Our tips for starting a craft business; Easy Peasy or Lemon Squeezy

So, with no business experience (apart from GCSE Business Studies which feels like ages ago) we decided earlier this year to set up a craft business thinking it would be easy-peasy! The creative side has been easy; designing our sewing kits, choosing pretty fabrics and all the trimmings, and putting them all together. The actual business side… well thats not been so easy!

Here are a few tips we’ve come up with that might help you if you’re at the beginning of your journey into setting up a craft business. You might also like to see our previous post with more tips and resources that we collected online. We’ve rated our personal experience of each point as ‘Easy Peasy ‘ if we had no problems with it; and ‘Lemon Squeezy’ if it took a little bit more thought!

  • When stating a craft business make sure that you enjoy making what you plan on selling and that you are good at it! Sounds obvious but if your business does well like you want it to, then you don’t want to end up dreading making up your orders, and you want people to fall completely in love with your gorgeous creations. Luckily we both love anything which involves playing with pretty fabrics! Our experience: Easy Peasy
  • Decide early on how you want to sell your creations; will you use Etsy or Folksy, use an Ebay shop, set up your own website or sell at craft fairs? We finally settled on opening an Etsy shop but this was after we paid for two months subscription to a website builder site that we just could not get on with; we also thought about selling via a Facebook page but realised this would make payment complicated! Craft fairs are a great way to interact face-to-face with customers and get feedback on your items but you have to pay for a table and with so many people choosing to shop online these days; it really is a cost-effective way to reach a wider audience.  Our experience: Lemon Squeezy
  • Put some thought into your packaging. Again this sounds so obvious, and we did put thought into ours but we hadn’t really researched things thoroughly. We only got as far as ‘must be pretty’ and ‘must be cost effective’. While both of these points are important, we hadn’t looked into what specific packaging we wanted, or where to find the best suppliers. We bought some lovely brown paper bags originally with the intention of our packaging looking a little like this; 

or this:

but then realised they would crumple in the post! Pretty; yes, but practical; no, so that was a waste of our money. We then gave some careful consideration to what size package we needed for the kits and what size package would fit safely                                          through a letter box and decided on some DVD sized brown cardboard boxes that we could decorate with a sticker with details and photos of the finished product on. The obvious choice for postage was a plastic postage bag, all we had to do there was          choose a colour and size! I’m sure there are other places to find suitable suppliers offering wholesale prices but as had taken so long deciding what to use, we opted for the old trusted Ebay. Our experience: Lemon Squeezy.

  • For UK sellers, make sure you register with HMRC as soon as you get started with your business to avoid any fines. You won’t have to pay tax if you don’t make a profit to start with but you still need to fill out a self-assessment form for tax purposes. Follow this link for all the up to date information you need. Our experience: Easy Peasy
  • Carefully consider your pricing strategy. This was a tricky one for us as we didn’t want to over price our kits and put people off, but under pricing can actually have the same effect because customers might associate low price with low quality. When selling handmade items people usually expect to pay a little more as they appreciate the time the seller puts into making it. We looked at a few pricing strategies but finally opted for this simple one:

                Cost Price (labour + price of materials) x 2 = Wholesale

Wholesale x 2 = Retail

Etsy have a useful page here with more details on pricing. Our experience: Easy Peasy

There are probably lots more useful tips we could pass on but these are the ones that are jumping out at me this evening as I was thinking back through our fledgling business’ journey. We are almost ready to launch Home Stitched Home; Saturday 22nd September is when it will all be happening so stay posted here, follow us on Twitter @home_stitched or like us on Facebook for all the up-to-date information. Good luck if you are starting out on a new business venture of your own.

Louise x

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10 top resources for craft businesses

Although this blog has so far mostly been full of pictures of the pretty things in life, we are in the process of setting up our own craft business and thought we would share some of the useful resources we’ve found with you. These tips are obviously great for people setting up a new business but I guess they are also a useful tool for established businesses to act as a reminder or check list of what you should be doing.

1. Craftbusiness Ten tips from Rory Gear, an expert in setting up and running new businesses.

2. Startacraftbusiness Chock chock chock full of useful information specifically aimed at setting up a craft business. We particularly like this page about promoting your business online.

3. Craftscouncil This is a useful FAQ page from the Crafts Council; the “national development agency for contemporary craft”.

4. Craftsforum A forum full of friendly, knowledgeable people answering all sorts of questions about setting up a craft business… they’ve been there and done it themselves.

5. Craftytips Some useful tips and information about using Facebook to boost your craft business.

6. Brightoncraftaganza A personal story of setting up a website for a new craft business.

7. HMRevenue&Customs For the more scary bits; how to register your new craft business for tax and national insurance purposes. It might seem scary but its very important and the site is very easy to use.

8. Etsy If you decide that you want to use Etsy to sell your lovingly handmade items and not have to worry about setting up your own website, this page has the information you need.

9. Craftbusinesstips A fun, useful A-Z of tips for setting up a craft business.

and last but by no means least…

10. Clairescrafts One mum’s inspiring story of setting up her own craft business.

I hope some of these sites will be useful to you, they’ve sure helped us on our journey so far.

In other Home Stitched Home news, we had another little business meeting tonight over a cuppa and played with yet more buttons; I promise that this isn’t all we do! We also made further decisions on our packaging, all I’ll say is hot pink twine… its beautiful!

Thanks for reading

Louise x

Its official… we’ve made a decision!!

So, after a couple of ‘business meetings’; aka drinking tea, playing with fabrics and brown paper bags with a bit of business talk thrown in for good measure; we’ve decided that a dedicated shop website is not for us at the moment. Neither of us have any experience of building a site, nor want to fork out yet for a website designer to do it for us so we’re channeling our inner social-networking goddesses and selling through a Facebook business page. I don’t know why we didn’t think of this in the first place, well I do… we had big dreams, but we’re now being realistic and taking baby steps, building up to our own online shop in time.

So that was tonights decision, well one decision anyway; the other was the packaging we’re going to use and oh my goodness that was a much more exciting decision to make! We played around with our brown paper bags and bits of ribbon and twine, its lovely how such simple, modest items made us so happy; it felt like being a child again!

Talking of feeling like a child, we also emptied out my button tin so we could play with the buttons while we were talking! It reminded us of playing with Mum and Grandma’s button tins when we were younger, and like both of them mine are kept in an old Golden Syrup tin!

Other recent (more boring, but essential) decisions have been to register with HMRC as a Partnership and to decide on a business bank account. They felt like mildly exciting decisions at the time because that really was the ‘proper’ beginnings of Home Stitched Home, and I guess they are important business decisions but they’re not the most thrilling ones to write about or read so i’ll leave them there!

I guess the biggest decision we made tonight, and it was just as Rowenna was leaving my house, was to buy some supplies next week and start making up the kits themselves ready to put them on Facebook. This is hugely exhilarating but we didn’t really celebrate making this decision, we just said our goodbyes as it is getting late, this is why I thought I would quickly pen this post to shout loudly from the online rooftops….

“We are buying lots of pretty fabrics next week and putting together some of our Home Stitched Home Sewing Kits ready to sell, our little business will be up and running and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Im so excited!”

There, that feels better! Hopefully the funny buzzing feeling I’ve got inside will quieten down and let me get some beauty sleep!

Thanks for indulging me

Louise x

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