Are you the kind of person who likes to dabble in handicraft but wants to take it to the next level? In this step-by-step guide, we will help you how to start a handicraft business — and hopefully make a living out of it.
The first thing you need to know before starting a handicraft business — or any business for that matter — is if you’re really passionate about the topic. If you like to get your hands dirty by painting, printing, stitching (and have been doing so for a while), you might want to turn this hobby into a business and make money.
The good news is there’s a huge scope in the handicraft market. And because of the pandemic and frequent lockdown, many online craft businesses are booming! You too can try a handicraft business either as a side hustle or a full-time job: It all depends upon how much effort you want to put in.
So how do you start?
Understand the Market, the Competitors, and the Audience
Knowing the market scope and the existing competitors is an essential step required to succeed in any kind of business. With online shopping, you need to have a good sense of competitors from the immediate vicinity and the global community.
Do a quick research (a simple Google search) to find out what identical goods are being sold in your town or city. Then later do a border search and find retailers and wholesalers (from Amazon or eBay) that sell similar products. Make a list of all the preexisting items in the market. Define your unique selling point.
After you have gotten a basic idea about your market, you should also try to understand the demographics and psychographics of your audience. Ask yourself two basic questions: Who are they? And what do they want? Understanding their pain points, their preferences, and their budget limit will also help you plan better.
Identify What You’re Going to Sell
Now that you have done your market research, it’s time to identify what you’re going to sell. Is it pottery wares, straw baskets, woven fabric, or wooden trinkets? Surely, it’s tempting to try several handicraft items available, but you will have to choose one niche to get yourself started.
Ask yourself what kinds of products you can make. Maybe you’re great at basket weaving — but let’s say there are already three such stores in your area. How are your baskets going to stand out? Perhaps you’re planning to use pine straw and animal hair, not just wood and bamboo? Use Google Trends or follow Instagram accounts to see what’s trending and then make a list of things you can offer.
Some handicraft ideas include:
➢ Basket weaving
➢ Tibetan rugs
➢ Tatting (lace edging with different patterns)
➢ Macramé (textile-making using knotting)
➢ Crochet (similar to knitting)
➢ Mandala drawings
➢ Khukri knives
The choices abound. Since you cannot possibly sell all the items at once, it’s wise to create a proper plan.
Come up with a Basic Business Plan
Even though you can always sell handicraft items from your studio, that might not give long-term results. You need to have a basic business plan before crafting. Hopefully, at this point, you understand your audience and the market demands — and you also know what you’re going to sell.
All you need is a solid plan!
A business plan is a compass for your company — it not only gives you direction but also saves you from derailing. With the company’s vision, mission, and goals in your mind, form a preliminary outline, including:
➢ A strong brand potential
➢ A high-level business summary
➢ Overview of market demands
➢ Your unique product lines
➢ Marketing and sales plan
➢ Online assets for use
➢ Financial management
If you still feel a bit hazy about the outline, you can hire a business analyst who will perform all the tasks for a set amount.
Start the Handicraft Work
Now that you’ve done your preliminary studies, it’s time to get your creative juices flowing!
If it’s a small-scale business, you might want to work alone from your home studio when starting. But as the market demand increases, you will have to hire a team of enthusiastic craftsmen and find a dedicated office. Before starting to work, communicate clearly with the team your expectations and company standards. Give them the freedom to be creative and monitor their progress.
In order to train your human resources, you can also create training plans. These days websites like Skillshare or CreativeBug help you learn almost anything (with a nominal fee, of course!) Set up a cozy little corner in your office space and use it as a think tank — let people experiment with new ideas.
Sell Your Handicraft to Variety of Outlets
After the handicraft items are ready, it’s time to sell them. The way you’re going to sell your stuff depends upon the type and scale of your business. If you are the only person working, you can easily sell the items to retail stores. These days departmental stores and supermarkets also have sections for handicraft items — try approaching them.
Another selling outlet is consignment stores. Though they pay you only after your stuff sells and keep 20-30% of the sales amount, you can sign a year-long deal with them, so you don’t have to worry about going from one retail store to another.
However, if your business is growing, you will have to hire a sales team. They will then go to the outlets such as craft or flea markets to sell the handicrafts. Whatever method you choose, the best way to reach a wider audience is through digital (especially social media) marketing.
If you are selling online, you will have to consider the shipping. Timely and reliable shipping goes a long way, so invest in a budget-friendly shipping company like FedEx or DHL.
Develop Your Online Presence and Brand
Without having an online presence, nothing really sells in this age!
To develop the branding, you need a catchy company name, an interesting logo, some captivating taglines, and photos/videos of sample handicraft items. But having a stronger hold on the online market demands more than branding.
For starters, create your own commercial website, along with social media accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc. Learning how to take high-quality pictures and videos is also crucial, as your marketing will depend upon it. Invest some time and energy in copywriting too.
We hope that this article has helped you learn how to start a handicraft business. Remember that starting a business sounds like an easy and exhilarating idea but thriving takes patience and perseverance.
With the right combination of business strategy and marketing tools, you are good to start your own handicraft business !