Selling to women – it’s not a pretty picture

Selling to women – it’s not a pretty picture
Charlotte Bowater

By Charlotte Bowater, Founder, Guilded.

There is a principle in business that you can always do more for your clients so I recently took a step back from Guilded and started to look at how I could further develop my service.

The review process highlighted that more than 75% of my clients around the world are women and an even higher percentage go on to commission a piece of art.

My business mentor was interested to understand the reason for such strong statistics. Was I deliberately marketing to women and pushing commissions? The answer was no, however, when I explained how I serve female clients in particular, all became clear.

My explanation related to my own experience. As a woman when I make a purchase for my home, myself or someone else foremost in my mind is how it will make me or the receiver FEEL. The principle applied to buying art is no different. I do not just want a pretty picture, I want art to speak to me in some way, to prompt an emotive response or transport my imagination. We all see things that catch our eye but it is those that make us feel good, that meet a spiritual or emotional need that inspire passion. This that I want for each and every client.

So my primary focus is to identify how each individual wants to feel when they see that piece in situ (not just how scale, interior decoration, lighting and other factors may affect choice). Such an idea may not have been prescient in their mind when they first approached me or when they responded to an image of a piece I am representing, but my role should be to draw it out. In so doing, I ensure that my recommendation will result in a piece that will resonate with more than the eye.

In addition, clients are well informed and are given choice. Art is ultimately subjective and if I have an aversion to being told that I should like something I know they will feel the same. Nor do I take to feeling ignorant or corralled. So I explain merits, offer professional reasoning and enable informed choices to ensure the client informs developing proposals. Other considerations come into play such as design for cost-effective shipping, or narrowing the field of choice by drawing on experience of what works and what does not, but all this is nothing if the art does not promote or transform the experience of the client.

To give an example, a client from New England got in touch to say she was looking for a piece for her bedroom. I started by drawing out key information and established that the wall on which the piece was to be mounted was of large dimension and opposite a south facing window, meaning it would receive full sun all day. I needed a material which would not fade or degrade in direct light but which could perhaps reflect and amplify ambient light. I then asked her how she wanted it to make her feel. Her response was that it needed to be restful for the evening but energizing for the start of the new day.  She mentioned that she had a tendency to feeling low in winter and starting the day in overcast weather didn’t help. She also mentioned that her great restorer was time spent by the sea.

So I proposed the work of shell artist Blott Kerr-Wilson who is known for her flowing abstracts created with thousand of the same species of shell. I drew her attention to the merits of reflective silver abalones as a shell choice and showed her framing options. I spoke of the energy in Kerr-Wilson’s work. A commissioned followed and when it arrived our client sent me this message. “I cannot thank you enough. In fact I can’t take my eyes off it! I would never have thought of shells. The wave like motion of their placement soothes me to sleep and on those days when it is overcast all the light there is seems amplified and reflected into the room. I feel so happy that I go to sleep and wake up with it. Its like you’ve brought the sea to me and I want to be in there all the time!”

So, the title of this article may have taken you aback. The reality is that I and my artists derive the deepest pleasure from connecting with female clients around the world. Whether I am sourcing from within my ‘fold’ or recommending other artists it doesn’t always have to be deep. Art can be playful or sensuous, loud or humorous, impactful or blend in. Either way, the work each and every client receives from Guilded will not just be a pretty picture.