Selling to the World

Numerous local craftspeople and entrepreneurs gathered Monday to hear the opening remarks of a series of workshops designed to help them market and sell their products though the Selling to the World program, being provided by Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College.

Chief Instruction Advancement Officer Michelle Dykes Anderson, who was filling in for the program’s director Jeannie Allen due to a family emergency, spoke to the attendants about the program’s initiatives. Anderson explained that the most important part of selling from this region for any business owner is marketing their products to other parts of the nation and even to the world.

Anderson noted that just because people from this area may be used to the products and through tradition may have lost what some would consider appreciation for the product, there are people who have never been exposed to such products who would be elated to know about them and willing to purchase them.

“Things that we take for granted. Think about quilts … I don’t want to make this a bad example for quilts in saying we don’t appreciate them because we do. But our grannies made quilts, we grew up around quilts. People away from here don’t always have that kind of experience,” said Anderson. “They are going to be willing to spend a lot more money than we are willing to spend because we have ‘granny’s’ quilt.

Anderson also noted that the area has suffered economically recently and cited that entrepreneur ventures may be one of the answers to rebuilding the county’s struggling economy.

“Our culture is interesting to other people,” Anderson said.

Besides the free workshops and one-on-one individual communication to each business, the Selling to the World program is designed to provide skills and knowledge to start a business as well as to help the entrepreneurs manage issues such as tax forms, help them to utilize the internet, and help with promoting locally made items to help with the selling of them locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.

Anderson said the use of what is termed a “business incubator” is being explored, with a local empty building being eyed as a perfect location for such. A business incubator will provide space for entrepreneurs and crafts people to come in and get their business started. It is designed to help those who are just starting out and have no space at home for a business and/or use of a computer and other vital operational needs to a business owner.

Monday’s opening workshop discussion meeting yielded entrepreneurs of quilt making, jewelry making, jewelry consignment, holistic health, massage therapy, real estate, bed and breakfast, deli shop and food service.

All local artisans, craftspeople, entrepreneurs, and service providers, whether they are just staring up or established business owners, are urged to get involved and take advantage of the workshops which will be provided free of charge.

To sign up or to learn more about the workshops contact Allen at SKCTC Middlesboro Campus at jallen0387@kctcs.edu or call her at 606-671-7677.