Wednesday, March 7, 2012

the business of crafting (book review)

I've been doing some "work"-related reading these past few weeks --

Meg Mateo Ilasco's Craft Inc. and Kari Chapin's The Handmade Marketplace are both do-it-yourself manuals for starting a business based on your handmade goods. If you're planning to, say, quit your job as a literacy coach and decide to open a little Etsy shop on the side to keep yourself busy during your daughter's naps, it's nice to have the advice of a few people who've been there, done that, and both Ilasco and Chapin offer easy-to-follow instructions on how to hit the ground running.

My personality, work ethic, and ultimate goals for my shop seem to fit best with the tone and style of Chapin's guide, but both books offer similar content and advice: marketing and promotional basics, pricing your merchandise, creating a nurturing work space in which to achieve your goals. Mateo does the best job of outlining every step towards establishing your business in a legal sense -- how to file a DBA or establish an LLC, establishing sensible record keeping, filing taxes. Chapin, on the other hand, spends more time explaining the ins-and-outs of selling your crafts in different venues (online, brick-and-mortar, and craft fairs) as well as the benefits blogging can bring to your business. Both authors include interviews with other small-business owners to add extra insight into their different sections (I particularly liked the Q and A with Grace Bonney in The Handmade Marketplace).

Ultimately, I'd say Chapin's guide is a better fit if you're planning to start small with selling your crafts -- like an Etsy shop you don't have huge hopes for -- and Ilasco's is more appropriate if you're planning to go whole hog into supporting yourself and your family.

If you're hoping to get similar advice without shelling out the $15 for a copy of either of these, I'd also recommend signing up for Etsy's Shop Success emails -- they come twice a week and are definitely worth the extra space in your inbox!


  1. I love that mug. I'm looking forward to checking out the treasures in your shop!

  2. I'll have to check out those books...I've been feeling kind of scattered when it comes to my little business, and I really want to focus in on what I want to do with it.

    P.S. I'll be sending those questions to you this evening...they're all done, I'm just looking for pictures. I didn't forget! : )

  3. Another great reference is Design Sponge's Biz Ladies articles:
    I also have the Craft Inc book and have held in my hand the Handmade Marketplace, but then decided I didn't NEED it. What I really could use is a art/craft/design friendly guide to starting a business (license) in Illinois. I've been scared to death by all the horror stories I've read online about how difficult it is in this state. Read about other states and it's just as easy as going into your local city municipal building and having them fill out a short form, then end.