I originally posted this on the blog for With Heart Handmade Market of which I am a co-founder. I thought it would be something nice to share with you guys too!
Hello crafters and craft lovers! This is Brittany from the With Heart Team. I have been pretty MIA lately and this is my first blog post. I wanted to sort of give my crafting ‘testimony’ for all of you struggling crafters out there.
People have described me as an “Etsy Success Story” which is very humbling for me. I have my absolute dream job right now but it took me a long time to get to this place and it is still a struggle for me. Since graduating from college in 2009 with a Bachelors of Religious Studies degree, I still haven’t been able to find a full time job. For the first 18 months after graduating I worked part time in a bakery and as a waitress in my Aunt and Uncle’s seasonal lakeside restaurant in my home town. Early last fall, I found myself without a job completely. I moved back in with my parents and crocheted all day, mostly just to pass the time. I had started an Etsy store two years previous and had a total of 71 sales. It had been my dream to be able to make money in a crafting business for many many years and so averaging less than one sale per month was pretty soul crushing.
I started making hats for babies and children and had quite a few piled up in my bedroom. One evening I decided on a whim to add them to my Etsy store. When I finished adding the 10 or so listing, my mother and I went out to dinner, by the time we got back I had made three sales. I had finally after two years found my Etsy niche. This was in early September, by January 1st I had over 500 sales.
There was a HUGE learning curve for me in this business. I got in way over my head, refusing to close my shop temporarily to catch up on orders when I was 50 or more behind, I almost became addicted to making sales. Customers were having to wait up to 6 weeks for me to have their hats finished. After a lot of negative feedback and humiliating e-mails from mad customers I learned my lesson. The customer comes first! Sounds pretty simple, right? It was a pretty humbling experience. Here I was, finally being ‘successful’ in what I love and I was blowing it. It took a lot of financial struggle, tears and sore wrists to figure out a good balance between work and play and being a good business woman and being a bad business woman. I am definitely still learning and I will soon be entering into my second holiday season, hopefully with some inventory!
My advice to current crafters who want to make it into a business is to never, ever give up! And don’t be afraid to play around a little bit before you find your place on Etsy or whatever venue you decide to use to sell. You might have some sleepless nights and have to make sacrifices, but it is worth it!
With All My Heart, Brittany
If there are any readers out there who are fellow crafty businesswomen (or men!) don't be afraid to share your tips of the trade!