how to be successful in small {handmade} business! part four.

Here is part ONE.  And part TWO. And part THREE.

So, the end of part three left me a newlywed, a new mom, in a new town, with no job.  I had stumbled upon a new website called "Etsy".  I don't recall the exact moment but slowly and surely I began to think..."maybe I could make something to sell on there".  I had lots of card making supplies and thought, at the very least, if I could occupy some time and make enough money to buy supplies to fund my hobby, I'd be happy with that.

And one day, Doug came home from work and I recall very clearly telling him "I think I'm going to make some cards and try to sell them on this site called Etsy.  It's like a giant craft fair."

I was also really craving an identity outside of mom.

So, naively, I set about making some cards.  Photographed them (not so greatly) and listed them on May 28, 2007.  I remember being so stoked that they were getting views!  Imagine my shock and awe when ONE SOLD THE SAME DAY!!  This card was my first sale ever on Etsy!
And it kept happening.  I kept having a steady stream of sales.  Over time I added things like tags...then photo prints...then packs of cards...then little altered art note cards...then barrettes...then a knitted scarf here and there.

It just kind of kept flowing.  I was blessed from the very beginning with awesome and lovely customers.  People who became friends over time.

The items in my shop were a natural progression of my interests in crafting.  I'd add things as the craft struck my Christmas ornaments and paper boxes.  My crafty ADD had a positive outlet.  And I loved it!  I worked a lot when I watched TV at night.  My husband worked nights at the time so I had a lot of hours on my hands.         
About six or seven months in I added these cute button bouquets and made those pretty regularly for a while.  It's kind of hard to describe my method because I didn't really have one.  I just made what made me happy, what I enjoyed doing, and people liked it.  I've had regular customers since day one.

There have been some consistencies over time.  Some innate small business concepts that just came naturally to me without thinking about them.  Here are a few:

1) Only create what I love to create.  Don't try to force a trend on myself for the sake of making money.  Passion goes a long way towards success and nothing kills passion more than trying to be like other people.  Passion is also a nice flow to follow and it feeds itself!

2)  Only make things I would buy myself.  I've only ever sold things I am proud of and came out really well.  I'll only ship things that I would be proud to hand deliver to you if I could!  I will never and have never sold anything that I would be embarrassed of giving as a gift!  High quality is important to me! 

3)  Only sell at prices I would spend.  I know there is a lot that goes into what an artist puts into a price but honestly, I know there are a lot of unrealistic prices out there.  I've been an insider for long enough to know a good price to product price, even if I can't afford it.  The same goes for underselling.  You are doing no one any favors if you don't pay yourself what you deserve.  For every over priced shop out there, there are two selling for way less than they should!

In other words, I made what I liked, I worked hard and I enjoyed myself!  In the beginning I almost never looked at numbers or price shopped for supplies or anything like that.  If I could make enough to buy a pack of diapers in a month, well that just made me happy!

So basically, my first year of business was all cards and paper products.  Towards the end of my first year I started adding hand sewn items but using a sewing machine to make a living was still not even on my radar quite yet.

Stay tuned for part five...I'll show you my first sewing machine sewn item that I sold!  

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