Back when I was running Sara’s Texture Crafts, I would encounter the odd fellow crafter who marvelled at the idea of owning their own business.
They’d say, ‘Oh I wish I had my own craft business. I can imagine it’s SO much fun!’
‘What would you sell?’ I ask.
‘Oh I don’t know… I just want to be creative! It seems like such a lovely way to earn a living. What sort of business would you recommend?’
There it is… the impossible question. The question to which my answer might shatter their daydream, rendering me cruel!
I’ve always wanted to inspire those who ask me this question though, but with a sense of realism. So I casually give them some ideas and tell them about how it is to run your own business. Some don’t mind the education and some sadly do... But here’s the truth, owning a creative business is not what it looks like on the surface. It is not all cups of tea with friends while you potter around making something here and there, posting lovely pictures to Instagram all the while. Sadly that isn’t the case.
A craft business is a BUSINESS and it’s bloody hard work!
What’s worse for the more reluctant day dreamers is the realisation that business allows very little time to actually be creative. In fact I would say that if I looked at my average working month, I had about 5-10% creative time for new designs, 40% went to production time (production isn’t creative time necessarily, especially if you are making the same thing 100 times! Instead I see that as manual labour) and 50-55% of my time went to everything else, which includes; marketing, admin, customer care, accounting, etc.
I see their faces drop… I have taken away most of what they envisaged my job actually is!
When you run your own business you also need dedication, focus and the ‘want’ to learn how to make your business work. For this you need some staying power, because like owning any other type of business, being a craft business entrepreneur is like an emotional roller coaster and there will be arduous ups and downs.
Having said this, IF you know you can give your craft business your all, despite the lack of creative time and you can see it being everything you want from working for yourself, then it can be the most amazing thing you will ever do!
I wouldn’t change a minute of the 11 years I ran my own craft business.
I loved it!
So if you are asking me, ‘Should I start my own Craft Business? Then first of all I’m asking you to ask yourself this…
Is owning a Craft Business RIGHT for me?
I’ve created a fun little quiz to help you make up your mind…
How did you get on?
Still with me?
Great! So it looks like you are really interested in this!!
Let’s see what’s next…
Coming up with your Craft Business idea
Now that we understand this is going to take some grit and determination, we can decide what our idea is. This is the difficult part for me to guide you on, because I probably haven’t met you in person, let alone been privy to your crafting passions. So instead I’m going to ask you to make 3 decisions and these will tell us a little bit more about what might work for you.
Before we get there, let me guide you on what the principle behind the following decisions I’m asking you to make is.
OK. First things first - YOU are the epicentre of your new business and YOU will ultimately be the driving force. So you need to feel happy and confident in your business choice and pick something that you can enjoy not only on day 1, but on day 1001 too!
The principle of a good craft business choice is this;
Passion + Knowledge + Commitment = Your Craft Business Idea
Based on this I want you to make these decisions;
Decision 1. What is your Passion?
What sort of craft are you most passionate about?
Are you a card maker, or a jewellery-smith?
If the answer is for example, clothes making for children, then ask yourself if you think you have enough passion to make more than 100 of any one design? Or if you will enjoy customising designs for each child?
If you are a cartoonist and would like to make prints and greeting cards… do you have the passion to design fresh illustrations once a month, or once a quarter to launch a new collection?
Do you see what I’m getting at here? You need to enjoy a craft enough that it won’t kill your passion for it if you turned it into a business? The last thing you want is to tire of what you are making daily.
Decision 2. What is your Knowledge base?
I always recommend that you know something about the craft you want to start a business around. Specialising your knowledge base can be learned on the way, but there needs to be a good level of understanding your product from day one. This is because your customers will have lots of questions for you, not just on specific products, but on how best to use them and general craft project questions.
You should always be on hand to inform and inspire.
When I started Sara’s Texture Crafts I came from a fashion and textile background, so starting with haberdashery craft products was a good fit for me. When I became more specialist and moved into the wool textile market I needed to upskill my knowledge base, so I learnt how to felt, spin and weave. I also revisited knitting after a long break and learnt some very basic crochet. This stood me in excellent stead to not only sell my new products to my customers, but to inspire them with project ideas and new products they hadn’t yet used. The added advantage for me in specialising in the way I did was that I came from a level of textile understanding, so moving into wool was not a giant leap to me. If I have suddenly started making and selling beauty products instead you can see how much I might have struggled.
Decision 3. What is your Commitment?
This quite honestly is about how much time and dedication you can give your business. So consider working hours and consider how that fits into your life currently.
Knowing your commitment will be instrumental in breathing life into your daydream of a business idea.
Remember that no one is expecting your business to be full time from day one, so be fair to yourself and commit to only what you can handle. Your customers will want to know what your working hours are, even if that’s just 1 hour after work each day. Later on, when things change you can revisit this.
Do you have your decisions?
This is the basis of your idea.
So right about now you have probably realised that you have THE idea you have been waiting for.