The description of Handycraft Design
Tips on Starting a Handycraft Business
Whether part-time or full-time, starting a craft business offers two possibilities: (1) the production of handicrafts, (2) the selling of handicrafts. This factsheet focuses on producing handicrafts. However, before starting either type of operation:
Know with some certainty that people will want and will buy your handicrafts.
Understand all the requirements and have reserve capital to meet expenses before you are able to produce sales and earn a profit.
Understand the basics of managing, bookkeeping, purchasing and advertising.
Studio Design and Location
Your studio must fit your needs in terms of size, services, security and safety. Aim for efficiency, while creating a pleasing space to work in and visit. Consider a home studio. Register a business name and mailing address and get a separate business phone line. This allows you to:
1.Operate with lower overhead and start with a smaller amount of capital.
2.Work flexible hours and begin on a part-time basis.
3.Claim a portion of home expenses as tax deductions.
4.Eliminate travel time and hassle.
5.If operating at home is not an option, consider leasing a separate location. Consult with a lawyer before signing any lease agreement. Locate in an area with lots of traffic and convenient parking. Make sure that any noises, fumes and traffic you generate in your work do not affect your neighbors. Also ensure that the building:
Offers room to expand, shelving and storage space, an office and visitors area, wide doors to accommodate materials and suitable pick-up/delivery areas.
Has an efficient electrical service and ventilation system, especially if you use kilns or toxic solvents, plastics or chemical dyes.
Selling Your Crafts
You can sell your crafts directly from your studio, or through:
Specialty craft, gift, or department stores are the most popular ways of selling crafts, especially if you produce in limited quantities. Stores usually sell your work at double your price. Craft stores have traditionally sold mostly on consignment they pay you only after they sell your work, keeping 30-40%. This is changing though as artisans gain more business experience. Be careful with terms and conditions of consignment sales.
Choose respected, well-known galleries. Put all agreements in writing before delivering your work. Ask for an individual showing. These are usually done on a consignment basis, with the gallery keeping up to 50%. You may be asked to pay for invitations or refreshments.
Agents are not commonly used for handicrafts but in certain cases, they can help to promote and expose your work. Commissions usually range between 20 and 50%.
When pricing your handicrafts:
Cost approach: add up all your expenses, including raw materials, labor and overhead costs such as rent, heating, advertising, as well as a factor for profit.
Comparative approach: talk to other artisans and retailers; compare the prices of similar items in stores and galleries.
Select a price from within the price range formed by the approaches in steps 1 and 2.
Find suppliers of materials by checking the Yellow Pages, trade magazines and local craft associations and organizations.
Compare prices, shipping costs and volume purchase discounts.
Plan in advance, combine orders and ‘group-purchase’ with other artisans.
Take advantage of possible sales tax exemptions if buying in large quantities.
A reputation for fine work is the best form of advertising. When getting started however, consider these methods:
Rent display space at a shopping mall for a weekend.
Hold open houses which can also be helpful for developing mailing lists.
Design business cards and pamphlets which describe and illustrate your work.
Send press releases to the feature editors of newspapers and magazines.