As I look around my sewing space, about to start up again after a week’s break from running my business, I have been reflecting on how far I’ve come since I started what was to become Zee, Bee & Me! in the middle of last year. I hope to turn a much greater profit this year – ok, so I’m not going to be able to quite my day job, but things are certainly looking good. I think this is because of a few key lesson’s I’ve learned along the way, which I’d like to share with you all. I’d like to think these tips would be applicable to any handmade business!
Firstly, you need to actually plan your creations. I know this sounds ridiculous, but I never gave this much thought before. I liked a pattern, I bought it. I liked a particular fabric, I bought it. Whilst this may work for a hobby creator, it is hard to maintain this ad hoc approach if you truly want to make some extra cash. You need to be very specific about what you will make in any particular season, and what you will not. For example, this winter, I made winter harem pants and long sleeved tshirts, from a selection of about 10 fabrics. I only deviated from these offerings when there was a specific request from a customer. I have also invested a fair bit of time over the last few days planning my “spring” collection (make sure you keep an eye on my Facebook page – I’m very excited!). This not only allows you to buy your fabric and notions in bulk (and take advantage of any sales), but also allows you to create something of a “production line” when it comes to orders.
Secondly, I don’t think I appreciated when I started how much time I’d need to spend “marketing” my products. Much to my husbands disdain, I spend a fair bit of time on Facebook, my main selling platform. I have spent countless hours on groups dedicated to buying handmade, networking, advertising and so on. Remember if you’re selling on Facebook, you need to create a story about your product. A good clear description of the product creates excitement. Do I claim to be an expert in taking photos? God no. That’s why I encourage my customers to become part of the Zee Bee and Me! story and share photos of the product in action with me!
Finally, be proactive in joining support groups. There are plenty on Facebook, which range from discussions about Australian standards which may be applicable to your products, market stall set ups to general business discussions. Research, research research and then research some more to make sure you’re on the ball when it comes to law/regulation changes, trends etc.
What are some of the key lessons you’ve learned along the way? I’d love to hear your stories!