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How long it took to get established or start up issues for everyone.

Discussion in 'The Taxidermy Industry' started by Lawdog, Dec 7, 2008.

  1. Lawdog

    Lawdog New Member

    Hey all,
    I'm doing what I can to move into taxidermy full time. Now I know no one can tell me what is store for me and that there are a million variables, however, I would like to see if there are any common denominators that I may expect. Right now I'm just doing mammals and I'm getting into fish. I'm getting a web site and cards put together and I'll have a lot of contacts and such so that will help.
    So, I'm just curious to see if stuff started coming in right away after advertising, if the first year or two are tough, etc., etc.
    Like I said, I know there are a lot of variables but I'd like to hear how start-ups varied for people. Thanks in advance. Scott
  2. Russ of V.O.W.T

    Russ of V.O.W.T my Ken Edwards moment

    i think the first TEN will be tough. I am in my 6th year and the first 5 went better than the 6th, it has nothing to do with customers, price, quality, it had to do with the actual deer kill. We are at the mercy of mother nature to some extent, and luckily i had more than enough fish from the summer to keep me busy this winter, i dont know whats gonna happen this summer when i am finished with the deer that came in this season, i got about half or less of what i usually get and last year i had 80 plus deer. So you can line things up anyway you like, have everything in place for the perfect set up and still fall on your face, if you dont have some type of back log or a part time job to pick up the slack during a slow time or a lull in work. good luck to you.

  3. Jump in, hang on and good luck.
  4. rnviper3

    rnviper3 New Member

    Russ is right on. we are at the mercy of mother nature. if she is giving, we "can" profit. i say "can" because there is a lot of other things too. as a beginner, you need to build up your quality to industry standards or above. once thats done you have to get people to see your work. word of mouth will go a long way, but it takes time. your first years will for sure be tough. good luck
  5. pyeager1

    pyeager1 Active Member

    Once your name is out there and matched up with good work that people can see business will really pick up. I started taxidermy at age 12 and remember guys coming to the door when I was sixteen asking if my dad was home. When I replied "I was the one they were looking for" they reluctently brought their trophies around to the shop, but when shown my work were quickly at ease. The first 5 years will be the test, hell I'm going thru that now only being 4 years in my current location on local business. but still have a good clientel from my old area plus the business this site has brought my way I'm staying covered up! ;)
  6. Take it one step at a time. I am also in the start up stage. It is not as easy as it seems to jump in. How long have you been doing taxidermy? Do you have family? Something to supplement your income during start up?
    I am a single mother of two with a deadbeat father. But I do have extreemly supportive parents who are helping me get started. But I have had my "learning" experiences that turned out to be not so good.....

    I did taxidermy for about 1 to 1-1/2 years, was pretty good. I love taxidermy and knew it was something I wanted to do forever, and as a business. I quit my job, made a website, cards, etc. Mistake #1.
    I did not have what it took to go full time right off the bat. Sure, my work was good. But full time has more to to it. Someone would call and ask if I had ever mounted a deer, so I got myself a cape and mounted a deer. Someone asked if I mounted a ram, so I got a ram cape and mounted a ram,... then someone asked about wild boar, antelope, ducks, pheasants, bobcats, fox,... well, you get the idea. You need to get a little of everything under your belt before you take on business.

    My mounts were good, but I was not as fast as these full timers. As a business, time is money. Cant treat it like a hobby.... Mistake #2.
    When I was attempting this, it took me over an hour to cape a deer, 4 hours to flesh the cape, over an hour to prep the form, and more than 4 hours to mount. You cant make money if you take that long. And you can only get faster by doing more and more.

    Basically, I wasnt ready. My heart and mind were ready, but my skills were not. I went back to work full time, and crammed in all time outside the office with taxidermy. I got better and faster. I now well into my third year, have customers finding me without advertising, and I am building a new shop that will be ready in late spring. I am hoping by then, I will be ready to give another go at it. Since the last go round, I have learned much more about the business end of it. I have been collecting equipment and supplies. I have been studying laws and business stuff like taxes, licences, etc. I have been keeping records, recording work time, attending workshops, and always learning and experimenting with new methods to improve my work.
    I have to prepare for the down times like Russ pointed out. I have become very good at unique novelty mounts, and my unicorns, griffons and pegasuses bring in money when the wildlife is not so good. I also expanded to domestic mounts, which I will be soon exposing widely at local feedstores and livestock auctions. The common goat, sheep and even horse mounts are not limited to hunting seasons. Granted, these things are not as product as deer, hogs, pheasants, etc. but a cheap fallback for lean times.

    I hope it goes well with you on your new leap of faith. I tell you one thing, I wouldnt be as far along as I am without this website. Stick around here, and you will have bette chances than ever! Good luck!
  7. all really good advise
  8. RoyalOaksRanch

    RoyalOaksRanch Royal Oaks Taxidermy- When Quality Counts...

    Its very hard to get EVERYTHING under your belt.. Not like we all have access to every species... But get good in the main thing such as deer, elk, antelope, if your doing fish, do bass, trout etc.. the most common stuff... As for the other stuff that you cant always get ahold of... use LOTS of reference. If you can mount deer, then an elk should be fairly easy.. Use reference. That is the key...
    I mount stuff for clients Ive never done before..... Such as a gopher.. Yes a client brought it in... Did a life size with habitat and put it in a case.. My first antelope I did last year and it went together real easy.. Dont know why but seemed to me it was actually easier than a deer. Just fell together so easy.
    My first gemsbok (first african piece) I took to my state show and got a 2nd place ribbon..
    So dont be afraid to take in something new you havent mounted before.. If you have a good eye for detail and are confidant in your skills there is no reason to turn down work.. If you break each mount down into steps youll see that most shoulder mounts require pretty much the same thing as far as sewing and such... its the finer details such as nose shape, eye shape, ear position etc that you will want reference pictures to look at.. Good reference and an eye for detail is the main thing about taxidermy as far as Im concerned.

    I dont hesitate to take in anything with hair or fur.. But someone wants something with feathers or fins.... Not my thing LOL.. For the birds I have a guy who does ALL my birds.. And Im lucky cuz he is only about 45 mins form me.. And hes good :) Fish I dont take in at all... I dont have anyone to do those and I have no interest in doing them myself..
    And if you need help you can always get on here and someone somewhere will know what to advise you on :)
  9. Missouri Creek Studio

    Missouri Creek Studio Black buck Walnut pedestal

    I've been in for 33 years and to echo everyones advice, there are a number variables and murphy's law along with the cooperation of nature and your talent. Three years is the usual minimum for most new start up business to begin to show a profit. That does not take into account as to if it is run on a part time basis with a spouse's or regular income helping to pay the usual and ordinary household bill, health ins ect.
    Talent, integrity, pricing for a profit and proper marketing will go al long way towards your success.
    good Luck
  10. We moved the shop, bear are down way down but thats fine with us. Deerheads are about the same and fish are way up. as are birds and mammals.

    We are in a commercial location on a main road beside a wal mart store. Dont know if wal mart had much to do with it but a lot of people shop there and see the building.

    Flat skins are way up and we are switching to a new tannery because of the year and half the other one takes to get things back.

    Deer kill is down here, lots of lay offs, but layoffs give people more time to hunt and fish.

    Haviing been in business 31 years and doing good work helps. Some times nothing helps.

    Do good work and it will come!
  11. If you have a 68 Camaro like your avatar, you probably won't have much "mad money " to put in it for a few years. Be patient though and it will come. I have been full time for 16 years and restored three chevelles and ran a dragster for a few years. If you ever need any help or advice, give me a holler. I have made lots of mistakes and if I can keep some one else from doing the same things, I will be glad to help.
  12. Lawdog

    Lawdog New Member

    Wow, great advice and I can't thank you enough. I have a lot to think about but I'm gonna make it happen one way or another. A great friends of mine has his own shop and lives about 45 mins away so he is a great help to me. I usually don't post much but the knowledge I have gained from this site is immeasurable. Thanks again.

    PS Oldmantwo, ya, I have a 68 but I'm doing a ground up on it and it has a long way to go! The only thing I'd rather do than hunt, fish and taxidermy is race! Rest assured I'll pick your brain at some point!
  13. John Panter

    John Panter New Member

    I don't think it will ever be easy. Not only do taxidermists have to deal with nature and the annual harvest, but taxidermy is a luxury item and with the economy like it is now, I think many people are thinking twice about having a mount done.