What is it?
Austerity chic: thanks to the current economic dip, crafting really is ‘in’. Think crochet, soap, cross-stitch, jewellery-making, and wooden toys. Or pottery, glassblowing and tapestry. For hobby suppliers, it’s big business, and growing exponentially. According to figures released by speciality craft and hobby store HobbyCraft in December ‘09, cake baking alone was up 85% year-on-year while knitting sales were up close to 28%.
And this trend shows no signs of waning. In July 2011, HobbyCraft reported an 18% jump in pre-tax profits, year-on-year, driven by the growing popularity of crafts. Sewing and knitting groups such as Stitch London are popping up all over the country. Homebaked is fast becoming the only way to go: so why not go for a piece of the cake?
If you are one of the recession’s newly converted crafters, or even if your mother or grandmother taught you to crochet, knit, sew, bake and rag rug long ago, you could well have found yourself thinking: there’s more to my craft skills than those throw cushions I zipped up for the lounge. And you're right. The skills you take for granted could well become a promising venture.
Many crafters take time to come round to this way of thinking. Crafting ambitions can be unfairly dismissed, as Amanda Ryan of craft gifts shop Maisielu.com explains: “I never thought of using these skills as my source of income because throughout my academic years ‘helpful’ careers advisers told me I needed a proper job in an office with computers and business profiles!”
But when you think of it, this home-based, low investment business has much to recommend it: self sustaining organic growth is not to be sniffed at. Meanwhile, the growing number of online marketplaces, such as Notonthehighstreet.com and Folksy, are offering crafters more cost-effective routes to market than ever before.
So whether you're a dab hand at felting, a knitting fanatic, or a screenprint superstar, keep on reading to see if it’s for you.