Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Using My Gifts for Giving or Gain

Denver Broncos crochet baby hat with ear muffs
The baby hat that started it all
Back when I was working full time at my first company and things would get hard, I would dream about being a stay-at-home mom and maybe making money on the side doing crafty stuff on Etsy.com. Fast forward to today, and I'm on a double date with K, K's friend Shawn, and Shawn's wife Shauna (yeah yeah not a very original nickname, but she's just has a bit part in my life). Anyway, she noticed the cute baby hat and matching mittens I had made Dexter (yes, we brought him on our double date) and exclaimed, "Did you make those??" Apparently, she was just starting a business selling handmade baby items and had even exhibited at some local craft fairs. Over the course of the event, she would make maybe $300 to $400, which was good money but not worth the hours of manning the booth all weekend. A more profitable technique was to sell her goods at boutique stores, so she asked if I'd like to make anything for sale.

Sure, why not? I like to crochet and knit in my free time, and I have a gazillion balls of scrap yarn perfect for making baby accessories. So I sent off some samples (aka stuff I made for Dexter), and she shopped them around to the boutique stores. Immediately, the first shopkeeper wanted to know a) how long it would take me to make that hat and mitten set and b) how many I could crank out in a month. Ugh. I wasn't thinking of crocheting non-stop in every spare second I have after work and I especially don't like making the same thing over and over again.

So with this sudden dose of reality, my career as a mainstream seller of homemade yarn crafts came to a swift end. I told Shauna that if I ever had any extra time and wanted to make something for sell, I'd send it her way, but none of this "making things on a schedule." >_< I definitely prefer making spontaneous gifts rather than assignments for sale.

Crochet bobble beanie with flower
The final "I give up" hat
Speaking of homework, Shauna asked me if I could duplicate this old hat of hers, which I readily agreed. I mean, how bad could it be? (Why do I always get myself in trouble like that?) When I reverse engineered it, turns out it was using some kind of X-shaped crossed double crochet stitch I had never done before, which isn't a big deal in and of itself. But she said her favorite thing about the hat was the fit, and darn it all, the math to figure out the correct number of X's to match her head size was annoying as heck since I was using a different type of yarn and had to guess on the hook size. So I frogged that attempt and tried hat #2 using the Diamond Ridges pattern, which I've made before. I don't want to talk about it, but let's just say that hat ended ill-fitting as well. Finally, I gave up trying to make it look like the original hat and cranked out hat #3 using the In Bloom Cap, and while it's the best fitting version yet, it's still slightly too tight! The perfectionist in me wants to make it again with 29 bobbles instead of 28 bobbles because then I know it would be sublime, but I don't care any more!! What I really want to make is a baby blanket for Dexter before winter ends to keep him warm because funnily enough, no one gave me any afghans for his baby shower since they all assumed I could make my own. ^_~

Question:
Do any of you make craft items for sale? If so, how do you sell them and is it worth it?

3 comments:

morgannorris said...

I have this thought a lot. I have sold things on etsy, craft shows, etc, and every time, I have to realize that our other commitments don't allow me to make things on demand. I can't scrap a weekend's worth of commitments because I have to complete five orders. So, I make a bunch of stuff, sell it (when it's gone, it's gone) and then make more. That way, I did the work when I had time.

Note that this method does not produce a steady income string! ha!

s0nicfreak said...

I sell stuff (knit, crochet, sewn, and polymer clay) on Etsy, and I do it pretty much the way you want to do things; I just make whatever I want, when I want, and put it up there if/when I feel like it. It's a great way to avoid having too much clutter (so for example I can still make toys when my kids already have a toybox full), and allow me to make things I normally wouldn't get to make (baby stuff when my youngest is 3). I do take a few custom projects on a schedule, but not enough to make things unpleasant.

I don't make much, but it's enough to keep me buying new craft supplies and help out the house a bit. So it's worth it to me... but then again, $300 - $400 would totally be worth manning a booth for a weekend to me, if only I had the drive to make enough stuff to fill a table ^^

Anne G. White said...

Thanks for insight, Morgan and s0nicfreak! Yeah, it sounds like many people just make merchandise for fun, rather than as human factories. Good idea about making baby stuff for sale once Dexter is older. Right now I just want to make so many things for him while he's still tiny and baby-sized. :D