Starting a Craft-Based Business


Sep 16, 2014 by Smart Blog

With the UK only just coming out of recession, it seems that the recent financial crises have made many people look back with nostalgia to a less complicated age. Of course, the question of whether the past was as wholesome and worry free as it has been painted is a moot one, but all of the retro-styled cupcake shops and 'keep calm and...' slogans testify to one thing - Britons have a hankering for the 'good old days', the homely and the familiar.

Small wonder, then, that businesses selling handmade craft products are thriving.



There has perhaps never been a better than now time to start a craft business, on a small or larger scale. Not only are crafts popular, but the internet has made selling them easier than ever. Websites like Folksy and Etsy offer a busy, popular selling space that virtually guarantees a large audience, and creating a website specifically for a business is both straightforward and affordable, sometimes even free.

Other selling options include craft fairs, rented spaces in larger shops and selling direct to the public from a shop or studio. So why isn't everybody who loves crafts, doing it professionally?


Think First

The answer is very simple: parts of the craft market are saturated and there simply isn't much money to be made there now. Examples include handmade cards (every school fair has at least one handmade card stall); jewellery (a quick look at any of the major craft websites reveals a huge number of sellers) and natural skin care products.

None of this means that practitioners of these crafts can no longer make a living: it just means that ideally, new businesses will be selling a product that is not already on sale in large numbers. That might mean differentiating a popular product (for example offering personalised cards or jewellery, or customisation) or bringing an entirely new product to the marketplace.

Market research is a natural part of this approach. There is a balance to be struck between providing a new product and making sure that there is sufficient demand for it in the first place. Many start-up craft businesses cannot afford professional market research, but it is still a good idea to look online at popular sites (the craft sites, along with places like eBay and Amazon) to see what is selling well. This can also give a realistic idea of pricing.


The Basics

Having decided to launch a craft business there are several matters that are crucial to attend to, but that are easy to overlook. These include:

  • Registering with HMRC (even if turnover is expected be below the tax threshold at first): an accountant or tax office can help with this.
  • Establishing a strong online presence through a website and social media (social media is a wonderful marketing opportunity for craft businesses).
  • Pricing goods appropriately: that means not just in line with the market, but costing for 'unseen' elements of work such as production time and quality. Too many crafters enter the market with prices that are too low, but find it hard to raise them later.

With these in place, there is no reason why a good craft business cannot thrive and grow on whatever scale the owner desires. Happy crafting!