Last May, I was feeling inspired. I owned a thrifted sewing machine and decided I wanted to make my first bag, zipper and all. I found a couple tutorials online, and used parts of both to create the bag I wanted. I like the end result so much that I took photos of it and put it on Etsy. I already had a shop that sold jewelry, but it hadn't been active in a while. So I listed this purse and it sold in less than 5 minutes. I was shocked. So I made another bag and put it on Etsy a couple days later. And it sold the same day. So maybe I was on to something? Since that time, Brighter Day has exploded in the best way. I was able to stop teaching painting classes because sewing was keeping me busy and helping put me through nursing school. I never expected it.
So in thinking about the last 8 months, I thought of some advice (and some pros and cons of running a handmade business)... take it or leave it, of course, but I thought it might be helpful to those who are thinking of opening up a handmade shop.
Take good pictures. This is obvious, but good pictures sell. They really do.
Make what you love, and keep making what sells. Keep track of the items, colors, styles that are selling the most and make more of them. And make something you're really proud of. It makes a big difference. For example, I used to make jewelry for my shop and made a few hundred sales with it - but when I started making purses... for bridesmaids... the shop went crazy. So I still make jewelry, but I focus on what sells - the bags.
DON'T GIVE UP! I see this all the time... people complaining that nothing's selling, it's too hard, etc. Running a homemade business is not for pansies. (Haha did I just say that?!). It takes so much hard work, so much that you probably didn't realize all that goes into it (registering for a business license in your state? budgeting? staying up til 2am to finish an order?). Yeah. It's hard. But it can be worth it.
It's a 24 hour business. Unless you've clearly stated in a very obvious spot in your shop that you won't be responding to messages within 24 hours, you have to respond to messages within 24 hours (at the very most). There are some laid back customers, but I've found they are few and far between (maybe that's because I work with brides?!).
People can be suuuuper picky. I guess I've let this happen, though, because I offer custom bags. I'm happy to accommodate requests, but when people need me to match a color exactly that's called "fern oasis," that can be a problem. (What do you think fern oasis looks like? Beats me.) I've spent lots of my life driving all over town hunting for colors that don't exist.
You get to work from home! For me, I couldn't be happier about this aspect. I get plenty of social interaction and outside world experience from going to nursing school, so coming home and drinking tea, listening to a sermon, and holing up in my sewing room is amazing. I can picture that for stay-at-home moms, this would also be a pretty ideal setup. Get work done during naps!
You get to be creative. And be paid for it. Always a plus in my book.
Repeat customers are fun. It's neat getting to know people somewhat through all the convos and orders. I have a few amazing customers who are so sweet and encouraging.
Any other Etsy sellers have input? I'd love to hear!