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Check Out David Harman’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to David Harman.

Hi David, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Native Maps was founded in our tiny attic studio as I worked my way through grad school in Painting at UTK.

Inspired by a love of my hometown, I set out to make attractive, minimal, local-approved prints for the modern home. We still print in small batches by hand out of our studio in the Fourth and Gill Neighborhood.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Every year brings new and different challenges. The pandemic was a big challenge to navigate. My first reaction was to bunker down and ride it out. I braced myself for a rough couple of months as our retail stores closed shop and stopped ordering wholesale.

Then a friend reached out and encouraged me to take the pandemic head-on – to respond to it in some way. The next week, I ran a “Stay Home” sale while everyone was quarantined at home. Then, I reached out to every city-themed Instagram account I could think of to run a giveaway with them and drive traffic to our website (and sale). After 15 or so giveaways across the country, we generated our best sales month ever.

I took that income and set it aside to hire a marketing team, and that led to the best sales year ever. I set aside that extra income to make an offer on a studio building, and a year later, I now own and run a studio building on 4th and Gill, filled with other makers and entrepreneurs.

There were many challenges and small pivots along the way, and it all turned out alright, but responding to the pandemic was definitely a big challenge for us.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Our prints are a little different than the average poster.

We hand print each map on heavyweight with crisp, vibrant ink. You can feel the texture of the print on the paper. I love the screen printing process because it feels handmade and it adds a really warm accent to any home.

As far as the maps go, we work with a team of locals in each city to get the details just right. It may take a little longer, but we believe it’s worth the wait. Every map you see here is truly local-approved.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
I think most artists are just happy that someone wants to buy their work – and they often undersell their products. The funny thing is that price communicates value.

A lower price tells the customer that the product is cheaper – and that can lead to fewer sales, ironically. I would just encourage anyone starting out to be confident with your pricing – charge what you need to charge – and help the customer out by communicating why your product is special or different.

I’d also recommend connecting with The Maker City and the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center. There are so many great resources for small businesses in Knoxville.

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