How to Start a Taxidermy Business

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Getting Started

Taxidermy is a highly regulated business, as it seems like most businesses are. The cost of supplies and the cost of an outside tanning company will shock the average person. Building a business is much like building any other business. Start slow, learn the craft and once you become great at your craft, market to clients.

Taxidermy takes a high level of skill and tremendous attention to detail. You must be able to see the animal as it was in life and be able to recreate that is a mannequin form. This means sculpting a mold to create all of the details that will make the animal look and feel alive.

Taxidermy is a job that will require long hours, but most are in the industry because they love the work. This is good for those who want to learn the craft and start their own business. It is a good idea to work under an expert taxidermist for a while. Learn the tricks of the trade. There will be a lot that an experienced taxidermist will teach you that you cannot learn from a book, a conference or you-tube video.

Going to School

There are schools that teach the craft of taxidermy and can even be a major in some colleges and universities. These are all avenues that will teach you the skills that will be needed in order to start your own taxidermy business.

Once you have the experience and the skills the first step to starting a business is to create a business. The first is to have a business plan. This will discuss what needs to be done. What licenses will be needed in order to run your business. What will you outsource and what processes will be completed in house? It will also discuss a marketing plan. This is how you will get your name out. You might be the greatest taxidermist in the world, but if potential customers do not know you are available, then you cannot make a living doing what you love.

The business plan will be the compass for the business. It will help you determine how you expand, what business you specialize in and how the business is run. When presented with new opportunity, consult the business plan and see if it is in line with your goals. This will help give you business direction and it will grow much faster and be more successful if the business plan is used as it was meant to be used.

Build Your Equipment

The next step is to build up your equipment and supplies. Look for business owners who might be retiring or getting out of the business. This can provide an opportunity to acquire the supplies at a much reduced price. The more money you save in the setup, the faster you will be able to turn a profit. Also please, please, please get a security system to protect your taxidermy equipment. It’s expensive and I had mine stolen once.

Next check with you city and state about the regulations and licenses that must be obtained. This will affect where you practice and what continuing education and care must be taken in order to run the business according to local laws.

Once these steps are completed you are ready to open the doors to a successful business as a taxidermist.

Keeping Your Taxidermy Supplies Safe

Handmade soft toys - mouseTaxidermy tools can be like a surgeons tools, they must be kept clean in order to do your best work. When working with taxidermy you are working with hides and other material that are effected by air, chemicals and the tools you use.

It used to be that the tanning process included the use of arsenic. This was the case until 1993, when the EPA banned the use of arsenic in the hide tanning process. The advantage of using arsenic was that it preserved the hides in a way, where bugs were killed customers could mount their animals with no concern over preservation.

Today that is not the case at all. Beetles, moths and other larvae based insects eat the hides as they grow from the larvae to the adult stage of their life. Then they lay more eggs and the process starts all over again, on your hides. This has created a problem with deterioration of the taxidermists work.

As a result care of supplies and equipment has become important as well. If beetles contaminate a hide that will be used on a mold, then the item will become permanently damaged. As a result sterilization of tools and keeping hides in a safe environment, where beetles and bugs cannot contaminate the tools or material used.

The other area of concern is that many buyers want more than just the animals. They want wooden trees for the animal to lay on, mounts, and other props that create a scene rather than just an animal. Each of these items, especially when using natural supplies like wood, run the risk of attracting insects that can not only infect the wood but can inflect other inventory.

As a taxidermist it is important to maintain supplies, materials and props that are clean, uncontaminated and insect free. Now instead of just being an artist, a sculptor and a tanner, you are now a preservationist. This requires the use of chemicals that will preserve the materials used, so that customers might enjoy their display for years to come.

It is also important to discuss care and treatment of the display with customers, as they may be unaware of the needed care for their purchase. When customers spend hundreds of dollars or even thousands of dollars to preserve their best animals, maintaining the quality of the display will be of great concern.

This is where the taxidermists can assist by educating clients to the proper care of their animals. They also need to know what signs to look for that will indicate there is an infestation. Then educating them as to the resources that will provide the proper care in the event an infestation occurs. This will go a long way to providing long term clients and referrals from their family and friends.

It is implied that taxidermy preserves animals forever, but like all things, with proper care, the items can last for decades. Without it, their money may not be well spent, as the preservation process can be destroyed by small insects.