When you are setting up your craft business, the most important choice is, of course, the craft you choose. There are many popular crafts areas, and it’s a competitive area. So it’s extremely important to differentiate your offering.
“In terms of crafts, there’s a lot of people who make handmade cards,” Fiona Morris of Samigail's Handmade Personalised Gifts notes. “I know when I go to a craft fair or a school fair, there are a lot of stalls with handmade cards, and a lot of stalls for jewellery. If you want to go into business in craft, you would be wise to think about an area that isn’t already saturated in the craft market.” Find a unique selling point, like Fiona has. She says she always knew she wanted to personalise items for people, and make something very special and particular to them.
It’s imperative to research your product well, too. When determining which craft to go into, Fiona searched on Google for the products she had in mind, looking for what was already out there and how hers might be different. It’s a good idea to look for the products that actually sell. “Ebay is very good for checking up on products that sell well,” Fiona advises. She suggests you might check for prices too, “obviously bearing in mind that your product might be different, so it might have a slightly different price. But for a general guideline for what sells at what price, it works!”
You need to know your market, also. If you're producing wedding jewellery costing hundreds, for instance, you should not aim to sell at a school fair, or a Sunday hall market! There are other reasons to do careful product research, though. “It can prevent copying others’ designs,” according to Amanda Ryan of Maisielu.com: “You may not do it on purpose but with certain jewellery suppliers selling to lots of makers you can end up with very similar products.”
It’s not a good idea to rule out all copying, however. Once you have decided on your craft, you’d be well advised to seek the advice of fellow crafters online. It’s easy to source very specific advice, according to Fiona. “A lot of people use online forums, in particular, mum’s forums. Some of them have a separate section for business. And the crafting forums give great advice.”
Crafting forums will be full of people who have gone through similar experiences to you in setting up their own businesses, and can give you avenues to finding out things like public liability and insurance specific to crafters. “You can Google a lot of things,” says Fiona, “but finding craft insurance was one of the things I struggled with. Searching the specific craft forum really just solved that very quickly.”
Amanda Ryan of Maisielu.com agrees: “The greatest thing for someone setting up a craft business is website forums: the sales sites all have them for sellers to discuss business together.” Importantly, forums are also often frequented by customers who are hoping to seek out artisans for commissions. “The sites I used most was Crafteroo, a forum for crafts people most of whom run their own businesses,” Amanda advises, ”and UKHandmade, an online magazine for craftspeople.”