Meet the makers: As part of our Digital Dilemma series: ‘How to sell your goods online – the legal way’ we spoke to some Welsh artists and designers about the real-life challenges they’ve faced.
Like many other creative designers, Tara Squibb’s opportunities to sell disappeared overnight when COVID-19 restrictions were introduced. Forced to move online, she faced unexpected challenges and frustrations.
Here’s Tara’s story.
Tara Squibb is a ceramicist, specialising in stoneware and porcelain – creating both wheel-thrown and hand-built forms. She designs her custom-made pieces from a remote studio in the heart of mid-Wales, on the Powis Castle estate.
“An unlikely twist of fate led me to enrolling on an applied arts course at Wrexham Glyndwr University and I absolutely relished it” explained Tara. “I got a first-class BA Honours degree, was artist in residence for a year at the University, and then went on to do an MA in Art Practice, where I received a distinction.”
It was during her MA studies that Tara started getting lots of interest from galleries across the UK and she started selling her designs at multiple exhibitions- including Ceramic Wales 2019 and Shades of Clay 2018.She also presented a solo window exhibition at Bluecoat Display Centre and was noted in Ceramic Review as ‘One to Watch’.
But then COVID-19 struck.
“Everything closed up and the galleries shut. It was such an anti-climax. I knew I had to dip my toe in the water of online selling and I started doing all the nice stuff like getting photos done and writing up the marketing text. But then I thought ‘oh hang on, there’s more to this than meets the eye’.
Things like online cookie laws, worldwide shipping regulations and distance selling requirements were all so complicated and there was little information out there. I found it quite frightening and overwhelming and I know I’m not alone. It was a minefield. The excitement of launching a website fell flat on its face and after 6 years of hard work training in ceramics, I felt like giving up.
Thankfully, Tara had lots of conversations with First of March, the online marketplace dedicated to selling Welsh craftsmanship, and she is now building an effective web presence.
“I’ve had a helping hand, but it has been hard and I know I’m not alone. The lack of clarity out there has restricted my potential and I worry for young students starting out. I’m also sure there are plenty of online sellers already out there who aren’t meeting their legal responsibilities right now.”
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