DIY Craft-making as an Entrepreneur
Hong Kong is a concrete jungle as well as a great city of opportunities for many of us. For me, it was an opportunity to start a small business focusing on handmade accessories for babies and kids. I started sewing nursing covers as I couldn’t find a simple one for my firstborn daughter that had a boutiquey feel and yet without the hefty price tag. And hence Eight Little Canaries was born to combine handmade baby accessories with a boutique-y feel at reasonable prices.
That said, with the start up on this small craft business of mine, I have truly enjoyed every moment of designing and sewing these baby items as it for was my own children. And yes, it is possible to make money from your hobbies! So here are some useful tips to start making money on a craft you love, that is if you are eager to start your own small business!
- Research the market and find what is missing in the market. If it’s already available in the market then take notes on the prices, quality, material etc. Remember, you want to stay different than the rest of the crowd. In my case, it was nursing covers and I had a good look around to see what was selling in stores and what was not.
- Find good quality materials for your product and stay different from the mainstream factory delivered products. Use organic materials if possible, as that is trending right now. As the business evolved, I now have started to buy supplies or materials that are organic and pure.
- Stock fabric as the orders come in, do not over order or over stock on supplies and materials. With starting a new craft business, one is easily derailed and gets excited with stocking up on new materials. I’m also guilty of this! But stay on track and don’t over buy on materials as your current material might soon be outdated and might be replaced with a new one as the seasons and trends move along.
- Find a good pattern to make your product or redesign the pattern if necessary. There are a lot of free patterns or patterns for sale online that you can use or redesign. Remember you want to be unique and better than the factory products on the shelf. So bear in mind how to redesign it.
- Practice, practice, practice on making your product perfect. Use scrap material or reuse what’s around the house for materials in order to reduce cost and waste. First time wasn’t a charm for me but 3rd one was a charm when I made my nursing cover for my first born child. Try practicing with the new equipment you have or sewing machine in my case. Jot down notes if necessary on any easier way to make things or better ways to craft/sew your item. Write the notes down on the pattern so you will never forget when you start to make them.
- Price point. Make it worth your time and should cover the cost of materials. Slightly higher than the mass production products but well priced enough that customers are willing to pay that extra for your craftsmanship.
- Register and get your business license. You will look more professional and suppliers and distributors will take you more seriously. Hong Kong has it made easy for entrepreneurs to start up their businesses.
- Packaging. Can be eco-friendly or just simply with a ribbon and your tag with your logo on it. For example my nursing covers now have pouches which are eco-friendly and can be re-used and washed by nursing mother herself.
- Selling your crafted products. There are many ways you can sell your crafted items. Handicraft fairs is one way. I started selling my nursing covers and my other accessories at Handmade Hong Kong events. It could be a long day for a vendor but well worth the effort when people start purchasing your crafts and when you get positive feedback. Even better when you have returning customers! I admit, it is difficult for a crafter like myself not having a physical store. Hence a good way to get the word out there and to start with a customer data base is to be out there at the fairs.
- Networking. Never underestimate who you will meet at events or parties as that’s when you can talk a little about yourself and what you are working on. A great way to meet other business owners, store owners or even potential referral customers.
I hope this short guide on how to starting your own craft business can inspire you to make your own. It has been a bitter sweet journey for a craft business owner like myself as it is a truly unique business itself. My last piece of advice is stay passionate and original in what you love doing. Who knows, you may even quit your day job!