CRAFTS

CALLING ALL CRAFTERS!
Let’s face it, peeps; the craft business world can be a
tough one to navigate. Luckily, you have the Crafty
Superstar by your side! This updated and expanded
guide will navigate you through the ins and outs of
setting up shop, advertising your wares, braving the
online marketplace and becoming a craft show maven.
You’ll find expert advice from Grace Bonney, Cinnamon
Cooper and April Winchell, as well as downloadable forms
to keep track of your budget, organize your craft show
applications and calculate prices and sales tax. Yes, you
can sell your crafts, make extra cash and have it all!
Inside you’ll find out how to:
¥

Sell your handmade items

¥

Get publicity and press

¥

Put together an awesome
packaging concept

¥

Rock the indie craft show

¥

Set goals, plan for the future

Running a craft business can be
a challenge, but you’re up for it,
right? Get organized, get noticed
and get selling—the Crafty
Superstar will show you how!

and balance life and crafts

UK £14.99
W7388

US $19.99
(CAN $20.99)

ISBN 13: 979-1-4403-2037-8
ISBN 10: 1-4403-2037-3

35313 65470

CRAFTY_SUPERSTAR_PB_AW.indd 1

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9

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04 0120

UPC

EAN

51999

781440 320378

5/8/12 10:05 AM

Ultimate Craft
Business Guide
By
GRACE DOBUSH

CINCINNATI, OHIO

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 1

4/19/12 10:50 AM

TS
N
E
T
N
O
C
Introduction

4

Chapter 1:
Do You DIY?

6

Why Handmade

8

What’s “Indie”?

8

Motivations

11

Expectations

13

Journaling Prompts

16

Chapter 2:
Biz Basics

24

Seing Up

26

Pricing

29

Pricing Strategies for
Creative Types

32

50

Where to Sell

52

Get a Website

60

How to Not Sell

74

Chapter 4:
Indie Craft Shows

76

Are You Ready?

81

Application Process

82

Geing Prepped

86

Table Displays

89

Day of Show

102

The Postmortem

109

DIY Cra Shows

110

Organizing Your Own Cra Show 112

Three Reasons Why
Discounts are Deadly

34

Boosting Production

36

Finding a Good Workspace

38

Geing Paid and Keeping Track

40

Keeping It Legal

43

Sales Tax Cheat Sheet

48

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 2

Chapter 3:
Selling Out

Chapter 5:
Get Noticed

116

Be Your Own PR Person

118

Direct E-Mail

119

Social Media Advice

121

Geing Press

126

Advertising

138

Get Published

139

4/19/12 10:51 AM

Chapter 6:
The Next Level

142

Working for a Living

144

Appendices

Maintaining a Personal Life

145

Forms and Templates

182

Taking Stock

148

Small Business Websites

194

Changes

151

Cra Business Websites

196

Going Full-Time

152

Suggested Reading

197

Staying Organized

153

E-Commerce Websites

198

Geing Help

154

Creative Business Conferences

199

OMG, I’m on Regretsy?

158

Indie Cra Shows

200

Yep, You’re on Regretsy

160

Supplies

204

Profiling Your Most Valuable
Customers

162

Seing Goals

170

Important Data and
Passwords

205

Important Contacts

208

Notes

214

The Contributors

224

Index

236

Dedication

238

About the Author

238

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 3

Epilogue

180

4/19/12 10:51 AM

Introduction
STATE OF THE CRAFTY UNION
Since the first edition of Crafty Superstar came out in 2009, a lot of
stuff has changed.
More people than ever before are selling their crafts online, which
makes it more challenging to get noticed. More makers are applying
to sell at craft shows, which makes it more difficult to get accepted. On
top of all that, the economy’s remained in the dumps, and everything’s
gotten more expensive.
But it’s not all bad news. Crafters have more options than ever
before for online marketplaces, payment processing services and craft
shows. Customers have become more familiar with the handmade
ethos, and many more people are specifically seeking out eco-friendly
and ethically-made products. People want to support their local
artisans and businesses.
Some of the crafters featured in the first Crafty Superstar book
have gone through changes since then. Some have stepped back from
the craft world, and a few have become even bigger superstars.

4

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 4

4/19/12 10:51 AM

I’ve been through work and life changes myself. I’m now the
community manager for two major design magazines, and I’ve been
traveling to speak at creative business conferences around the country.
With a friend, I started an indie craft show here in Cincinnati, and we
put on two huge shows every year—in addition to our day jobs. I’ve sold
my handbound books and linocut cards at some of the biggest indie craft
shows around the country—some of which have been great and some of
which have not. But I’ve discovered that, for me, interacting with people
face-to-face pays off more (emotionally and financially) than trying to
sell my goods online. We’ve created a real craft community here in the
Midwest, one that supports many shows, consignment craft stores and
business events—one that I’m proud to be a part of.
So I’ve updated and revised the material that was included in my
first book to make it applicable to craft businesses today. This is a book
that can help you get started with your craft business—and grow with
you as your business evolves and changes. I’ve included my favorite
small-business resources, the advice of dozens of crafters and helpful
tips from experts to help you make your creative business everything
you want it to be.

5

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 5

4/19/12 10:51 AM

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 6

4/19/12 10:51 AM

Chapter 1

Do You DIY?
Crafts have gotten so popular in the last decade that sometimes it
seems like everybody and their grandma are getting on the business
bandwagon. And with the dismal economic environment, lots of folks are
seeking secondary (or tertiary) sources of income.
This chapter explores the reasons for the handmade craze and
explains some of the terms that get tossed around. You’ll also figure out
what direction your biz should take by meditating on your motivations
and expectations. If you just want to cash in on the handmade trend,
you may be disappointed. Profits don’t come easy, and there’s a lot of
competition in the DIY marketplace. If you need to make bucketloads of
cash to have fun with craft, your heart isn’t in it—and buyers will be able
to tell. (And this book isn’t for you.) But if you really believe in yourself
and the things you create, you should go for it. At worst, you lose a few
bucks in Etsy listing fees. At best, you get your crafts into the hands of
people around the world and make lots of new crafty friends. Off we go!

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 7

4/19/12 10:51 AM

Indie Craft Trends
In 2009, Garth Johnson said: “Aer some careful
analysis, I think brass knuckles are the new octopi,
which were the new owls, which were the new
sparrows. Check it out! There are about 200
different brass-knuckle–related items on Etsy right
now. Sell your stock in octopi and jump on the brass
knuckles train.”
Indie cra trends never cease to amuse me: One
maker will use a kooky (oen vintage-inspired) motif
on a bag or T-shirt, and next thing you know, it’s at
every cra show and then finally pops up at Target
and H&M. My web developer friend Paul Henrich
and I created the site Cras are the New Cras
(www.crasarethenewcras.com) to poke fun at the
cra trends popping up.
And then I made my Indie Cra Trend Engine, an
analog version of the website. I built this “engine”
out of a shoebox, poster tubes and an oatmeal
canister. People can turn the knobs to come up with
a prediction about what
the next big cra trend
will be. (Ibexes are the
new sparrows? Arugula
are the new cupcakes?
Mustaches are the new
mustaches?) And then,
for $3, I print their
pairing on a card with
hand-carved stamps.

10

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 10

4/19/12 10:52 AM

Jesse Breyten
bach on . . .
Motivations

Jesse Breyten
bach is an illus
trator and cr
printed fabric
aer in South
s and many ot
Africa who m
her things un
akes beautiful
de
r the name H
“I think if I on
handenri Kuikens.
ly wanted to
make money
so. When I di
, there are fa
scovered cra
r less complic
forums on th
of ideas. Pro
ated ways of
e Internet, I ju
fit does com
doing
st
e
in
wanted to be
to
line with othe
it—I price my
part of that sh
r craers and
goods to mak
aring
e money, part
partly becaus
profitable. I’d
ly to keep in
e I think it’s on
love to make
ly worth doin
a living doing
day job compl
g if it is actual
only what I lo
etely.
ly
ve, but I’m no
t ready to give
“I’m also not
up my
sure that I’m
the kind of pe
that to come
rson who can
up with a line
work out wha
of products ju
is just that—a
t will sell and
dged purely
love. I enjoy
for profit. Pa
refine
making new
make them. I
rt of my love
things, and I
oen take in
of craing
particularly en
spiration from
probably not
jo
y
figuring out ho
my own life,
the best busi
making what
w to
ness model.
I need or wan
“Helping the
t, which is
environment
is a backgrou
and prey m
nd motivatio
uch stick to w
n—I make thin
hat I can mak
try to use foun
gs on a small
e myself, prod
d or vintage
scale
ucing as lile
fabrics—my in
waste’ one. I
waste as poss
itial motivatio
didn’t want to
ib
le. I
n
fo
ha
r
ve silkscreen
block-printin
could create
g fabric was
ed yardage th
a few motifs
a ‘no
that I could pr
at I might no
cuing out th
t use; I though
int in differen
e pieces of fa
t if I
t paerns as
bric for a bag
I needed them
first, and then
, even
printing, I’d be
able to save
fabric.”

What Drives Your Craft?
Try this checklist on for size—check as many motivations as apply.

Making a profit
Making a living
Having fun
Creating a brand
Serving a cause

These are all good reasons to
try to take your craing to the
next level. One of them or some
of them may apply to you. Or
you can make up your own
motivation. Whatev! Just be sure
your business plan matches up
with your motivations.

Helping the environment
Growing your local economy
Other: ______________________

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 12

4/19/12 10:52 AM

EXPECTATIONS
Aer you’ve chewed on your motivations for a while, it’s time to take stock and
think about what you’d like your business to look like and if you can really make
it happen.

Would I have fun crafting for others instead
of myself?
That beaded cochlear coin purse you fussed over for so many hours will go
home with someone else aer the cra show. Can you bear to never see it
again? It’s a lile like giving away kiens. Rough, dude. If you’re accustomed
to giving away all your creations for birthdays and holidays, you’ll probably be
fine. If you’ve stashed away every amigurumi you ever hooked, you might have
a problem.

Would I have fun making similar things over and
over?
Unless you specialize in one-offs, you’ll likely find a few things that sell like
gangbusters, and you’ll cra to meet the demand. This can mean long nights
and a lackluster social life, plus puing your personal projects on the back
burner. It could also mean developing a repetitive stress injury. That’s why
finding joy in craing is so important. You don’t want to lock yourself up like
you’re in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory until you perish in the flames of your
cray desire.

Do I have the cash to beef up my output?
Buying more fabric, paper and rickrack might not be so bad, but what if you
need a heavy-duty sewing machine, a ginormous printer or an industrialrevolution-size loom? These are things to consider before you bite off more
than you can sew. If you’re serious about growing your biz, a loan might be
something to consider. Or it might mean dipping into savings, reworking your
household budget or canceling cable. If you have no pennies to pinch, it’s time
to get creative in your approach to production. Look into renting equipment or
studio time, or reconsider the way you make things. Do you really need virgin
wool, or can you use thri store sweaters? Upcycling is a great way to cut costs,
and it’s a great selling point for your goods.

13

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 13

4/19/12 10:52 AM

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 24

4/19/12 10:54 AM

Olivera Bratic
h on . . .
Approaching S
hops

Olivera Brati
ch opened W
holly Cra in
Columbus, O
“Before appr
hio, in 2005.
oaching us, do
see if your it
a
lile homew
ems would be
or
k.
If
yo
u can, visit th
a good fit an
not in the ar
e shop in pe
d if we carry
ea, read all th
rson to
an
ything simila
e
in
formation off
craers we w
r already. If yo
ered on the
ork with. Thi
u’re
website and
s will give yo
displayed an
check out ot
u a good idea
d sold in, and
her
of the contex
how best to
t your work w
approach th
“Approach a
ill be
e shop.
shop with a se
of unsold item
lection of yo
ur popular de
s you have le
signs and piec 
over from a
entire line, so
cra fair. We
es, not the st
show your be
have to make
ack
st work. If yo
consideratio
a decision on
u’
n, invest a li
re submiing
your
le time in lear
work online
discouraged
for consignm
ning to take
by rejection
ent
good photos
from any shop
The shop may
. And never ge
. Oen it’s no
not be a good
t
t
a
di
rect reflection
fit for your st
similar. In ou
r case, our sp
yle or they m
of your work.
ight already
ace is prey
items in a pa
carry somethi
lim
ited, so at tim
rticular catego
ng
es we’re not
ry until we cl
taking any ne
ear out what
w
we have to m
ake space.”

58

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 58

4/19/12 11:00 AM

Mix-and-Match
Packaging Concepts
Choose one (or two) items from each container to come up with a packaging
concept that works best for you.

k
Basic Package

ƒ poly bag

ƒ cardboard box

ƒ takeout box

ƒ shoebox

ƒ poster tube

ƒ envelope

ƒ glass jar

ƒ cloth bag

ƒ static-proof bag

ƒ lunch bag

ƒ glassine paper envelope

ƒ paper grocery bag

ƒ paper coffee cup

ƒ gi box

ƒ burlap sack

ƒ butcher paper

ƒ reusable tote bag

ƒ scored fold-over mailer

ƒ mesh pouch

68

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 68

4/19/12 11:02 AM

Quiz: What Kind of
Crafter Are You?
You don’t need to be the next Jenny Hart to clean up at a cra show,
but you should have your lile ceramic pirate ducks in a row. The results
of this quiz will give you tailored suggestions for taking on the indie cra
show circuit.
1. Are you already selling your stuff online or in shops?
a. Here’s my URL and my publicist’s number.
b. I’ve been thinking about it.
c. Why would I? My grandma buys me out before
anyone else can.
d. Yeah, on Etsy!

2. Does your business have a name?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Yes, and a trademarked logo and a spin-off brand for kids.
Not really.
Kat’s Kountry Kras
I just came up with one: Gliercra Fluerbuy!

3. Have you spent much time developing and
perfecting your cras?
a. Well, yeah—otherwise I wouldn’t have goen
that shoutout in BUST.
b. I feel most secure when covered in glue.
c. I’ve got toilet paper cozies down to a science.
d. I do most of my craing at my weekly Stitch ’n Bitch.

4. How would you describe your style/aesthetic?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Sleek, chic and cheeky.
Quirky, dark and entirely indie.
Potholders only my grandma could love.
Sparkly, fluffy and fun!

78

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4/19/12 11:03 AM

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 142

4/19/12 11:16 AM

Customer Profiling Worksheet
Gender
Male
Female

Kids
Yes
No

Age
Under 18
18–30
31–45
46–60
60+

Household income
Less than $30,000
$30,000–$60,000
$60,000–$100,000
More than $100,000

Location
Rural areas
Small towns
Small cities
Medium cities
Suburbs
Large cities
US regions
Northeast
Mid-Atlantic
Southeast
South Central
Southwest
Pacific
Midwest (Plains)
Midwest
Outside the US
Marital status
Single
Partnered
Married
Divorced/separated

Education level
High school
Associate’s degree
Four-year college
Graduate degree
Professional degree
Where are they politically?
Republican/conservative
Middle of road
Democrat/liberal
Green/socialist
Apathetic
Anarchist
What factors are most important
to your customers?
Price
Discounts and sales
Quality
Environmental impact/green
products
Ethical production/no sweatshops
Brand names
Customer service

164

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 164

4/19/12 11:19 AM

EPILOGUE
If I had to boil down this book’s advice to three points, it would be these:


Be informed.



Be confident.



Be yourself.

Cray Superstar is just a jumping-off point in your pursuit of indie
business. I’m not a tax wizard or lawyer—I’m just a craer like you—so
you should definitely follow up with an expert on your financial and legal
questions as you build your business. And you absolutely need to build
relationships with other craers and creatives. Whether it’s starting up an
event in your own community, traveling to meet other craers or joining an
online group, making cray friends has been my favorite part of being in the
cra biz.
We’re all in this for the love of cra, and our flaws and quirks are what
make us—and our products—unique. No one else can do what we do, and
that’s why our work is valuable. Have fun with whatever you do. Make your
own rules and change them whenever necessary. If you don’t want to build
a Martha Stewart-size empire, don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself.
Make audacious goals, and don’t be afraid to change them as your business
grows and changes.
Talking to all the craers in this book got me hella excited, and I hope you
feel the same way. We’re all in this crazy cra business together, and sharing
our experiences can only make us stronger. Channel your chutzpah and be
the cray superstar you always dreamed of!

180

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 180

4/19/12 11:21 AM

DEDICATION
For my cray grandmas, Frances and Marian.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
G ace Dobush is a writer, editor and craer
Grace
based in Cincinnati, Ohio. By day, she’s the
base
executive editor of HOWInteractiveDesign.com
exec
and the community manager for HOW and
Print
Prin magazines. By night, she’s a co-organizer
of C
Cincinnati’s biannual Cray Supermarket,
and
an she’s sold her handbound books and
linocut
cards at shows around the country.
lin
A proud alumna of Kent State’s journalism
sc
school,
Grace has wrien about cra, art,
design
and other random things for Wired,
d
H
HOW,
Family Tree Magazine and The
Artist’s Magazine, among others. Learn
more at www.craysuperstar.com, and
keep up to date with her on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/craysuperstar and
on Twier at @GraceDobushToGo!

238

CRAFTY_SUPERBOOK-Revised_Design.indd 238

4/19/12 11:34 AM

CRAFTS

CALLING ALL CRAFTERS!
Let’s face it, peeps; the craft business world can be a
tough one to navigate. Luckily, you have the Crafty
Superstar by your side! This updated and expanded
guide will navigate you through the ins and outs of
setting up shop, advertising your wares, braving the
online marketplace and becoming a craft show maven.
You’ll find expert advice from Grace Bonney, Cinnamon
Cooper and April Winchell, as well as downloadable forms
to keep track of your budget, organize your craft show
applications and calculate prices and sales tax. Yes, you
can sell your crafts, make extra cash and have it all!
Inside you’ll find out how to:
¥

Sell your handmade items

¥

Get publicity and press

¥

Put together an awesome
packaging concept

¥

Rock the indie craft show

¥

Set goals, plan for the future

Running a craft business can be
a challenge, but you’re up for it,
right? Get organized, get noticed
and get selling—the Crafty
Superstar will show you how!

and balance life and crafts

US $19.99
W7388

ISBN-13: 978-1-4403-2037-8
ISBN-10: 1-4403-2037-3

(CAN $20.99)
(UK £14.99)

35313 65470

CRAFTY_SUPERSTAR_PB_AW.indd 1

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01
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04 0120

UPC

EAN

51799

781440

320378

4/26/12 8:44 PM

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