There wasn't any guarantee from Stanby that there was a place for the artists to sell their products during the trip the Friends have scheduled.
Jamila Hammad from Calypso Art Quilts asked if there were any art shows or fairs to attach themselves to. Christensen agreed that a better approach might be connections with a larger expo. Stanby said there was a housewares show in February and one in the fall that generates thousands of visitors. He told the group that Denmark is small and doesn't have many trade shows.
Mariel deChabert-Percy, owner of Eden South, asked if there is much interest for V.I. products in Denmark. Stanby said he didn't know of any specific product interest other than St. Croix being a travel destination for Danish people.
Pamela C. Richards, former tourism commissioner, suggested the artisans start a little closer to home in the fall with the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show in Barbados.
Christensen agreed that first of all they should pursue the Caribbean Gift and Craft Show. She said she would take the conversations to the Economic Development Authority and the Tourism Department to see what kind of help and support they can give the craft business owners.
"I will look at any way to support and expand local business and help get people export-ready," Christensen said.
One teleconference participant welcomed the news.
"This will really help put the Virgin Islands on the map," said Yoki K. Hanley of Itiba. "We will finally get the help we need for export."
Tuesday's teleconference was attended by 15 artisans on St. Croix at the UVI Small Business Development Center at Sunshine Mall, while 11 people attended the conference at the Niskey Center on St. Thomas. Some of the businesses represented from St Thomas were Caribbean Specialty Foods, Hand Painted Company and Bush Tea of the Virgin Islands. On St Croix there were business owners from Sistah Art, Calypso Art Quilts, Itiba, Eden South, Yemaya's Color Improvisations and more.
Back Talk Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.