Make This: Book takes business of handcrafting to next level
by Deirdre Long
Oct 06, 2013 | 4399 views |  0 comments | 46 46 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I haven’t been writing much about sewing and crafting lately, and there’s good reason. This year I was invited to sell some of my crafts at the Anniston Museum of Natural History’s Winter Market, which will be held Nov. 8-9, so I’ve been spending just about every spare minute — and believe me, there aren’t many — stocking up my inventory. Well, every spare minute I’m not working, playing with kids and catching up on season 3 of “The Walking Dead” on Netflix.

The Winter Market is an annual event for the museum that showcases handcrafted goods from artisans across the state — and some outside the state, too.

This will be my first time ever setting up a vendor booth to sell my goods — I have just been sticking to my online Etsy store — so I’ll admit, I’m a little nervous.

Luckily, I have some good resources from which to learn. A few years back I wrote about a book called “The Handmade Marketplace” by Kari Chapin. It’s a great how-to guide on selling handcrafted goods that covers everything from setting up a legitimate business and branding to marketing and advertising to selling — in fairs and markets, online and in brick-and-mortar stores. And while this book has enough information to easily help me get through the Winter Market, Chapin’s second book can help me get to the next level. In “Grow Your Handmade Business: How to Envision, Develop and Sustain a Successful Creative Business,” Chapin focuses on, well, the business end of things. As the author points out in the introduction, this book is meant to be read kind of like a textbook — there will be some note-taking and some homework exercises. The exercises are designed to help you discover which direction you would like your business to take. They include filling in the blanks on statements such as “My strongest creative skill is ….” or “My most popular product is…,” which help define the core of your business.

Like “The Handmade Marketplace,” this book is divided into sections. In the first section, “Mapping Your Dream,” Chapin helps you plan the direction(s) your business will take, decide whether you have a business or a hobby (which is a distinction the IRS cares about, even if you don’t) and write a mission statement. It also offers some tips on balancing work and family. There are chapters on setting and accomplishing goals and deciding if and when you should hire help.

The second part of the book is dedicated to “Planning for Success.” Here Chapin outlines different types of business models, the pros and cons of working from home or renting/owning a storefront and tips on time management — watching mini-marathons of “The Walking Dead” wasn’t included, it turns out.

Chapin seems to be an expert on planning. There are two chapters on writing a business plan, which is a necessity if you want to secure a business loan, a chapter on making a marketing plan and another on having a production plan. She teaches about budgeting, profit and loss and she outlines different ways to obtain money to start your business, from loans to grants to asking family and friends (don’t do it!) to using a personal credit card (don’t do that either!).

Chapin ties it all together at the end with tips on payroll and paying taxes, choosing insurance (liability and health) and when to get help from other professionals — lawyers, accountants, graphic designers and the like.

“Grow Your Handmade Business” is available for $16.95 from Storey Publishing, or it can be ordered online or locally from Books-A-Million.

Features Editor Deirdre Long: 256-294-4152. On Twitter @star_features.

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