Be a Niche or Switch May 17 2016
I have written briefly about the birth of Blackscape Outdoor Living in the past, but have never really sat down to tell how It all really happened, until now.
Why now, you ask? Because we find ourselves at another crossroads, another time of transition, and this has inspired me to think about my market, my products, and what these things mean to me.
At the beginning of my journey, the question of defining my market never crossed my mind. There was an obvious void in the market, for a specific type of product. I knew the product I wanted to provide would serve a limited market and be a niche business.
What Is a Niche Business?
When defined correctly, a niche market is a small, well-defined subset of the larger market into which a product is introduced. A niche market doesn’t really “exist,” in the way we think about the market existing, almost as a natural phenomenon. It’s more precise to say that a niche market is created when an entrepreneur sees a void in the market where there are wants, needs, and requirements, but no supply to fulfill them; ideally that entrepreneur develops and delivers the goods and services to meet this demand.
The idea (from the business owner’s perspective) is to identify this small market before her competition does, and to dominate it.
How I identified my niche
In the case of my business, I identified this niche based on my own desires. I have always been proud to decorate my home in vibrant colors, soft hues, and with culturally significant patterns that capture the distinctive mixture of the African history and eclectic African-American culture that so excites and pleases me.
One summer, while gardening, I went to look for ethnic, cultural yard art and decorations, to create an outdoor ambience at my home that was as culturally stimulating as my indoor decor. The experience was very dispiriting.
I couldn’t find any such products; I was puzzled.
There are plenty of African and African-American themed textiles, framed art and artifacts for interior design. All around me I found original art, note cards, and hair care products. Just last Christmas I saw African-American Santas and Mrs. Clauses, Angels, and even colorfully-painted wooden nutcrackers. So it seemed reasonable that I should be able to find African-American themed yard decorations. But I didn’t find a single product on the department store shelves or even online.
Plato said it first, and we still use his saying today:
“Necessity is the mother of invention,”
And this necessity led me to start Blackscape Outdoor Living.
Faith. Community. Strength.
From the start I decided to make and procure outdoor living products that were culturally specific to our African and African-American culture. Products that respect and reflect our faith, community values, and strength as a people. Symbols and images that reflected our language, our unique and beautiful facial features, our wide eyes and kinky hair.
I sat down and worked through these questions, knowing that by defining my needs and knowing my community, I would be able identify a small but unserved target market.
Stay True to Your Calling
I was told by some to broaden, widen, and expand the definition of my target market. Some said the market was too small, too narrow, or too limiting. I decided to stay true to myself, and to the calling of “necessity,” solving the problem I identified by providing a product that was missing from the market.
I knew that if I couldn’t find these products after literally years of searching, that they just did not yet exist. Meaning that there was minimal competition for my idea.
I was encouraged by family, friends, and consumers who bought the product to continue to serve this niche. It’s a smart business move to know your market intimately, because this allows you to more effectively serve them. In my case, I am my market; I know how they feel, what they like, what they do, and how they respond. I’m familiar with their actions and responses to situations. Having a niche market allows me to quickly respond to customers needs.
It’s a choice I have never regretted, even when warned that there is limited growth potential in this niche.
If you’re still reading this, there’s a good chance you’re a member of this niche market, searching and searching for culture-specific outdoor art and decor.
Let me help you select the most beautiful yard decoration for you to enhance your outdoor space.