Some thoughts on the business side of crafting

If you are a “maker”, someone who works or does business in the creative industry, especially so if you sell handmade goods, you will always have people who question you on how you create your products, why you price them so high/low, whether this is a reflection of the quality of your product, whether it is truly made by you or a machine, etc.

It has taken me a while to get to this point, but I no longer take offense at such questions. My first instinct, and I suspect this is how it is for many crafters, is to avoid or skirt around questions about the machine I use, how I made the product, the cost price I have in it. I mean, no one really goes into Precious Thots (the gift shop) and asks what the cost price of a Forever Friends bear figurine is, so why should that be different for small business owners/home crafters, right?

The truth is, no one “owns” the methods and processes we use to create our wares. With social media, there are a million and one tutorials teaching every Tom, Dick and Harry how to make the exact product you’re shilling. But not everyone has the time, resources and patience to invest all that you have into your business. Some people are genuinely curious and if you choose to be defensive and withhold information, your response will be noted. And they will tell all their friends and family about it.

Yes, there will be people who drop such comments as a slam on your product. There will always be those who don’t appreciate the time it takes to design a decal, the hours you put into weeding an intricate vinyl piece, the patience required to put a decal on exactly straight. The truth is though, these people? They aren’t your target customers. There’s no need to be offended or feel down when they drop those comments, because they were never going to buy anything from you anyway, and you don’t have to take part in a transaction of snark and sarcasm. The best response you can give them is to smile, and if they do ask, politely educate them on why your pricing is such, and the effort that goes into the final product. Who knows, you might even convert them someday.

These days, if someone asks me what machine I use to cut my designs, I will tell them I use a Cricut Explore Air and it is a godsend. I also tell them that I buy my vinyl from sign shops because I want a good quality vinyl that has a lifespan of up to 5 years outdoors or 10 years indoors. If they are still curious, I explain the design process, the methods of prepping and applying vinyl, the time involved in turning a blank canvas into a sellable sign, etc. Only good can come out of such interactions. Even if they take the information, turn around and start selling their own products, you can’t guarantee that they wouldn’t have done that on their own anyway, with resources from the internet. There’s more than enough room for everyone in the market, and if you stand behind your product, keep your pricing fair, and maintain an open and honest demeanour, your customers will return.

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