Nordic Inspired Messenger Bag Musing on Handmade Business

I made this messenger bag out of this cool Nordic style fabric I bought at the thrift shop.
This was a gift for my nine year old’s teacher.
She is from Poland and this fabric reminded me of her for some reason.
I have been wasting way too much time this week obsessing about my blog! Should I change the name? Should I switch to WordPress? Should I start an online shop? After going to the Snap conference and seeing many succesful bloggers and businesswomen,I started to feel confused about what direction to go in. Many of these entreprenurs are moms too but manage to run succesful online buinesses and are making lots money advertising on their blogs. How on earth do they manage it all? One thing I learned is that it is a lot of work to get yourself noticed in the handmade business world. Twitter, google plus, facebook, blogs,giveaways, features. It seems like you have to be on the computer 24/7 just to get your shop noticed! Not to mention actually making the things you need to sell! My head has been spinning with ideas since then. So I have decided to start very small. An Etsy shop selling a few handmade gifts is about all I think I can manage.I did try an Etsy shop last year selling my upcycled sweaters but it fizzled out. I didn’t put the work needed into it and my photos weren’t very good. Photography is key for online shops, isn’t it? I would love to start making sewing patterns but have to learn how to make a PDF pattern first.I would love to hear how some of you with home based crafty or design businesses have started out. Do you sell on Etsy or at craft fairs or some other channel perhaps? I would love to hear from you!

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-McKenzie

Comments

  1. Carolyn says

    What a lovely bag! The fabric reminds me of that beautiful European folk-art, and I’m sure your daughter’s teacher will love it!
    Sorry, I have no good advice re starting a successful online business. I only sew for myself and my own family :)
    Thank you for your comment! I hope you do get to visit Australia one day, and you know you always have a friend here.

  2. says

    That is indeed a lovely bag, I love folk art designs.

    eCommerce and online social media can be very overwhelming. Two years ago I started an Artfire shop Penelope Rose with vintage jewelry, patterns and fabrics. Then opened my Etsy shop a few months later, Oso Victoria for vintage clothes and collectibles, last year I separated out the collectibles from the clothing and opened another Etsy shop, Camron D. What I like about Artfire, especially for low cost patterns is that you don’t need to re-list every four months, and the flat monthly rate fee is very low. Etsy is a great site for my vintage clothing and collectibles, although this last week I put a few items on ebay, free listings, just to see if there is any movement in this market. And, I am going to open another Etsy shop for handmade designs, jewelry, clothing, home decor. I also have a very neglected Bonanza site for non vintage cool stuff.

    I do all the social media stuff too, but my kids are all grown, I don’t have to think about school, homework, activates, laundry, feeding them, shopping, and all the time consuming things a mother does for the love of her family, also currently not employed, but that is changing this week, going to do part time work with dementia folks.

    Oh yes, I have done craft fairs in the past and will be starting those back up again, maybe this summer with a group of other ladies, but I really don’t have a ton of handmade stock.

    So, my thought is why do you want to do what it is you want to do?

    • Justine says

      Hi Victoria.
      Thanks for such a detailed answer and advice. I do have to ask myself if it is something I should take on when my plate is already very full. Would love to check out your shops. Could you send me the links or I will stop by your blog.

  3. says

    Your comment about how overwhelming it can be to market a craft business really struck a chord. I started my business just over a year ago, and found the best way for me is to focus on a few things that work, and try a very limited number of new ideas alongside them. I sell on Folksy (UK version of Etsy) and find listing frequently (I have a target of 5 items a week) works well for sales. I also sell at craft fairs and have a list where I’ve been successful and the visitors are the ‘right’ ones for my products. Then I’ll try new fairs, but no more than one new event every couple of months – there’s nothing worse than standing behind a stall not selling anything! I’ve just started a sewing blog, after many months of thinking about it and finding what I wanted to write about. So my advice is don’t try to do everything, but select a few ideas, give them a go and see what works for you. Good luck!

    • Justine says

      Hi Dottiedoodle,
      That’s good advice and I think I will take it. Craft fairs can be very expensive s it is good to research the customer ase first I suppose. We have a big fair here called Renegade Craft Fair but it is 400$ for a booth!

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