Tag Archive for etsy

How to Sell Craft Patterns

How to Sell Patterns
This week, I met one of my 2012 crafting goals and released my first PDF sewing pattern. Because many of you are interested in writing and selling your sewing, quilting, knitting, crochet, or other craft patterns, I thought I’d share my experiences and some tips I learned along the way!

Write

The first step to making a pattern for sale is to create a unique product. Do your research and make sure that your idea is not already out there in the creative marketplace.

Sarai Mitnick, author of The Colette Sewing Handbook, shared about her pattern-making process.

“We start with some basic ideas about an overall look, combined with requirements about what kinds of patterns we need in the overall collection. Once we have several sketches and ideas, Caitlin and I discuss them and narrow it down to the few we’ll finally release.”

Once you’ve determined that your knitted goatee or infant messenger bag, for example, is a unique design, it’s time to create your prototype. Photograph each step along the way and take notes, so you can go back and write a complete pattern later. You might want to include your photographs of each step, so make sure you take high-quality photos in good lighting. Alternately, you might turn your photographs into digital sketches using a simple graphics program.

When you are finished with your prototype, take some time to consider your process. How many skeins of yarn or rows of beads did you use for each step? Is there an easier way to complete certain steps? Take some time to consider you overall project as well as the final product before sitting down to write you pattern.

Gather all of your notes, and write down your step-by-step process for making the product. Refer to photographs you snapped earlier, and pay special attention to measurements. Don’t forget to include your list of supplies and any techniques you use that others might not find obvious, such as ironing your fabric between steps.

Design

Whether you are creating a digital pattern (PDF download) or a printed pattern, you’ll want to format the text and photos using page layout software, or a desktop publishing program. Some examples are Microsoft Publisher, Adobe InDesign, or Quark. These programs are specially designed to create attractive and easy-to-read publications. Technically, you can make PDFs in Microsoft Word, but you’ll be severely limited as far as layout and working with graphics.

You may also wish to design a cover image for your digital or printed pattern. Make sure to include the name of your pattern, the size of the finished product, and a hiqh-quality photo of your finished item. Save both your cover image and pattern file as a PDF (Portable Document Format), that’s ready to go to your pattern testers. Save your cover image as a JPG file as well, so you can use it in online listings later.

Refine

“Pattern Testers? Why do I need a pattern tester?”

Because you will be sorry if you skip this step. Pattern testing is simply the process of refining a pattern before its release. If you have crafting friends, offer to send them a copy of your pattern in exchange for their advice. Ask your pattern testers to make the quilt top or crocheted teacup following your step-by-step instructions. They should jot down notes when they have questions, or suggest different wording to help clarify your process. Getting this outside opinion from one or more people will be invaluable, even if you have made the item several times on your own!

Incorporate your testers’ suggestions into the pattern file, and save again as a PDF. Print off a copy, and give it several more looks before the release date. Tip: You may need to lighten or darken photos so they look good on screen and when printed.

Price

“What should I charge?”

Patterns come in a whole range of prices, and some are even released for free. For example, digital sewing patterns typically range from $4 to $10, and printed sewing patterns may be a few dollars higher. When considering what to price your pattern, look around at comparable patterns and make sure you’re within that general range. You may have spent 40 hours or longer creating your crocheted wallet pattern, but the buyer is likely going to find many free patterns online and you don’t want them to pass on yours based on the price. Also, think about future patterns you’d like to release and how you might price those. Don’t sell yourself short, but do remember that the buyer will still have to spend money for supplies!

Anna Veach of Urban Stitches sells patterns by other designers in her modern fabric shop. “With digital patterns, I personally think you should price it under what a printed pattern would cost by a couple dollars,” she recommends.

Sell

If you have your own craft blog, that’s a good place to start selling your pattern. You can host a free storefront via Big Cartel or Meylah and link to it from your own blog or Facebook page. Both services offer free and paid versions, depending on how many patterns you decide to sell from your shop. Meylah is unique in that it offers buyers a free digital download of your product, so you don’t have to worry about sending them a PDF after they check out.

Two other popular craft marketplaces are Etsy and Artfire.

  • Etsy charges sellers 20 cents per listing, plus a 3.5% transaction fee, which comes out to 48 cents on an $8 pattern.
  • Artfire is a monthly fee of $12.95, so this would be the better choice if you plan to sell 27 or more patterns per month (at $8 a pattern).
  • These fees do not include PayPal merchant fees, which could be another 53 cents on an $8 sale (2.9% transaction + 30 cents).

In summary, if you sell a pattern for $8 on Etsy and use PayPal to process the funds, plan to receive $6.99. Although they take fees for selling patterns, Etsy and Artfire offer the advantage of built-in traffic and potential customers via their online marketplaces.

  • Pattern Spot is a site where designers can sell their digital sewing patterns, and the designer earns roughly half of the sales.
  • You Can Make This is another site that spans all types of crafting tutorials that may be submitted and sold through the site via a profit-sharing model (author keeps some, website keeps some).
  • Craftsy is an online community that just unveiled a pattern marketplace for all kinds of crafts, including paper crafts and jewelry. They do not charge fees to sell your patterns.

A number of online shops might be willing to sell your digital or printed pattern for a fee of around 50%. You benefit from the exposure to their customers who may find your pattern while browsing for fabric or other craft supplies. The shop owner typically sends the pattern to the customer for you, and sends you a commission on your pattern sales each month.

Printed patterns may be marketed to retail shops, and a new service called Patterns Gone Digital markets pattern cards or covers in local craft shops, which buyers can redeem online with a special code to download the actual pattern.

Polso Pouch Pattern by Studio Kat Designs

Polso Pouch Pattern by Studio Kat Designs

It might be worth trying more than one of these services to see which generates the most business for your patterns!

Summary

If you are meticulous and love the challenge of teaching someone your craft, pattern writing might be the business for you. It also helps to be friendly and personable with your customers, provide prompt delivery for digital and printed orders, and to be willing to market yourself a little bit.

Do you have any tips or questions about making your own patterns? Please share them in the comments!

Related Articles:

Winner: The winner of the Modern Fabric Studio giveaway is lucky #126, Nancy’s Couture!

Etsy Tips: Products, Promotion & the Holiday Rush

Rachel Gillet of Rachel's KnitKnacks Etc.

Photo: Dan Bracaglia

Please welcome Rachel Gillett, owner of the Etsy shop Rachel’s Knit Knacks to Craft Buds! Rachel works in publishing by day and is a knitting queen by night. I had fun chatting with Rachel about her handmade shop, promotion and getting her store ready for the holidays. She’s got some excellent advice about running your handmade business, so you will definitely want to soak it in.

Rachel, many knitters I know take their craft with them everywhere from work, to the movie theater to the car (for working on projects at a red light). What’s your favorite non-traditional place to knit?

Knitting isn’t just your grandma’s craft anymore. Knitters today come from all walks of life, with varied time commitments. So for many modern-day knitters, I feel that the craft is not always something we can allot a set time and place for, but rather we fit it in when and where we can. True, it’s great to make time for one’s self to sit down to a movie and knit away, or to gather with fellow knitters in the local coffee shop. But for so many 9 to 5ers, or 5 to 12ers, or whatever the schedule may be, it’s about stealing those precious moments of peace and using them to create something wonderful.

I like to take advantage of any time I’m in transit to squeeze in a little (or a lot of) knitting. Road trips are the absolute jackpot when it comes to finding some quality knitting time. This summer I took a trip with my boyfriend to Bonnaroo in Manchester, TN, which was about a 14 hour car ride either way. Needless to say, I returned with a bounty of knitted items to boot – as well as a new-found appreciation of hot showers!

Chunky Slouch Hat Slouchy Green Beret Pixie Hood Brown

I see you started your Etsy shop a few years ago. What have you learned about being an Etsy store owner that you wish you would have known when you got started?

I could easily run down a list of things I wish I had known when I got started – skills that would have been great to have up front – but then again, half the fun of owning an Etsy shop is learning new things along the way. If you had asked me three years ago what SEO tactics I planned on using, I would have probably stared blankly for a while and then muttered something about needing to check Wikipedia.

These days, I can confidently say I know the value of acquiring photography and editing skills, using networking to your fullest advantage – word of mouth is still a viable option in this technology-driven age – and using descriptive language to bring alive your product for shoppers. But I feel that all of these skills come with time – unless you are already an expert in these areas – and that’s perfectly ok!

However, there is one little nugget of wisdom I feel is vital for any shop owner to have from the get go. When you are creating something and putting it out there for the world to see, it is absolutely necessary to be proud of what you are creating. When I first had the idea of starting my shop, the concept was met with a lot of doubt. “Do I really expect to make a profit from knitting?” “Do I feel confident enough in my product for people to spend their hard-earned dollars on it?” Even thoughts of, “I hope people don’t think this is juvenile,” slipped in. Still, after I shrugged off some of this doubt and opened Rachel’s Knit Knacks, it was a struggle to keep the faith in the beginning. Only after my first few customers and positive ratings did I truly begin to appreciate what I was doing here, and my only regret now is not having been able to see that sooner. In an age of monopolized mass-consumerism, during months of low sales, you can always take comfort in knowing that what you do and what you create is special, and you should be proud of all your accomplishments.

Bow Headband by Rachel's Knit Knacks

How do you come up with inspiration for new products?

Whenever I come up with a new design concept, it is usually driven by my desire to clothe someone close to me – myself, my friends, my boyfriend, or family members. That is always the starting point for me. I’ve been told that perhaps this is not always in the best interest of my business, since there are so many other markets out there. But for me, inspiration is the key to a great design. Maybe one day I’ll keep a pooch in my purse and have a baby strapped to my back, in which case, you can look forward to all sorts of Shih Tzu sweaters and baby bonnets!

I also like to push the envelope in what can actually be feasibly created through knitting. Essentially, anything that is generally created with traditional fabric can also be knit. Once you realize this, the options are limitless. Sure, silk woven ties are more common place, but there is also something to be said about a retro-inspired, knit necktie. Some people make the mistake of thinking that knitting is reserved for the colder months, but societal conventions are fickle, so here’s hoping knit earrings and hair bows become the next big thing!

What has been the most helpful tool in terms of promoting your Etsy shop?

I have to say, my most faithful client is my best friend, Michelle. She contributes a lot to the brand in that she gives me honest critiques of my beta designs, inspiration for the sort of items she would want, and she is also one of my lovely models. For example, since she currently sports a natural afro, she has a lot of great know-how as to what other women with naturally curly hair look for in accessories. It’s actually because of her that my flower clips came to be! And in return, she sports these clips, bows, and headbands on an almost daily basis. It’s a win-win situation!

Blue Flower Headband

Why do you like to support handmade shops during the holiday season?

I love knitting special gifts for my loved ones during the holiday season. It’s a great way to show that I went out of my way to make something special just for them. In that same vein, shopping handmade shares these ideals. There are so many crafters out there just waiting to create something that suits exactly what you are looking for. Also, using Etsy is just as easy as shopping on Amazon or other online retail venues. Certainly, your wait time to receive your item may be a bit longer, but the benefits of shopping handmade far out-weigh any perceivable down-sides. For one, there’s that extra level of customer service, where shoppers can know that when they reach out with questions or special requests, they are talking to the creative minds behind their purchases.

Are doing anything special to prepare for the holiday shopping rush?

When the holiday shopping rush pops up its head, I go into overtime in an effort to bulk up my inventory. It’s vital to preempt the rush, and oftentimes you can see me knitting winter hats in the summer months. (It’s quite a sight to see someone soaking up some rays and toying with chunky yarn and oversized needles!)

Knit Leaf Earrings

Thanks for the words of wisdom, Rachel! Aren’t these knit leaf earrings adorable? If you like what you see here, why not visit Rachel’s Knit Knacks and add it to your Etsy favorites?

Rachels Knit Knacks logo

For more tips on preparing your Etsy shop or handmade business for the holidays, check out the Etsy Holiday Bootcamp, which brings inspiration, checklists and tips to your inbox.

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Top 12 Resources for Running a Crafty Business

We are excited to have this guest post from Anna Luna of Urban Stitches! You might remember the Q&A we did with Anna back in April about running a craft retail store, online store and teaching classes.

Lucky for us, Anna is here to share with us her 12 favorite online resources for running a handmade business! Take it away, Anna!

Hi there, I’m Anna, the owner of Urban Stitches and today I’m excited to be here to offer you the top ten resources I use on a daily basis for my crafty business.

Tip: I actually run my online shop (and now brick and mortar shop too) in the evenings and on weekends after working a full time job. I find it difficult to remember (or find the time) to go and check 10 different blogs everyday that could have incredible and useful posts. My solution for this is to sign up for the e-mail feed of a blog I enjoy and find useful. That way each time they post to the blog, it comes to my e-mail inbox (which I check several times a day) and I can file it away in a folder for a specific type of tip. Maybe they sent a tip about photographing your product or easy and inexpensive advertising ideas. It’s fast and easy to create topic related folders in your inbox and file the posts away, even if you don’t get to read them right at that moment.

My 6 favorite crafty business blogs and sites

Etsy: This is one of the largest online selling communities and not only do they make it easy to sell your handmade items or supplies, they have great forums set up to help answer your questions.

Everything Etsy: Started by Kim and Tim, a cute couple with a knack for making the slightly overwhelming world of online selling (for small crafty businesses) much more easy to handle. With daily posts to feature Etsy sellers and an amazing list of their own tutorials and resources, this is a great resource to follow. I also love that this couple is so sweet when I e-mail them with a question, I know they have super busy lives, but they usually reply right away. They also offer an amazing deal on adveritising, $30 for 3 months as long as you are linking to an Etsy store. (Other pricing options available) Totally worth signing up for their e-mail feed, then all this great info comes to your e-mail inbox every day!

Meylah is an alternative to Etsy (or another place to show your stuff), their platform integrates a blog with your shop which is a unique feature. While they are growing as an online marketplace for handmade, they also write an amazing blog and have an incredible library of their posts all categorized for your viewing pleasure. This could be one of the best go-to resources out there.

Crafting an MBA is another great resource all in one place especially geared toward crafty businesses (obviously). Megan (the author) has several free eBooks for download and her posts are always helpful and inspiring.

IttyBiz (DISCLAIMER: This chick’s humor is a bit off color, if that offends you, then just skip this link! BUT she knows a lot and she’s successful, so if it doesn’t offend you, take a look) and IndieBizChicks (BONUS You get two for one here in case you didn’t want to visit the first one) Their description of their blog is “For women who’d rather work for themselves, than work for the man.” Isn’t that great? This is another great resource for social media tips and ideas, plus they offer advertising options and some online small biz classes.

Now let me pause here for a moment. I could continue to throw out a list of just crafty business blogs, but I want to offer a few more that I refer to that are related to other facets of owning a business, especially an online business.

Top 12 Crafty Business Resources

My 4 favorite resources for running any kind of business

Copy Blogger is a fantastic resource about, well, how to write great, persuasive copy about your business or product. They post almost every day (another one I’m signed up for e-mails from) and they give wonderful tips about writing. This is usually one of the hardest things people face when they start trying to figure out how to market their stuff. “How do I write about it?” and “How do I write about it so that people will BUY it?” Even if you only skim their posts and file them away, I think you’ll find something will sink in and be useful. They also have a 20 lesson auto-send mini course called Internet Marketing for Smart People which is SUPER helpful as a reference guide about marketing. The best part is, all of this amazing information is FREE!

The Psychotactics blog will give you some insight into, as they put it “Why customers buy (and why they don’t)” Which will help you figure out how to get more people to buy from you! And really, we have to admit that as much as we LOVE to make items every day, if you’re trying to make any sort of return on that work you put into it, you’ll need to sell your goods.

Seth Godin, practically the father of Internet and permission marketing, offers almost daily insight about business and marketing topics. I’ve read a couple of his books and he makes the point that once you’ve gotten a customer’s permission to market to them, especially through e-mail lists that they opt in to, you have made it through a major part of the battle to get their attention in this busy world. This is a guy who was in charge of marketing for Yahoo for awhile, so he knows a little about this topic.

Outright is an amazing accounting website. It integrates with your PayPal account and lets you run reports that PayPal makes super difficult to do (such as searching for sales within your state to track sales tax). It’s very useful for those of us who would rather do other things (i.e. clean the toilets, or maybe sew something) instead of keep track of the books.

And finally, 2 of my favorite business coaches:

There are a couple of business and life coaches who I follow through their blogs and e-mail newsletters. First is Michelle Ward (her company is called the When I Grow Up Coach, great name!) she focuses on helping you make the transition from a stable, safe career that you may not love so much, to a creative, less stable, but you love it like nothing else, kind of career. While most career coaches charge for their services, Michelle offers a lot of great tidbits through her newsletter.

Next, Alyson B. Stanfield from Art Biz Coach who has some amazing online classes about how to market your art (she especially focuses on artists but I find there is a ton of useful information that is helpful to non-artists as well). I recently completed the Blast Off! online course and just reading her daily posts was super inspiring for my business focus.

Well, there you have it folks. Those are actually 12 of the resources I use for information and inspiration with my small business. If you know of any that I left off, please feel free to share them in the comments. I’m sure there are many more that I am not aware of!

I hope you’ll come by and visit me on my Urban Stitches blog and maybe stop by and say “hi” on my Facebook page.

The Creative Process: Q&A with Stoney Creek + Giveaway

When it comes to everyday life, what does it look like to take that jump from crafter to entrepreneur?

I am so happy to share this Q&A with Beth Shepherd, the creative mind behind Stoney Creek Shops! Besides antiquing and mastering shabby chic decor, Beth also dabbles in handmade rustic wood items like her awesome berry baskets, which are fabric-lined and perfect for storing sewing notions, beauty supplies, and more!

Beth, how did you get the idea for Stoney Creek and what kinds of crafts do you do?

The idea for Stoney Creek Mercantile was pretty simple one. We live in Stoney Creek Township (Indiana) and the Mercantiles of yesteryear sold or bartered for a variety of goods. We thought it had a nice ring to it and having the title of a Mercantile allowed us to not be tied down to one particular product or art form. We make handmade sewn goods, handmade rustic wood items, homemade baked goods, catering and we also collect vintage items and architectural salvage to sell.

Shabby Quilt Berry Baskets

Describe what you do to create and promote your work on a typical day.

The process of creating is definitely what I enjoy the most! I have a routine of finding my favorite spot with a cup of coffee and my sketchbook, when it’s time to start brainstorming a new project. Then once I have settled on an idea I usually run it past my husband and my partner (aka Grandma, aka my mom). My mom is a significant player in the process of establishing our business! The actual development of our handmade products happens in our “shop” which is actually a “shed” behind the house. It’s probably a bigger space than what you’re envisioning right now. Our homemade baked goods are made by my husband in an industrial kitchen in a nearby town.

Storage Solutions - Wooden Key Hook

What is the most time-consuming part of running the business?

Promoting is probably what I enjoy the least, but I don’t mind it as much as I thought I was going to. Promoting is actually what I have spent the most time on. You really have to put a lot of energy into promoting, if you don’t have the funds to pay someone to do it for you. So, I have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a blog and a Flickr account. Then  I plan to spend some time looking for any sites that will allow me to list my business for free or at a relatively low cost. I have also paid to advertise on Facebook. Since our main outlet for our goods is an Etsy shop, at least one item is relisted daily on Etsy.

Upcycled vintage berry basket with vintage quilt liner

What are some of the rewarding and challenging aspects of running a crafts business?

The most rewarding aspect of running your own business for me, is being able to have an outlet for my creativity. Then right under creativity is the spectacular feeling of the possibility of this business being a real success someday! We aren’t there yet though. On average it takes 1 year for an Etsy shop to get established and have return customers. The most challenging aspect is balancing my time between work and family, as I have a little one at home with me through the day. I try to make it a priority to put quality time with her before getting work done and in the evenings when the husband is home, and quality time with him is also very important. Being a stay-at-home mom is no joke! Add trying to get a small business off the ground on top of that and you have quite the challenge in front you.

Giveaway!

Beth is hosting a berry basket giveaway on her blog, and you can enter now through Sunday, July 3. Go here to enter!

Giveaway from Kalla’s Creations

Do you love the look of custom embroidered kids clothes and baby gifts, but lack the machinery? We recently met Michaella of Kalla’s Creations, whose Etsy shop is filled with cute custom items for kids!

This is what Michaella had to say about starting her handmade business:

I am so blessed & fortunate to be a very BUSY stay at home mom. My husband is a full-time student. That is why I took up sewing to help with some of our income & to hopefully support my new crafting & sewing addiction.


I had no idea that I would fall in love with it! My mom bought me my first sewing machine just after Christmas last year. I have to admit the only reason why I even tried sewing was out of guilt (I couldn’t just leave the machine up in the closet without at least using it).

I quickly decided I needed an embroidery machine & the rest is history. I’m always looking for some fun new projects to try out. I always enjoy making something for my children & nieces & nephews.

Thanks Michaella! We love your personalized shirts and burp cloths.


Michaella is generously giving one lucky Craft Buds reader an applique shirt of their choice!

Enter to win:

1. Visit Kalla’s Creations on Etsy and tell us the name of your favorite item in her shop.

2. If you follow the Craft Buds blog, leave us another comment for a bonus entry.

Giveaway open in the U.S. and Canada. One winner will be announced on Friday, June 24 at 8pm (EST). Thanks Michaella!

Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 6.8.11

Father’s Day is not far off, and we’ve already combed through some of the best free patterns for dads. But this summer is also filled with bright ideas for repurposing common objects, like a watermelon, old maps or boring curtains. Have fun looking through this week’s Fresh Picks!

Watermelon Shark @ Sun Scholars

Shark Attack! Hats off to this great summer snack idea at Sun Scholars, complete with a Jell-o ocean and Swedish Fish.

Gift Tags @ The Chocolate Room

To and From: These gift tags are made from brightly colored tissue paper, recycled maps, paper punches, a label maker and some creativity. Check out more of Shelley’s work at The Chocolate Room!

Painted Curtains

Painted Curtains: We love this tutorial for painted drapes, a knockoff of a West Elm Design. Check them out at PB&J Stories!

Paint Chips bunting

Upcycled Bunting: Lots of ides for repurposing paint chips at the Naughty Secretary Club, like this pretty bunting made from hues of red.

Made It

Made It: Have you heard of the handmade store Made It? It’s the Etsy of Australia, and The Crafty Mummy tells us how she uses her blog to promote Made It sellers!

Giveaways Roundup
If you haven’t stopped by, make sure you check out the Craft Buds Giveaway Roundup, with more than 40 current giveaways to enter! It’s updated each week, and you are always welcome to link up your craft supplies or handmade giveaways.

Traffic Boost: Creating backlinks to your site

If you sell handmade goods or craft supplies on Etsy, why not list your site on the Everything Etsy Directory? A basic listing is free, and takes just a couple minutes to set up!

Whether you are shopping for children, jewelry, or edibles, it’s easy to browse shops and support handmade with the directory.

Backlinks

Besides the traffic you’ll get from being listed in a major handmade directory, your Etsy shop will benefit from having another quality backlink to your site. (In non-techy terms, this means that another craft-related site is linking to your Etsy shop, which helps move your site one notch closer to the top of search engines.)

Backlinks take time to build, but they are crucial in the promotion of your handmade business. Here are some tips on effective ways to build backlinks to your Etsy shop. (This also applies to handmade bloggers!)

  1. Start a blog about your handmade business, and link back to your shop as well as your other favorite Etsy stores.
  2. Open accounts with one or two social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr or Youtube), and use these sites to link back to new items in your store.
  3. Find some other handmade sellers to partner with and blog, Tweet or Facebook about their shops. Ask them to do the same for you.
  4. Ask if other handmade bloggers will add your Etsy shop to their blogroll (sidebar).
  5. Add your Etsy shop URL to your signature for posting on forums.
  6. List your website in relevant directories.

Intro To Link Building For Etsy Shop SEO from Everything Etsy on Vimeo.

Giveaway Winner!

Out of 59 comments, the winner of the Memory Miser giveaway is lucky #25, Niki. Congratulations Niki!

Start Your Crafts Business: Tips from Crafty Girls Workshop

CGW Anna Luna

Note: All links to Crafty Girls Workshop have been removed from this article as it is no longer in business. 

 

Anna Luna, owner of The Crafty Girls Workshop in San Antonio, Texas, recently shared her insights on running a handmade business. Familiar with both the brick-and-mortar and online retail venues, she’s faced the highs and lows that running a business can provide.

Anna is not just a super-cool business owner and lover of all things crafty, but she’s also recently become a Craft Buds sponsor! We are so excited to have her on board, and we know that you’ll love getting to know her around here. Crafty Girls Workshop

I recently got the chance to talk with Anna and ask her some of those things I’ve been dying to know, like . . .

 

1) How long have you been working with Crafty Girls Workshop and how did it get started?

I’ve had Crafty Girls Workshop online for 2 years and recently opened a brick and mortar shop to teach classes. It started with the love of bright fabrics and easy patterns that I sold online and I realized that I loved teaching and missed that interaction so decided to open the studio in December of 2010.

 

2) What are some of the biggest thrills associated with running a crafty business?

It’s always fun to meet new crafty people and network with people who have the same interests as me. It’s been completely awesome to meet the “celebrities” of the sewing and quilting world such as Amy Butler and Anna Maria Horner. Oh, and I got to see Ty Pennington at the Houston Fall Quilt Market last year, that was quite a thrill. I especially love teaching children to sew. I’ve worked with girls who are 7, 9 and 10, and they have a desire to learn which is just so fun to experience.

Color Wheel Quilt at Crafty Girls Workshop 3) What are the greatest challenges with running CGW, and how do you work to meet them?

Balancing my urge to buy the next greatest new fabrics or notions with the reality that if I buy it I have to figure out how to make it sell and it might not be something people in my market will actually buy. I guess I’m just a shopaholic at heart (and fabric-a-holic).

 

4) Why is it important to you to give back to the community (teaching classes to non-profit groups)?

I believe that sewing and creativity is something that everyone should experience, not just those who have the financial means. I also believe that quilters and sew-ers are some of the most generous people around and we just have a natural inclination to want to give back to those in need.


5) What’s your best advice for readers who are looking to get into selling crafts supplies, running a handmade business or someday teaching classes?

The best advice is just go for it. Even if you start really small with a shop on Etsy or Meylah, both are great places to jump in or even just get your feet wet a little. Plus, be sure to have a blog, Facebook page and Twitter account to be able to network yourself.

And lastly, sign up for my newsletter because I’m planning to have an online class called the Crafty Business Startup that addresses this exact question and will go into TONs of detail about marketing and other business issues. (And if you like my fabric, I send out monthly coupons for newsletter subscribers.)

Sale!

This week only, Anna is offering visitors to her shop 20% off their purchase with the discount code PILLOWCASE.

And because she is so generous, she’s also giving Craft Buds readers 10% off through June 30 with the discount code CRAFTBUDS. What are you waiting for? Check out CGW’s fabric and patterns, and be sure to leave her some nice comments here or at her blog if you learned something from this article.

Finding Inspiration for Your Handmade Business

Hi, I’m June, and I blog at June Bug’s World. When I signed up to do a guest post on “Inspiration” for Craft Buds, it didn’t occur to me that I would have trouble writing the post because of a lack of inspiration. That’s irony for you. But being stumped really helped me to see the biggest issue I face when it comes to finding ideas. There are just so many cool ideas out there it’s hard to distill down to that one project you just have to try.

pinterest

We’ve heard about Pinterest, Etsy treasuries, bookmarking your favorites, “liking” craft pages on Facebook… but have you ever counted up all the sources you’ve marked? It can get overwhelming. There’s not enough time in the day to look at all the creative talent out on the web.

So this is how I (try to) keep it simple. I bookmark pages, “like” things on Etsy, but first and foremost… I use my brain. If I see an image or hear a song or have an idea I will trust that if it is brilliant, it will stay in my brain. If it doesn’t, then it wasn’t a strong enough idea to work out as a real project for me. If it doggs me, keeps me up at night, pops into my head whenever I sit down at the computer, then I know it’s important enough for me to turn into a design.

Etsy treasury

Then I pull the picture into my design folder. Or sketch it out. Or let it fill all my thoughts until it solidifies into a real project. A project that I can pick fabrics for and start cutting. Most of the time I’ve thought about it enough that it comes together just as I hoped. Sometimes it doesn’t, but always it’s something I really enjoy doing and can feel really proud of.

For example, with my Swooping Solids Pillow, I saw this picture on one of my regular blogs (elsie marley):


And I just COULD NOT get it out of my head. I kept going back to that post, over and over, until I decided it would be my next project. It fit all of my prime design criteria: curves and color. The fact that it was all laid out in “blocks” helped too. So I went and picked out some fabrics and started cutting away. I didn’t sketch anything – I kept it all in my head – and I made some modifications along the way. In the end? A design of my own, inspired by art:


And while this project was a little too time consuming for me to use it in my Etsy shop, the basic idea stuck and turned into some very marketable items:


And I think that’s the best way for inspiration to flow – from an image I found all the way into a signature item that I can use to grow my store inventory.

Things that help?

  • Pick your favorite 5-7 craft blogs, and visit them regularly. More than that is too much. Less and it’s feeling like not enough sources.
  • Enter contests. Visit those linkups and browse around. Comment on other people’s posts that you love. But remember that “it’s gotta stick” is what matters.
  • And I try really hard to only work on 1-2 projects at a time. Because for me, completion is what counts.

Blogs I like to visit for inspiration:
Noodlehead
Grosgrain
Stitched in Color
Elsie Marley
The Long Thread
I am Momma Hear Me Roar
Pink Penguin

Contests and Linkys I love
Bloggers Pillow Party
Quilt Story Fabric Tuesday
Sew Modern Monday

What is your favorite way to find inspiration for your handmade business or personal craft?

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