Recently, I received a question from one of the Quilting Business community members from Ottawa, Canada. Since it was about starting a business, I thought it was very applicable to the Craft Business community as well.

Over the past week, we've exchanged a few emails, and we've discussed Assia's desire to have a quilting business. I'm going to paraphrase her questions, but I think I've saved the essence. And, I apologize for such a long post, but I thought the questions and answers were a good discussion that is applicable to a lot of people looking to start their own quilting business.

Here's the basics of the first question that Assia asked:

Hello Jennifer,

Last year, I bought your book on starting a quilting business, and my intention is to do all the preparations and learn all I can before making the plunge when I retire. At the same time, I wish to start investing in supplies and books and planning some designs.

The rationale is that in a few years, costs will have increased while my retirement income will be less than my current working income. In addition, some books will be out of print, thus costing up to ten times more; and, as you are well aware, interesting fabrics get sold within a season.

Do you think that if one is determined to start a small business, it's a sound decision to buy things while one can afford them? Or do you rather think that it's best saving the money? I value your opinion, Jennifer, and would appreciate your point of view on the matter when you have time.

Here's my answer to the question:

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Quilting Business StoryIf you want to succeed in today's over saturated business environment, you need to have a story for your craft business.

Why? Because people are completely overwhelmed by the amount of information they process on a day-to-day basis. With hundreds of television channels, regular and satellite radio, and not to mention the Internet, today's buying public is exposed to hundreds – if not thousands – of marketing messages each and every day. It's getting harder and harder to stand out in the crowd, and most businesses are becoming part of a generic landscape with very little distinguishing them from the next provider in their market. You can barely distinguish one pizza place from the next, one gas station from the next, one plumber from the next.

Which businesses stand out from the crowd? It's the businesses that have an easily identifiable story that resonates with their market. A story that defines what the business is about, and what customers and potential customers can expect in every dealing they have with your business. And, a story that your customers will tell others, passing your story along and championing your cause.

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All I can say is, “WOW!” As of today, there have been 418 respondents to my short poll, “What Are You Most Interested In Learning?” And for the most part, the results are very clear. Here are the top three responses based on your feedback:

  1. How to sell my crafts – 67%
  2. Marketing tips and tricks – 54%
  3. Selling my crafts online (eBay, etsy) – 49%

So, almost 50% of you wanted to focus on these three topics.

What does this mean? It means I'll be putting a lot of my efforts into tailoring the content of the Craft Business Blog to your areas of interest. So, starting some time this week (most likely over the weekend), I'll start pulling together some great content that covers these topics.

But first, I wanted to thank everyone who participated. I never expected such a large response, and I'm really glad to see that you really do pay attention to those funky little emails I send out.

And… one more thing. I've been trying to figure out a way to make sure everyone was updated when the blog is updated. I think I have it figured out, but I'm not a super-technical guy so I may do the wrong thing. So if you receive multiple emails over the next few days, I apologize in advance.

Thanks again!



SoapmakingOK… I might be overdoing it with the soapmaking information, but I just got off the phone with a guy who has a great soapmaking resource that I've been reviewing. I'm about half way through it, and so far the information has been excellent. And, he's the guy I'll be interviewing some time this weekend or on Monday evening. I'll keep you posted when the interview is available (for free of course).

But first, I wanted to share some soapmaking resources with you. Since I've been researching the Internet for soapmaking information, I figured I might as well let you benefit from my research. So here's my top 5 soapmaking sites offering free information:
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SoapmakingOver the past few weeks, I've become obsessed with making soap. There are just so many creative things you can do with soaps – from the design, to the colors, to the shapes, and the scents – that soapmaking seems like such a great craft to get involved in. And, I can tell you that handmade soaps are a VERY hot item at any craft fair. They are extremely marketable – beautiful, fun, inexpensive (but you can get a good profit), and they appeal to all the senses (especially smell).

I found a great general article on Wikipedia about soap. There's a lot of good information, and some links for further study. It's definitely worth checking out if you're interested in soapmaking.

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Handmade SoapI'm getting ready for work, but I just found this incredible interview of Dana Meanor of DLPom Hancrafted Expressions. Dana combines soaps and paper making in her craft business (as well as some incredible jewelry). Her soaps are handcrafted pieces of scented art, and her packaging is made by recycling ink-free paper into her packaging sleeves. Not only is she creating a very hot craft product – the soaps – but she's also making some great marketing moves by recycling paper and making some innovative – and eco-friendly – packaging.

I know a lot of the crafters on the Crafting Biz list are interested in soap making, so I thought I would share Dana's Top 5 Tips for a Soap-Making Beginner:

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Here's another great article from the Craft::Boom website, and it's part of their interview series. In this interview, Lisa Lam talks to Akhila from Akhila Handbag about the difficulty of time management in running a craft business while being a full-time “mum”. In the article, Akhila explains her strategies for getting work done without skimping on mommy time.

Some other ideas for time management for your craft business include:

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