Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughts on Creating and Selling

I've said it before that I don't make it a secret to anyone (including my employer) that I want to make a living as a creative. I have given this thoughts of thought and done a little research and planning. My ultimate goal is to have this started by the time I graduate with my art degree. That's set to be spring of 2013, so it may seem like a lot of time, but we all know it isn't.

After evaulating my priorities recently, I found that I really do have spare time during the day to work on creating. Before doing this, I thought I had no free time at all. I'm still not making a dent in my projects and probably never will, lol.

After posting yesterday about the knits I made, they were picked up and she is very pleased. The feeling that came from that made me glow. Yes it was great getting paid to do something I love, but more important, I made someone happy. And already, I have someone asking if I can make an adult-size version of the cabled hat.

All of this is making my dream seem more real to me. I have always been hesitant because lets face it, working for yourself is a risk. However, I already tried to live the way my parents wanted me to, and that didn't work. I wasn't truely happy and ended up getting laid off from my job. That event coupled with the challenge of finding a new job in my field in this economy is what led me back to school. The only work at the time I could find was waiting tables. Not exactly where I want to be the rest of my life. Yes, I did enjoy working in restaurants in the past, but the stress of it is not what I want. During the years I either was in the kitchen or serving, I drank a lot. It's what everyone did anyway and was a good way to blow off steam. I have since stopped drinking completely.

Ok, I got a little off tangent there.

In doing research on selling items, I've read some books on that topic. The part where I am unsure of is how to create a brand. I don't know if I want to sell under my name or create a name. What do I want to focus on? I have a love of all fiber work, so how to I include that in my brand? I am sure I will end up selling on Etsy eventually (I'm considering sometime this winter or spring, eek!), but do I also want to sell at local craft fairs? Do I want to keep stock around my house, or should I make as things are ordered? How about designing? I do enjoy that, but my knowledge of computer programs is pretty basic. What would I need to know to put together a pattern?

The bookkeeping part will be a breeze for me. The first time around in college, I majored in accounting for a couple years before switching to human resources, so I do know a few things about how to keep books. If I have questions, my best friend is currently getting her accounting degree and I know she would help out.

One thing that I have started today is writing down the patterns I've been making up. At some point, I doubt I will be able to recall every detail about them.

In addition to the knits I did recently, I also designed a crocheted mohawk hat last spring. Here it is in all it's glory on my best friend. She saw one and asked if I could make it. There really weren't any free patterns out there for them, so I just started stitching. (I totally stole this from her Facebook, so Jen, if you're reading this, thank you!)

So these are the questions I need to start answering and getting to work on. One thing I for sure have decided on is that anything I sell has to be to the standards of something I would buy or make for myself.

Feel free to weigh in. What kinds of things do you look for when buying a handmade item? Do you buy things that you can make yourself? (My answer for the last questionis that it depends on quality of the item and free time I have.)


Sana Saroti said...

Hi Katie,
looks like you have done a lot of thinking already ;-) I have that exact same dream. I would love to make money with what I create. Since I am not so sure if I will find a job as a geologist once I move to the states or if I even want to work as one my plan B has become to have something like an etsy shop (Secretly Plan B is more and more evolving into Plan A). When I buy handmade stuff I ask myself: "Do I have the knowledge and time to make it? And do I like the seller?" And I really look for quality. Cause if I can make it better then why should I spent that money? Hope our dreams come true!

Pam said...

I'll buy handmade if I don't have the time to make it myself or the skills to do so, BUT, it has to be good quality. If I have the time and skills, I'd generally prefer to make it myself.

There are some things, however, that I have both the time and skills to make, but I don't enjoy making, such as hair clips. These I'll happily pay for handmade ones, rather than shop bought, or my own.

Good on you for having a plan and for writing down your ideas. I think a lot of us are thinking the same questions that you are. I get enormous satisfaction out of selling one of the kids's bags that I make.

Pam said...

oops.. one of the kids' bags..

Katie said...

Hi Katie, I'm so impressed - its like you've hit new years resolution time! I'm not sure if it will help but a friend of mine has spent the last few years doing everything you want to - except from a base in Aus... Generally here you don't really make any money for your time ( or if you do it's at a very low rate) she has found it quite a frustrating experience from that point of view, despite the fact she has gorgeous stuff and had good success at local stalls for ready made and orders. Sadly patterns have an advantage as you only have to write it once to sell it many times, a hat you have to make new each time... She does well from those! Don't get me wrong I still think that there is some money in craft, but like you I'm trying to work out how lol! If I work it out I'll let you know ;)

Lyanna L. said...

I'm so impressed that you've started thinking about your big plan before it comes down to the wire! I graduated college with a degree in marketing and branding is somewhat of my speciality if you will. If you ever have any questions be sure to shoot me an email and I'd love to talk to you about them.


Toni said...

It's great that you are thinking through so much of this before jumping in. Seems like too many people don't plan out their business before taking the plunge, and it is a business! The hat you made your friend is fabulous, and you are so creative and down-to-earth that I have no doubt you will be a success!