Are you interested in building a craft business? Do you want to sell handmade products to your customers and share the value of craft with you? Or are you planing to dig your own grave yard and to fail in craft business?
To tell you straight, it’s not easy to build any type of creative business, though it shared almost the majority of the income sources around the globe.
In the Philippines, many creative business perks are doing it, but they’re mostly underrated or less recognized. Unless you invest for a larger amount of money to spend for ads, for commercials or for hiring a famous model or blogger to promote your stuff, there is no way to increase your income and your exposure from it. “Word of mouth” is powerful. Apparently, this isn’t enough.
This is why before you gauge in this kind of attempt, you need to know almost everything about this or else you’ll fail in no time.
Last Sunday, I interviewed Ma-anne Garces from The Unique Bowtique PH, a Manila-based craft business in the Philippines selling handmade kids accessories. She launched her business in the last quarter of 2013, but she has already started planning during the early months of that same year. It was initially difficult for her as she intensively and carefully planned everything before she finally opened her business three years ago.
While I was interviewing her, I recalled those times when I was also doing the same thing when I and my sister ventured in craft business “La Simero Handmade” to sell handmade journals to people. Though the products seemed stunning and in fact we’ve impressed many customers, it wasn’t good enough to survive longer.
As expected, the business failed months after.
Before you’ll go through these rough times and fail in craft business, Ma-Anne shared a lot of important points from more than an hour interview to share the fundamentals of establishing this kind of endeavor before you build your own name in the creative industry.
Craft business starts with something unavailable.
She told me that she wanted to give something to her nieces during Christmas, but nothing uniquely stunning was available in the market. As simple as that, Ma-Anne realized that she has to start a business out from the experience of unavailability of the products she wanted. This is where her handmade kids accessories business idea was born.
Carefully plan everything in your business idea.
Being impulsive in this kind of arena is never a key to succeed in craft business. The Unique Bowtique PH founder and owner did otherwise in the past when she started.
“We did our research and there are so many online bow-tiques like us, but we leveraged on handmade/handsewn goodies. I know I can make use of my mom’s sewing skills since she’s really good at that,” Ma-anne cited.
When it comes to preparation, there are a lot of aspects you need to consider beforehand. It usually comes in mental, spiritual and physical readiness.
Mentally, spiritually, physically prepared.
When we define these three sections, it revolves on how equipped you are FOR REAL to delve in this venture. Are you aware of the stress and anxiety that come in the middle of your business?
Are you REALLY able to handle the stress before it reaches to the point you feel burn out later on?
Are you able to manage the sales, invoices, and other related obligations EVERY SINGLE DAY until the next 5 years? 10 years? 15 years? Or a month?
The list goes on. If you unable to manage these, go and fail in craft business. This is certain.
Creative business plan.
This is obvious for most of business enthusiasts. This paperwork is the most needed before building your creative kingdom (your shop). I don’t want to call it as a plain business plan but a CREATIVE BUSINESS PLAN, because this needs a high level of creativity to succeed.
With that said anyone requires flexibility in terms of possibilities and finalized plan from the endless resources to base everything with.
We admit it.
When it comes to craft business, lots of ideas will come out from our crazy and imaginative head. But these should be properly evaluated and designated whether these are really agreeable, attainable or these are just realized from impulsivity. It is hard, but in building a serious business like this, it’s required.
What to cover in your business plan? (See here for more details.)
In what specific location do you wish to build your shop? Is it online or a real-brick and mortar elsewhere? In case of online shop, where do you plan to establish it? Would you use Etsy, Zazzle, Shopify, or where?
Remember, for a real shop, you need to review the place when choosing a location to make sure its visible to your customers, not highly surrounded with the neighboring business and not too disturbed with the residence around it. Furthermore, you also need to guarantee the location’s safety as well. You should not miss this detail in your creative business plan.
This is really tough for craft business owners. Even Ma-Anne admitted that. “Marketing was even harder. We do know that some online shops send their products to celebrities and bloggers so they can be endorsed. It’s very hard to get noticed at first, especially if you’re a newbie on the online business,” she said.
“Getting more followers on Instagram was or is still a struggle! On Facebook, it’s quite easy since we just set a budget and pay,” she added.
Another struggle for most of the craft business owners is the pricing. The majority tend to suffer impostor syndrome, which greatly affects their income and their business in general.
Most of them have a tendency to under-price their handmade items thinking nobody could appreciate them if they price it too high. Some thought that they’re JUST handmade, so why should they give it a high price compared to those items that bigger manufacturers produce?
Consider these questions. If you agree to these, you better leave this business.
When it comes to pricing your items, consider your time consumed when you created the product, the effort you made to make it look good, the materials used to maintain its quality, including the shipping fees if they come from abroad like The Unique Bowtique PH. Most of the materials they use are shipped from the US!
Your business won’t work if you’re alone. I did it last year. From there, I grasped that it my first fatal mistake! Unlike me, Ma-anne asked help from her mother for creating the kids accessories.
Divide the tasks to certain people, who are MORE EXPERT than you in that area. This will lessen your burden you’re carrying in managing stuff. In that way, you can focus in the bird’s eye view of your craft business. Let your trusted folks do their assigned work.
Stocks, products, items
What specific products are you trying to sell?
To answer this, our interviewee has also shared her tips when it comes to deciding what items you can and can’t sell in your specified market.
She mentioned about originality. In our previous point, we noted about unavailability as your initial assessment for your prospect product. But this is NOT enough without in-depth research.
When you research, make sure you consider your market’s demographic profile and your close competitors’ items sold in the moment. From there, decide and define your edge.
Expenses (shipping of materials, rent, electricity, etc.)
As we stated in our previous point about pricing, these should also be taken consideration. When pricing your products, you need to review your expenses per month. So, that includes your shipping, rent, electricity, so on.
The reason behind this bullet is to let you COMPREHEND that when you price your product it isn’t just about the product itself, but the resources that caused your product’s outcome. Let’s say the machines you bought to make a cool looking hair pin or to bind a thick book.
You have to make sure your expenses made before will return through your profits. If you spent Php 5,000, guarantee that the same amount comes back in your pocket once you built your craft business. Let profit comes afterwards.
Tips! Tips! Tips! (Well, these are the final thoughts though!)
Customized items’ pricing
The majority of her products are priced around Php 125 to as high as Php 1,250 depending on thepeg, which are the materials to be used, labor, and time spent to complete the design. Then, the material costs depend on the complexity of the design. This happens if you open your business to customization. Aside from that, the complexity of the design also matters with your pricing as well.
Dealing with copycats
“It’s very insulting. Like you put so much effort to creating something unique and identifiable to the brand and then someone will just copy. And sadly the copy isn’t that good,” Ma-Anne shared.
Copycats are everywhere and inevitable. You really can’t control their existence. Instead of wasting your time dealing with them (file or sue them, well this is worse thing to happen in your business) and spend more money to shut them down, why not make your products recognizable and impossible to duplicate.
You know like branded clothes and footwear such as Levi’s, Converse, so on. Chinese products have a copy of each of their item. Swear! But instead of suing these small and illegal sellers that authorities can also do, they made sure their products are well-made and well-decipherable as real, especially to sharp-eyed customers.
“In a sea of online stores, find something that will make you will stanout to your prospective customers. In simpler terms, be unique,” Ma-Anne noted. This is exactly how you should make your craft business as a brand well-decipherable. You need to assure yourself and your business that it will stand out from the rest.
Marketing and outreach
“Always be visible in social media such as in Facebook and Instagram. Post regularly or everyday if possible. Look for bloggers or celebs who have a huge following as they can help boost your business,” she said.
For a craft business, specifically those who just started, brand prominence are a huge struggle. To reach out to your thousands of prospect clients, you have to approach to bloggers and individuals with a huge fan base to make sure many people will see and will eventually buy your product.
In summary, in this kind of business you are required to make a lot of effort and hard work. There are many things to consider and to review.
The point is, if you shower a lot of smart work and strategic initiatives for it, it will eventually grow and expand. Every big company started as a small garage work.
Be patient. Your hard work will pay off. Always keep in mind that you need to act smart and strategic. Your entrepreneurial goals will soon succeed. Just don’t stop working on it.
About The Unique Bowtique PH
Ma-anne Garces is the superwoman behind the amazing The Unique Bowtique PH, which is a Manila-based craft business, selling kids accessories. From the name itself, they’re obviously selling cool-looking hair pins and customized hair bows for kids. You can reach them out through their social media links: Facebook and Instagram.
Do you find this post helpful to your pre-planned creative venture? Does the content help your craft business planning? If yes, share your thoughts below. If you do, you can certainly help a lot of people like you who are struggling to build their business. To share, just click the social icons on the left sidebar or the ones below this post. Thank you so much, pals! 😛