The reality of the handmade business
It was already December and the week before Christmas. In the bustling stores, people ran around in search of presents. It was amusing to view this chaotic scene watching how often one enters a store and leaves without buying anything.
I asked Anna about her sales. She replied, “Apart from selling some beads and two toys, I haven’t done much. How about you?”
I said my sales weren’t great either.
Our handmade gifts seemed to drift unnoticed by people who weren’t interested in buying them.
I thought, “This is it! This would be the last time I take part in a fair! I won’t go again!” I made the same vow a few months ago after spending a whole day at another fair in another part of town. I barely came close to paying my rent, had a stale sandwich and awful coffee, then went home. It was a terrible day, but it was that market where I met Anna, now braving the cold with me.
Fascinatingly, I asked Anna how long she had to sew one toy. She replied, “About an hour.”
Counting my mind, we’d sat here for five hours so that she could make five toys during that time; but what good would merely sell them even for 50 dollars? And what about production cost counts? I wondered if Anna did feel all these things into consideration.
My freezing feet kept growing colder despite wearing winter boots. After investing five hours outdoors with bitter cold weather set against us, my toes felt numb. I yearned to have time end so I could pack up and leave home soon. I didn’t want to fall sick before Christmas arrived. I pulled my hat down low over my ears.
Suddenly, someone came towards our table and greeted us. He asked about the price of one of Anna’s toys. Anna responded, smiling, “It’s 50 dollars. This is special sleep toy children love. I fashioned it using hypoallergenic materials, which can even be washed in a machine without issues.”
The man seemed pleased and stated, “Great! I will get the one ‘with the stars’ on it. My 1-year-old son will love it!”
Very swiftly, Anna tucked away the chosen toy, including her business card, in a bag. The man handed her the cash. Very excitedly, Anna hoped she might sell more and earn further by covering her rent by the end of the day.
I told Anna, “If only you could sell your toys for 150 dollars instead of 50. You spent so much time and effort making them.”
She denied the seriousness behind my words with a sarcastic answer, “Who would buy those things for that price?”
A silence followed. More people were filling in all parts of the area, and louder voices were getting mixed into the crowd.
– The reality of the handmade business
Challenging illusions and thinking outside the box
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the handmade industry that need to be addressed. You probably expected this article to discuss that homemade products ought to be expensive, rare, and appropriately capture people’s respect for the hard work done by skilled artisans.
However, I will take a more realistic look at the current state of things and accept that clinging to such delusions can make things much worse for creative individuals hindering them from thinking outside conventional boundaries.
In the following section, I will broaden your point of view and debunk some illusions in your mind. Most of my words might make you uncomfortable or leave an aftertaste that isn’t nice. But accepting and acting upon this information will make it possible to achieve real results. So are you ready? Let’s start!
DO NOT ENGAGE IN SELF-DECEPTION
Why do so many people fool themselves? The world of handmade is huge. Just look at Amazon Handmade or go to ETSY. There are thousands of artisans and hundreds of thousands of individual creations. However, I must admit that many of these works don’t deserve the masterpiece title!
Let’s be honest with ourselves and answer a few questions:
If you honestly answered “YES!” to these questions, what are you waiting for? Why has the world yet to recognize a talented individual like you?
If you honestly answered “NO,” it doesn’t mean you should give up and never create again. Even if your products are not exceptional at the moment and nobody is buying them, you still have the potential to become a great craftsman.
What do you need to do?
Improve your skills, one day at a time, consistently and persistently, every single day!
PEOPLE DON’T NEED YOUR WORK!
The truth hurts! People can live quite well without your brilliant products. They shop in malls and make gifts for their families in the same place. On an elementary level, they are not interested in not having ordered something knitted from you, and they smile when they find something just right in the store.
Survey yourself about how much of your retail spending – clothes, jewelry, and so on- was made this year by handmade artisans and from stores. Be active and do the same survey among your friends and relatives.
Write your details here:
– The reality of the handmade business
Once you realize it, you’ll notice no demand for your work. It’s evident from a long distance away! The truth is, people can easily manage without it. They are excellent without relying on your creations, wouldn’t you agree?
And so we take the following thought out of our heads:
EVERYONE WANTS MY PRODUCTS BECAUSE THEY ARE EXCLUSIVE HANDMADE
Your belief is false and keeps you from becoming a better seller and creating a creative brand. You might be tempted to stop reading this article because you believe it will impact you negatively and break your belief that you can become a successful craftsman.
Congratulations, this resistance comes from your brain. You have a choice: either stop reading and dismiss the article or continue reading, follow my recommendations, and start selling your work.
When we acknowledge that our work doesn’t attract interest, to begin with, something interesting happens: responsibility is no longer placed on others.
People aren’t obligated to want or buy things made by you. It’s their right not to like it or to buy it. Even if the customers initially show interest and ask questions about getting your product, they can suddenly disappear without saying anything or explaining where they went.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the frustration of customers vanishing without a trace. But why does this happen?
All because we have subconsciously decided for customers that they must want to buy, but
THE WORLD DOESN’T OWE YOU ANYTHING
Secondly, there can be many reasons for a customer to leave. And in addition, it may be completely unrelated to you!
In craftsmanship, the thought that the world owes you something simply because you are a skilled maker or small business owner in handicraft is fiction.
Craftsmanship is admirable, but people have innumerable options and preferences in today’s online shopping-crazed world, where millions of sellers offering their goods and services are available anytime.
A major reason why businesses are selling well is because they can read their customers correctly and make the required changes.
To grow and succeed in this competitive market, making your products is just the beginning; small businesses need to focus on marketing, branding, customer service, and constantly changing to meet the market’s demands.
Ultimately, success in the handicraft industry is not guaranteed solely by being an artisan but by providing oneself with the art of running a business.
– The reality of the handmade business
THE HOBBY IS A BUSINESS
Again, this statement most likely conflicts with your inner beliefs.
A business is not just a hobby. While creativity, hobbies, and passions can serve as the foundation for a business idea, that idea must be nurtured and developed by involving others, such as customers, partners, colleagues, and employees.
Merely felting in the evenings and attempting to sell your work on Instagram or at ETSY doesn’t constitute a business. It remains a hobby that generates minimal or no income aside from occupying space on shelves or in closets. Is that the fate you envisioned for your works?
Did you create them to collect dust in a corner rather than being proudly displayed in someone’s home or closet? The answer is NO.
There are three fundamental beliefs that you must eliminate from your mindset once and for all to establish your creative brand and reap the desired rewards.
HOW NOT TO THINK
These thoughts can cause the failure of a handmade project.
Let’s replace them with the ones that will motivate you to improve and develop your creativity!
HOW TO THINK
Keep these three thoughts in your head, even if your brain resists them. After a while, you will notice how much energy you’re saving and channeling rather than dumping it into unnecessary thoughts and experiences.
How can I transition from a hobbyist to a successful entrepreneur in the handmade business market?
Transitioning from a hobbyist to a successful business owner in the handmade industry requires careful planning and execution. Here are some steps you can take to achieve your goal:
Define your craft and target market
Determine the specific type of handmade items you want to create and sell. Understand the demand for handmade products within your chosen craft and identify your target customers.
Develop a business plan
Create a comprehensive business plan that outlines your goals, strategies, financial projections, and marketing approach. This plan will serve as a roadmap for your business and help you stay focused.
Research the market
Study the handmade industry, including the types of handmade products and trends, the competition, and the pricing strategies. Look for gaps in the market where your unique perspective or craftsmanship can stand out.
Determine your product or service offering
Decide the range of handmade items you will offer. Consider creating a signature product or exploring different product categories within your craft to cater to diverse customer preferences.
Set competitive prices
Build your brand
Establish a strong brand identity that reflects your craftsmanship and resonates with your target customers. Create a memorable brand name, logo, and website that showcase the uniqueness of your handmade items.
Create an online presence
Leverage the power of e-commerce and online marketplaces to reach a broader audience. Set up an online store or list your products on established platforms where people actively search for and purchase handmade items.
Implement a marketing plan
Develop a marketing strategy to promote your handmade business. Utilize social media platforms, email marketing, content creation, and collaborations with influencers to raise awareness about your products and attract customers.
Attend craft shows and fairs
Participate in local craft shows and fairs to showcase your handcrafted items directly to potential customers. These events provide excellent networking opportunities and allow you to receive immediate feedback on your products.
Focus on customer satisfaction
Deliver exceptional customer service and ensure the quality of your handmade items. Encourage customer feedback and address any issues promptly. Satisfied customers can become repeat buyers and spread positive word-of-mouth about your business.
Continuously improve and innovate
Scale gradually and manage growth
Transitioning from a hobbyist to a successful business owner in the handmade industry requires dedication, passion, and knowing your craft value and your customers well. You can succeed in becoming a successful handmade business with a soundly crafted business plan, effective marketing strategies, and an iron commitment to quality.
Assignment 1. In the table below, write down the beliefs that have settled in your head and that you need to change to begin to develop your creativity.
– The reality of the handmade business