Monday, November 7, 2011

Crafting a Handmade Christmas

As with most years, Christmas presents will be a mixture of hand crafted and store bought gifts.  For my brother-in-law, nephew, sister-in-law, and mother they will be gift certificates to their favorite stores or restaurants.  This year the hand crafted gifts will go to my brother and sister, as well as both nieces and my youngest nephew.  My brother and sister are both getting afghans (I'm down to the putting together of the pieces so a couple of days straight and they will be finished) My nephew is getting the ski mask with two eye holes and a mouth hole that he wants (Its taken a couple of pro-types but I think I finally have it figured out.) Both nieces are getting hats they picked out, and the oldest will also be getting the large headband with removable flowers (the youngest got her headbands for her birthday).

Next year I'll throw the names in the hat again around the first of January and chose who gets the handmade gifts for 2012.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Christmas is Coming

And if the decorations that have been out in a few local stores since August, sooner rather than later.  I can remember as a kid the Labor day decor came out, and then around the beginning of October the Halloween stuff. Shortly after that, stuff for Thanksgiving.  Christmas stuff never made it onto the shelves until after turkey day was past. And now look at it.  It won't be long before all stores will have Christmas stuff out year round, not just those that are dedicated to Holidays.

Not necessarily a good thing if you ask me.  For some reason seeing all the Christmas stuff out several months before the month of December seems to put a lot of stress on people.  The kids clamoring for the latest greatest gadget or toy this week, and then the next latest and greatest the next week, and the parents trying not to disappoint come the 25th.  And the worry of how do I pay for everything, especially if your charging it to a credit card.

Not much better for those of us who are making most of the gifts we give.  Of course our worries are more along the lines of I hope they like color, god I hope I get it finished in time, or (and this is a big one if your giving clothing ) PLEASE GOD, don't let them gain/lose weight before I get this thing finished.

Maybe we should pass a law that says no Christmas on the shelves before December 1st.  After all, out of sight is out of mind :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

Well it seems like another month has passed and somehow I didn't get as many posts in as I would like.  Something always tends to come up and causes me to end up pushing things to the back burner.  At least this time is was spending time with my youngest niece and nephew and not the flu.  (god that was horrible last year).

We took in some antique and collectible shows, and spent time shopping in out of the way specialty shops. I always enjoy things like that.  I get to pass on my love for old things, and they get to spend time doing things they wouldn't normally do.

Its especially gratifying when one of their parents, or other adult relatives let me know that the kids couldn't stop talking about all the fun they had during the outing.  The best, going to the shows and browsing through the stores was free (okay we did spend some money on food, and I found some stuff to add to my collection, and my niece found stuff to start a collection, but all in all less than $100.00 was spent in total).

The kids have already started marking their calendars for next year. Hopefully it won't take me that long to get back into the posting groove.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 6

Okay we haven't really discussed this, but its important for your bottom line.  When your making your items for sale and you catch the materials on sale which cost do you use when figuring out the cost of materials.  Most of you are going to say the cost you paid.  Not necessarily.  If the materials your using go on sale periodically, say every 3 to 4 months, and you are able to buy in bulk at that time, then okay, use the cost you paid.  But what if they go on sale only once or twice a year.  Then you're better off using the regular retail price.  

Let me give you an example:

Sally and Sue both create a cute scarf set.  Each set takes two skeins of yarn that regular cost $6.00 a skein.  The local yarn store runs a sale at $3.00 per skein, and both stock up on enough yarn to make 20 sets.  They both use the same pricing formula for their of 3.5 times the cost of materials, plus $5.00   Sally prices her scarf sets at $26.00 (3.5 x 6 (sale cost of 2 skeins) + $5.00).   Sue prices her scarf sets at $47.00 (3.5 x 12 (reg cost of 2 skeins) + $5.00).    Both Sally and Sue sell out.  Sue immediately heads toward her local yarn store to purchase enough yarn to make 20 more scarf sets.  Sally  is only able to purchase enough to make 10 scarf sets because the yarn is no longer on sale.  And because it is no longer on sale she has to raise her prices to cover the new costs of materials.  This raise in cost upsets her customers who are expecting to get the scarf sets for the same price as they paid before.   Because they are upset, many go elsewhere to purchase the scarf sets, while complaining about her "unethical practice of raising prices".  

Of course, when you are very successful it will be time to look into buying wholesale. When you reach that point, you can contact the supplier (check the labels of the items you purchase) and see what their minimum purchase is, and what you need to purchase from them.  If you're lucky, you know others who craft similar items and use the same basic raw materials you do, then see about going in together and splitting the cost of an order. If its not feasible to purchase from the supplier or manufacturer, then check with your local distributor.  Some (not all) will be glad to purchase extra for you when they send in their orders, and in many cases give you a discount on the purchase (especially if your order allows them to purchase and the next price break level).  Not all will do this so please check first. 

Does your craft lend itself to recycling.  I have a friend who makes good money making crocheted rugs from old t-shirts.  She gets many of the shirts she uses from friends and relatives.  She also has a deal worked out with a local thrift shop to purchase all the t-shirts they get in that are torn, or have stains that won't come out when washed for a flat rate per pound.  She also hits yard sales, and swap meets to look for t-shirts.  When she tells people what she wants them for, many will bag up those that "were not good enough to sell" and give her a call to come pick them up (she usually arranges the meetings in the parking lot of a local store or library).  She washes and dries all the t-shirts, then cuts them out of strips and attaches the strips together.  She then crochets the strips into rugs that look a lot like the old braided rugs that most homes had years ago. The best part, is that stains are not really noticeable when the strips are crocheted, instead lending character to the rug.

If you use a lot of beads in your work, check at thrift shops, yard sales, estate sales.  Look at the jewelry for sale.  What you want to be on the look out for are bags and boxes of broken jewelry.  My 17 year old niece makes some nice pocket change, taking about old broken beaded necklaces and bracelets and restringing them to make all new designs out of them.

Even broken pottery and porcelain dishes can be used to make beautiful mosaic tiles.

Do you have some ugly sweaters in your closet?  Take them apart at the seams and unwind the yarn to reuse in other projects.

A local Goodwill in our area often has unfinished craft projects that have been donated.  These are usually cheap enough that even if your not going to make the suggested craft, the materials can be used for other crafts that you are going to make.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 5b

This post is just to give you an example of why you need to worry about pricing. We will follow 3 different people selling the same craft item (lets assume a fancy beaded Christmas ornament) at the same outdoor festival.  First lets assume the following

  1. All three have the same overhead for this show $25.00 booth rent.
  2. Cost of materials to make 100 items is $50.00
  3. Time to make each item is 1 hour.
  4. Additional expenses (tissue paper, receipt books, bags, etc) is $25.00
Now lets introduce you to our crafters.  Mary, Sue, and Dory

Mary is excited, this is her first show.  She has paid her booth rent, and created her items and is ready to go.  She has decided to price her items at $3.00, just below the cost of similar mass produced items in a local discount store.  At the end of the day she has sold out and has $300.00 to show for it.  After taking out her expenses and cost of materials she has $200 left.

Sue has done a few shows and is still working out the kinks in her pricing system.  She has settled on 3.5 times the cost of materials plus $2.00 to cover cost of additional expenses.  This gives her a selling price of $3.75. At the end of the day she has also sold out and has $375.00  after taking out expenses she has $275 left.

Dory considers herself to be an professional craft artist.  She charges $10.00 per hour, plus 3.5 times the cost of materials, plus $2.00 overhead.  Her selling price is $13.75 per unit.   She only sells 50 of the units, leaving stock of 50 units toward her next festival.  Her gross take home is $687.50 with a net of $587.50.

As you can see a wide range of prices from the above totals.  And while someone who considers themselves a hobbyist might be happy with and extra $200 dollars when its all said and done, someone who considers themselves to be self-employed would more than likely be upset at such a low profit.

Don't sell yourself short.  If you think your worth $10.00 or more per hour, and you carry yourself with confidence you'll inspire the confidence in your customers.  More than once I have seen people at craft shows pass over a lower priced item, to purchase an almost identical item that is 2 to 3 times higher in price.

Another thing, just because its getting late does not mean you should reduce your prices.  You can always take extra stock home and build on that for your next show.  You can always have a box of seconds at a reduced price stuck back under your table. (these can be things that didn't turn out as  good as you expected, or maybe you realized you didn't enjoy making them, or perhaps the color just doesn't work and you really want to get rid of them.)

The best piece of advice I every received when I first started and couldn't figure out why I wasn't making enough, was when an established crafter told be to triple my prices.  To say I was shocked at the difference in sales would be an understatement.  Lets face it when faced with two items one priced at $3.00 and once priced at $12.00, most people are going to assume that the $3.00 is lower quality than the $12.00.  And lets face it, human nature being what it is, when we can afford it we're going to buy the item we perceive to be the better quality item.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 5

Okay, now that you have all the dreary business stuff out of the way its time to talk pricing. Wait, what about what to sell, you may ask.  Well you if need to ask what to sell, then this business is not for you.  If  you've even considered a crafting business, then you already know what your going to sell, whether its the baby blankets everyone raves about and begs you to make for soon to be born children, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, or a combination of craft items that fuel your passion.   And you should always work with the items that give you pleasure to create.  Don't jump on a craft bandwagon just because its popular and "everyone else" is making tons of money off it.  (would you jump out of an airplane without a parachute just because everyone else is doing it?).  Okay off my soap box now, (although the added height is nice) and back to our regularly scheduled post.

Pricing.

There are several different ways to come up with a price.  Not all of them are viable, and different methods work better or worse for different items.  You can do a cost plus a percentage for overhead.  You can do an hourly wage plus cost of materials.  You can do 2.5 times the cost of material.  You can do 3.5 times the cost of materials (this seems to be a pretty popular one). You can do so much times the square footage of the item made.  Or any combination that works.  For small items that take me less than an hour to create I use 3.5 times the cost of materials, plus $1.00 toward overhead.  (these are all items that sell for $10.00 or less).  For  large items such as afghans, wall hangings, pillows  etc. I use the formula of cost of material, plus 5 cents per square foot, plus $10.00 toward overhead.  For things like scarfs, hats, etc I charge 10.00 per hour (something that takes 1.5 hours would be $15.00) plus cost of materials, plus $3.00 toward overhead.

Okay I keep mentioning overhead, and I bet your wandering what that is.  Overhead is the cost of  fixed materials (sewing machines, knitting needles, crochet hooks, patterns, storage containers).  If selling from a brick and mortar local, the cost of rent, electricity, help, city / county / state licenses, packing supplies for sold items, sales slips, display shelf's, racks, etc. Basically anything you need to run a successful store.

If selling at craft shows, festivals, farmers markets, etc... in addition to the cost of fixed materials you will have booth rental, cost of sales slips, packing supplies, wear and tear on your vehicle, storage containers, display tables, racks, shelf's, etc, and unless it is indoors an outdoor canopy.

If selling online, there will be a portion of ISP, the cost of fixed materials, cost of a good digital camera, a display rack, (mannequin, shelf, table, whatever you need to display your items to their best advantage when taking pictures), lighting for your display, printer, printer ink, printer paper, computer (can't sell online without one), packing supplies, wear and tear on your vehicle from taking packages to and from the post office, a good quality digital scale for weight packages.  ( you don't want to send something off that you assume weighed 1 pound only to have your customer receive it postage due because it weighed 1 pound 1 ounce and should have been shipped at a 2 pound rate.

And don't forget you should have business cards as well.  You can have them printed for you or print them yourself if you have a decent printer.

So take some time, and sit down with pencil and paper and work out what your overhead will be.  And you thought you'd never need all those math classes you took in school :)

Next time will discuss how a good pricing plan can make or break your business.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 4

You've done a business plan of sorts, picked out a name, now its time to start talking licenses.  The one piece of paper you will definitely need if your state charges sell sales tax is a resale number.  In California you can get one by going to the Board of Equalization and filling out a small form.  Depending upon where you plan to sell and how much there may or may not be a deposit required.  I didn't have to put one up when I got mine, but that was so long ago, that I can't guarantee that is still the policy.  Don't of a BOE in your state.  Go to your states website in California it would be CA.gov, for other states it would be the 2 letter state abbreviation dot gov.  There are usually links you can click on that will take you to information for starting a small business in your state.

But wait, there is more.  Will you have employees or will you be the only employee.  If you don't plan to hire anyone then you don't have to have a Employee Identification Number from the IRS, you can use your social security number.  If you do plan to hire employees you will need an EIN.  You may also need a State EIN (different states call it different names so check with your state).

Now you  need to check with the city and county you live in. You may need any or all of the following: a city / county business license, an okay from the city / county to run a home based business, proof of filing a fictitious business name statement in a local paper (most banks require this in order to open a business checking account.) a business checking account, agreements signed by any close neighbors stating they do not oppose your operating a business out of your home.  Some of these will not be necessary if you are planning to run a  brick and mortar store front.

If your full name is part of your business name you probably won't need to file a fictitious business name statement. (ex:  Jan Smith's Crafts).  And in most locations if you are running an internet business with no customers coming to your home to pick up merchandise you may not need a city / county business license.  If your local bank won't let you open a business account without the fictitious name filing, you can always open a second checking account dedicated strictly to your business.

Every state, city, county has different rules and regulations so you will need to check with yours to decide what you will need or not need as the case may be.  Also rules will vary with the type of business you are running.  Will people be coming to your home, will you be selling at shows, festivals, swap meets, will you have a brick and mortar store front, will you be selling exclusively online, or will you have a combination of some or all of these.  You need to decide now so that your not blindsided down the road with the need for a license you did not get.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 3

Whats in a name.

Okay you've done your business plan now you ready to come up with your business name.  You need to decide should it be related to the craft your doing, crafts in general, or something completely unrelated.  Lets say your nick name is Miss Goody Too Shoes, and you really like that nickname and want to use it.  Why.  Would it come up if someone typed the craft your selling into a search engine.  What if you have a brick and mortar store, would some one looking for crafts stop in your store or would they walk next door to Suzies Hand Crafts.

Do you do one craft to the exclusion of everything else.  If the answer is yes, then using something like Jane's Crochet Creations, Kelly's Knifty Knits  would most probably work for you.  If you do several crafts, would someone looking for Cross-stitch bookmarks look for Jane's Crochet Creations.  Or would they more likely to check out The Craft Room.

If you only knit, crochet, sew etc, then by all means use a name that utilizes knit, crochet, sewing, etc.  If you do several crafts then try for a name that would work for more than one crafting media.  Something along the lines Kelly Creations, or Unique Handicrafts.  When you have come up with two or three names that you like type them into a couple of different search engines and see what comes up.  You may be surprised to find out there is already a Candy's Craft Creations (or possibly more than one) in different cities and states.  You can also go to a place like godaddy.com, type in the name you want and see if the .com, .net, etc are available.  If so you may want to grab them while you can.

While memorable names are great, they aren't always your best choice.  Try to pick something that is closely related to your business.  In the end, you'll be glad you did.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 2

In part 2 we'll discuss your business plan.  What? you ask, no talks about business names, licences, what to sell or where to sell.  Nope.  Before you can start on those you really need a business plan.  Just a simple bare bones plan will do to start.  You can add detail later as your business grows and expands, or needs and desires take on new directions. (trust me my business plan is very different from the plan I started with way back when)

To start you want to state who you are.  Basically your name, and how you see yourself.

ex:   Jane Smith
A talented fiber artist.

Then you need to state your mission statement.  Or why your business exists (or should exist)

ex:  I am in business to provide quality hand crafted items to the general public, and support myself and my family.

Next, where will you being conducting this business, online, through craft shows, out of your home, at local farmer's markets, out of a brick and mortar store front, or some combination these.

ex:  I will selling my crafts physically at local craft shows, and online through various craft websites.

Finally your goals for your business

ex:  I plan to create and sell enough hand crafts to supplement my current income, and eventually to allow me to quit my job and devote myself to my crafts business full time.

As I said this is just the bare bones of a business plan.  There are several good books on the market, most of which should be available through your local libraries, that can walk you through a more detailed business plan.  Keep in mind, with the exception of your name, none of these are set in stone.  They can, and most probably will change over time.  I myself revisit my business plan on an annual basis.  Sometimes there are minor changes, sometimes major changes, but there are always changes.

Next time coming up with a name

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Making Crafting Profitable - Part 1

So I have had several people ask me how they can make a living with their crafts.  The answer I don't know that you can.  At least not with crafts alone.  There is a great deal of time and effort that is required to make a living at any non traditional 9 to 5 job.  To help those who are considering a job working with crafts (and this can apply to almost any non traditional vocation) I thought I would offer a series of blog posts to help you along.

Now on to part one........

A quick questionnaire.

  1. Why do you want to be your own boss?
  2. Can you afford to be your own boss?
  3. Are you a self starter?
If you want to be your own boss simply because you don't like your current job, then self employment may not be for you.  When you are your own boss you will be not only head of the accounting department, secretarial pool, marketing department, production line, customer service, and distribution department, but also; in most cases; the only employee.  In others words you are responsible for all successes and failures of your business.  If you are afraid to fail, and there will be failures in this venture, then you should keep your day job and look for employment in a field you enjoy.
    How much money do you have in savings.  If you plan to start a business on the side and keep your current job until your business is successful (the definition of which will vary with each individual), you should still have at a minimum enough in savings that would allow to pay all expenses for housing, food, clothing, insurance, and basic transportation, for three months.  If you plan to quit your day job and jump in feet first into the deep end, you need to have a minimum savings to cover 12 months of the above expenses.  And even that may not be enough, especially if there is an unexpected illness, or your vehicle needs major repairs.

    If you still want to be a successful craft-entreprenur, you need to be a self starter.  Any successful business person will tell you their day starts from the minute they wake up in the morning until they go to bed at night, 7 days a week.  There is no 8 hour days.  14 - 18 hour days are more common when getting a business up and running, and 12 - 18 hour days are the norm after that.  Vacations, few and far between.  You can't put things off, because there is no one else to pick up your slack.  If you aren't prepared for eating on the run, if at all, forgoing a social life, turning off the emails, facebook, twitter, (at least the socializing aspect of them, they do work for promotions), going for hours if not days without human interaction, then self employment is not for you.

    If you have read this far and decided that you can handle the long hours, you've got plenty of money in savings for the time of business your planing to start (part time on the side, or full time), and you are prepared to work you behind off, then good luck. Tune in for the next blog post, that will discuss your next step in preparing to open you business and with luck and hard work succeed.  

    Wednesday, August 17, 2011

    Another Year Older

    Well its official I am now another year older.  Although the running joke in my family is that my Baby Brother is only 18, so that makes me 28, and it shall remain that way until the day I die, then he can have all his missing birthdays back. LOL

    But its not all bad, 17 years ago today my Baby Sister gave me the neatest birthday gift, a cute little niece to spoil rotten.  Like I told her when my nephew was born a few years earlier, I will be the baby's favorite aunt, but I won't do diapers, spit up, puke, other bodily fluids, or windows, just not going to happen.  The weird thing is that my niece and nephew are within 10 days of being the exact same age difference as my Sister and I.  The only difference I was born in August 17, and my Sister was born in January 4th, a little over 2 years later, and my Nephew was born January 14th (my Mothers birthday) and my Niece was born August 17, a little over 2 years later.

    I am not planning anything special for this birthday, other than spending a quiet evening at home with family and friends.  But then I have never been one for loud parties, so its all good.


    Monday, July 18, 2011

    It's Finally Summer Maybe

    Well the weather lately has been anything but consistent. We started the month with 100+ degree weather, then slipped back into low to mid 80's, now were back to high 80's low 90's, and they are predicting high 90's by the end of the week, with a chance of a cool down back to the 80's in the next couple of weeks.  Are you sure its July in California?

    And of course the bootheel of Missouri (think poplar bluff, siskeston, that area), where I am originally from is sweltering in hot humid weather.  Let me tell you, from personal experience, I'll take a dry 110 degrees in the shade over 90 degrees with 80 - 90 percent humidity any day.  At least with the dry heat you can breathe, the air quality may be lousy but at least you can breathe, much more difficult with the humidity.  And with humidity, no matter how good your air conditioning, and fans are, you just can't get comfortable.

    Can't wait to see what the weather is like during my birth month of August.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Wow Where Did The Time Go

    I could have sworn I had posted since February but apparently not.  Of course I do have excuses, I was busy doing my taxes, and my Mom's taxes.  Then of course there was the bout of flu going around,  Mom had it once, lucky me, I got it twice.  

    I've also been spending a lot of time working on my Bonanza stores and my Artfire studio.  Which means organizing, and reorganizing.  And along with all of this packing away winter clothing, dragging out spring/summer clothing, only to have the weather turn from hot to cold necessitating the dragging out of winter clothes and putting away of spring/summer clothing.  (this has been going on since we had 95 degree weather one week in April only to have  50 degree weather the next three weeks.  I hate to say it, but "WHERE THE HECK IS HOT WEATHER WHEN YOU WANT IT.

    As some of you may remember we listed the property for sale last July.  It hasn't sold yet, and we are in no hurry to take less than what its worth so no biggie.  The real estate agent changing from agency, to agency, to agency is.  We are able to make the monthly payments and property tax payments just fine right now, so its doubtful we'll resign with the current agent when the contract is up.  Of course they could find us a buyer before then.  It that happens we will have to scramble to find a place to move too.  (not as bad as it sounds.  We can move in with my brother and his family on a short term basis if necessary, and there are several properties we like available in the area we want to relocate to)  The property where we are currently at is just really too large for Me an my Mom.  We want something smaller, that will someday pass on to my nieces and nephews.

    I promise to try an do better about posting in the future.  And not let it go four months between posts again.

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Things to Remember When Doing a Show

    So in my other life I often sold antiques and collectibles at shows and street fairs (not so much any more), and one of the things I still like to do is go to antique shows and fairs just to keep up with the latest trends, and to touch base with old friends.  A couple of weeks ago I visited one of my favorite local shows and watching several newcomers to the show circuit setting up for the first time had me remembering all the things I had learned from the years I had done the shows.  So here are a few of my do's and  don'ts for those doing shows of any kind.

    Don't sit behind your table playing a game on your iPad, iPhone, or laptop.  Yes it can get boring during the slow times (and every show has them), but its just annoying to try and get someones attention and they are too busy playing games (or reading a book, or talking on the phone with their friends) to respond. 

    Don't scream at the young kids trying to touch your precious wares. If they are that precious, keep them up out of kids reach.  The best way to tick off a parent and lose their business, be rude to their kids (even if they are obviously little spoiled brats).  Better yet, keep a few, kid friendly items at a low area where the kids can look and touch all they want.  Some of my best customers were kids that remembered playing with the kid friendly stuff I had placed aside.  (after all the kids do grow up)

    Don't give someone the glare of doom just because they ask if your prices are firm.  If you can come down a little any make a sale great.  If you can't just say "sorry, but that's the best I can do" and let it go.  Better yet offer a discount if they buy multiple items.

    Don't be afraid to ask someone to please leave your booth.  We've all had them, the belligerent, rude, possibly high or drunk customer.  The one who insists on running down everything in your booth because of price, condition, color, etc.  The one who stands where no one else can enter and deliberately tries to cause a scene.  Just apologize for not being able to help them and ask them to please leave your booth.  If they don't ask a neighbor if they will please get security for you.  Not only will your neighbors thank you for getting rid the irritant, so will the customers who have been trying to avoid them.

    Don't start the sale with too little change.  Someone is bound to hand you a $100.00 bill for an item that costs less than $10.00.  Its a given.  I never left home without at least $100.00 in ones, tens, and fives respectively, and at least 2 $50.00 and $200.00 in twenties.  Usually within the first hour I would have had to break 3 - 4 $100.00 bills.   If admission is being charged, the promoter is usually willing to bust a couple of them for you later on in the day.

    Don't eat a messy meal at your booth.  Yes its okay to drink a bottle of water or juice or soda.  Its also okay to have finger foods, such as cheese sticks, or grapes, or even crackers to munch on.  But burgers, fries, soups, anything that can drip, or is greasy, or can leave stains, should be saved until you can walk away from the booth.  Its kind of embarrassing to be talking with customers with food stains on your clothing, or fingers stained with potato chip residue or grease.

    Don't forget to have a notebook for customers and potential customers to sign up for a mailing list, (you can also ask for email addresses.)  This is a great way to promote yourself. At least once or twice a year you can send your customers a short newsletter type mailer, detailing shows you will be appearing at, offering discount coupons, including discount entrance fee coupons if the promoter supplies them, etc.  And should you decide you want to have a home boutique sale, you have a built in buyers list.

    Don't forget a wants list notebook.  Many people are looking for specific items, and if you have a name and way to contact them, if you find the item you can let them know.  Some of my best sales came from my wanted list.  The best part, there was no waiting around until the next show or sale and many times the customer would end up buying several things along with the one item they had been looking for.

    If your doing a craft show, don't forget an album of the other things you do.  You may not have that specialized $300.00 quilt with you, but if you have a photo of it, detailing the size, length of time to make, etc, you may just get a custom order for one.  And don't forget the sign stating that you do custom orders.  Just let the customer know what type of deposit is required (I always do a 50% non refundable, this usually covers the materials and the time it takes me to acquire the materials), and give a specific type frame when the project will be ready for pick up or shipment (if shipping, include extra for postage and insurance), and get specific details as to size, color, type of materials, etc, in writing.

    If tables and chairs can be rented from the promoter, do it.  Yes it will add to the bottom line expenses, but the space they would have taken up in your vehicle can be used to pack additional merchandise for sale.



    Wishing all who undertake to do the shows out there, the best of luck.  









      

    Wednesday, January 19, 2011

    Ready to Start a Craft Business

    A friend came to me the other day and informed me that she was going to start a craft business with the doll clothes she knits and crochets.  She was gushing about being able to work when she wanted, and going to work in her bath robe.

    So of course the first thing I asked her was "Do you have a business plan?"

    Her answer "Why, I'm not trying to get a loan or anything."

    "How much do you have in savings, will it support you for 18 months?" was my next question.

    I of course got the blank, deer in the headlights stare I always get when someone asks for advice on starting a home based business, whether its in crafts, or selling antiques and collectibles (my other business).  So I thought I'd take a few minutes to list a few questions you need to ask yourself before starting out on the self-employment path.  (these are just the ones I consider to be the most important)

    1.  Do you have a business plan?
    2.  How long can you survive on your savings?
    3.  Have you researched the business you want to start?
    4.  What will you do, or offer that others in the business you are planing on starting don't?
    5.  Have you actually sat down and made a complete list of all your monthly and annual expenses, break  (including that morning donut and cup of coffee, the newspaper you pick up daily, health insurance, food, etc)?
    6.  If your current employer provides health insurance will you be able to keep it, or will you have to buy your own at a higher rate?
    7.  What happens if you are faced with a medical emergency either your own or a loved ones that you must take care of?
    8.  What condition is your current vehicle in, and how long do you think it will continue to get you from point a - b without layouts for major repairs (and did you include oil changes, lube jobs, and tires in your monthly and annual expenses)?
    9.  If you are currently living in a rental home or apartment will your rent remain the same or is it due to increase in the near future?
    10.  If you own your own home how much are the yearly taxes, and monthly mortgage payments? 
    11. Do you foresee any major home repairs such as a furnace, roof, burst pipe etc?


    These questions all need to be answered before you jump feet first into a new full time business of your own.  Work on getting at least 18 months of expenses money into a savings account before quitting your day job.  In the meantime do the necessary research on the business you want to start.  There is no rule that says you cannot start a part-time business while working full time.  Then when your ready to go full time you'll have a bit of a safety net to catch you, and you'll have the confidence and hopefully loyal following ready to help you succeed.

    I am linking a few books that have helped me along the way, as well as a couple I wish I had found before I started.

    Good luck in starting your own craft business.




    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Passing On The Torch

    Or in this case the hook.  A few years ago I taught my then 10 year old niece to crochet.  Just a few of the basic stitches, but enough that she used pony beads and yarn to create bracelets which she then sold or traded for classroom cash to buy things she wanted.  (this was apparently a program started by her teacher.  the kids got play money for attendance, behavior, grades, improvement, etc.  then each month they could cash in the money for small dollar tree type gifts).  About 2 years ago she got into beading.  This for her is "THE CRAFT".  All crafters know what this is, the one craft we cannot stop doing, thinking about, or talking about.  It is our passion.  At the tender age of 16 she is turning out necklaces, pendants, earrings, etc that she is selling to classmates, teachers, family friends, and others.  I am so very proud of her.  When she goes off to college in a couple of years, she'll have a built in way to get that little extra spending money when she wants it.

    Back a little over 2 years ago my brother married a wonderful young woman with two of the sweetest kids.  Now age 10, her daughter has decided that Aunt Sharon needs to teach her to crochet.  My sister set her up with a hand picked kit of yarn, hooks, and other supplies for Christmas.  So far she has mastered the chain stitch and the slip stitch.  Her goal, to learn a new stitch every week and make her Grandmothers some dish cloths and pot holders for Christmas.  Her younger brother in the mean time has decided he needs to learn to knit.  Guess I better get my knitting needles out and brush up on my technique.

    It is a wonderful feeling to know that the gift of crafting that my Grandmother passed down to me is now being passed on to the next generation.  I love being able to pass the torch.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    Welcome 2011

    May you be better than 2010.

    I hope everyone had a good 2010 and that 2011 brings you even better tidings.  Here's to keeping resolutions, ending wars, resounding peace, jobs for those who need them, and generally good feelings all around.  I have decided to make only one resolution this year,  I plan to start and end each day taking a moment to give thanks for the blessings I have been given.  Whether its my health, the reconnection with an old friend, the learning of a new craft, or even completing one of those dreaded works-in-progress that has been hiding for years in the bottom of my closet.  No matter the blessing, whether large or small I am thankful to receive it and recognize it for what it is.

    May all of you all receive and recognize all your blessings in the coming year.