For those whose true passion is crafting, turning ideas into a profitable business can seem like a daunting task – but it can be done.
Many who have combined great marketing and a solid final product have found ways to sell their crafty projects to the masses. If they can do it, you can too.
Jane Button has enjoyed much success from her creative ventures. She has started and operated many businesses, selling handmade products from sweaters to Christmas stockings. Button now operates a successful consulting business, which helps startup entrepreneurs expand their reach in the marketplace.
Now a 25-year veteran, Button’s first foray into world of small business started with a small line of knit hats. With a bit of hard work, she was able to get a meeting with retail giant Nordstrom. They asked if she could make sweaters to go along with the hats – which she did – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Button, better known to her clients as the Product Mentor, suggests first doing some homework:
“People need to have a clear vision of what their product is and what market they’re going to be in,” says Button. Once you identify your potential customers, you can begin to figure out which stores will be interested in buying and carrying your products.
You have to know your product and know your market, she says. Having a great idea or product is half the battle, but oftentimes that’s where people get stuck.
“The purpose isn’t just to have a hobby, it’s to actually make a profit,” says Button.
She also suggests burgeoning MOMeo craft-preneurs “go shopping.” Find similar products in the marketplace and compare prices; just as a real estate agent might do in neighborhoods they sell homes in.
You should do this shopping in person, locally and also online, says Button. After product research is completed, it’s time to start sourcing raw materials.
“Make sure you have a business license so that you can buy materials wholesale at a better rate,” says Button.
“Also, take advantage of seasonal sales and things like that, so you can then figure out your costs of goods per product – then you can come up with a price down the road.”
Next comes pricing out products.
“Consider the cost of your own labor and time when creating prices for your products,” says Button, “(and) pay yourself what you would be paying on the open market.”
Button, who still has a knitting business that manufactures Christmas stockings, advises crafters to be in the know – about everything.
“I know exactly how much yarn is in that Christmas stocking, because I’ve weighed it,” she says.
“I know exactly how much I’ve used; I know what I paid for it to get there. I know how much the label costs. I know how much the thread costs. I know every component part. These are the things I think people tend to skip over.”
An Excel spreadsheet can be a useful tool to help track all of these different numbers.
After all this prep work is done, don’t be afraid to approach stores, big or small, who might benefit from carrying the products.
Now is also the time to establish a web presence. This helps give a look and style to your brand, and also acts as a forum from which to sell.
To begin, Button recommends using websites like etsy.com and artbuyer.com to sell items, but also strongly suggests to MOMeos that developing their own unique website is crucial:
“You need to develop a full-fledged marketing plan which includes your own website.”
“This could certainly be a blog, because you can add a shopping cart and sell things. I usually (advise) people who haven’t started anything to do a WordPress blog and make it into an e-commerce site,” says Button.
Button has witnessed her fair share of success stories, but one that stands out for her is a husband and wife team whose small business of tools and sewn merchandise brought in seven figures last year. Button helped guide the couple to make a few time and money saving changes:
“They were doing everything themselves, so we developed better systems for them.”
“They were spending about three to four hours a day printing shipping labels, so we ended up outsourcing it. All those sorts of things take time – and time is money.”
When a home business starts to flourish, it’s a good idea to assess where help is needed.
“People shouldn’t be doing everything themselves,” says Button, “I’m a firm believer in outsourcing.”
Starting a business isn’t easy – but those who have the skill can be as successful as they want to be.
Are you a “craftpreneur?” Do you have any additional tips for MOMeos? Did you find this article helpful? Log in and comment below!