All posts by naildcrafts

Crafting is My Passion

The very title of this article is actually an understatement. To say that crafting is my passion does not do my passion for crafting any justice. I love crafting. I love it with every fiber of my being. I love being elbow deep in it and creating something new. I love taking two or more materials and combining them into something wonderful to be cherished, if not by one, but for generations to come. This love for crafting is a feeling almost indescribable. It is comparable to the air I breathe or the water I drink. It is a life-blood, a synergy, a middle center to my very being. It is deeply rooted into my psyche connected by my biography, my geography and local topography. It is strongly associated to my heredity with highlights given by my heritage. To simply say that I love crafting does not describe it well enough to convey my true feelings, however it is the best way I know how.

There are a lot of small craft businesses out there and a multitude of them whose owners feel the same way that I do about crafting. You will find some that are not has passionate and may only be in it for the money, but you will know them by how they talk about the topic of crafting. If there is a passion within them about it, they will have no problem trying to describe it for you. Those are the true craftsmen/craftswomen. Nothing against those that choose to only make a profit from the business. They are good business people. However their passion lies elsewhere and not within the craft itself. The craft itself, is not about making a profit, first and foremost. That comes after the fact. Profit is something you make on top of the craft, like icing on a cake. The icing is sweeter than the cake, but to the crafter, icing is only enhanced by the cake. With no passion or drive the icing is nothing more than whipped sugar and milk. The cake is the foundation and without it, the icing sits on nothing and stands alone. Sure the icing is good, but the cake makes it better. Just as in business, the profit is good, but the crafting makes it better. Some may disagree with that statement and say that it is backwards, but not the crafter. For them it is about the feeling first and everything on top of that makes the feeling better.

It is about feeling, passion, creativity, empowerment, ownership, self accountability, dedication, fervor, devotion, a zest, the spirit of a storm wrapped in the calm of a cloudless sky. This is about the crafter, the craftsman/craftswoman, the creator, the artisan, the journeyman, the machinist, the maker, the manufacturer, the mechanic, the smithy, the specialist, the wright, the technician. Call it what you want, its all about the craft and the person behind it. It is about the creation of something that will outlast its creator. It is about the formation of something greater than themselves and the feeling of accomplishment when the completed craft is in front of them. Its about the art which is imagined and then brought to life by the artisan. It is about the immersion into the final product which when completed is a piece worth ten times its weight in gold.

My feelings and passion for these skills here written, are intended to uplift those who put their heart and soul into a project, but have a hard time voicing their passion. This is for those who create a piece of art or craft a genuine one of a kind handmade treasure, but lack the language skills to best describe those feelings. It is for those who put in the time, effort and energy because they have a will that is strong and a passion that is stronger to make something beautifully unique, but not the verbal ability to speak of it eloquently enough.

I love crafting and if you have even half the passion for your job, as I have for crafting, then your success is already guaranteed. If not, then I wish you all the luck in finding your passion, because once you do, nothing will ever come between you two and you will want for nothing else ever again.

Maybe this is your craft, maybe not, but if I have omitted any specific craft, my apologies in advance, it was not intentional:

    • Applique

    • Armorer

    • Azulejo

    • Basketry/Basket weaving/Basket Making

    • Batik

    • Bead-work

    • Blacksmithing

    • Boiled leather making

    • Bookbinding

    • Bouquet

    • Bubble-gram

    • Cabinet making

    • Calligraphy

    • Cameo glass

    • Canvas work

    • Carpentry

    • Cast paper

    • Casting

    • Clock-making

    • Cooper

    • Copper-smith

    • Crewel embroidery

    • Crochet

    • Crochet

    • Cross-stitch

    • Decoupage

    • Earthenware

    • Embroidery

    • Embroidery

    • Farrier

    • Fletching

    • Flintknapping

    • Floral Design

    • Furniture making

    • Glass bead-making

    • Glass etching

    • Glassblowing

    • Glass-making

    • Glassware

    • Goldsmith

    • Gunsmith

    • Ikebana

    • Intarsia

    • Iris folding

    • Knife making

    • Knitting

    • Knitting

    • Lace-making

    • Lacquer art

    • Lapidary

    • Leather carving

    • Leather dying

    • Leather painting

    • Leather stamping

    • Leather-work

    • Letter carving on stone.

    • Locksmithing

    • Macrame (knotting)

    • Marquetry

    • Metalworking – metal-smith

    • Mosaic

    • Mosaics and inlaying

    • Needlepoint

    • Needlework

    • Origami (paper folding)

    • Paper crafts

    • Paper embossing

    • Paper marbling

    • Paper marbling

    • Paper model

    • Paper-cutting

    • Paper-making

    • Papier-mâché

    • Parchment craft

    • Patchwork

    • Pewter

    • Porcelain

    • Pottery

    • Quilling

    • Quilting

    • Quilting and quilt art

    • Ribbon Embroidery

    • Rope-making

    • Rug hooking

    • Rug making

    • Scrap-booking

    • Shoe-making

    • Silversmith

    • Spinning

    • Stone carving

    • Stone-masonry

    • Stoneware

    • Tatting

    • Tinware

    • Upholstery

    • Watchmaking

    • Weaving

    • Wood burning

    • Wood carving

    • Woodworking

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Building a Crafty Plan

So you want to start a Craft business and a small one at that. Well before you begin anything you will need a plan, a business plan. You may be wondering why, but the answer is simple. Everything needs a map to find its destination and nothing more true than a business. A business plan helps you to have a plan so that you can focus on what’s important and follow the right steps to success.

Does the plan have to be set in stone? No, nothing is ever set in stone. Plans continue to develop over time. They grow and change as the business needs it to or has obstacles present themselves. This plan will be an ever changing road map to success, but make no mistake it is a necessary step. Change can be good or bad, but it will constantly present itself in the world of business, no matter the size. A plan will help to adapt to the change and move the business forward as it needs to, rather than succumb to the change and possible failure.

Do you need to update the plan everyday or will this consume all my time? No, time is money and you won’t need to update this plan but as needed. An example would be that you plan to sell your crafts to only local stores, but somewhere along the line, your craft is now admired by several local churches and voila, you have a new niche to sell your products to, before you even knew it was possible. Granted this change is good, but an important example of adding to your business plan as it becomes necessary. These changes could come as often as every week or may only present themselves once a year. That only means you set aside the time to update your plan. Maybe you need to update it once a month or once a quarter, but it is important to be constantly evolving the plan as the business evolves. Having this road map will help in the long run and losing sight of a road map can be disastrous.

The following points outlines only some of the aspects relative to a good business plan. It is not comprehensive by any means. They may not all be necessary and in turn you may think of other things to include. Has previously stated a good business plan will evolve over time.

Confidentiality agreement

A confidentiality agreement is a safeguard of sorts. Should you need to show anyone your business plan, such as a possible future partner and/or investors, it would be wise to have the security of an agreement that binds the viewers to confidentiality.

1.0 Executive summary

An Executive summary is just that which it states to be, a summary for executives to read and understand. This allows them to capture the “concept and idea” of the business without being mired in reading about details. IF you are the executive then this summary acts as a reminder of what is important to the business and what you are looking to achieve. If for potential partners/investors then it is esoteric in nature and meant to only give the general basis of the business. Most executive summaries will include a listing of objectives, goal statements and keys to success points that give milestones in the road map. You can also include the business vision as well as mission statement with this summary, to make the best point possible.

2.0 Firm summary

The firm summary gets into a little more detail about the business, its history and a start-up summary with costs table. This can also include a business location and/or facilities that will be utilized.

3.0 Products and Services

These are the details of the products and/or services that your business will provide to the client/customer. It can specify certain types, but usually will not detail them to individual traits.

4.0 Market analysis summary

You will need a market analysis summary for your business plan. These can be performed by you, if you are willing to do the research “leg work”. The summary should include factors of success and what type of niche you plan your customers on being. This analysis should also include any competitor analysis, such as surveys, any current customer loyalty your business may possess and competitor alliances you are looking to create.

5.0 Sales and marketing strategy summary

A sales and marketing strategy is the culmination of market analysis information you have combed and put together to create a strategy that will push your products/services into the visibility of your clients/customers. This can include a value proposition, a statement of excellence and should include a sales forecast. If you sales forecast is anything less than 5 years, then it will not be effective enough to convey the strategy.

6.0 Operations summary

An Operations summary will convey the specifics of your business needs from a personnel perspective. This will include any staffing needs. Some businesses will need some form of financial analysis position, human resources, tech support, accountant and recruiter. Most small business owners just starting out will fill most of these positions themselves till the business grows strong enough to fill these positions with part or full time employees. Sometimes services can be outsourced for small businesses willing to bundle those services. An example would be a cable company or local computer store giving tech support to the company in the price of equipment (computers) or services (internet) sold. Another option would be professional services that might include legal representation. Though most small businesses starting out cannot afford a lawyer on retainer, it is wise to seek out legal advice when it is necessary or research online with legalzoom.com.

7.0 Management and organization

The final aspect is how your company is organized and structured. Most small business owners will fill the position of CEO/president and work any new employees going forward under the appropriate position as they are filled.

In conclusion, a business plan can provide structure, organization, a road map and the best foot forward for your business. It is the best means of communicating and reminding, if only to yourself what you are wanting to achieve and how you plan to achieve it.

Crafting Your Customers

Now, I must start by saying I was a little reluctant to title this specific article what it is, but honestly, I could not come up with anything better. I want to relate the topic and associate the information, to grab the attention necessary. So, it is certainly not to be taken literally, but figuratively and in a small craft business sense.

With that said, here we are and what does it actually mean? ‘Crafting your customers’ is a method of thought in small business that creates new marketing ideas/techniques to connect to your customers. It also means to constantly update your customers on changes to products/services as well as change marketing perceptions so that focus is placed on your business and the products you sell, from a customers point of view.

Easier said than done, as with anything, but the importance relies on always staying a step ahead of your customers needs, satisfying their wants and desires, but more importantly giving them no excuse to return to your business again and again.

So what can you do to help your customer not only understand their needs, but show them you have what they need and want what you have to sell them? The following details a few keep points that will help to place focus in that area that will help your customer understand they have found not only a good business, but one they can count on for years to come:

  • Every person is different, so they all consume media differently. To ensure they are all satisfied, give them options to choose from. You may have a Facebook and Twitter account, but have you connected them yet, so when you post to one you actually post to both? You should also consider that there are plenty of other social media outlets besides the previously mentioned. Such as Google Plus (Google+), LinkedIn, Pinterest, MySpace, Tagged, CafeMom, My Life and Multiply. Those are just a few of the hundreds to choose from. That doesn’t mean searching them all out and placing your product on all of them, it just means select a few and begin there. The old phrase do not put all your eggs in one basket applies here and it makes sense. Don’t rely on just a couple of social media outlets to get your message out the door, when there are so many to choose from.

  • Answer the customer, emails, your phone in a positive light and with a happy disposition at all times. You may not be aware, but everybody has the ability to hear smiles…yes hear them. If you are positive and happy on the phone, your customer will know it. They will hear your smile. That goes the same for face-to-face and email communications. Always be as positive as possible, even if the news is not good. Try to find an alternate answer to make sure it works out for you and your customer.

  • Embrace the negative and turn it into a positive. (NEVER Place Blame, take responsibility and move forward). Emphasizing the negative for any reason is not a bad thing, so long as you don’t place all your focus on the negative and stay there without moving to some resolution. In Business this is especially true. You can evaluate the negative and then move forward with a positive. Take it as a learning experience and keep moving forward. If you focus too long on that one negative aspect, you will feel the repercussions with your business for years to come.

  • Impress existing customers and spend more time doing so. If they have spent their money once, they will continue to spend more money. Make sure you give them more reasons to spend their money. Impress them with new products/services, show them the benefit of the product and they become a free marketing tool who will not only buy from you again but tell everyone they know. This is a win-win situation because you spent a little more effort on a customer who has already given themselves to your product. Look at it this way, have you ever seen cable TV providers advertising on their own networks when you are already a customer? They do this to impress their existing customers to not only stay with them, but continue to purchase from them. This could be from current products/services or from upgrading or accessories. It is a marketing tactic that works and works well. Place that focus and you will reap the rewards over time.

  • Create a suggestion box for your customers. This could be a physical box or an online suggestion area. However it is important to hear from your customers. You may not hear from everyone, but you will hear from some. Some will be positive and some will be negative. Maybe you don’t want to hear about the negatives, but it is a necessary evil. You cannot learn from mistakes if you aren’t aware of them. Also, remember to always respond to everyone as quickly as possible. If they have a problem, get it fixed. If they have a compliment, send them a thank you response. Whatever you do, make sure you do it as quickly as possible, so they know you are attentive. Even the negative customers will be impressed with a quick response and give 2nd chances if you are quick enough. Tried and true, it always works.

  • Ask your customers if and how they would like to be contacted. Some people don’t mind handing over their personal information if they see value in doing so. An email newsletter is good at getting information about your product out the door. However if that email address information is all you need to collect, then make sure that is all that is requested. You may have a booth or a storefront and want to put a mailing list book out for customers to sign. That is absolutely fine, just make sure you are not asking for any additional information that you will not use. For example if you want to send an email newsletter, you don’t need to ask for the customers physical address and vice verse.

  • And finally, you can’t just tell people about your product/service, you have to show them. Nothing says “BUY ME” like a visual display. Giving them perspective helps to craft an understanding of the versatility of your product/service. You can create YouTube videos to show them how you make your products. You can create ebooks, or blogs explaining your products with photos. You can take action shots (no head shots) of your product in action to display in store/booth. There are many ways to present visually, explore and experiment for what works for your products. You may just find the golden key to help push your craft that much quicker out the door, but if you never try, then you will never know.

One final point. Before implementing any of these actions, it is important to emphasize that many things can bring stress to a business, but nothing more worse than the owner/operator. You will at times find yourself pulled in so many directions you can’t keep your head straight. Stay positive and things will always work out for the best. Always try to keep a positive attitude and you will always see positive returns. No, it isn’t easy, but with practice and time, as with everything, it can be become habit. When you make it a habit, then it becomes one less thing to worry about. Stress is a killer and a business killer at that. Staying positive will not only keep you sane, but prosperous and will also keep your customers happy as well as your business successful.

Crafty Marketing

So you have a craft business and you are frugal about what to spend on top of how to spend it. Those are excellent qualities and if your product has value then its time to start marketing your items. People want value and they want to know about great value. They want to know where to get it, how much it is and if its available now. If you have read our BLOG entitled “Crafting is Value Based“, then you are well on your way to getting a leg up on the competition out there. Make no mistake, the competition in the craft business is fierce but it is not unmanageable. Marketing is where you get the most exposure and we will discuss some free and inexpensive ways to get the most out of advertising those things you want to sell.

Sure there are plenty of ways to get your products in front of the customer and most of them are still viable to this day. You can rent a space, get a booth, consign your work to other shops or even sell outright for their markup. You can check out the local fairs/venues to see what rental space is going for these days. You can ask around to local community sales, like church rummage sales or even neighborhood yard sales. You can look into convention center events or even local business events such as “cash mobs”. These are all ways to get your products in front of the customer, but they can be limiting. They limit the amount of foot traffic that is possible to seeing what you have to offer. It can be dependent upon the timing local events or even bad weather. It can be frustrating to say the least because you can’t seem to get enough people to know about your wonderful craft. However, thanks to the internet, you don’t need an old “brick and mortar” storefront to sell your crafts in this day and age. There are plenty of ways to get your product seen and your craft known about, before you even step out your front door. The internet is where it all happens.

For some, who are not computer savvy, it can be daunting at best to learn. However, not impossible and for those few, who are willing to put forth the effort, the return on investment is eye-popping and jaw-dropping. So learning what specifically to do and when to do it, can be found on a number of articles across the internet and we are not going into details here. Here we will discuss points to look into and research for your own endeavors so that you can start everything you need with no money spent.

*Before starting this list of things to do, make sure that you never, ever mix family and business social media. If you already have a personal account on any of these sites mentioned, make sure you start over with your business. It starts with a brand/product and it never crosses over with personal connections. You can make personable connections and network, just not personal connections. Personal and Business never mix well.

So here are a few points to help get started on the internet. Make sure to do some research if you need anymore help:

  1. Make sure you create a Web site with your product. If you are serious about going into business, you will need one. There are Tons of FREE website providers that not only supply the web-space, but give you easily understood and controllable admin panels to create and update your website.

  2. Create FREE accounts with an email provider, for communication and customer interactions. Google, Hotmail and Yahoo are only a few of the FREE email services that are available.

  3. Create FREE Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus (Google +) accounts. Utilizing the free email account for your business in conjunction with these free social media outlets, allow you to connect to your customers directly and more personably.

  4. Create a FREE Facebook business (Fan) page. This is where you share your posts, stories, product photos, upcoming events, interesting topic related articles for more engaged discussions with your customers.

  5. If you do have an actual physical address, make sure to register it with FourSquare. This will give your business and your craft a place your customers know you are.

  6. Create a FREE LinkedIn account. This is for business related networking. Remember that business isn’t just about competition, but connecting. If you are able to connect to other businesses, they can show you paths to success, you never would have thought possible. Make sure to look for target companies on LinkedIn

  7. Create a FREE YouTube Channel. Create, upload and share videos that are related to new or unique ways to utilize your products.

  8. List your services on Craigslist, its FREE too. Businesses rarely think of this site as social media, but it has its place in value. Customers searching on craigslist will find your business quicker than individual items they may be looking for because of their search engine and how powerful tags can be to advertising.

  9. Create a marketing calendar to highlight a to-do list. Things to organize your time like a calendar, will help to manage all the things that will become daily chores in the world of marketing. It can quickly get out of hand and out of control if you don’t organize. Most of the FREE email providers include a calendar in your account. Utilize it so you can manage your time, otherwise your time will manage you.

When utilizing the internet to market your products/craft, it is best to take it slow. Learn everything you can about one thing, then implement it to the best of your ability. If that means taking each aforementioned point one day or one week at a time, then so be it. You can never be too slow to get it right the first time, not because your time is money, but because your money is time. Never waste it, but always utilize every bit you can to get it right the first time out.

Keep an awareness about your time, energy, effort. You can be savvy and diligent in your business as well as show how passionate you are about what you do. Producing fine quality handmade craft items to sell for a profit on the internet is not impossible, just make sure you have plenty of time and patience to dedicate to this endeavor.

As a final point, you should also never just show customers what the product is about, try to demonstrate why they need it and can’t live without the value. Remember that value is what they look for and crave, if you give them that value, they will beat a path to your door everyday.

Crafting is Value Based

With a multitude of craft types available in the marketplace and an economy that is sluggish at best, it can be tricky to sell your “wares” to a public that is certainly ready to buy, just very hesitant. They are ready to buy because they have been frugal with their money and saved, but that also means they are hesitant because they are frugal and reluctant to spend when it isn’t necessary.

If you are ready to sell, start with what you have and work your way up to a steady growth. Do not try to do everything all at once. Make every attempt to start small with what you have and grow very slowly. There is nothing wrong with slow growth and “taking things at a snails pace”. This is especially true in selling crafts as well as starting a small business. People are fickle and most recently very quick to discern what they need to spend and what something’s value is based on what they have to spend. In a nutshell, people don’t want to spend what they don’t have but more importantly they don’t want to spend what they have on anything, if they think it has no value.

A lot of small business owners will tell you that you need to focus on marketing, or customer satisfaction or quality or even “up-selling” accessories. While all of that is true to some degree, for a craft business to be successful, especially small start-ups, it always comes down to value. In crafting, value is what sells and nothing else. Not shiny, or expensive or some new “fangled” accessory. Simply put value is what the people want and need more than anything else.

Let’s put it this way, say, through quality you make the best necklace in the world. You market everything through Facebook/twitter/Google and have thousands of followers waiting for your product to be sold. You have a website ready to take orders. You have a “state-of-the-art” call back service and comment section where you can help customers with any issues that arise on the spot. You even went so far as to have additional accessories to add, that increase your profit margin. Now you come up with a price model and start to sell this necklace for a hundred dollars. You decided on this price point, to help offset the cost of start-up with not only materials, but the tons of time you have invested as well as the countless “marketing internet facilities” which you have invested into to get a leg up. It is understandable, but you will quickly find that you have successfully created a much smaller niche for selling your product than you were expecting. The reason is…value. People won’t pay for your expensive product if they don’t feel they have a need. And passing up an expensive craft is easier than breathing to a customer.

Make no mistake, all these things are helpful in due time. They do have their place and purpose which will serve to help promote and sell your products. Should you decide to go this route, nobody is faulting you for trying. It would be better to enter an arena of selling when you are ready to grow the value with the product. To even possibly expand your line of crafts to include both value and high-end items. However in the beginning, it is more wise to be reserved than it is to rush into things. Everything has its place and everything has its time. You do not need to be “The Craft King” overnight. You need to focus on your product and deliver the best value. That doesn’t mean the cheapest and it doesn’t mean no profit margin in giving away the product. It simply means creating a product that people will want AND is affordable.

If you do take your time, take things slow and present the best value for your customer, they will beat a path to your craft door every time.