Starting an Art and Craft business is one area that many creative individuals aspire to excel in. And they have valid reasons to do so. The best part of starting an art and craft business is that it can be easily accommodated into your daily routine. You can easily take time out from your regular chores and craft meaningful things; be it after dinner, before your kids wake up, on the weekends; the list is endless. In fact, in the US alone, the total size of the creative industry is $43.9 billion, a significant increase of 45% from the year 2011.
However, taking it to a level where your products sell is not that easy. In addition to the skills to create something artistic, there goes a great amount of market research and the ability to differentiate your business, so that it is easily identifiable to the customers. And so to assist you in succeeding in art and craft business, we have enlisted the important steps. Though I would recommend you to go through our article basic steps of starting a business with this article for better insights.
Niche and Demographics
Conducting an in-depth market research is imperative in starting an art ‘n’ craft business. It is important to identify a niche that has a market, easy availability of components and is going to transform into a profitable business for you in the future. In other words, create something people are going to buy. One must keep into consideration the gender, age, areas of interests, likes or dislikes, needs and wants of the right audience. An arts ‘n’ crafts business can be categorized into the following 2 segments: Application Segment
- Home Use
- Commercial Use
- Educational Use
- Painting/Drawing/Calligraphy/Print Making
- Craft tools
- Card Making/Paper Crafting
- Jewelry making
- Floral crafts
- Cake and food decorating
- Cross-Stitch, Embroidery, Needlepoint, Needle Felting etc.
- Fabric/ Sewing craft
- Ready to decorate Woodcrafts/ Fashion crafts
- Sculpture/Pottery/Glass Crafting
- Kid’s craft
- Al other crafts
Secondly, while at the initial stage, refrain from taking too much and be all over the map with your product line. Focus on where your strengths lie and with time and experience, you can expand more. Visit local libraries to find business magazines, large gift centers or markets and try to understand the gap in the market. For instance, in the ‘Handicraft’ category, one can think of the following business options:
- Applique and Patchwork
- Candle Making
The next important step is to prepare a robust and detailed business plan. Taking out time to carry out necessary planning and research is extremely important when your business is in its fledgling stage. You can anticipate all your problems and come up with solutions if your business plan is in place.
While starting an Art and craft business, you need to understand that it is a low cost business. And, most of the low-cost businesses are associated with 2 major problems that one should know how to deal with:
1. Firstly, there are a lot of competitors around such businesses as many people are interested in doing such business owing to low-cost investment.
2. Secondly, creativity is another issue as many people are doing similar things with great levels of creativity, thereby posing a pressure for you to stand out.
So you need to make a fabulous business plan that can easily overcome these 2 problems.
Here are some of the areas that your business plan should address:
- What are your business goals?
- Who is your target market?
- What makes your products unique and competitive?
- How do you plan on financing your business? What is your business budget and costs incurred?
- How are you planning to sell? What will be your profit margins?
- Location rent- not applicable if you start from home
- Legal- Rs. 15,000- Rs. 20,000
- Craft supplies- Rs. 50,000 per month
- Advertising- Rs. 10,000 per month
- Website Domain- Rs. 699/month
- Digital Camera/ Smart Phone- Rs. 15,000- Rs. 40,000
- Packaging- Rs. 10,000 per month
Focus on Creativity and Aesthetics
Especially in an art ‘n’ craft business, creativity and aesthetics are of prime importance as mostly people are enticed to buy your products by just looking at them. So, it is important that your product looks equally good from 9ft and 9 inches both. In other words, it should look as appealing from all distances and should not disappoint a buyer who gets pleased with the attractiveness of your product from a distance. And if you intend to showcase your products online, it should look equally good and enticing in images as well.
An effective way of getting new art and craft ideas and bringing creativity is by visiting craft fairs, art business conferences, scour the internet, talk to other crafters and read trade publications. Keep abreast with the latest happenings among your competitors too. Take regular feedback from your clients and constantly innovate and improve yourself according to the market trends. Creating a persona of your target customer is the right thing to do. At the time of selling, packaging of your products should be as good as the product itself. A successful tactic in an art and craft business is ‘Customization’. The key is to understand the customer’s requirement and craft something enticing that it is liked by the audience instantly.
Especially in an art ‘n’ craft business, networking plays a crucial role owing to the nature of the business and the ease with which one can connect with like-minded people. There are a plenty of networking opportunities available for you to explore and increase your base. Few of them I am sharing here:
1. One way of doing it, especially when your business is in its nascent stage is, to join an existing crafter’s group or club, or start your own, in case there are limited or no options available. Doing this gives you access to thousands and thousands of people who are willing to exchange art and craft ideas.
2. Make contacts with re-sellers as this might be a sure shot way to increase our network and be assured of repeat and bulk purchase of your craft products.
3. You can also consider forming a mini group of freelance craft makers on social media and collaborate with people with like minds to start a craft business of your own. The opportunities are endless.
4. Look for local craft retailers and post about your business on their bulletin board. Look out for artists’ and crafters’ forums in your city and connect with them on various mediums.
5. Art & craft business conferences and craft fairs are also an excellent route to source potential buyers and make connections with people in the same business.
6. A great idea is to send all the contacts a discount code so that they are enticed to make their first purchase with you.
Raw Material Required
Next important step is to research manufacturers that provide raw materials at reasonable prices as compared to those offered by retail stores to improve your profit margins. Establish a business relationship with these manufacturers and wholesale dealers and distributors of raw materials. Not to forget, buying directly from manufacturers and wholesale dealers require a business license and a sales permit so make sure this is done in advance. Here is a list of some of the raw materials that you might require:
- Floral products
- Hand tools and power tools
- Scissors, glues, ribbons etc.
- Packing materials like wraps, bags and gift boxes
Finding vendors that have wholesale terms allows you to purchase items at a discount. Also, opt for appealing packaging while selling your products to the customers. Purchase labels with your company name on them as well.
Location and Legals
One amazing thing about starting your own craft business is that these can easily be initiated as a home-based business. So once you have registered your art and craft business, start by picking an ideal space around your home where you intend to store inventory, take care of business details including bill paying and making your craft product. Just make sure that you can work uninterrupted and you are easily able to segregate your work area from your living space.
Alternatively, you can rent a shop and set up the place with the basic amenities. Opt for a desk to carry out all the required business paperwork, a filing cabinet for filing orders and receipts, shelves for storage and basic office supplies. Allow sufficient space to store materials and manufacture finished goods and also to display your products. Make sure that your shop should have only glass walls and is at such a location where a large number of people who you intend to target pass by very frequently.
And not to forget to take insurance for your craft business. Whether it a home-based craft business or a proper office business, taking an insurance will always safeguard you in your adverse conditions.
Especially in a craft business, it sometimes becomes easy to underestimate the skills and efforts gone into the process of creating beautiful items so we tend to underprice what we make. One has to always make sure to price all your products for profit and try not to compete on price. Do some market research and know what others are selling similar products for, and decide on your pricing accordingly. Also, never forget that you need to pay your bills to keep your profit margins intact.
Also, if you are relying on business loans or investors to help you kick-start your business and buying supplies in bulk, equipment, advertising and other materials, one must also establish the pricing for all these things in advance. One way of pricing your products is according to the cost of materials, labor, packaging, postage, administration and including a profit margin. Another way is to price according to the market- considering prices offered by your competitors and how much are your buyers willing to buy for. Distinguish your craft business through quality or uniqueness instead of just the price. For those of you planning to sell products in wholesale to other stores, also consider wholesale and a retail price.
Usually, people never consider taxes while setting up prices for their art and crafts, so make your you know taxes that are applicable on art and craft items before setting up the prices.
Advertisement and Marketing
As far as promoting your art and craft business, there are plenty of ways to do so.
1. One can advertise by exploring free options like Craiglist. You can also find craft stores in your area and approach them for advertising.
2. Press coverage is also a great way to propel your business to success. Write a press release with catchy subject line and send it to publications. Contact magazines of your choice and email the relevant editor. Build a rapport with journalists over twitter so that they can contact you at some point later.
3. Another enticing way is to sell your crafts online. Etsy, for example, is a popular market for handmade items that is being used by many crafters. The fees are reasonable and there is a strong and supportive community of artisans. Positive feedback from clients can be very helpful for your business in the long run here. Etsy reported a 19.4% increase in active sellers in the year 2015, for a total of 1.5 million worldwide, and a 25% increase in active buyers.
4. For both online and offline craft business, having a website is a great idea. A web page strengthens your brand and allows users to learn more about your business. Invest in a domain name and re-direct it to your online store.
5. Make use of Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram, in particular, to engage with your audience and establish the dialogue with them.
6. Have beautiful photos that make your art and craft business stand out and add amazing descriptions with each post. Basically, make your page as creative and attractive as you possibly can so that your audience can have a sense of your creativity.
7. The key to successful advertising for art and craft business is to show your face or at least your hands during viral video ads. Doing this adds a great deal of personalization into your products, something that audiences love to see.
8. Additionally, bid on Google AdWords.
9. Make use of ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ buttons in every post and video. Also, use relevant hashtags on every post to increase the popularity.
10. Utilize festivals and events and advertise accordingly.
Basically, remember that an art and craft business is all about creativity and good craft ideas, so one must be able to advertise in a creative way. Adapt to the latest trends and find new ways every month. Focus on the advertising tactics that give you maximum results and try to incorporate those in your strategies as much as you can.
Sell Your Art and Craft
Turning your craft passion into a viable business is incomplete without having a potential pool of sellers who can make sure that your products reach the right audience. Remember that never negotiate because your products are unique and innovative. Stay genuine and emphasize on fixed price. Make as many as re-sellers as you possibly can. Also, start affiliate programs.
Here is a list of sellers where you can plan to sell your art and craft products:
- Craft fairs and craft malls
- Flea markets
- Classified ads in craft magazines
- Retail outlets
- Online marketplace like Etsy, Artfire, Libbet etc.
- Online auction sites like eBay, TopHatter, DailyPaintworks etc.