Thursday, March 31, 2016

Late Night Thoughts

I have something big on my mind: I am pondering the idea of opening an Etsy shop to sell handmade items.  Makers like me often get told by well-meaning people that we should sell the stuff we create.  I take it as a compliment but rarely consider it seriously.  There's just too much other stuff to do, the end goal of our making is not to earn money (the rewards are many and rarely financial), and it's overwhelming to think about finding the time to have a handmade business.  

Here's why I am considering selling handmade items:
  • I am interested in earning some money to help pay for the expenses of my pricey hobby.
    • I've really been trying to scale back my fabric purchases and work from stash but I still have to buy thread, batting, etc.   
    • I am a stay at home mom of three kids, ages six and under.  There are not a lot of money making opportunities in my world right now.  A lot of moms sell things like (e.g. Mary Kay) but I am not a saleswoman.  Another friend nannies another child full-time; my hands are full enough with my own children right now.  
    • I realize I'm definitely talking about a first world problem here- I don't mean to whine.  
  • I would love to be able to put some money aside to pay for my biggest dream: owning a computerized Gammill longarm (I've literally had two recent dreams where I owned one and I was sad to wake up to realize it wasn't true).  
  • I really like making small items right now: bags, zip pouches, kitchen items.  When I give them as gifts, they are usually appreciated- but all too often, some recipients just don't care.  
  • Participating in swaps is a good reason to make smaller items but I received absolutely nothing handmade in my last swap and it was such a negative experience.  I don't see myself participating in any swaps again any time soon.

(I recently made another 241 tote and donated it as a door prize for my an upcoming MOPS event).

I have to admit that opening up a handmade shop makes me feel a little fearful.  I am afraid no one will buy what I make.  I am timid to set prices that will make this a worthwhile endeavor.  I am worried that time given to a business would erase any hope of doing my own personal projects.  I don't want to turn my fun hobby/passion into drudgery by turning it into a business.  For the most part, I've been very content to be a simple hobbyist when it comes to sewing.  

(I've been having too much fun with the linens aisle at TJ Maxx.  These towels destined to be re-purposed!) 

A personal note about a past life decision based on fear and feeling inadequate: One of the biggest regrets I have about my young adult life is that I chose an undergraduate major based on my belief that I should choose the easiest path to achieve the highest grades.  I was worried about having the best resume for graduate school.  I wish that I had had more confidence in myself to work at something more challenging.

Am I really the kind of person that shrinks back from a difficult task?  I could talk about other instances in my past when I've accomplished challenging things.  I don't want to shy away from this handmade business idea just because it would be "hard."  

 (I am obsessed with this newer Riley Blake fabric line: Vintage Kitchen but the only store that carries the whole range is fabric.com and I hate them!)

So what do you think?  Is it worth it to sell handmade items?  Do you know of other makers who've had success with this?  How do you afford the supplies for your sewing?

(Lately I've become obsessed with stationary.  A local Hallmark store just went out of business and I went a little crazy.)

I'm going to contemplate this handmade business idea for a little while longer.  I want to finish up some WIPs and do a project I've been gearing up for: organizing my patterns that are scattered throughout my sewing room.  There are lots of book resources on the subject of handmade businesses and maybe I will give some of them a try in the meantime.  I'll keep you updated!

4 comments:

Rie said...

ohmygosh... did you just step into my brain& pull all of my thoughts out?
-- this is me. totally.
I loved swaps because it gave me a chance to make something for someone ...until someone fails to follow thru on their end of the deal and you are left hanging, nothing in return for all of your hardwork & feel like crying. That's me. All the freakin time.
I love to make but when I gift the stuff, my making is underappreciated & they'd probably prefer a box of chocolates.
I recently dipped my toe into selling. I set up a store on my blog via ecwid, so my current readers would buy stuff, so then I'm not selling stuff to strangers (in theory) ...but saying that, I haven't sold anything yet but I haven't really put much of an effort into it either.

So whatever path you take, I'll here on the otherside of the laptop screen, holding your hand!

Janis Doucette said...

I recently took a bunch of stuff down from Etsy because it wasn't selling. It's discouraging but but I'm not ready to give up. I'll put newer but fewer things up again but I do think you have to strongly market your shop or it's doomed because there's so much there competing with you. One sure bet is that you won't sell anything if you don't try! Joining hands!

Jen and Joe. said...

Side note about fabric.com------I started buying their stuff via their Amazon storefront. I've had them refund shipping charges when my orders were delayed, and I've had *much* better customer service, since they're answerable to Amazon (and seller ratings!), as well.

Re: the etsy shop------From the outside looking in, I see you as someone who does everything so well, so I have no doubt that you'd find success in this, as well! =) That said, for my friends who operate etsy shops, they've all said at some point or other that they only post things for sale when it doesn't stress them out. That's their gauge. (I don't know enough about the nuts and bolts of etsy success to really offer an informed opinion----but I think you're awesome, and I think it's great that you're pushing beyond your comfort zone in considering this!)

Sarah Fredette said...

I think that as long as you are enjoying what you're making, it's completely worthwhile. I've purchased other bags from etsy for gifts and such, and they're not made nearly as well as the ones you've made me. :) With sewing time being limited, maybe the best thing would be to make smallerish bags, and enjoy the process, and once you have a few ready, then considering setting up an Etsy shop. Hopefully, this makes sense... :D