- 1 Everyone agrees that if you want to take the path of the full-time knife maker you definitely have to consider a few things:
- 1.1 Invest in quality equipment and materials
- 1.2 Find your niche
- 1.3 Communication with customers
- 1.4 The English language
- 1.5 Differentiated and create a competitive advantage
- 1.6 Delegate
- 1.8 Treat Knifemaking like a real business
- 1.9 Use your passion but you have to be realistic.
- 1.10 Consistency – Consistency and Resilience
- 1.12 Conclusions
Knife Maker full-time? Read this first but it’s not really easy at least here in Italy.
Today, thanks to social media and more global communication, the custom knife market has also expanded.
You can sell or buy custom knives anywhere in the world and even safely without running into potential scams.
This is also an advantage for a local maker maybe that is located in a small village with few inhabitants but has excellent qualities of knife maker or American knife maker.
In Italy most makers do not do this as a primary activity except in rare exceptions and work in cellars, garages, workshops where they have obtained a space.
Many makers start with passion by making exhibitions and then over time they make a name for themselves with their creations, making reproductions of famous knives before moving on to modern or personal designs.
Let’s say they’re two different roads plus one:
- One is to stay alert to the fashions of that knife enthusiasts and then customers to be careful what they want to create custom versions and this is important for any full-time knifemaker.
- A different path if we want more artistic is the street of the knife artist who makes a name for his creations and his clients are collectors of works of art as if they were paintings to understand us, then a clientele that attends exhibitions and who makes an acquis if we want more wanted by associating the maker with the knife.
- The “industrial” street where the knife is an object built for a large scale of the public, made with a large-scale industrial process (I do not want to talk about it) and the purpose is a large audience that can be undemanding, on average demanding as for example the Morakniv , or very demanding see theExtrema Ratio. So we’re not talking about a lab anymore, we’re talking about knife industries.
Already this makes you understand that we are talking about two different paths plus a third that is even industrial but I would dwell on the first two.
What is a full-time knifeman?
He is a maker or in general a knifemaker who lives as his only source of income by producing and selling his knives.
I’ll tell you right now, only the 2 of the world’s 2 makers fall into this category and you know why?
It’s not easy!
The reason why the number is so low is that it is very difficult to depend on the production of knives as the only source of income.
I asked some makers who have already brought their creations and sale of knives to a full-time level what it takes to make a living making knives.
Everyone agrees that if you want to take the path of the full-time knife maker you definitely have to consider a few things:
Invest in quality equipment and materials
Your lab needs to be done to make your work easy, structured, with a process that allows you to do operations in different locations
What kind of equipment?
The best on the market that will help you with reliability and quality of work.
Ps. I do not deliberately tell you my preferences because no company has provided me with its equipment to try and test! I could tell you what I use but it’s not the way I think it’s correct!
The materials depends on the audience to whom you want to sell your creations but in your choice you can definitely not give up the quality of the materials.
Find your niche
This is where your marketing plan comes in.
What do I mean?
I mean answer the question, “who do I want to sell my knives to?”
The goal is to optimize the way you introduce your knives to potential buyers.
Depending on the target you are targeting, you will need to present a type of knife, choice of materials, design, price, etc. suitable for a certain type of person and employment.
This is also important to understand how to advertise yourself (internet, posters), which exhibitions to attend and how to look for potential collaborations with a knife dealer or with material suppliers.
Communication with customers
It’s one of the most important aspects of being a full-time producer.
- You have to answer phone calls and emails very quickly,
- Deliver your creations on time or notify customers if there is a problem or delay explaining why.
- Listen to your customers by guiding them in their choice but taking into account what they want.
- et cetera.
You need to take time to interact with your customers or potential customers throughout the day
If it’s a business the rule is that without customers you don’t make money.
The English language
Knowing the English language is crucial so you have to take a course if you don’t know it.
You need English because:
- If you want to work abroad,
- have suppliers that are outside your country you have to know the English language
- use social pages in English groups
- participate in exhibitions abroad profitably
- et cetera.
Differentiated and create a competitive advantage
What’s different about you and what separates you from your successful competitors you know and see?
It’s not enough to make them right! That’s almost taken for granted by a customer.
If you don’t create something that sets you apart, you’re one more to make knives!
Several times your competitive advantage will come from being the first to adopt a type of design, a new steel, handle material, a particular design element, etc.
You have to continuously research and experiment, use new materials or techniques in your business plan to become a successful maker.
Regardless of their level of expertise, most manufacturers realize that they can’t do everything on their own, even if some try.
Successful entrepreneurs understand that using other people’s skills frees them to do the things they do best.
- Your website
- who cares for the social part (facebook, instagram, etc.),
- Photographs of knives,
- et cetera.
Treat Knifemaking like a real business
You need to know:
- How to run a business, know how to do accounting and marketing before trying to do it full-time,
- Always make a business case of the cost of your creation as direct and indirect materials and the time it takes to make it,
- You have to learn how to run a small business like you do for a knife factory,
- Then you have to consider opening the VAT number, taxes, security, etc. and tax planning with an accountant.
Use your passion but you have to be realistic.
Passion, enthusiasm for what you do are important factors for any business and therefore also to become a successful full-time knifemaker.
But when a passion becomes a business, you have to understand that management and dynamics require skills that you have to consider equally important if you want to build something that lasts over time.
It means that it is not enough to know how to make good knives but you also need to have skills in more areas and to which you absolutely have to devote time and importance.
Consistency – Consistency and Resilience
Success is a process that doesn’t happen in a day and so it’s critical to work hard and consistently for years even when you don’t see anything yet.
It’s not that you just follow these tips to become a full-time knife maker but if you want to try to do it you have to consider these factors in addition to your creations and over time you will see if the choices you have made lead to that result or if you need to make more more steps or changes in direction.
I recommend you read this story about Chinese bamboo!
Ps. Not everyone cares to take this step but she likes it as passion /interest and maybe earn something but without the ambition to do it as a job.
Very few knife manufacturers do this as a full-time main activity because it’s hard to have constant revenue that allows you to survive.
Today the custom knife is a niche and the spread of industrial knives of all kinds and the increasingly low prices do not fit the cost of creating handcrafted objects and built with manual or semi-manual processes.
It is also not easy to explain to an audience not interested in the subject why a knife “costs so expensive”.
Being a maker gives you a lot of satisfaction but it is not a much-needed job and does not make you a foregone in society, in fact you will have your hands as if you had dug the earth with your bare hands.
But if you take it as a pleasant activity and you take the time you can become a producer who in addition to personal satisfaction because creating something is very rewarding mentally but if it is appreciated and you know how to sell it well it is also something that can give you satisfactions financially.
I think the initial goal is to repay the materials and then over time sell their ability, they are to get to sell their art, where the price becomes relative, because your interlocutor is not buying a knife but an artistic creation that it can be worth 1000 euros, as 10,000 euros as 1,000,000 euros.
My modest opinion, we start from passion the rest are the consequences of one’s own journey and personal choices and abilities.
Are you experience?
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