Business Tips from The Craft Business Handbook

A series of Business Tips from the book:The Craft Handbook
The Craft Business Handbook – The Essential Guide To Making Money from Your Crafts and Handmade Products
By Alison McNicol

Starting a business to sell your crafts isn’t just about making stuff and selling it to people. The whole point is to create the most important thing in the world— your ideal life!
— Alison McNicol

If you are thinking about starting a business selling your crafts, this looks like the ideal book to get you started!

Have you thought about your business or potential business as creating your ideal life? Of course, it is about sharing your talents, but the bigger picture is that you want to create your ideal life.

One of my husband’s biggest dream was to build a gourmet food business. He comes from a long line of good cooks — some who have worked professionally in the field! Starting a gourmet food business was his ideal life (at that point in time).

My ideal life consisted of being my own boss in my own business. Previously, I had put all I had into jobs only to be ignored or passed up for promotions because I did not have that important degree!

So, let’s spend the next four days learning about creating your ideal life developing your craft’s business!


Ask any creative business person and they will tell you that, in order to make enough income to live on, or to replace a regular job, you’ll need to work harder than you ever have in your life.
–Alison McNicol

So true!

But, I have found, that if you are passionate about what you do, this work won’t seem as much like work as your ‘regular job’ is/was.

Leaving everything behind at 5:00 in the evening may be a distant dream for most small business owners. Personally, I eat and sleep my business … often waking up in the middle of the night with a inspirational thought. If you love what you do, that will not be a problem.

Also, you will probably push your comfort zone! Parts of your business you may not like or some of your business will require much more energy than you have ever given a job.

If none of this scares you, then let’s dive into some of the suggestion Alison makes for having your own creative business.


If your aim is to ultimately sell your products into retailers, it’s crucial to think like a retailer and how they display products similar to yours.
— Alison McNicols

Some of the best market research you can do is to check out your competition in the types of stores you could imagine a display of your products.

Some of the things to consider are the following:
1. What type of packaging will I use for my products?
2. How well will my products ship? Will the packaging be too heavy to ship?
3. How will my products be displayed? Will my products fit in with the inventory already at the store?
Alison suggestions for store friendly packaging:

• Clear image of contents
• Always include company name, logo and website URL.
• Usually on rear: Description of Goods, contents, ingredients, weights, safety information, age suitability, does it contain small parts and not suitable for small children etc.
• Washing/ fabric care instructions
• Space for price sticker or barcode.

Even if you are unsure if you will wholesale your items to a retail outlet, it is always better to plan ahead when developing your packaging.


“Why sell .. to retailers for only a few dollars profit when I can sell it directly and make 3 times as much profit?” But then again, when you consider the overheads of the booth cost, 3 days of your life spent at a craft fair plus all the preparation time etc, you may not actually be much better off if you had been overseeing a production run …. from the comfort of your own workshop.
— Alison McNicol

While others are standing in line to buy at the Black Friday sales, I thought we would talk about wholesale pricing.

I hear this concern from nearly everyone I work with when they first wish to wholesale. “But I am giving up so much money!” Yes, maybe, but there is upside to all of this.

Once you start producing in bulk lots for wholesale, you will be buying your components in bulk pricing that tends to be less than buying ones and twos. For example, once we starting heavy production of our gourmet foods, we bought glass in pallet loads for less than half the price per unit we were paying for a dozen or so cases.

Another point that Alison brings out is the cost and effort of going to shows to sell you items. Craft shows take LOTS of time and have LOTS of hidden costs you may not even think about. NOTE: I wrote an article on this subject recently: The Real Cost of a Holiday Booth.

Of course, each individual business owner must make their own decision regarding wholesaling. In all honesty, it does not work for everyone …. but it is worth researching. Take out your pencil and figure the costs and go from there.

And check out my blog for more tips: Selling Wholesale to Gift and Retail Shops!


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