Creatives Pay It Forward: Advice for Finding Success Selling Through Tamarack: The Best of WV from Cathy Smith
Tamarack Foundation | April 24, 2018
Cathy Smith of Raleigh County, West Virginia
Cathy Smith, Tamarack Foundation for the Arts Board member, Tamarack Artisan Advisory Board member, and owner of Unique Silks and Dried is having a very good year. She is selling more than ever at Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia. We asked Cathy to share her thoughts with us on how other artists working in West Virginia may learn from her successes.
Tell us a little bit about your business.
I am the owner of Unique Silks and Dried with over 23 years’ experience in floral design. I was juried into Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia in 1996 and have clients all over the United States and Canada. My designs have been displayed in many prominent residences and businesses nationally.
Some of my work can be found in the Governor of West Virginia’s office in Charleston and many arrangements and wreaths can be found in colleges throughout the state of West Virginia. These contain silk flowers that I designed and created myself out of silk charmeuse, including the rhododendron, West Virginia’s State Flower, and magnolias.
My clients often comment that they can pick out my floral creations because of my distinctive style. I use grapevine, moss, lichens, bark, ferns, leaves and fungi from the forests in West Virginia. I enjoy doing custom designs and large floral pieces for hotels and businesses. I also have the capability of drying and preserving wedding arrangements using the flowers in a shadow or acrylic box. In addition, I have taught several classes in floral design and wreath making. This year is translating to even more recognition and sales for my business.
Tell us a little bit about yourself – how did you get into this line of work?
In high school and college, I worked part-time for a local florist. I learned basic floral design and then began developing my own style. After graduating from WVU, I taught English, French, and Journalism and advised the yearbook and newspaper for the local high school. Wanting to spend more time with my family, I left teaching to begin a home-based floral design business.
Being a West Virginia native, I have always been inspired by the forests. I am inspired by the moss, lichens, grapevine, ferns and bark on the native trees. Many of my creations include one or several of these things. Before I begin an arrangement, I have a picture in my mind of what I want to create, and like most artists, a part of me is in every design.
You’ve seen success selling your work through Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia. In fact, you are selling more than ever before. What insights or takeaways do you have for artists based on your experience?
Work closely with your buyer and make sure you produce products in a variety of different price points. Use well designed business cards and hang tags. Introduce yourself to the sales personnel. They can share valuable feedback from customers that might help with your sales. And finally, work with the display personnel. They can give you suggestions that will help with the display of your work. Just remember that while you may recommend other ways to display your work, it doesn’t guarantee the work will be displayed exactly as you had hoped. Those decisions are ultimately up to the professional display personnel.
About the Author: Cathy Smith serves on the Tamarack Foundation for the Arts Board of Directors and the Tamarack Artisan Advisory Board. She is a Tamarack juried artisan and owner of Unique Silks and Dried based out of Daniels, West Virginia.