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Contracts That Work For You and Your Business

Posted By TNNA HQ, Thursday, July 13, 2017
Updated: Friday, July 14, 2017

Legal Know-How: Contracts That Work for You and Your Business

By Danielle Chalson

The craft and needlearts industry is collaborative by nature. Designers need materials to bring their ideas to life. Needleart companies work with designers to create new designs that promote their product and contract with craft stores to sell their products. Magazines and publishers rely on companies and designers to generate content (and advertising) to fill their latest issues.


Craft and needleart stores rely on companies that provide materials, designers and publishers to attract customers and create products for sale. These are only a few traditional examples. As the needleart industry grows and changes in the digital age so do the number and type of collaborations.

What happens when the collaboration between two people, companies or stores goes wrong? What are the repercussions? Most importantly, how could the situation have been avoided in the first place?

In this series, you’ll learn how to read and understand the most important terms in your existing contracts. You’ll also learn how to create future contracts that aim to maximize the benefits for you and your business. Because that’s essentially what a contract is: An agreement between two entities that want to collaborate.

1. Dispel the notion that “contracts” have to be complicated, expensive and impossible to understand

A contract can be as straightforward as a single page (or even a paragraph) that summarizes the key points of an agreement between two parties that intend to work together. In certain instances, a contract should be longer with additional terms spelled out in more detail. Regardless of what format the contract takes what matters is that:

·         The contract correctly covers the most important points for each party

·         It covers those points clearly so each party understands their rights and obligations.

2. Because contracts can take many forms, we need to consider when it’s helpful to have a contract

The short answer is “almost always!” Designers regularly sign contracts for a design that appears in a publisher’s book or magazine. These formal contracts, which typically have been prepared by the publisher with the input of at least one attorney, are appropriate and necessary because the cost and exposure for both parties is significant. Here are a few more examples of common (and, some might say, “casual”) situations where the two parties should prepare at least a basic contract:

·         A craft store brings in a teacher to teach weekend classes

·         A needlearts company commissions a popular designer to create a design for a promotion such as a knit-a-long

·         A craft store wants to use a published design that they do not own as a teaching tool for a new workshop

3. Where to begin? At the beginning, of course!

We’ll explore how to get to the heart of any agreement, whether it’s a casual one-time collaboration or a more formal, long-term relationship. We’ll ask and answer key questions:

·         Who are the parties?

·         Why do the parties want to work together?

·         What terms are “non-negotiable” for each party?

When we understand the motivation and goals of each party, we’re in a better position to reach a written agreement that can avoid future misunderstanding, financial loss or hurt feelings. This series will be greatly enriched by your own real-world experiences within the craft and needlearts industry. Please write in with your questions and suggestions!

Finally, a disclaimer: The general discussions in this series are not legal advice. If you need specific legal advice about a certain matter, please contact a local attorney!


About the Author

Danielle Chalson is a patent attorney. She’s also an independent knitwear designer who designs for established publications and self-publishes under her own brand, Makewise Designs. You can find her on Ravelry (makewise) and on Instagram (@makewisedesigns). She and her family live in Long Island, New York.

Tags:  Business tips  TNNANews 

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