The definition of my name is ‘industrious’. Whether this was inbuilt or learned behavior (my mother sold craft kits to local art stores and taught private classes at our home), I started thinking of ways to earn some pocket money from my creativeness as a child – crafting away at home then knocking on my neighbors doors to offer my wares to the world!
These days, I still enjoy making things by hand to supplement the family income, and along the way I have met many an industrious mama doing the same – women who want to stay at home with their kids yet still have an outlet and a way to earn some extra cash (hopefully more than enough to buy a packet of bubblegum as was my goal back in the day!!).
Thanks to a wonderful website www.etsy.com, creating and selling handmade goods has become simpler and more successful than ever. Etsy is a worldwide marketplace for all things handcrafted and is a wonderful resource for anyone wanting to buy, support and sell from other likeminded people.
Etsy is free and simple to start up – easy to read instructions walk you through step by step setting up your own ‘shop’ – giving you options when it comes to payment, shipping, design, information to your customers etc. It costs just 20 cents to list an item for sale - when your item sells you will receive notification via email from etsy, and the item will be moved from your ‘for sale’ listings in your shop to ‘sold items’. Etsy keeps 3.5% of the sale price, so bear this in mind when choosing a price for your items. Once you have received payment for that item (through paypal, credit card, check – whatever you have chosen) you ship to the customer!
A few years ago I decided to ‘funk up’ my digital camera strap (mainly as a deterrent for my husbands use – pink is apparently not so ‘him’) by embellishing it with ribbon. After many, many compliments and queries as to where I found such an item I decided to start making and selling different designs. I first began taking them with me to scrapbook classes I taught, and selling to women there.
Once I realized how popular they were, I took a deep breath and opened my etsy store! (www.emfalconbridge.etsy.com)
It took a little bit of time in the beginning to set it up – photographing the different designs I had on offer and coming up with the details for shipping, item description etc, but once the initial work was done its a breeze to restock the shop with new items! I really love being able to sew and create alongside my daughter (who likes to be involved in the process, snipping thread for me and unwrapping camera straps!) – spending time with her as well as being able to make a little bit of extra cash…thus allowing me to buy other beautiful handcrafted goods from fellow etsy sellers!
If the thought of starting your ‘own business’ is daunting, think again – it can be as low key or involved as YOU choose, and completely flexible as to your schedule. Be original, think of your strengths and talents, and come up with some items that you yourself love and would be proud to buy as well as sell!
I asked three other mamas to give me some insight into how they got interested in making things by hand, and how they have been able to turn their talents into a business from home via etsy.com and what advice they might have for others hoping to do the same:
Kelly McCaleb is a mother to Cate, 3 years and creative genius behind
kellymccaleb.etsy.com. She uses her crafting and sewing skills, and keen eye for funky finds to create unique clothing, quilts, kits and more for her happy customers.
“Learning how to make money from home has been one of the greatest blessings of my life. I have always loved to learn new skills and have to be busy making and doing. When it came time to be a stay at home mom, I thought I could use those skills to help the family income. For years it was very hard work finding outlets to sell the things I loved to make, for the price I felt they were worth. In retail boutiques I’d have to sell for a lower price to allow for mark-up, but to set up shop on my own would have been an enormous endeavor, when really I just wanted to supplement our income and life, not start a whole new career, and eBay, well, eBay is just over crowded.
Enter etsy.com. Oh how I love that website!! It has drawn buyers who appreciate the handmade and artists who are truly talented and stylish. Because I am selling direct, with almost no overhead costs, my customers get a great deal and I get a price I’m happy with: we both win!!
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It sounds like an ideal gig—and it is. But the truth is that I have been working towards this forever! I have been sewing and designing for as long as I can remember. A lot of women ask me how they can do what I’m doing, and my best advice is don’t imitate! Think of YOUR strengths, what YOU love to make, what YOU have been doing all your life and then look for a way to market it. From photography (selling fine art prints) to supplies, to jewelry, to yarn crafts- be original and be you. Do your research; see what are the latest trends in design, what shops are doing that are popular and then market yourself! It’s not for everyone, but for those who love to create, and have something unique to offer, selling your goods on etsy can be one of the most fun, satisfying, and happy endeavors of your life!!”
Morgan Moore is a lover of all things pretty and crafty, and is pretty crafty herself! She dabbles in all types of creations and recently took a beginners sewing course to boost her skills. She can whip up anything from a painting to a pincushion, and her wares can be found in ‘The Polka Dot Parlor’ (Morganmoore.etsy.com). She is mama to Henry, aged 2.
“I'd say my 'crafting' started at a fairly young age. Both my parents are very artsy so we had a lot of creative outlets growing up. Everything from having a dark room set up in our upstairs bathroom so we could develop our photos, paints & crayons readily available and my Mom always behind the sewing machine encouraging us to give it a try. I started my Etsy shop last winter about 6 months after starting my blog. When I started my blog, I immediately found a lot of other wonderful craft blogs, many of which had their own etsy shops.
I was so intrigued by the thought of handmaking something to sell and loved that Etsy had set up this community for people to do so. I started out purchasing things from etsy and shortly thereafter set up The Polka Dot Parlour. I feel strongly in buying things that are handmade and even more strongly about supporting other artists. My own little shop consists of a wide range of items that I have created and it's so thrilling to have someone purchase something that you've put your heart & soul into. My only advice about starting your own shop, is to stay true to who you are and what you love because whether it sells or not, it's something that you've created, something that is completely you and that is quite a thrill.”
Aimee Grimmel is the owner of Slings and Sacks www.slingsandsacks.com and www.slingsandsacks.etsy.com, and mother to Aiden, 18 months. Browse her sites for all kinds of wonderful and natural mama and baby products.
“Returning to work was something I fully intended to do. However, after my son was born, I realized that I could not leave him in a daycare for the majority of our time together. Calculating my cost to work topped off my decision. After paying for daycare, insurance, gas and maintenance on a second vehicle, work clothing and lunches, I would have been making less than $2 an hour! Becoming a work at home mom was an easy decision when I found that making accessories for my son, friends and family could be more than a hobby. Starting slowly, I made ring slings for bid on eBay. I quickly found that all the fees involved in a sale were eating up my profits. After much trial and error, and creation of many new products, I have finally found some methods for making a profit while selling online.
Ready to sell outside of Etsy, or want to sell more than just your handmade products? Site hosting can be found relatively cheap. WAHM Shoppes ( www.wahmshoppes.com ) “was created to offer mothers in business an affordable eCommerce solution”. For $7 each month, you can build a site using their eStore, and host your domain. No html knowledge is required to start.
Want to add more products to your site but low on start up fund? Adding additional products will give your customers more to look at, and hopefully purchase. Wholesale orders can be daunting, with large minimums and a need for storage. Drop shipping is a great alternative. You set up an account with a manufacturer or distributor to offer their product in your store, but only pay when products sell. When a customer places an order, you email or call the manufacturer /distributor with the order info and customer’s shipping address. After you pay them, they ship the products directly to your customer. Shipping will be on you each time, so be sure to reflect your costs in your shipping options. Your profit margin will be lower than with wholesale accounts, but it’s a great starting point.
Don’t expect customers to immediately flood your new site. Marketing is as important as product creation and site building, if not more. Add your website to link directories, swap links with other sites, include your web address in email and forum signatures, hand out flyers and business cards to everyone, consider consigning some items in local stores, offer some drop shipping yourself, create an affiliate program on your site, etc. Your marketing opportunities are endless!”
So there you have it mamas – etsy.com is waiting for you! Have a browse, see where you could fit your creativeness in, and take the plunge - there is nothing to lose and lots to gain! Good luck to you if you should start up a new shop, or just have fun browsing and supporting handmade goodness!