So it’s 2018 (holy sh*t I can’t believe it) – Honestly where has time gone?? I’m sitting here on the Easter long weekend, socks on, coffee beside me and a nice, warm & toasty (vegan) hot-cross-bun. Whew… what can I say. I’m sorry I haven’t been posting a lot sooner than now! It’s almost Winter – that means some of my favourite things are about to happen:
Rain, thunder, lightning, etc.
Warm socks and cozy blankets.
Getting ready to sell at my fave indoor market.
Starting cosplays for end of June Supanova Convention.
Putting in my Autumn/Winter veggies.
Eating hot soup! (pumpkin + garlic or spicy curry laksa!)
As I have literally dropped off Blog-Land and come back – I shall let you in on what I’ve been up to! At the moment I’m working on a large commission piece for a ‘Grecian style’ linen gown, which I’m really happy with so far.
I’ve also just taken on a cosplay commission for a ‘Morgana’ (from Merlin series), which consists of a lace gown + slip/under dress + stringy bodice overlay for this years Supanova Pop Culture Convention. I told myself I was cutting back on custom work to focus on my 3 Etsy stores, but when you see something really cool – sometimes you just gotta take it on anyway!
Orders have been coming in thick & fast in my Etsy stores – I’m really grateful for that. If you have ordered something from me – thank you, thank you, thank you!
I’ve finally just locked in what my cosplay will be for this years Supanova Con, and my main one will be a femme version of Penguin Man (Tim Burton’s vision) from Batman.
On a recent fabric excursion with a friend I snapped up some CRAZY shiny black PVC for the ‘penguin’ gloves. Yay! That’s about as far as I have gotten – yikes.
For my other cosplay (it’s a 2-day con) I will be going in a group of 2 or 3 (last friend deciding/organizing). I might keep that a little hush hush for now. Just because it’s kind of funny and probably no-one will get it anyway 🙂 Ha!
Lastly, but kind-of mostly, I’ve been working on making lots of stock for my next market. I’m really excited about this because I haven’t done a market in so long. Well, I did a miniature fair – but that’s a little different! I’m getting the jitters again – firstly that I won’t have enough stock made to make any money, and secondly, that I’ll have loads of stock and no-one will buy my wares. I know my stuff usuallyyy sells, I guess, but I still get nervous. I guess it’s happening either way… so you just gotta roll with it! 🙂
I’ve been supplying lots of throw pillows and floor cushions to one of my fave stores in Perth as well this year – Horatio & Agatha’s in Carlisle. Please check her store out… it’s a treasure trove of homewares and vintage!
Well, I think that’s about it for a re-cap of my ventures so far this year. I’ll be posting more and more as I get the chance, so please don’t give up on me! 🙂
What’s your 2018 been like? What season are you entering in your part of the world?
…Whew! That weekend went fast. Last weekend was the annual W.A.M.A. (West Australian Miniature Association) Doll, Bear & Miniature fair. I had attended the fair for the last 2 years, and finally took the plunge at trading at this year’s show.
(**NOTE: If you see your work below and wish to be credited, please email: email@example.com and I’ll pop a name/link down 🙂 ALSO, if you see a photo of yourself and wish for it to be edited out, please let me know via same email above!)
Absolutely heinous photograph, it was a last minute drive-by shot!
So as per previous post, I was super nervous going into this miniature show. I had a terrible feeling like everyone would grizzle about my pricing, or say how amateur my work was, or completely ignore me for the whole weekend! And of course, I was totally WRONG.
I was sandwiched between two (actually, three) of the most lovely ladies you could possibly ask for! They, and everyone else, were so completely welcoming, kind, complimentary, encouraging & generous with their advice and knowledge. Straight away I was welcomed and introduced to several people who offered to let me attend their weekly miniature-making meet up, plus details of the Dwellingup miniature workshop retreat. Honestly I could not have asked for a kinder welcome by a wonderful group of people, who took me in under their wing as the new kid on the (miniature) block.
Now, although I have been making and selling my artisan miniatures for about 4 years, I had never once sold at a miniature fair, met anybody from the local clubs, or had any contact with a fellow local miniaturist whatsoever. Well, actually, I have… but not like this! This new world of people took me in and complimented my stuff, my style, my skill, I received more compliments than I could count.
I was so grateful for their kindness and of course the kindness of the public who attended this show as well! My food got a lot of compliments for being “realistic” and whimsical. My books (which I sold out of!!!) and witchy table also got some kind feedback for their “quirk” and detail. I heard lots of “beautiful” and “clever” which pepped me up, and “did you MAKE this?!”. My partner Ben made a few wooden miniatures which went down a treat as well. He sold his go-kart, a wooden snail toy (my favourite which also got a lot of laughs and compliments) and a pull-along sausage dog.
There were lots of supplies – kitchen items, baskets, flocking for grass and flowers, fabrics, household mini’s, dollhouse books & magazines, and lots more. I love to come and buy supplies here every year! One thing I did hear a bit of, was that it was nice to see more handmade tables of unique, artisan miniatures. This year there was me, another clay artist who did food, jarrah handmade furniture and a lovely woman who does suitcases, dresses, shoes and bags. I would also love to see more people who make and sell their own flavour/brand of miniatures… especially realistic food or 1:12 character dolls! It’s so special when you find people who only make one or two of each unique miniature, and you get to take it home all for your own dollhouse or roombox!
Again this year was a $1 lucky dip which I love to get. Really cute stuff and you have no idea what you are getting! As well as the long tables of displays – dollhouses and room-boxes, scenes and vignettes. If I EVER finish Professor Snape’s house I would love to have it on show there!
This house was my favourite! The lighting and how the dolls were dressed were fantastic! Such a joy to look at. I like how it also has an outside area too!
…I’ll just finish by showing a couple more bits and pieces from my table, before this post turns into a graphic novel! Thanks for sticking with me! 🙂
Hi folks! I recently did my very first miniature fair, and I was super nervous! I’ve read several horror stories about people complaining about prices and it’s totally freaked me out (internationally… not at this particular fair)! I had been procrastinating whether or not to do it (…finally) this year, and at the (kind-of) last minute I took the plunge. Alas, this left me with very minimal stock… and not enough time to make too many more bits and pieces! Cue week ahead of panic and a magnificently messy house…
The coffee table was hastily turned into a miniature work station and household chores were long forgotten. I really wanted to get some miniature Christmas items done, since I love Christmas, and a lot of miniature enthusiasts enjoy it too. I had previously been working on some larger pieces, so I managed to get them up to speed for the fair too. A witch/wizard table, a Christmas gingerbread baking table, a shabby kitchen hutch and a ballerina tutu on a golden female bust and stand.
The week prior to this hectic miniature-making week, we had the in-laws over from NZ. Ben’s mother was really kind to offer to help me, but as you know if you are a miniaturist, a lot of the things are done on the fly – and you don’t know how it will turn out until you just do it… and end up with the finished piece. Also some things are very technical and I tend to get very picky about things. But she helped me fray the edges of about… 50 miniature napkins? Which was great 🙂 Thanks Mrs. N!
I had a whole list of things I wanted to make before the fair, but with my Etsy shop orders, local clients and shop shifts, I didn’t get to most of them. I wanted to have a couple of Mandrakes, butterfly cabinets, many more books (I managed to make 3 sets), more suitcases and WAY more food!!! Sigh. Next year perhaps… You know that feeling when you really want to make a great first impression, and represent yourself as best you can, in your first foray into some new world… well, that. I had that. And although I didn’t have much stock, I did my best.
So Friday afternoon came and I hauled my custom-made miniature steps into the car (thanks Ben, they are perfect!!! He’s so handy 🙂 ), along with the $75 worth of tablecloth I bought (I’m dying inside) and my Ikea cake stand and a mini suitcase for height. This was one of my most minimalist markets I have ever done! Set up was a breeze. When you deal with miniatures, my stock boxes are 1-2 crates max, as opposed to atleast 4… excellent!!! 😀
A couple more hours of hand-sewing and crafting before bedtime, and a slightly nervous sleep later, it was Saturday morning – and off we drove again (after grabbing a coffee!) to the Exhibition centre! I set up my stock and priced it all up with my little sticker dots. I was really questioning myself, and really wanted to sell – so I practically put every piece on sale. Before I knew it the doors were open and the public was trickling through… Read on the next post about how it all went!
Handmade business: A Day in the Life (…of a fashion designer, sewing machinist, pattern-maker, cosplayer, miniature artist, tarot card reader, crystal – hoarder & all-round witchy woman…)
I’ve been wanting to do a blog post like this for a while – I just love reading about what other people’s creative lifestyles look like, and I thought I’d share my experience too! I find getting a sneaky peek into other folks’ handmade business (and how they live their lives around it) super inspirational.
So, here’s hoping my little preview gives you some idea of what it’s like to own + run your own creative business, and maybe a little inspiration to take the leap too (if you haven’t already!) 🙂
I will warn you, it’s not conventional – and sometimes (a lot of the time), it ain’t pretty! Think lop-sided messy bun (not the cute type…), pyjama pants and a stack of dirty dishes on more than one surface.
7:00am – Still in bed. 7:30am – Still in bed. 7:45am – STILL in bed.
8:00am – Probably roll out by about now! Wash face. Tie hair. Chat to my parrot. Chat to my dog. Make the bed.
8:30am – Make my morning breakfast smoothie (usually 1 ripe banana, 1/2 cup soy milk, 1/2 cup oat milk, handful of baby spinach/kale + 1/2 weetbix if I’m feeling sassy). Sit on couch, thinking about the day, drink my smoothie. Chuck on the TV to see what the outside world is up to.
9:00am – (Maybe) Change into a pair of “day” leggings and a (not gonna lie, Harry Potter) t-shirt. Lightly tidy up my workspace – either the coffee table or my cutting table in my sewing studio. Parrot cuddles and coo’s.
9:30am – Check my notes/planner to see what I need to work on today. Quickly check online shops (3 Etsy stores, with #4 in the works 😉 ) Collate my orders into an orderly list. Rate my tasks in order of urgency. A bit of day-dreaming, and time for my coffee. Chuck a load of washing or dishes on.
10:00am – Finally start work! Depending on what needs doing – this could be anything from making miniatures, creating cosplays for my clients, drafting patterns for custom garments, doing alterations for local peeps, sewing small production runs for local designers, or meeting with my clients in person at my home studio.
12:00noon – Yay. It’s lunch time, y’all! Usually I’ll have leftovers (nutmeat + lentil pasta or satay veg and tofu, anyone?). Or if I’m being boring I’ll have a PB sandwich. Chuck on some good ol’ Dr. Phil! Kick feet up and chow down.
1:00pm – Peel myself away from the tv and continue work in studio, or put a movie on and bring my work on to the coffee table 🙂 Coffee table especially grand for embroidery, miniatures, fiddly things or paperwork.
2:00pm – Parrot cuddles. Talk to dog. Make a cuppa.Go out to the garden if I have time and look at all my planter boxes. Marvel at what I have grown. Pity the plants that I have slowly but surely sentenced to death. Check for any e-mails or Etsy convo’s.
3:30pm – Package up any orders due to ship or take dog for a walk up to the park.
4:00pm – Head to the post office on foot to lodge parcels and pick up tonight’s dinner supplies at the mini supermarket next door.
4:30pm – Do a set of weights in the living room. Make another smoothie. Put parrot to bed while saying “night night” approximately 1 million times.
5:00pm – Take a shower. Get in comfy clothes or back in pyjamas. Yay! Tidy up the house a little. Maybe do a tarot/oracle card reading for myself or a friend via messenger.
6:00pm – Dinner prep + cook. Or if I’m lazy, a trip up to Loving Hut. 🙂
6:30pm – Neighbours is on y’all! Dinner… yassss!
7:00pm – Finish any miniature orders, flick through planner schedule and jot down anything that needs doing or finishing for the next day.
7:30 – A bit more sub-par tv. Small bits of work follow me into the lounge again and I continue to work away. Cup of tea time. If I haven’t showered yet, I’ll take a nice hot bath with a LUSH bathbomb.
8:00pm – Sometimes still working. Or still watching some doco or program on tv. Or reading a good book. My faves are dystopian/post-apocalyptic teen/young adult, sci-fi, fantasy/adventure + heart-wrenching shit like this:
9:00pm – Sometimes STILL working. This can go on until 11, 12, and worst case 3 or 6am if I need to meet a deadline. 10:30 – Usually bed time 🙂 Phew.
Weekdays I generally catch up with friends over a coffee or trip to the mall/local spiritual shop. Wednesdays I do a shift at a local boutique – Sad Jane – where I sew and run the shop. Come visit!
Weekends: Usually a mix of work and regular stuff. Weekends are when I do my fabric shopping and sourcing, visit local handmade artisan markets (or attend and sell at them!), complete any orders ready for Monday, go out for breakfast, go for a hike in nature or walk on the beach, explore new vegan places for lunch, go see a new movie, walk around Fremantle, have a beer, watch a band, go to a cosplay/comic/pop-culture convention and do some gardening. Tidy the house, play with the animals, relax at home.
Now that I have actually written it out, it doesn’t actually sound all that inspirational to me. But that’s life. Maybe if I was still working at the sewing factories of 5 years ago, it would sound amazing! Now I’m living it… well, it sounds kind of hectic, and like I haven’t heard of the word “boundaries”.
Looking back on this and examining my daily life, I realise it can be super hard sometimes… but I also get to choose what I do – and when I do it… I guess when it comes down to it, I am really grateful and happy I am able to do what I do 🙂
I hope if you’re thinking about maybe taking a leap and starting your own enterprise, or if you already have but it’s not what you envisioned.. that maybe you can stop, slow down, and start thinking about what your ideal lifestyle is. And then of course, how to go about changing your habits and schedules, so you can turn it into one that you enjoy living!
Anyway, it’s going to be much more relaxed when I’m a millionaire! ….Right?? >.>
This tutorial is super easy – How to make a tin can planter, to gift or to keep 🙂
What you’ll need:
Tin can from pantry
Ribbons, twine, string
Drill and bit
Seaweed emulsion liquid/Seasol
What is really great about this is that it’s an awesome way to recycle and re-use stuff you already have at home. Personally I love receiving plants and produce from friends and neighbours. It’s something useful, thoughtful and something grown with love from your own bare hands! What would really look great is a pretty herb or succulent.
First step – Choose your can, they come in lots of shapes and sizes – the shorter wide ones are my favourite! But it really depends on what you’ll plant in it – and how long you intend to keep it in the can for. Lots of plants will outgrow their cans and you could even re-use the can again – that’s if it hasn’t gone rusty!
Put your can in the next load in the dishwasher, or wash by hand. If the label isn’t fully off, scratch it off with a craft knife or sandpaper. Make sure there are no sharp edges on the inside rim where you could cut yourself – use pliers or a thin wooden rolling pin (I use one with no handles) to roll the sharp edge down, into the can.
Next, flip your can upside down and drill a few holes in the base for drainage. Please wear safety glasses – the metal flakes will fly all over the place! Also you should do this outside and try and clean up the metal shavings as they are not fun to get in your feet. If you need to, cover the surrounding area with newspaper and then roll up the paper and put it in the recycle bin when you’re done. Drainage for planters are really important! If your holes come out all rough and ragged, use a screwdriver to get rid of the rough edges or again, sandpaper!
Dig through your compost pile and find some good dirt, or alternatively go and buy a small bag of seedling starter soil from Bunnings or a similar garden center. Fill your can upto 3/4 point. You should have your seedlings, seeds or cutting ready to plant in. Place whichever one you chose into the can, and fill the remaining 1/4 up to the top and press down.
Once your plant is in it’s can, you can now gently water it in with a mix of water and Seasol. Follow the quantities on the back of the bottle. 🙂 Me, I just like to do a little dash here, a little dash there. I never measure anything 😉
Lastly, dry the outside of the can and then tie some nice ribbons around it. I also like to write up a little description of what the plant is on a small tag. I also like to do this a week in advance to make sure the plant is well established and looking healthy! I have also made cactus in teacups and herbs in vintage colanders, the ideas are endless and such a thoughtful, eco-friendly gift idea… Not to mention very affordable 🙂
…Feeling the pressure of keeping all of your customers and clients happy? In a creative rut, where you feel bored of making the same things over and over again? Maybe you have a million ideas about things you’d love to create – so you are now paralyzed by all these great designs spinning around in your head? Yep. I know them feels! Actually it happens quite a lot, and some days – it’s evening time and you look back and realise you haven’t achieved much at all! Grand plans were foiled by the laundry pile, a dog who wants to play, even a fantastic session of procrasti-baking.
I’d like to share with you 10 of my favourite things to get you back in the game and back to kicking a$$ with your creative business! I hope maybe some of them will work for you too.
Such a fantastic series – full of successful sellers doing what they love! Interview format articles, brimming with inspiring real-life stories of struggle, quick-thinking & success! A wide range of designer/makers to read about, and of course my favourites are going to be anything sewing related! After reading these you will think anything is possible!
Take a day off.
No, really. Do it. And don’t feel guilty about it either. Schedule in a WHOLE day, just for you. If you need to do some tidying or laundry – get it done within the first hour. Then… relax! Do some gardening, baking, personal creative projects, dye your hair, paint your nails… cook a good meal with a friend and a glass of wine! Make a really pretty cake, and then invite 1 or 2 good pals over to dive into it with a fancy coffee. Honestly, recharging your batteries is one of the greatest and smartest things you can do for yourself, to get a boost in your business. You are the CEO – you NEED to take care of you!!!
I have SO many Etsy shops that I admire and adore. Like, at least 300 of them, I haven’t even had enough time to save them all in my favourites yet. They range from supplies, to handmade, vintage… some of them are the same style/vibe as mine, some because they are so unique and clever, and some because they are killing it – and smashing sales left, right and center! Now, I’m not saying you need to go out and copy all of your competitors items and ideas. I’m saying you need to find brands and makers that speak to you, that speak your creative language – and get inspired by them! For all you know, they could be looking at your online shop in exactly the same way! I often like to think about what makes them successful, or what makes me enjoy their work? Is it their brand vibe? Their colour palettes and the way they put materials together that work? The fun way they describe their back story or items? Apply this thinking to your own store and see what you can come up with. Keep it unique, find your own vibe and build on it!
Scope out some new stockists for your brand
I find this so inspiring – as it’s a whole new opportunity to branch out for your business! Plus it’s another chance at cross -promotion between both of your social media platforms. More views = more sales. Hey look, “here and here” are now stocking my stuff, go check the shop out! Or – Hey look, we just started stocking this great brand “so and so” check them out, come and buy it – save on shipping! Take a walk through your city and pop into some local boutiques. Take a look at who/what they are stocking now, and make some notes about what they may like to add from your brand. Are they chock-full of jewellery and clothing, yet hair accessories are nowhere to be found? Do they have lots of homewares, but maybe they haven’t thought about stocking a regular supply of fresh floristry to compliment the designs and season? New stockists are always a “hands in the air like you just don’t care” moment. Shoot them an email with your details and you never know what can happen!
Re-arrange your work space
One of the biggest reasons that I feel “stuck” can simply be a messy studio! Take a trip to Ikea, grab some cheap wooden shelving units, a new lamp, maybe some fairy lights, a scented candle and if you really want to go batshit crazy – buy a new desk! They are really affordable, stylish, and not to mention they sell veggie balls in their deli food section. Yummmm. A new-look, photo-worthy, tidy workspace can give you the big kick in the pants you needed to get back into making your business rock! I find a massive Spring clean once a year really helps, but the smaller ones in the middle really are important too. Get some fresh flowers and open the window, grab a coffee and get cleaning!!
Take a short (or long!) holiday.
Depending on your savings account and budget, a getaway locally, nationally – or internationally, can really boost your: mood, happiness, life goals and relationships! It will actually make you miss work and your work studio! You will probably come back ITCHING to get in there and get some amazing new designs out into the world! Plus after all that money you spent, you will have to get your butt back to work anyway! Nothing like having to make money to get you inspired!!! When I came back from my international holiday last year – not only was I raring to get back into work, but I was stoked that my business had allowed me to afford to go out and have a break! I was so proud of myself that I wanted to see what I could push myself to do next!
Go supply shopping (or window shopping if your budget says so)
Fabric, jewellery charm, and knick-knack shopping always gets me in the mood to create! If you can time this to be when a sale is on or a coupon is out – all the better! You will get a bargain and be super happy with yourself 😉 If you can’t afford to do this, jump on Etsy and favourite all the things you want to purchase in the near future! Or take a trip to the fabric store and snap a pic of the fabrics you plan to get when that 40% off sale begins! This ALWAYS gets me excited to make new things and get them online! I am literally hanging on to my seat waiting for the first sale!
Write down your goals – long term & short term
This is something I do often. I always start by writing everything I am thinking about creating and the financial goal attached to it. For instance – Winter: make 5 sweater designs (eg. $65 each), 3 new hair accessories ($10 each) & 1 new dress ($110 each). I then price them up and make a goal of how much I will sell of each in 3 months and get a rough income figure. The goal is more of an idea and something to focus on – I am not really expecting to make my goal amount. Rather, it helps me think about how many designs and items I will want to make for the coming season, to at least reach part of the way to my monetary goal, and see what styles are selling. Eventually I will expect to make my goal amount, but that would actually mean I would need to follow through with all of my ideas (hehe!).
Pick up some inspiration from fellow sellers, get some advice and inspiration, have a chat and a coffee break while you list some new items! 🙂 Etsy forums are a fun place to peruse in your spare time. I have picked up many a hot SEO tip from there… and every once in a while – the Etsy admin chime in with new threads and Q&A’s which can be sooo helpful! Keep up to date and get inspired by what others are achieving! I love checking out shops belonging to people who comment as well, I have found loads of great ones that way!
Remember your “why”
You have probably heard this saying before. It really hits home for me! WHY??Why did you want to start your own business? Why did you want to create things? Why do you want to make money? Each person’s answer will of course be different, but mine is pretty straight forward. I was sick of working for other people, sick of getting up at 6am to catch 3 buses to go somewhere I wasn’t being paid well enough to want to be there. I did NOT like being told what to do, or when I could have my lunch, worry about how long I would take in the bathroom, or feel like I was giving 3/4 of MY life away to these other businesses. I have always been creative and love to design fashion and have fun with style. I needed to start my own business to enjoy my life!
I needed flexibility to get up when I want, eat when I want, run errands when I need to, play with my parrot and dog when I want, go and meet friends for coffee when I want… the list is endless. Basically, for freedom, for enjoyment, for fun and for fulfillment. I want to make money through my business – so that I can live comfortably in a nice home with a big vegie garden, so that my partner and animals can live comfortably, so we can take holidays, take days off to have a nice walk, give when I can, and of course… get tattoos! What is your “why”? Let this be your mantra and motivation! 🙂
Hey y’all! Hope you’ve been well 🙂 Yes, that’s right – another post on having (or starting) a #HandmadeBiz or #GirlBossBiz ! This post is focused on how to boost your business, how to get out of a slump, and how to make your business WORK for you! This is coming from a place of experience and honesty. I am telling you exactly what I wish I had been told at the start!
I have been on an epic roller-coaster ride ever since the beginning of my business almost 4 years ago. I have been broke, very broke, managing, coasting along, and even somewhat well-off enough financially for an international holiday, new sewing machinery, new bedroom furniture… and (most other) financial situations imaginable in-between. I want to share with you, through my many business focused posts to come, my journey – plus any advice I can muster to help you get through the epic learning curve of starting your own creative business.
Now you might be thinking what qualifications do I have to be giving advice? Well, none really. I am by no means a business expert. I can only tell you what I have learnt that worked for me! But I do have experience in starting, running and owning a global-selling, multi-faceted, micro business that pays the bills. I made it sound fancy …but really it’s what most business owners have! I have 3 online shops (between approx. 1-3.5 years old) with a collective of almost 600 orders – that’s not including the quantity in the 1 sale – some people have ordered 3, 50, 60, 75+ of the same item. I have sold triple that amount in person at markets, and through consignment in stores… Obviously I’m no millionaire, but one day I hope to be getting my goal income! I don’t say any of this to brag (it’s not really actually very brag worthy anyway) – I have a LONG way to go (especially in the branding department! I don’t even have a logo!). I just want to show you why I can share my advice with you… I have been in slumps! Been so broke I couldn’t go out and do things with friends. Been in a massive rut going around in circles, believing that my business will fail! I WANT you to succeed and not fall into the traps I fell into! And if I can help anyone with my business blog posts, darn right I’m going to share it! 🙂
Do you do make stuff? Or perhaps you sell a service? Maybe you’re a vintage seller or craft supply seller? Have you tried market stalls, or perhaps home parties/trunk shows? How about your own website, Ebay store, or even a brick & mortar shop? Maybe you have tried Etsy? If these are working for you, that’s great news – if not, maybe it’s time to re-think your strategies in order to get ahead. From my own experiences in my first year of business, I had to – what I was doing just was NOT working. I was too busy getting in my own way! If I kept going the way I was going, I would not still have my business today. I have been through a lot of things that haven’t worked for me…. A. LOT. I’m in my fourth year of business now and some things STILL aren’t working. I am by no means where I want to be with my handmade creative business. But I know one day I will. And I have a pretty good road map beginning (in my brain!). I am not the type who has a written business plan! Maybe I should? Maybe one day I will! But for now I am just doing one thing at a time.
All of the above mentioned avenues of selling are part of a cash flow “root system” – all leading back to your business – the big, beautiful, ever-green and growing tree. You want to nurture it, feed it, and be able to stand back and say – “wow” – I grew this, it’s magnificent, and it is thriving from year to year. I can support others and live a great comfortable life with all the fruit my big “business tree” bears. This financial root system will assist in building your brand, income, energy & profit. Do you want to expand and build on your business cash flow avenues? I am a strong believer in not putting all your eggs in one basket! If one cash flow slows down, or even gets cut off completely – your business will struggle to survive. I am writing from a place of experience – I have been there!
Now, I hate this statistic (and any mention of it), but many small businesses fail within the first few years. I was determined that it wouldn’t be me. There was a time where I thought it would be me, but I learnt very quickly that those negative thoughts would not get me anywhere. In-fact, they would actually be my downfall. Now that’s not to say “staying positive” is the only factor – you also can’t live in fairy land as a business owner. I know, I lived in fairy land for a while. It was nice, but it wasn’t helping my wallet at all. You know, that special place – where you get to do everything you want to do, whenever you want to do it, but aren’t actually getting where you want to be in the long run. The place where “it will work out eventually” and you don’t have to change a darn thing. I was there for almost the whole first year of my business start-up. You need to align yourself with a critical thinking mindset, early on, so you can see your business clearly from a consumer and CEO point of view. Is this working? What can I change?
Now – with all this speak of trees, root systems and branching out – you’re probably thinking, yeah well – that’s nice – but how can I make this idea of “branching out” my cash flow avenues work for me? How will this technique help my business and make me more money?? Let me give you an example:
Say you are a massage therapist… you work at a clinic (either your own or contracted out to someone else’s clinic) and maybe get paid fully or a cut of the cost of the massage per client (this depends on whether you work for your own business of course). What else could you do to make more money/profit? Say perhaps it’s your own clinic – do you have another room/space in the building you could rent out to another holistic wellness practitioner? Maybe a yoga instructor, a waxer, or even another massage therapist? Maybe you only have wall space or shelf space to work with – look into buying related products through wholesale avenues – perhaps candles, incense, books, essential oils or cds. Boom. You instantly have another income revenue with only minimal resources available. Your client loved the scent of oil you used today? Here. It’s $15.95, take your own home to enjoy the experience even more.
Maybe you don’t own the clinic, maybe you’re contracted out on your own ABN, in your downtime of course, you could offer other clients your services from home. Maybe you also are experienced in card readings, reiki, crystal healing or mediumship? This is another stream of income you could supply yourself with. Give your client a combo deal when ordering one or the other. Boom. Just up-sold, while leaving your client stoked they only have to travel to one place, for 2 services they have an interest to purchase. Only have limited time/space? Offer your card readings by e-mail. Want to share your skills and knowledge? Offer classes on intuitive card reading, offer classes on easy DIY massage techniques, start a workshop on couples massage.
Now let me be honest and share what my revenue streams are:
–Clothing alterations. Simple mending, to large jobs like pageant gown hems, take-ins & beading work. Replacing zips, buttons and even altering/upcycling the style of garment. Quick turn-around and helping the people fix their favourite garments, help the environment from excess waste, and of course making $$. I stand behind my strong make do & mend ethos!
–Custom made garments & gowns – bridal, ball & pageant. Client brings in a design, theme or idea and I source the fabrics and bring the design to life for their special occasion.
–Costumes, cosplay & accessories/props. I love cosplay and did work placement in a costumerie. So it only made sense to offer my services to the public. I love making custom cosplay for people!!! I love being crafty so this was a win for me.
–Sample machining & production – specifically for designers. Designer gets in touch with a sketch, I make the pattern and create the garment or gown for their next collection. I have done everything from gowns to swimwear, underwear, streetwear, homewares and even as simple as labelling.
–Fashion label – BettieKawaii, on Etsy, markets, consignment in shops etc. My kawaii, geeky range of clothing & accessories. Even through 1 revenue (my label) I am using other offshoots to sell (Etsy, markets, consigment in boutiques).
–Fashion label – Bettie Dreadful, on Etsy, markets, consignments in shops etc. My darker, retro vintage themed clothing, homewares & accessories.
–Making artisan dollhouse miniatures, on Etsy, etc. One of my hobbies turned business. I love making tiny things! 🙂
–Sewing lessons. I offer skills & expertise complete with handouts and notes, samples, etc.
–Contracting myself out! Once a week I go to a client’s shop & studio space, to sew and be the retail assistant at her brick & mortar store. A great break out of my own studio space!
Basically that is all of what I do in a nutshell (a huge nutshell!!). Obviously this was not my original business plan, but it makes me money to create the business model and structure that I imagine myself having in the future… All the while I still get to be my own boss, work from home and set my own hours. It’s a start. My big dream of course was to have my 3 online shops and do some great markets – local and international. Well I can’t quite afford to do that yet, but my several revenue streams are helping me get there!
The list is endless! Create a brainstorm for your business – what are your skills, interests, resources, ideas, and knowledge/qualifications? I did not start out doing this, and I so wish I had! I literally had my eye on one prize – and that was markets. Instant money makers. Meet and greet your lovely customers. Get rid of stock quickly and in person. All sorts of fashion events, handmade markets, vintage styled events and the like. I loved doing them, I still do, but unless you literally have one/two per week and make $400-800profit each time, it’s not going to sustain your business. Remember you need to be paying your home rent/mortgage, food, bills, going out/fun money, your personal wage, business space rent, business supplies and inventory, profit for your business… plus much more! I was making an average of $800 – $1500 each market – yet they were every 1 – 2 or even 3 months! I needed to not only do those markets, but come up with another way/s to make money in-between!
Clearly I didn’t do my numbers. That was when I got my kick in the butt, and had to branch out into other ways of making money from the skills and knowledge I already had. It was sink or swim time, and I doggy-paddled my way to other ways to make money! If you can’t offer a service – either think of one, or find another avenue to sell your wares! Seriously, it’s 2016 – get your wares ONLINE!!! If you aren’t selling it in person, at least pop it in your online store. You can’t have product sitting there unseen. No one is going to go digging deep in your sewing room crates trying to find that skirt you made 3 months ago. I wish it were so, but my stored inventory will remain a hidden secret, unavailable to purchase until I can be bothered to list it up in my online shops. Put EVERYTHING online. Those items are then available, globally, 24/7, 3-6-5. Without you constantly having to haul yourself to market. Yes it takes time to list them, yes postage is high and outrageous – but believe me, if they want it – they will pay for it, yes it takes time to photograph, measure and describe – but everyone who sells online HAS to do it too. It’s part of the deal when you sell online. Once you build your shop then people can buy your items!!! Items sold = money in your pocket = stock cleared = new stock arrivals = more money to make.
#1 tip for creative business start-ups – do what makes you money NOW. Even if it’s not your ideal business model, you will still be working for yourself, keeping your business afloat, and working towards a business model you much prefer – because you are making money.
I hope this strategy can help you in your #CreativeBusiness, I hope my advice and honesty has opened up (possibly) a new door for your business – I want to see small, creative businesses succeed with all my heart! I love you all and you so inspire me every day!
Leave a comment on what new avenues you are thinking of #BranchingOut to! x 🙂