In this post, I am answering some questions that I got on Instagram about starting and running a craft and/or cross stitch business.
I don’t really have any intentions of doing this professionally; this isn’t something I want to branch into so to speak but I do recognise how hard it is when you first want to get started in business. Especially if you don’t know anyone who’s done it before. Or if the person you do know who’s done it before is on Instagram and not really a friend you could ask questions too.
When I started Hannah Hand Makes I was lucky to be part of a group of women that helped me get set up. And I’ve just been getting quite a lot of questions about starting/running a business so I’m answering some of them here.
You can listen to the podcast episode below or keep scrolling to read the post instead.
9 Craft Business Q&As
1. “Should you start selling to family and acquaintances to test it or go all out?”
This question came from @domocraftstudio.
If by all out you mean invest loads of money in getting a website or purchasing loads of stock, etc I probably wouldn’t do that straight away. But you also don’t necessarily have to just start with friends and family either.
You can try those at first, it’s kind of how I got started, but just don’t be put off or disappointed if they don’t buy. Friends and family might support you and like what you do but they might not be your customer.
I sell cross stitch kits and when I started there was nobody else in my family who cross stitched. You need to find obviously people who do want to buy from you.
I always recommend, especially for craft businesses, just start on Etsy instead. This is something that you can do without investing a lot of money; it’s pretty much free to start. You can use this link and we both get 40 free listings if you set up a shop.
There are also loads of tutorials online about Etsy but they guide you through setting up as well. I think it’s just such a good entry point as it can put you in front of people who want what you sell without it costing you anything.
2. “What were the first steps you took to set up?”
This question came from @hannahsxstitch
I don’t mind telling you this because I think it’s always interesting to hear how somebody got started with a business. But the way I started isn’t what I recommend now.
So when I started selling Facebook was how all of us crafters sold our items, so I literally set up a Facebook page, I posted in some Facebook groups and just started selling that way. Now that actually can still work, I’ve seen it if you’re in the right kind of Facebook groups. But Facebook shows so much less of that kind of content on there now and obviously people who aren’t on Facebook can’t find you. So I quickly realised that Facebook is limited in many ways and it’s not meant to be a place to sell on.
So the next step for me was Etsy and then I also got accepted to Not on the High Street. That is like a sort of U.K. version of Etsy. We do ship worldwide on Not on the High Street but majority are just are targeting people in the U.K. It’s kind of likea gift type of store; Christmas is very busy on there.
And then after that, only once I had Etsy and Not on High Street done, I started my website and email list. Then everything just slowly evolved from there.
But I do think if I was starting from scratch right now I would jump on Etsy for sure. And I would probably either start blogging or at least set up my own website a bit quicker just so I could start building my own community straight away.
The one problem with places like Etsy and Not on the High Street is that people who buy from you won’t always remember that it’s you they’ve bought from. If somebody says “oh where did you get that cross stitch kit?” their answer will be “Etsy” and not “Hannah Hand Makes” so that can be a little bit of a problem.
3. “Is there anything you wish you done differently in the early days of your business?”
This question came from @kjoosowski.
This is hard; I feel like I don’t want to regret anything because everything that you do gets you to where you are today. And where I am today I’m quite happy with. Although I probably could have got here a bit faster if I did some things differently. But at the same time, I had two kids at home for a lot of my business so I couldn’t grow too fast because I didn’t want it to overwhelm me.
Put less effort into social media
I do think now I kind of wish I’d put much less effort into social media at the start and more into getting the foundations right. I was so focused on growing my Facebook page and my Instagram at the start. But honestly apart from my big summer sale and a big Christmas sale I do on Facebook I don’t sell through Facebook or Instagram unless I’m doing paid advertising (but do not do that the start).
It’s funny considering how much effort I put in I still only have like 3000 followers on Instagram; not a big following at all and I’ve had my Instagram account for five years. I’m trying now to sort of concentrating more on stories and sharing behind the scenes with you and going live with you. And now I just kind of use social media as a way to connect with you all and just let it be easy and don’t stress over it like I used to do.
I do think social media for some people is such a massive asset to their business and they sell so much from it. But for me, it just never went like that.
Invested in business eduacation
I kind of also wish that I’d invested in help more at the beginning, but I say that knowing that Hannah five years ago would never have done this. But now I can see how much difference actually paying for someone to help can make.
I’m now at a place where £200 goes on just business memberships every month and they have helped my business grow so much this year. But if you would have told me even just last year that I’d be spending £200 a month on business coaching I would have laughed out loud.
I know at the start you can’t invest £200 a month in business coaching but you could invest in some other things.
Obviously you have to invest a little in some stock at the beginning. But when I invested in help for the business the first time it was actually a business bundle for £50. And at that time I was genuinely indecisive about whether I should pay for this bundle or not; at the start of a business every penny counts, literally, and I was determined I wasn’t getting into debt for this business.
Then after I invested in that bundle I wanted to change my website provider but I knew I could not do that myself. So I invested in someone to do that for me and that was £300. And again I was worried about that £300 and that was only a few months later. I went from worrying about spending £50 to worrying about spending 300 in just a few months. So you can see how that £50 bundle helped my business grow a little bit.
Then after that again I kept investing in courses; little odd ones here and there between £20 and £50 and then this year I invested in the biggest course I’d invested in and that was £450. And now also I have memberships that are about £200 a month. So you can see how it’s grown over the past three years (the first 2 years I did not invest in any help) and honestly not once have I regretted any of those investments.
You can literally start with a book though; as I said I’m not telling you to go and join £150 when you’re starting your business. But maybe buy a book about marketing and branding or e-commerce. There are loads of books about marketing and business and things out there.
And there are also courses about selling on Etsy; just have a little Google. They probably would have helped me so much at the start but that was not even something on my radar. I would not have even thought you know I’m going to go and buy a course to learn how to use Etsy. But now I wish I had invested in a little course just to sort of save me some time; I had two kids and my time was precious!
4. “How did you choose your price points and how do you make your business stand out?”
This question came from @lottieglitter
It’s tough when you get started knowing how to price; you usually want to price a bit cheaper so people buy your thing but then you also need to make sure you’re actually making a profit. So for me, I basically add up everything it costs to make a kit, and then I add on the time it takes to package the kit and then you add on a percentage for profit and you get the price. There are calculators online for working out prices.
You can have a little look at what other people are pricing their kits for but try not to let this influence you too much. I honestly used to be one of the most expensive kit sellers on Etsy. But I am very picky about the brands that I use in my cross stitch kits; I only use Elbessee hoops, Zweigart aida and DMC threads. So I can’t let someone else who doesn’t use these brands, which are the most expensive brands you can probably buy in cross stitch supplies, influence my prices, or I could end up losing money.
Know your worth with your pricing. I do think we start with low pricing when we’re getting started because it makes us feel a bit more comfortable. But don’t be scared to raise them a little bit. If you make a good quality product and have good customer service skills people will buy from you.
You have to try and find out exactly who you’re talking to and what makes you different.
Cathy Heller talked about this in a recent podcast episode; what is the reason for us to all have different fingerprints? There’s no reason for that, but she likes to think it is because we all are going to leave a completely different and unique imprint on the world. And I have to agree with her.
It doesn’t matter if there are 100 cross stitch kits sellers already out there. You might be thinking well what’s the point in me coming in and trying to sell. Well, we all have different styles and we all have different people we attract.
So for me in particular, I’m not about to create a crazy large pattern. I’m all about small and easy patterns and kits and I mostly serve beginners in cross stitch because I love helping get people started. I also love serving mums. I know that not every person who listens to this podcast, who follows me on Instagram or reads my blog is a mum. However, I do talk a lot about how mums, in particular, can fit their hobby into their life because that’s where my passion is. I love helping busy mums who are running around all day take some time for themselves. So that’s the two big things for me; I serve beginners and I serve mums.
But it’s that sort of balance between knowing who you’re talking to but also recognising that people will come into your community and into your business who aren’t that exact person as well.
I could be that your style of product makes you stand out too. I think of Satsuma Street; a lot of her patterns are all very similar and they have a definite style about them.
There will be something about your or your style; it might take you a while to find it but there will be something that makes you stand out from everybody else.
5. “How much should I be investing in stock at the beginning ?”
This question came from @sew.far.sew.good.
So at first I recommend actually not investing in stock until you have some sales. You might need a little bit of stock to make things but then list them and put your delivery times a couple of weeks. And then once you’ve got a few orders you can invest in the stock you need for the orders, plus a little extra. And then once you’ve got that little extra you can reduce your delivery times down again. Eventually, you’ll just start building up your stock over time.
Even now I don’t keep a whole load of stock, mainly because of space. But also because I have so many different products and kits I can never predict what’s going to take off one month. So I wait for the order to come in and then I make the kits up.
So it just depends on how you want to work. If you only have two products or two kits that you’re selling you could make a few of them up and then have a quick turn around time. Or you ccan have a longer turn around time and make them as the order comes in.
6. “What’s the best way to approach potential stockists?”
This question came from @themakersmarks
In all honestly I just Google brands that I want to use my cross stitch kits, wrote “wholesale” at the end, and just found different wholesalers that sell that brand I want to use.
There are also trade shows (before the pandemic of course), I could just never get to them because I was breastfeeding, and leaving overnight was not an option. I’d love to get to one next year though! If you’re in the U.K. there are trade shows in Birmingham (the next one will probably be Spring 2021) and there are probably some in London as well.
If you Google needlecraft wholesalers or haberdashery wholesalers a few will come up
7. “How do you find so much content to post daily ?”
This question came from @bryanjmills_
This genuinely made me laugh because I actually don’t post daily. Well, I guess I kind of do to my Instagram stories. I think I’m just really lucky that my business is also my hobby so I just find it really easy to share what I’m stitching or any tips or tutorials. Just kind of share my life.
I know most of you so well and I see all of your comments in the Facebook group so I just know where you’re struggling and I try and help you. And also all the emails I get, they actually give me ideas sometimes for podcasts and blog posts. Even this episode came from having so many questions about starting a business. I thought well I may as well just do a podcast about it and answer everyone’s questions in one go.
8. “How long did it take you to be able to make a living out of your business?”
This question came from @les_broderies_d_ophelie.
I share a very long and personal story to this in the episode above, that would take way too long to repeat here right now. But basically 5 years! It’s tough starting a business and it takes a lot of determination, it really does. Businesses are not always that overnight success you might see on Instagram. Especially when you have kids at home who don’t sleep and they breastfeed until I had two and a half. But I love Hannah Hand Makes and couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
9. “Are you currently hiring anyone?”
This question also came from @les_broderies_d_ophelie.
So I have actually just taken on a virtual assistant but I’m not hiring anyone else for right now. But I’m going to tell you my Little Dream!
I would love one day to have space outside of my home where someone can come and help me or basically takeover fulfilling orders and making kits and that shop side of the business. I love doing that but sometimes I prefer podcasting and blogging. I’d love someone to just like come in and run the shop.
That’s not going to be for like another two years probably, maybe even longer, but that is my Little Dream right now.
I hope these craft business questions and answers helped you if you’re thinking of starting or already running a craft/cross stitch business. Please leave any other questions you might have in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them ASAP.
And be sure to follow me on Instagram where I regularly do Q&A posts like this to answer on the podcast. @hannahhandmakes.
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Carefree Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/