Who is it suited to?
Crafts businesses and mums... the cliché holds true to a certain extent. Start-ups in this area are often powered by mothers who want to stay at home to be a full-time parent to their children. Joanne Dewberry, of party bags and toys craft company Charliemoos.co.uk, explains: “A lot of craft business owners are mums who suddenly have more time on their hands and start crafting for a hobby. Then they end up with loads of finished products and the best thing to do with them is sell them!”
Of course, you don’t need to be a mother to go in to the area. Don’t worry if you’ve not gone to art school, and don’t be overly concerned if you have no professional training in your craft either. You don’t necessarily need this to start up a business. Many successful businesses are powered by the enthusiasm of talented amateurs. “One of the factors that held me back from starting my own craft business was the belief that I didn't have the correct background,” Amanda Ryan of Maisielu.com admits. “Most of the craft orientated businesses that I liked and researched had been started by people who had completed degrees and had suitable contacts in this market...”
But if you research the various structures a business can take, you will find a ‘new wave’ of craft businesses taking off. There has been a surge in numbers using on-line market places specialising tin the hand crafted area; such as Etsy, Misi and Folksy. “Looking at the array of people from amazingly different backgrounds on these sites helped me understand that to set up a craft business all you have to know is your craft,” Amanda explains. “Everything thing else can be researched, and gained through experience and the helpful knowledge of others.”
Joanne agrees: “I have totally self taught to sew. My first sewing machine was a child's tiny £10 sewing machine which my hubby bought me for Christmas! I know what I like and I just find out how to do it.” Even though she had no 'craft' background, Joanne had the wherewithal to make things work. Before she had her children and set up her own business, she worked as a nursery manager. She believes this, and a number of relevant courses, has afforded her all the background business knowledge required, and now mentors through the Prince's Trust.
Fiona Morris of Samigail’s Handmade Personalised Gifts had a similar experience. Not only did she lack a craft background, but she was unsure how she could make a viable business out of any craft in her repertoire. “Even when I was a solicitor, I always enjoyed lots of different types of arts and crafts,” she says. “But at the time I couldn’t think of any class that I did that really would be commercially viable.” Then she found pyrography. “I just taught myself that, and then a friend of mine said they would work as a gift for her children’s teacher at Christmas. In that way I realised I had a commercially viable product!”
So as long as you enjoy the hobby, and you have the requisite equipment, then that’s all you need to set up a craft business. Don’t let any perceived cliquishness turn you off.