Sunday, May 16, 2010

Craft, Inc.

I am reading Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco. Title is pretty self explanatory.

It's always been that I earned a living doing social activism, social change work and did art and craft on the side as a hobby. However, I always struggled with trying to find a way to make both work. 10 years ago when I was in graduate school, I remember talking about that in an anthropology class.

Now with the rise of Etsy.com and a resurgence in handcraft marketplace, there are lots of people making money from what used to be a hobby. It's something that I want to look into. However I have my reservations. If this is really going to be a business, how much time will I be able to spend on each piece, how much can I price that for in order for it to sell, and how long before I could make a profit and not just cover costs?

At work, one of our programs is helping refugee women start their own businesses. We have workshops on cash flow, marketing, pricing, writing business plans, etc. Many want to sell their handcrafts but it's a struggle. If you're making handwoven totebags, how do you compete with $5 totebags sold in Walmart, made from sweatshop labor in China?

Granted, part of the marketing in knowing who to market to: people who understand or value hand-made items, and not just having the item. Hence the rise of Etsy and resurgence of handcraft fairs.

So what would my business be? I'm thinking handmade prints. They're easy to produce, unlike knitted goods which take forever. They're easy to mail, unlike pottery, which is heavy and take a long time to produce. And they're easy to reproduce. Once I have the linoleum cut, it's a matter of inking up and printing on paper.

Currently, I thinking about a name and website domain name. The one I'm thinking of is not taken and I'm considering registering for them now, just to make sure I have them before someone else takes them. However, I don't know that I really want to use my name (initials, really) for my business.

Plus there's the fact that I have not really done the research to see if this is a viable business idea or just idle dabbling because I want to leave my day job. Not that I would leave my day job until this printmaking business started turning a profit.

So I will finish reading this book, continue with my printmaking class, develop a print-style and a portfolio of linocuts. Afterall, I should probably see if I can do the production part of the business. Then develop a budget and business plan. Preliminarily I think I would sell through Etsy and do the production work on the weekends and maybe a Wed night.

All this while working a day job in a down market, trying to sell a house in a down market and then trying to adopt a kid after the house is sold. And still have time for a husband, who's the most wonderful guy in the world.

Also, just found this page on how to calculate profits on Etsy.

1 comment:

KnitTech said...

Is there a co-op of artists in your area? Women of Steel who are a group of sell their art out of a studio and possibly on line. The point is, it's a shared cost.