"Niche" from an old French verb "nicher" meaning to "nest", or from Latin "nidus" again to nest. It can be a nook in the wall for placing object d'art, or it can be something for which someone is particularly suited - 'she finally found her niche in the world'. And of course it can be used as a specialized market, which is what this post is about.
The internet has been a great boon to specialized markets. The world of niche parfum has taken off like a rocket, giving the big 'houses' like Chanel and Guerlain a run for their money. Before the internet bringing a fragrance to market took a huge investment in advertising. Now, thanks to the internet, enthusiasts who blog and post on forums about the latest creations of independent 'noses' allows those perfumers to invest the majority of their efforts and money into top quality ingredients instead of advertising campaigns and the fragrance industry has been revolutionized. This is certainly one of the joys of niche fragrance.
But 'niche' isn't without its risks. No matter how good a product might be if it doesn't catch enough 'buzz' and if there aren't enough customers out there who are delighted enough to part with some cash to purchase those products then the sorrow of that word "discontinued" haunts the world of niche anything. This is why if you find a new niche fragrance that works absolute magic with your chemistry, you had better buy one and a back-up!
In the world of needlework design the internet has also been a great asset to those of us who want to create and share our work with those with similar ideas of beauty and taste without having to go through all the hoops and expense to have them produced as commercial kits. One niche market will also spring up to extend and compliment other niche markets. The problems arise though when we become dependent upon a niche provider whose appeal, as good as it is, doesn't provide enough income to continue making their product. Case in point, Vikki Clayton's HDF silk floss.
HDF Acts of Violets
I began using silk floss in my cross stitching a few years ago and have tried several brands but shouted 'eureka' when I found Vikki's floss. It was such a pleasure to stitch with and then when I began designing patterns it has given me a wonderful pallette of shades to use in creating the effects I was after. Over the years Vikki has had her share of challenges since she marketed directly to stitchers at very good prices, the brick and mortar shops could not compete with her so she has been more or less boycotted by not only the shops but the designers who design for them.
So now comes the sorrow of this niche market, she has announced that she is raising the price of her floss and will eventually be phasing out her floss. To those of us who have used her silk floss and tried to promote it to keep it in production this is sad news indeed. She still has floss in stock and will be producing some for a period of time so if you particularly like some I've used in a design you should still be able to get it for awhile. But I'm now faced with having to find a new silk line for my models. If you have a favorite I'd love to hear about it.