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Day 3: Being Nice to other Handmade Sellers

When I was younger, I loved to be generous – I was always “that girl” who gave gifts to friends, made soppy handmade cards for my family member’s birthdays and begged spare change from my mom to give to a poor man. When I reached college however, something changed and I became less generous. I still love giving gifts to people but often stop myself from such behaviors to prevent heartache. I realized that some people don’t deserve gifts or affection and that I shouldn’t expect anything from them either. What is the point of this whole long drawn out paragraph you ask? Well, it is that we should learn to be generous – especially with our crafts.

When I jumped at the chance to teach a short jewelry making class at a hobby centre, even the Hobby Centre owners were skeptical of my decision. They couldn’t believe that I agreed – so many of the other successful handmade jewelry sellers refused to share their methods. I didn’t continue to teach at the centre as it was too far for me and some other reasons but it was still a good experience.
Why did I agree?

Mainly because it didn’t cost me anything to be nice. I didn’t have anything new and wonderful to teach that was not already available on the internet. I didn’t have anything better to do on the weekends than indulge in my love for beads. And I don’t know if it was out of naivete or stupidity but I didn’t think that teaching others would make them a threat to me and my business.
I can only teach how to make jewelry but I cannot teach others to make color combinations of beads. My style of jewelry is different – at least that’s what I believe, and just like I cannot copy other jewelry maker’s designs – I don’t think that they can either :)

After that I became selfish in a way. I tried to be protective of my small business. I didn’t disclose any suppliers, didn’t teach anyone and then I didn’t “grow” as a person or as a business in that period at all.

Being generous always contributes to good karma :)

I have often stopped myself from liking shops on Facebook because of some petty insecurities in my head that they were better than me. I have not appreciated other handmade artists because I felt like it would take away the spotlight from me. But one thing I realized recently is that I cannot do it all by myself. I can make my jewelry and share it on Facebook but I cannot share it to my friends if I didn’t have any :) I think growing older (ok I’m not that old) has made me more mellow….I have decided to “Like” other businesses on Facebook and share links more freely. I am trying to get back into my “I have nothing to lose and everything to gain” mentality. I am ready to open my mind to sharing and getting along :)

I recently participated in a Facebook page exchange where I got to share other talented artists and I got shared in return too. I have received so many positive vibes and such encouragement from it – not to mention that I also got many new “Likes” to my page.
Some ideas on how we can help each other:

  • Mark other shops as favorites either by liking their page, messaging them or by sharing them on your Facebook page.
  • Make collaborative products together that help all who are involved. For example, make jewelry that has beads made by a terracotta artist, or buy Thank You cards from paper crafters to include in your packaging.
  • Send out other shop’s business info with our orders as well as our own.
  • Buy products made by other crafters and gift to our friends along with the other crafter’s business card/details.
  • Feature other handmade artists and interview them on your blog.

So how are you planning to help another seller? Do you think kindness to others is better for your business or not disclosing your methods?
Any ideas on helping each other? Please share in the comments.

 

P.S: This is my last post for this week. I’ll be back on Monday with the rest of my posts on setting up my online store and other handmade business articles :)

Day 2: Setting Goals for my Biz

Goal setting is something I am not good at. The prospect of setting goals sometimes scares me and distracts me. “What goals should I have? Should they be specific or not” “I can’t work with goals – I’m not a machine.” All this and more runs through my mind each time I try to focus on this aspect.

Before I got married, I often used to feel sad that I didn’t have anyone to talk biz things over with ….but now my hubby is there for me :) I never seem to remember biz things when I talk to him after a long workday so I wrote stuff down and talked to him about it this week. I must say that having talked to him was the best thing that happened all week!! My hubby may not be a crafter, he hasn’t seen Etsy or read craft/ small biz blogs but he is seriously full of common sense :) I’ve got so many ideas from him and by just talking it over, I’m also all raring to go ahead with our plans. I think I should schedule in a weekly/ monthly Biz planning session with hubby for the future!!

That’s reminds me – I bought a cute Flip-flop notebook to write down all my business related thoughts. Having my plans and To-Do lists on paper helps me a lot since my brain is always all over the place :) So I think having a written plan is the best way to go forward.

My High-Level Goals for Siara in 2013

  1. Stock my shop with 60 products by December 2013 at least (Sounds do-able so far…let’s see :p )
  2. Form a system of work for Siara.
  3. Spread the word about my products – reach 200 likes on Facebook.

Handmade Business Tips

In summary, while creating an online shop or starting a handmade business, it is important to:

  1. Keep all business related thoughts in one place -other than on your mind!! Keep a Biz notebook with a section for Shop To-Do Items, Social Media Items, Purchasing and Budgeting, Marketing items and a list of tips that you see from other sellers. It is so easy to forget things if you don’t do this!
  2. Write down some big/ high-level goals that are still achievable and write down the time frame in which it is possible to do them.
  3. Have specific goals like making “X” number of items to sell in 6 months etc…this is better than a vague goal of “making some earrings and maybe bracelets to the shop whenever I have time”.
  4. Keep re-visiting your goals. Writing them down once doesn’t mean you can’t change them or that you have to forget about them. Maybe set a phone alram to help you remember to revisit your goals every month or two.
  5. Break down the bigger goals into smaller action items and schedule them into your time frame. I’ve got atleast one action item for each goal in my weekly To-Do list…..

What about you? Have you set your goals for your shop/ craft biz yet?? Please share them in the comments…

Day 1: Setting Up Shop

At 10.30 last night, I just couldn’t wait any longer. I created 3 listings on It’s Handmade.in – one bracelet, a pair of earrings and a necklace. And with a slight feeling of awe and horror – I took my shop off the Vacation Mode it was on. I think I had an adrenaline pumping experience and my eye balls nearly dropped out of my head with fear as my products started becoming visible to the public on the Recent Activity timeline of the website.

A little flashback – I had made some jewelry in July, pestered my talented brother to photograph them and I had my prices figured out! I had created my shop on It’s Handmade.in in the beginning of July and that was it! I don’t know what happened but it didn’t move forward for a whole month! I think it was/is a combination of fear of rejection, fear of hard work and commitment and just a whole anxiety and how to go forth.

These are my first three items:

I actually have more jewelry made and ready – I still have a lot of things to do before I can put them in my shop – more on that in a later post. I plan to do an official shop launch sometime towards the middle or end of August (here and on FB).

If you want to see more about what I make – please like my Facebook page so that you get all the latest updates.
https://www.facebook.com/StudioSiara