Little Faces here, from Cleveland. I`ve been at my homebased business for almost
three years now, diligently making...little faces! It`s "niche" jewelry to be sure. Fun,
inspired by my love of `50`s robots and designed for adults to wear. I`m an artist first,
which means that I still have everything to learn about running a business and getting
my brand out there. I`ve done some craft shows (mostly local) and am learning more
each year about good shows/bad shows. So far, shows have been a crazy amount
of work for very little return. I want to develop an e-commerce site, and have been
wondering if etsy.com would be worthwhile for me to venture into. Then there is the
wholesale/trade show/ rep route to consider. It`s only me making my jewelry. I sure would like to turn a profit without turning my studio into a night and day sweatshop, though hard work is fine with me. Any words of wisdom or guidance out there? I love the idea of homebased business, but sometimes I feel as though I`m operating in
a total vacuum, and following my own advice too much leads me to an unproductive dead end!
Regarding learning more about business, you might consider taking a look at a local community college and auditing some business courses. You wouldn`t get a grade, but you`d pay the money and sit in with the class as if you were getting a grade.
One of the hardest types of businesses to start and build is one that involves art. It might be sculpture, music, painting, crafting, writing, drawing---all of it comes under the heading of Art.
The problem is how to value the product. Given the amount of time involved, the artist believes they`ve put their heart and soul into the work. They`ve spent many hours and lovingly crafted something.
But the people looking at the final result have no idea how much time is involved, how much work, or the creative effort necessary. Nor do they care how much time it took. All they know is they see "a thing" and feel whether or not they like it.
Additionally, most people will look at something and make an instant judgment as to how long it would take them to make it, or how easy it "looks" to create."
So the key problem is learning to make some sort of relationship between how much time and work you do, versus how much you`ll be able to sell your final product for.
There isn`t any business model, really. Nor is there any formula. All you can do is market research. You`re doing that, with the many craft shows you attend. You`ll have to be brutally honest with yourself. How many people are buying what sorts of things?
Are the things you`re selling taking hours and hours to make? If so, are you selling them for tens of dollars, or thousands of dollars?
If you`re selling items for under $50, then you have to decide: Is it worth it? If not, then you`ll have to come up with a different product. It`s not an easy process at all, and unfortunately, there`s not a whole lot of similar things you can look at for comparison.
Thanks, Craig for taking the time to post a really insightful reply. You`re right on all
counts...lots of food for thought.
Just remember that with all that food, you should also drink tea! :-D (Makin` a note of Oolong, another new member to the community.)