Crafting Panel: From Hobby to Business | Amanda Hawkins | Ahhh Design

Last night we stopped by MADE in downtown Phoenix to check out the “Crafting Panel: From Hobby to Business” and it was so fantastic we have to share! Thanks to Sam Greene who wrote a majority of this post – you’re the best! To the panelist, thanks so much for taking the time to share your knowledge, you guys rock! And thanks to the Downtown Phoenix Journal for posting about this event, we wouldn’t have known about it otherwise!

3 extra crafty ladies

Lisa Jacobs, a.k.a. Sticker Club Girl, creates jewelry, purses, wallets, hats, paper, books and clothing using recycled and vintage materials. She’s currently teaching art and is co-owner of Conspire, an Arts Collective in downtown Phoenix.

Kathy Cano-Murillo, the Crafty Chica, is a syndicated newspaper columnist, national TV personality, has her own product line and is the author of seven published books. Read her full bio here.

Cyndi Coon is co-creator of Laboratory5 which offers custom art commissions, paintings, ceramics, childrens books, stationery, textile pattern designs, temporary and permanent public art, teaching, workshops, training sessions, consulting services for artists and project management for art and social organizations.

MADE Art Boutique

madeThanks so much to MADE for hosting the event and to Cindy Dach who contributed lots to the discussion as well. Cindy is an artist and a writer, general manager of Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe, a co-founder of Local First Arizona and owner of MADE Art Boutique.

The Panel

Each panelist presented their story of how they earned success as a crafter. During the discussion they fired off tons of tips for crafters and artists just starting out. Here are some of them!

Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to call a store 2 or 3 times. If you are wonderful, say so! Email editors of websites telling them why they should feature you. Start a database of businesses that fit your style and send them samples every year, even if you’ve been turned down before – buyers change often. Cyndi Coon says stalking got her where she is today.

Be considerate. The best time to approach a business owner is typically not when you are there shopping during a busy period.

Be helpful. Offer to demo your techniques for local tv shows or magazines. Send in press releases to newspapers with a picture. Add a few different angles into the press release – the least amount of work for the writer the better.

Be a little tricky. Write ‘materials requested’ on the outside of your package. These writer types are busy and don’t remember every contact or request! Always use FedEx, special deliveries skip the mail room and go right to their desk. If you’re having something delivered local, try to arrange it at the back door, this makes it seem special.

Ask questions. All three have frequented trade shows. They weren’t afraid to ask questions and studied up. People that are doing what they love are enthusiastic about sharing what they know. Be yourself and don’t worry what people think. Brush it off if you’re kicked out of a booth and wear tennis shoes!

Get online. A website can make you look bigtime – even if you are just one person working from a kitchen counter. Stop in on all the little communities. Crafy Chica thinks that “each site is like a little party – you want to make an appearance at each one!” Buy your domain name now! Even if you can’t put a website up. Seriously, they cost $10 a year. If you are going to blog, commit to it.

Consider your true goals. Do you want to paint 10,000 little pots to send to retail stores around the country? Do you want to be known for art – and be remembered for eternity? Do you want to be famous and in all the coolest magazines? If you don’t have a goal, you may end up down the road with a whole lot of work you didn’t plan for and not as happy as you should be.

Price it right. Be consistent – don’t sell on the street for $7 and $15 in a store. Make sure you know how much money you’re putting into each project, down to every envelope and last piece of thread.

Get business cards. Have some nice cards printed and hand them out to everyone! Put them in the little credit card books you get at a restaurant, hand them to your hairdresser and your banker.

Focus your brand. Market yourself under one brand – even if you have diverse mediums and interests. Working to get your name recognition up is your number one priority. Don’t multiply your marketing time by using multiple names.

Market yourself relentlessly. These ladies say that half of their work is marketing. Customers don’t always come to you.

Collaborate. Involve your friends, as customers or coworkers. Collectives can ease the burden of running a store or creating a product line. Have an art show or trunk show at your house close to a ‘buying time,’ such as the holidays or Mothers Day. You won’t strike it rich, but your friends will begin to recognize that you are serious about this! Meet other crafters and trade ideas. Get involved in your local community.

Diversify. Try to develop multiple ways of earning money. Licensing, authoring and teaching are good ways to supplement your “Artful Life”.