Monday, August 20, 2012

So You Want to Start a Shop

If you're anything like me, creativity is in your blood. It courses through you and you have a desire to just get it out there. To share it. To use your hands, make a mess, and step back and take in your handiwork.

For me it's jewelry. I started making jewelry early in college. A friend and I learned together, and we'd spend hours pouring over beads, laying them out, and putting them together in fresh new ways.

I opened my shop the summer of 2010. People open handmade shops for lots of different reasons. For me, my personal jewelry box couldn't handle anymore bits and baubles, but my desire to create was as strong as ever. So I thought I'd share.

So you want to start your own shop? There are a few things to consider to make sure you're starting out on the right foot!

Why do you want to open up shop?
First and foremost I'd encourage you to ask yourself "why." Do you simply want some extra spending money to finance your hobby? Do you want to eventually do this full time? Do you want to share your passion with others?

Or do you see everyone else doing it?

Of course, I'd caution against opening a shop because it's trendy or it seems like every blogger has one these days.

If you genuinely have a desire to work hard promoting your passion, then jump on in.

What will you sell and what makes it unique?
Decide what you'll focus your attention on. Will you make just a few things in a variety of colors? Will you expand your line into lots of different areas? Will you sell made-to-order items or will you have everything ready to ship?

I started out making and selling one thing, and now my items look very different. It's a-ok for your style evolve as your shop does, but thinking about these things will make the process much easier.

Where will you sell?
There are lots of platforms for selling handmade items online. Do your research, get to know what's best for you. Gussy Sews has a great post about Etsy vs Big Cartel and By Aimee & Co features some great posts about this topic in her eCommerce series.

How will you finance your start up?
You'll hear it time and time again -- you have to spend money to make money. It's true, but I would also say to not spend too much. If you're using some of your family's income to help start up shop (like I did) use it wisely. Buy the supplies you need, account for PayPal and shop fees, and maybe set aside a bit for advertising.

Don't go crazy! It's easy to want to buy business cards, custom packaging supplies, lots of new supplies for all kinds of products, to buy an ad spot all over the internet, and do giveaways a plenty. But from my experience, take it slow. Those are wonderful things you can add over the course of your shop as business and sales pick up.

Other things to consider:
Talk to your spouse -- they will play a role in helping to motivate and support you, set up at craft fairs, or even make necklaces (speaking from personal experience)
Open your own shop checking account
Create a budget
Explore online money management programs -- I use
Learn how to price your items
Create a giveaway budget (and don't forget cost of shipping)
Ask a few favorite bloggers to review an item

Did I miss anything? Do you have any tricks to add? Us Sashes girls are here to help if you have questions!

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