Tips and Tricks to Start your own Small Crafting Business

Undivided attention, thousands of ideas, connections, and an endless supply of materials are just some of the things that people believe you need to start a small business. Want to know what I needed to start my small business years ago? Only Dawn dish soap, coarse salt, mason jars, some ribbon, and a spoon. Now, I have a small coconut oil sugar scrub business and have been asked to sell in a tattoo parlor as well as at my usual craft shows. So, if you are looking to start your own small business (or grow your small business!) here are some tips and tricks! 

  1. 1. Getting Ideas! 

    There are many sites out there to look up ideas for small businesses. If you are looking to start a craft-based business (soaps, scrubs, wooden signs, paintings, knitted hats, etc.), the best place to look is a site by the name of Pinterest. Thousands of ideas and numerous ways to complete the same project can be found here. Other sites like Etsy, CafePress, FaveCrafts, Sewdirect, and AllCrafts are useful for finding patterns and new ideas as well! The best place to see crafts in person, however, is to visit a craft show. Some vendors are willing to talk you through how they make crafts while others are very territorial and won’t tell you a thing. You can even find a craft you like, buy it off the vendor, and take it home to use as a pattern! After you’ve located your idea, your next step is to… 

  2. 2. Try Your Craft Pattern Out! 

    Don’t get discouraged if your first idea doesn’t work. Starting up a craft business is all about trial and error. Sometimes it is easier to play around with different materials (silk VS cotton, plastic VS glass) before you get exactly what you want. Some people paint bottles and insert lights in them for unique décor. A few trial and error examples for this would be what type of lights to insert (LED or Christmas), what sealant to use (if any), and where to insert the lights (top of bottle or create a hole in the back). JoAnn Fabrics, Michael’s, Walmart, Lowe’s, and Hobby Lobby are a few store where you can find an expansive collection of different crafting materials to play around with. Sometimes the trial and error stage can be a while, other times you have your idea, and everything works out right from the start! For me, I found out that Dawn and salt form a thick mass after a while, defeating my purpose. I was looking for a light and fluffy result, so I went seeking other materials. I settled on using coconut oil and sugar for my craft. Your craft business will change as you find new and better materials along the way. Once you have your craft made the way you want to…. 

  3. 3. Determine Selling Price 

    Of course, this is a business you are trying to start, so you are looking to make a profit. You need to consider the time it takes you to make the product as well as the cost for everything that went into the craft. As an example, I broke down the cost of everything for my product down to the cardstock I print the little tags on. The prices for the ribbon, glass jars, coconut oil, essential oils, and sugar were all written down. Then, I figured out how much of everything I needed for one single scrub. A few quick calculations and some addition and the total came to just over $1.50. Then I added in a charge for the time I spent making each jar (completing everything by hand including tying the ribbons, filling each jar, cutting out every tag, writing out tags, and stickering each jar). The total came out to $2.50. I wasn’t looking to charge a ridiculous amount, but I determined that $5 per jar would be a fair asking price for all the time and effort I put into each 4oz. jar. Figuring out a price is a tedious process, but it is worth it in the end. The next step, which I find the most nerve racking is… 

  4. 4. Getting Noticed 

    One way to get yourself out there is through craft shows. Becoming a vendor at a craft show is easy. Most craft shows have a basic form to fill out with your information, a description of your craft, and a question asking if your booth will need electricity (if you make something that needs electricity, not for charging your phone). Make sure you have plenty of crafts to sell at the show. It is better to have a surplus than to run out completely halfway through the day. Since I have a rather inexpensive product, I started out with bringing a few dozen jars with me. Asking the person in charge of the show about foot traffic from prior years makes estimating how much product to bring easier. Holidays make foot traffic easier to predict as well. Mother’s Day and Christmas are major craft show holidays. Everyone is looking for gifts for people like bus drivers, teachers, friends, co-workers, and relatives. Starting out at one of these shows is a great way to get your foot in the door. Make sure your table is eye catching rather than an eye sore. Disorganized clutter turns customers away. Organized clutter (putting different items like hats, gloves, and scarves in separate baskets) draws customers in. If they are looking for a specific item, they don’t have to go through every single product you’ve made. You also want the customer to notice your products from across the room. Getting things up and off the table draw in customers. Jewelry makers use jewelry holders while sign makers use yard stands on top of tables. Baskets, racks, and organizers are the best way to achieve this. For my show, I purchased wooden crates found in the Walmart crafting aisle to stack and display my scrubs. This gets my products into view of passing customers as well as allowing me to have more space to display products. One key to having a successful small business and getting repeat customer is by…. 

  5. 5. Creating Email, Business Cards and a Social Media Presence 

    I’ve been crafting and attending shows for several years. The easiest way to grow your business is by investing in business cards and creating a free email account for your customers to reach you at. I found that Vistaprint is easy to use and offers reasonable prices for 500 cards. I obtained my business cards through a promotion I saw on TV, but these kinds of sites are always offering deals. I made the mistake of not having cards my first few shows and ended up writing my name and number on a piece of notebook paper and handing my information out that way. This is unprofessional and people usually throw the paper out after. Business cards are small and easily fit inside someone’s wallet, ensuring they have it with them when they need it. Information on the card should include your name, an email they can reach you at, a phone number they can contact you through, and any social media accounts you want to be reached through. Make sure to include the products (or services if you do custom requests) on the card as well! Below is a sample of my business card I created for my little business. Then… 

  6. 6. Get You Business Rolling!  

    It might take a little while to get your business up on it’s feet, but don’t let that discourage you. The first step to getting your business rolling is attending a craft show. This establishes your place in the crafting community! Craft shows can be found by searching Facebook for crafter groups or just simply searching for upcoming craft shows in your area. Attend the same shows every year as well as new ones. I attend th infant e same Mother’s Day and Christmas shows yearly. Customers misplace business cards but tend to attend craft shows yearly. This gives those forgetful customers a chance to grab a new card as well as get more products! Make sure your business is constantly expanding where and when it can. This could be through the form of offering new products, making things in different sizes, or even just attending larger craft shows as you expand. For my business, I started out offering my scrubs to only be available in a handful of scents. Now, I offer roughly 18 different scents. This type of expansion allows you to reach and appeal to more people. I now offer the scent of lilac when I originally didn’t. Offering this scent has allowed me to acquire a repeat customer I meet with monthly. She purchases 6 jars from me every time we meet. The main key to starting up your business is to… 

  7. 7. Give Away Samples

    You may be asking yourself, “What kind of crazy person would spend their time working on crafts just to give them away?”. That crazy person would be me. Trust me though, it works. Target people who you believe would benefit from buying your product, such as grabbing the attention of a mother with an infant if you are selling baby blankets and homemade stuffed animals. Giving one of your items away to teachers, co-workers, and friends offers the opportunity for them to see, experience, and talk about your product. This is a great way to expand your network of customers and potential buyers! 

Starting a small crafting business is a fun way to relieve stress socialize and make money. Don’t become discouraged if your business doesn’t immediately take off. Be patient and make sure to never give up on your pursuit. If you have any questions or are seeking some advice starting your business, feel free to email me at the address on the card above! Enjoy your crafting!