I finally got around to taking some photos of the things we made for the Indie Craft Experience. And yes, we have plenty of things left to give out as holiday gifts. We made alien drawing cases, elephant onesies, dragon tote bags, quirky dolls, jellyfish pouches and cat pillows — all based on my children’s drawings.
My former intern, Erin McCamant of Gigi and Lucy helped me over the weekend and sold a few of her things (pictured above). She’s promised to write a tutorial for the fabric ornaments, and her adorable pompom purses were caressed by every single person who walked by. The cute monsters were designed by her artist boyfriend Sean Abrahams and will be hanging on our tree this year. Erin’s paintings will be featured in an upcoming show at Youngblood Gallery.
We had some great booth neighbors including Three Bad Seeds, The Small Object and Tot Toppers. I also met many wonderful blog readers, tasted the best chocolate bar ever and got a nice warm fuzzy feeling from the local craft community.
All in all, I’d say this was a fun experience, but definitely not lucrative. I didn’t expect much, but I was hoping to actually break even. Since I don’t track expenses very well, I’m not even sure how close we came. My accounting system consists of a folder of receipts that I compile at tax season and say “Oh, s*#t, I spent too much last year”. I think it’s interesting that there are books, online seminars, Etsy features, and entire blogs dedicated to making a living crafting, but I suspect very few people are really doing it — and paying for health insurance, a mortgage, car payment, student loans, etc. I’ve been fortunate in that I started off staying home with the kids, so writing and crafting has been a good way for me to get back into working slowly. Making money crafting is just not easy for anyone.
I think there are a couple of factors that play into this. Obviously, it’s tough for crafters to compete with mass-produced goods. There has to be demand for items that are made by hand whether for environmental or aesthetic reasons. I also think too many crafters are underpricing their work, devaluing everyone in the process. I don’t fault people for wanting to sell their goods competitively, but I think we need to carefully consider the true cost of our goods: time, supplies, fuel costs, office supplies — all of it needs to be included. And then what? Maybe you see that it’s not a profitable business model, but rather a hobby. So move on, diversify your income stream. That’s my advice for crafters, and of course there is plenty of advice out there. Disclaimer: I’m clearly not an expert on making money crafting, but a lack of expertise almost never stops me from giving advice!
As we approach the shopping season, I have some advice for buyers too. Spend more, buy less. By buying handmade, you will support an individual directly, feel better about your purchase and have a one-of-a-kind item. Why do we need all this stuff anyway? Buy fewer gifts, but with more meaning. Really, I hate to be a grinch, but all this consumerism dampens my holiday spirits. And I’ll try to remember this little pep talk when I look over my kids’ Santa list this year. It’s tough to achieve that balance between buying handmade gifts and making sure that your children don’t end up in therapy pining over the plastic Barbie head they wanted as a kid. But I’ll try this year if you will too, okay?
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Shopping!