Fear not, my friends! All you really need are some trusty, all-purpose communicating skills and a dash of insight, and you should find yourself on a one way train to Creative Comfort City.
In this long awaited follow up to our first three Buyer's Guide segments (The Basics, Finding the Right Artist, & Red Flags) we will touch on that insight and relate some basic skills specifically to the industry for you in FIVE EASY STEPS, hopefully helping you craft a successful system for getting exactly what you want from the artists you love.
Just interested in a quick read?
Scroll down to our Do's & Don'ts section at the end of the article! <3
You've considered all your options, and have finally settled on a list of top-notch potential artists from which to order your dream hair. It's time to start inquiring about availability and price quotes. But... where to begin?
Hi, my name is Kristina. I was wondering if you ever do custom orders, and if you are currently taking any?
It's perfectly acceptable to stop right there, if you don't want to get ahead of yourself. You can also briefly touch on what you might want.
I was interested in ordering a full set, 20” long, in different purple shades. Or even,
I would ultimately love a long set of dreads, but I have an undercut and would really appreciate some help determining the exact amount, among other details.
Notice full sentences and appreciative language. This will take you far, my friends.
This is a great place to pause, since you don't even know if this person is “the one”. It wastes precious little of your time. Depending on whether or not custom orders are currently being accepted, you can either move on down your list, or continue on to describe your needs in more detail.
If you know exactly what you want, use specific, concrete language. Don't ever leave yourself open to surprises if you really don't like surprises. Sometimes, it can be even more helpful to mention things you DON'T want.
Important things to ask your artist about:
- Turnaround Time
- Price estimate
- Shipping costs // Policies
- Fibers, if you're fussy (It's totally okay to be fussy!)
- Preferred Length
- Style/Fiber (if there's an option)
- Ends (if there's an option)
- Color scheme (usually optional at this stage, but if you have ideas, voice them!)
- Any absolute "no-nos" for you
- Any DEADLINES you may need to work within (this is SO important you guys!)
- Contact info (the fastest way to get in touch prefered!)
- Mailing Address
Ready for a little dash of that insight we were talking about earlier?
It is important to understand that this art form technically shouldn't be coming cheap. Materials are getting more and more expensive every year, and simply sourcing them has proven an even greater (and unfortunately more expensive) challenge. Depending on where you are and which country you're ordering from, economies can vary greatly (and I really mean greatly. A consistent fiber supply costs almost double in some countries than others). It also takes an astoundingly lengthy amount of time of actual hands-on time to create average sized orders. So, if you are getting a fantastic deal that's... fantastic! But appreciate that it is such, and try not to accept it as the norm.
I personally think it wise to ask for a rough estimate as soon as you have the skeletal workings of your design set in stone. [Now, when you ask for a rough estimate, understand that it will probably indeed be rough and may fluctuate more as you work in the details. Add-ons can get up there quickly, so watch yourself! A wonderful way to get an understanding of that “jump off” point in a less direct way, is to check the artist's website, blog, or facebook page. Many have basic prices listed publicly. If none is available, you can always ask if there is one hiding somewhere in your initial message. If you don't believe a basic list will get you close enough to a working estimate, you can phrase your first or second message something like this:
Hi, my name is Kristina. I was wondering if you ever do custom orders, and if you are currently taking any?
If so, I would love to know what a starting price for a set of 40 Double-ended, 20” crochets naturals might look like!
Thank you in advance!
Everything feeling good? Confidence meter through the roof? All systems go? Awesome!
It's really easy to just roll with it and start a frenzy of all the little details when you find the artist you know you're happy with, but a lot of us can get caught up in a good creative conversation and actually forget to finalize. This is an important step, because it's a really handy place for an artist to refer back to when making sure we've got all the details checked out. Once you two settle on a design and price, write out all the design details in one place, and just double check that everyone is on the same page. If your artist doesn't do this for you, it's totally cool to go ahead and do it yourself. If there are a few details that you've already noted between yourselves may change throughout the creative process, that's fine! Just note it again, set the rest in stone and make sure you note a flexible price range or max budget amount to avoid any potential surprises. At this point, your deposit is usually already down (or will be shortly), and you've hit that magical, exhilarating point of no return. Congratulations!
It's possible that you just didn't vibe while talking, but usually it's an issue of budget. It's a sucky feeling, on both ends, and it's completely unavoidable. The best way to deal with it is quickly, politely, and early on. If you have a million styling and maintenance questions, save those for the artist you ultimately decide to go with. After you've landed on someone, the two of you can float off in to fairy lala land together in passionate design conversations and it will be both wonderful and productive, because you'll be developing a working relationship. You will thank yourself for holding all of that little back and forth stuff for the right person.
In short: Stick to business first, with the mindset that these people are most likely giving you their unpaid time. Be polite and get the vital info you need to make your call, and then make it.
If you are not planning on placing an order until a future date, are just price shopping, or figuring out how much you'll need to be saving for, that is something you should mention early in the conversation, because it can really help a very busy business person manage their time better.
Contrariwise, if you are in need of a rush order (which in most cases is anything less than one month in advance), that is also something you should mention right off the bat. Some artists may not have time to squeeze you in and it will save you both precious time getting possibilities out in the open!
DO: Be polite. Thanking someone for their time goes a long way.
DO: Be forward and clear about what you want. Over-explaining is better than being vague. If your artist declines a certain aspect of your order, (example: “I'm sorry, but I don't do crocheted dreads.”) don't press them into making an exception. You will not get the best product out of someone who was not interested in doing it in the first place. If a decline of this nature is a deal breaker for you, feel free to ask politely for any recommendations the artist might have for someone who can meet your needs better. (Again, Thanking someone for their time goes a long way.)
DO: Actually do your research. If an artist gives you the address to their website or a location where you will find answers to many of your questions, please make a real effort to visit these places. It's totally okay to come back with questions if you're in need of clarity, it's a lot to take in! Just pause for a moment though, and consider how many times a lot of us have answered the exact same questions over and over again. If we put all the answers in one place for you, please go check that out! It's just a great way to save everyone's time, and can be a huge help in leveling the communication field.
FINALLY, PLEASE DO: Send us your reviews and photos. Even if you don't wish us to use them in our galleries, it means SO MUCH to see the work we've done finally placed where it was intended to go. It's like carving a canoe, we want to see it resting on the water. The majority of us will offer discounts, rebates, or other perks for customer photos. (Seriously, it means that much to us!) That really is what helps drive our small businesses in a the worlds of social media and we totally depend on it, from both artistic and business perspectives!
Reviews are equally important, as they let us know what we could improve on and what we're doing right, as well as letting other consumers know what to expect as far as personal preference. Are they great updo dreads? Easy to clean? Gorgeous but delicate? Perfect for festivals? Super lightweight? All of these things really go a long way to helping us reach our client bases and perpetuate our art. If you really love the work we do for you (or even if you didn't), please leave us a review!
DO NOT: Demand unwarranted discounts or an otherwise “cheaper” price. First of all, pretty much every single artist or hobby seller in existence never wants to hear the word "cheap". We don't want that word anywhere near what we do. Why? Because it says more about the quality of the item than the cost. It feels insulting no matter how you spin it or who you spin it to. We've calculated our prices to be what they are for a reason. Every last one of us is a small business, making dreads by hand, one piece at a time, tiny fiber by tiny fiber. If you're desperate for a steal, a better way to go about this would be by way of politely asking whether there are currently any specials or promotions that might be going on. Phrases like, "trying to be careful with my money" or "I'm on a bit of a tight budget" fare SO much better than "I need cheap dreads".
DO NOT: Change your mind over and over on a rushed order. If you need something super fast, decide what you want and resolve to stick to it. Some artists are incredibly accommodating and will try to work with you as much as they can, but I can tell you that rushed orders carry a certain degree of stress as they are. A relaxed artist is a better artist. ;)
DO NOT: Expect a full refund if you decide to cancel your order. If the artist can't follow through, that's another story, but if you have placed a deposit for a custom order and decide at any point afterward that you are no longer interested, it's safe to assume your deposit has already been spent on materials for your custom design. Many of us (myself included) have a very prominent policy regarding custom orders. READ UP!
Thanks for stopping by!
Don't forget to Stay connected with Imp And Petal for future segments!