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We talk to Jamie Martin, CEO at Hochanda, about how the company is helping the interest in crafts to flourish
Tell us about how Hochanda and why you decided there was room for another craft channel?
Hochanda, which stands for "Home of Crafts, Hobbies and Arts", launched in September last year. The channel's vision is to develop an entertaining, educational and inspiring platform that involves everyone across all ages and all skill levels. Hochanda's core values are to help viewers achieve a 'can do' attitude through quality demonstrations by market-leading guests, educated and informed choices, and customer interaction.
Our initial research demonstrated to us that we needed to provide consumers with more choice and variety, through demonstration-led shows with competitive pricing. This focus, along with top quality customer services and support, all underpinned by strong relationships with some of the best delivery and courier partnerships in the industry are what viewers were crying out for.
Hochanda felt that the market had been directed towards a narrowing section of crafting, namely papercraft, that in turn was dominated by advanced die-cutting techniques. We believed the craft sector was being restricted and wanted to offer a choice to the masses of amazing creative individuals, both suppliers and customers alike. Craft takes on many guises as does art and hobbies; Hochanda is proud to have contributed to increasing all these important areas by providing a platform and outlet to all the hundreds of thousands of amazing creative individuals out there.
What makes Hochanda different from the other TV craft channels?
Hochanda focuses on what it does best - offering a fair collaborative partnership to all, combined with a balanced, varied output. We actively wants to inspire people to learn and take up new hobbies. This is why we cover more than just crafts - our channel will appeal to a wider audience as we also cater for gardeners, collectors, artists, bakers and many more hobbyists.
Our intention is to stimulate non-traditional TV shoppers to engage and develop new interests. We also want to lead and transform the craft sector. We've just launched an online-only, interactive, educational portal that will feature live workshops and courses. Customers will be fully immersed in interactive live demonstrations, with an ability to create an on-demand library of content, combined with a service to buy what you need to craft along. Hochanda has numerous plans for the future and believes it's fast becoming the destination channel synonymous for demonstration, variety and inspiration.
You've just launched the Live Masterclass Workshops and invited trade to join in. Tell us a bit more about the innovation?
Masterclass Live HD is just one of many innovations Hochanda has planned to aid growth across the whole crafting sector. We acknowledge the need to inspire new people to craft, so we developed Masterclass with this in mind. This education portal has infinite possibilities and being online-based means that it can reach anywhere in the world. There has been a rapid rise in online platforms like Craftsy.com and Creativebug.com, however core differences with Masterclass is that it's broadcast live in HD, and is totally interactive through on-line chat and Skype. You can even visit and sit in a live workshop environment!
Masterclass is highly versatile. We understand that people can't always attend events or workshops, however these individuals should be offered a solution. Quality content and the right advice isn't always easily accessible; the only aspect holding an individual back generally is fear and knowledge - Masterclass will address all these areas and more. We hope to inspire people to try as we know how amazing crafting is for us all and we hope Masterclass will be the ticket to welcoming many more into such a wonderful experience that is crafting or a hobby!
Many see craft TV as a threat to bricks and mortar craft businesses. Explain why more craft awareness could actually be good business for them?
TV is a great platform to increase exposure of the craft market. There are so many crafters that have started their hobby from channel flicking, seeing something that's caught their attention, and then got hooked.
Not everyone who watches craft shopping TV will buy from the channel. Many see it as a way to get inspiration and find out what the latest products are. If they see something new that they like the look of they will either contact their local craft store or will look online for the best deal. We've heard that craft stockists will actually sell a product better if it's had exposure on TV, so businesses and suppliers always benefit from competition that drives innovation and flies the flag for crafts.
How can retailers work with Hochanda?
From a sales point of view, I'd say that it's a good idea to keep an eye on what we're doing and what we're launching - never underestimate the power of 'as seen on TV' POS signage in stores.
Definitely make TV exposure work to your advantage. On a more practical front, if you're a retailer, who's also a demonstrator or manufacturer, then there are many ways that we can potentially work together. We're always on the lookout for new items and part of our whole ethos is, as well as having some key high-profile suppliers, we make a conscious effort to work with smaller companies who don't normally get the chance to promote their products on air. If you have something that you think would work well on TV then get in touch.
What crafts are proving most popular, and has there been any surprises along the way?
Anything to do with colour or colouring is really popular, so things like inks, paints, pens, stamps, stencils and so forth. The same goes for mixed media items. If it involves getting inky or messy then it tends to go down an absolute storm. Dies are still really popular, but that's no surprise. I think the real surprise for us was crafters' love of all things messy!
What crafts should retailers look out for in the next 12 months?
Following on from the previous question, I can see demand for mixed media and home decor items increasing massively, so anything along these lines are going to be really popular. Crafters who're starting out on small projects will start to grow in confidence and become more daring in their creations, so expect to see canvas art, furniture makeovers, and more homeware-based crafts on the rise.
What would be your top piece of advice to give small independent retailers so they can compete in this buoyant industry?
Find a niche - something that will give you the edge over a competitor. With so many companies out there, whether online or bricks and mortar, you need to find a USP that will make a crafter come to you to buy. It's important to understand that often it's not always about the price for someone.
It's all fair and well slashing the price of items, but this isn't going to be sustainable. You have overheads to pay for, so reducing your margins isn't going to help you in the long run. If you can offer a customer something extra, whether it's setting up a 'try before you buy' table, introducing a loyalty scheme, giving regular demonstrations or starting up a craft club for example, it's going to incentivise your customer to keep coming back to you.
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