Why you should take note of the Green trend in Craft Fairs

We are getting nto the spring craft fair season and daily I learn about festivals that have an eco-conscious, earth friendly section. The 38th  annual Union Street Festival in San Francisco will have a whole section dedicated to crafts created with recycled and sustainable materials and eco-friendly exhibits.

The Eugene, Oregon Saturday market features recycled wares, but that’s no surprise in the “Greenest City”.

There’s the Crafty Feast Indi Fair in Columbia, SC featuring alternative and experimental  crafts made from re-purposed materials including handbags made form recycled inner tubes, scrap monsters made from recycled Read the rest of this entry »

How you can green your giving

On a recent family visit, my sister and I discovered a photo of the two of us at 2 and 5 under the Christmas tree surrounded by newly unwrapped toys. Each of us held a special treasure in the photo. I held a cardboard paper towel roll up to my eye like a telescope and she posed adorned in recycled ribbons and bows from the gifts. This was the fifties, long before recycling was cool. I’d like to claim that we were just natural trendsetters, but I confess that in the early eighties when my son was little, our home was filled with molded plastic houses, cars and slides. We gave little thought to how these eventually ended up in the landfills.

Somewhere between that magical Christmas morning of recycling and my desire to give my son plenty of opportunity for creative play, I’d forgotten all the rainy days my friends and I spent cutting windows and doors into cardboard refrigerator boxes and stacking television cartons to make apartments houses. Or the way we collected old thread spools, hammering nails around the top to make our own little knitting devices. I’d forgotten that imagination is most active when the raw materials are available without instructions for the finished product.

It’s exciting to see the hot trend in eco-friendly toys. I’ve found a few that are both environmentally and socially responsible. Sprig Toys in Colorado makes eco-friendly “Story Builders” that inspire creative play and strong values. Mary Meyer’ “Fuzz that Was” stuffed toy pets are made out of old recycled water bottles. The Green Toy Company, based in California makes toy cookware, gardening tools, sand toys and trucks (including a Recycling Truck) out of recycled milk bottles.

It’s way too early  to be thinking about the holidays unless you wholesale your craft  but you’ve probably got birthdays and Mother’s day gifts to make and if  you are going to give responsibly, you need time to plan ahead. The marketplace is abundant with products that have had another life in a different form. If, however, you are crafty, now’s the time to start looking around for what products you tend to throw away and how you can upcycle those into fabulous gifts.

Do you have ideas for eco-friendly gift projects you’ve made or plan to make that you’d like to share with us? If you have found an artist or product line that uses recycled materials please post your recommendation here-we’d love to spread the word and promote your projects or treasured finds.

Are you Doing One thing a Day To Market your Craft?

If you are feeling overwhelmed by everything you hear you should be doing to market your craft, you aren’t alone. Most of us need a map before we start out on a journey we’ve never taken before.

So, take a deep breath and know that if you just start somewhere, take one simple step today, you’re on your way. Wait, don’t decide to start fresh Monday. I know that trick. I’ve done it.  I’ve never thought of my workweek as Monday through Friday because being self employed, I don’t follow anyone’s scheduled. I work when it’s best for me and my family. But, even if you take the weekend off, you’ll be able to relax knowing you’ve  taken that first step.

Today’s assignment: choose your very best piece. Something that hasn’t been out in the marketplace yet. Now, photograph it. OK. I know you might consider that two steps. If you’re really feeling ambitious, upload it to your photo program and save it. So, three easy steps. (if you really must be a stickler about the one step a day, choose the piece today, photograph it tomorrow and upload on Sunday. Those are very tiny steps.)

So, Monday morning you are ready to take a BIG baby step on your craft marketing plan.

I’m not calling this a BIG step because it’s difficult. It isn’t. It’s simple and just so obvious but is a big step because it will make a huge difference in getting your sales rolling again.

Send this digital image of your best piece to your list of past buyers or those who have visited your booth at shows, come to your home open studio or just expressed interest in your work. (You DO keep a list, don’t you?) If you don’t have a data base of past customers, send the image to all your friends and family. You aren’t selling anything. You are simply reminding them that you are a talented crafts person. If you have already made prints or reproductions of your work, mention it. If you are in an exhibition, mention it. If you haven’t ever taken your work out of your home studio-mention it. Be open and honest about your newness and people will want to support you. Ask them to share it with their friends. A great way to get people to notice your work and pass it on is to include a quote or some kind of meaningful sentiment or story. Nothing too long, just something to make them smile or stop and think. Something that makes them nod in agreement and want to pass on to friends.

So, by Monday you will have taken your four first steps. Simple steps that will get you rolling on the the next steps.

In any business, it is always easier to bring back existing customers than to attract new ones. Obviously, you want to do both but if you have an existing buyer/collector list, cherish them. They are your most valuable assets. Send them “love notes” of customer appreciation regularly. Your art is a piece of you. You aren’t selling hardware. This is a relationship and if your buyers feel you see them as friends, they’ll be loyal to you. They will show your art to their friends and your list of collectors will grow.

See how much you’ve accomplished even though you didn’t know where to start?

Assuming you’ve followed the baby steps so far, today you are going to make a vital move. If you don’t have a data base of your mailing list, or even have a mailing list, today you will start one. This is everyone you know. Everyone. Remember, you aren’t selling to your friends and family. You are sharing your art with them. (If your work is wearable or home decorative, see other blog entries for tips on getting your work seen and download the free tips in the upper right to give you more great ideas.) If you are like the rest of us, you probably have scraps of paper and business cards all over with names of people you’ve met. Most of us toss them because we have forgotten why we picked them up. But, each of those people might know someone who could become your best customer or the connection to many great collectors. Maybe someone’ sister has a gallery or uncle is a decorator to the very wealthy. You won’t be imposing by sending them a beautiful image with a brief greeting or sentiment online. Think of it as a gift. Because it is.

Even if your list has only twenty names right now, use a contact management program such as Constant Contact. You can start out with their free trial, it’s simple, user friendly and you will have your list automated to start.

This should be day six. Now you have a list, you have an image and you are going to order some postcards. Use a site like modernpostcards.com to order one thousand postcards of your favorite piece that you photographed on day one. You can have the same quote or sentiment that you used for your email printed on the postcards. These are very inexpensive marketing tools which you will use both as mailers and handouts.  Include a special offer or invitation to a home exhibit or trunk show. (more on this in other blog posts and tips at right.)  Also have your domain address (url) printed on them. YOU DON’T HAVE A DOMAIN NAME OR WEBSITE? NO PROBLEM. YOU WILL BY TOMORROW.  At least you’ll have a domain name and landing page.

Day seven, if you haven’t purchased your domain name, do that now. Go to a site like bluehost.com and buy your own name. Even if you have a business name and already have a web site, for ten dollars a year, buy your own name. If you already have a site under a different name, you needn’t change that, just re-direct the url with your own name to the site. This takes three minutes and is important because people are more likely to remember and search for you under your own name than a business name.

In the first week, with one small step a day, you have a great start on your art marketing program. 

See how much you’ve accomplished in one week with just baby steps? And to think you didn’t know where to begin.

Beyond Etsy

You’ve probably read books on how to start a business and even some on creating a business selling your art or handmade crafts. There are even some courses out there on starting a crafts business but most are from the perspective of someone who has sold their craft online OR at craft shows OR sold wholesale. None give you first hand advice and stories from artists and crafts people who have experienced ALL areas of the hand made world.

I keep hearing from readers that they want to make a living selling their handmade art and they’ve read books and even sought advise from SBA advisors but that they are more confused than ever because they don’t understand the MBA speak. Creative entrepreneurs think differently and need advise from someone who speaks and understands their language.

I’ve been listening to your questions and challenges, making notes from my decades of experience as an artist and gallery owner and interviewing artists and crafts people, makers and bakers.

Finally, it’s all in one place, a course that speaks a language that creatives like you understand.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine on the stuff you can find in a “how-to” business book. This is first hand advise on the stuff YOU need about how to make a living from your craft because the myth of the starving artist is a bunch of baloney.

I’ve taken a lifetime of wisdom and experience in the business of handmade art and put it all together in a comprehensive course. You’ll get worksheets and references and hear advice and real life examples of fine artists and crafts people who make a living creating and selling their paintings, calligraphy, textiles, candles, bath and body products, jewelry, graphics, photography  and just about every craft you can imagine. Some are even bringing in a six figure income from their art and they’ve offered up their wisdom, experiences and secrets to success on topics about all areas of the handmade art world, online and off. We share what we all learned from our mistakes and what we’d do differently if we knew in the beginning what we know now about starting and profiting from a creative business so that you can do it right the first time.

We’ll cover every aspect of making money selling your creations ONLINE AND OFF, at retail and wholesale to shops, at craft fairs, home parties, in galleries, even how to open your own craft gallery or co-op. We’ll talk about pricing, photographing and writing descriptions for your handmade.

I know we all have different learning styles so you’ll get a mix of PDFs, worksheets and Audio files which you can download and listen to at your own pace.

You can add an hour of personal one-to-one consulting with me for a total of $197. My usual single session consult fee is $189.

 Get the Full Course for $97.

OR The E-Course PLUS Consulting for $197

Choose One

Do you make jewelry? Here’s how you can make some easy last-minute cash.

Many men won’t even begin their holiday shopping until this weekend and some will be doing it on their lunch hour  or on the way home Tuesday, Christmas eve.  If you make handmade jewelry, their procrastination can mean some easy cash for you. It’s not too late to set up a last minute trunk shows at a men’s hair salon,  health club or even a pub where men hang out. If you have the chutzpa (or ambition) to walk into any male-trafficked locale between now and Tuesday with a trunk of your gorgeous wares, you have a captive audience. The  guys in those places will see you as their savior because they don’t have to hit the mall frantic and guessing what their girlfriends, wives, mothers or sisters might like. You may offer to give the proprietor a percentage, a donation to his favorite charity or better yet a free piece for the woman in his life, but you may find he’s happy to just let you hang out because the excitement may generate more traffic and business for his venue as well. Do you have any idea how many men would love to have your help in choosing a piece of hand crafted jewelry for their wives, mothers or girlfriends rather than have to scour shops trying to figure out what girls want?  After a successful sale, you’ll have an open invitation to return for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. Don’t overlook your own workplace, large office buildings, hospitals or any place else where last minute buyers will be thrilled to have you come to their rescue.

There are a lot more ideas and tips like this on  “12 Easy WAys to Make an Extra $1200. with your Craft.” 

Steps you should take NOW to ensure your craft business will continue to thrive in the New Year

I know you’re busy producing and and shipping your crafts for the holidays but if you don’t want your sales to dip drastically the first quarter of 2014, you need to do a little advanced planning.

Remember that the wholesale trade shows begin right after new years. Galleries and shops barely catch their breath from the holidays before they’re off to market and it will be much more difficult to get them to take your work at that time. They will have spent their first quarter budgets and won’t have the physical space to exhibit your products. Making the connection NOW, you’ll have a much better chance of having retailers take your work either on consignment or purchase outright.

Do double duty while you’re holiday shopping the shops and galleries for gifts, (you ARE buying local and handmade, right?) and make a list of those shops that carry crafts that compliment your work. Look for merchandise your ideal customer would find appealing, similar price points and style. You definitely don’t want the merchandise to be significantly lower priced than yours nor should you place your work with a shop that sells mostly contemporary if your pieces are vintage.

Notice how helpful and polite the staff is toward the patrons and if the pieces are displayed creatively. Does the merchandise appear new or like it’s been sitting awhile?  You don’t want to tie your work up in a shop where the jewelry is tarnished because it’s been on display a long time but not sold.

Make a list of some galleries or shops that feel like a good fit and then prioritize in order of your first choices.

Remember, this is a scouting expedition so don’t talk to the shop owner or staff about your work on the initial visit. Wear your best pieces and have your contact info with you incase the owner comments on it so that you may set up an appointment for a time when she is not busy with customers.

Never walk in without an appointment with a case of your wares.  The best etiquette is to mail photos and a line sheet to each of the shops. Follow up with a phone call a few days later and request an appointment with the buyer during her slowest time, before or after hours.  Usually,  midweek morning is the best time to call.  After introducing yourself, let the buyer know you understand that customers are the first priority and you will make yourself available at a time when she is not busy.


Arrive for your appointment prepared with a well-thought out collection of pieces that represent your craft rather than just showing up with a random selection. Your work will sell better if the pieces display well as a grouping and compliment one another. Bring duplicate copies of a printed inventory of your work. If you are planning to consign, list retail prices and number each piece so that you and the the shop owner both have a reference for what items they have and make it easier for them to pay you when pieces sell.

Remember to respect that the purpose of the gallery is to sell craft. How would you’d feel if your work was already on display in the shop and personnel was busy working with another artist and ignoring the customers?  You’d want them to be selling your work, right?  Let the buyer know that you are fine to wait while she caters to customers as they come in.

Taking the time to do this extra work now will ensure your craft business will continue to thrive in the new year.

For more great ideas like this, check out Tele-class:  “12 Easy  Ways to turn your Creative Hobby into an Extra $1200 a Month”

Long on craft supplies, short on cash?

In addition to selling your finished crafts, a great way to turn some inventory into cash between now and Christmas is to sell some of your excess supplies and tools of your craft. Yes, there are bead stores and big box craft stores all across the country, and people can buy anything they want online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sell the components of your craft. Any of us who are crafters know that we can’t pass up a bead shop, yarn shop, fabric store, etc and especially since people can see what you make out of the materials, it is more attractive than the same supplies look loose in a craft store. We all have tools and supplies that we purchased on impulse and either haven’t gotten the inspiration to use them yet or lost interest in them. An attractive way to merchandise them is to bundle them with instructions for a simple piece that can be made out of the supplies.   Your market is not only crafters but family and friends of crafters who give them as gifts.

You can put them up on your own website or blog, on any of the online auction sites or even have a last minute “Make and Take” party where you  have kits already made up with supplies to be purchased and then do a quick lesson. Everyone leaves with a gift, they can purchase additional kits and you’ve turned some excess inventory into cash. (As a side note, you’ll often sell some of your finished work to attendees if you set up a display as well. )

Remember this idea and repeat it throughout the year whenever you have excess supplies or are in need of quick cash. This is also a good annual practice if you go to trade shows to purchase materials. Sell any supplies you didn’t use since the last buying trip and you’ll have more to spend on the new treasures you find. Also, since you have to buy the materials to make your own work, you may as well buy them in quantity and get a better price, right?

For more tips like this, put your name and email address in the box to the right and you’ll receieve a free copy of “13 Quick, Easy, Low-cost or NO-cost Ways to Turn your Craft into CAsh Now”


Another easy tip to turn your craft into cash NOW-it’s not too late.

It may seem like weeks before Christmas is too late to plan a sale of your handcrafted gifts but this is actually perfect timing. Recent surveys report that most consumers have not even begun their holiday shopping and even those who say they’re finished are still likely to purchase more if they see something really special.

The weeks prior to the holidays, everyone is feeling rushed and wondering how they’ll find time after work to get to the stores to shop. It seems employers are not falling for the frequent “sick days” employees are taking to get their shopping done.

In order to have their employees come to work rather than play hookie at the mall, or spend on-the-clock time shopping online, companies are now very receptive to vendors coming in to sell to their staff during lunch breaks.

It surprised me that the corporations weren’t taking a percentage of the sales or asking for a space rental fee. They seem to have recognized that it is to their advantage to have the option for their employees to get some f their shopping done during business hours.

It’s always nice to hold an event with no fees or percentages going out. If you’re used to there always being a trade-off, it may seem odd that there are people who simply would love the convenience of being able to shop at their workplace. Talk to the HR person at a hospital, school or office and ask if you may set up in the break room or lobby a few weeks before the holidays to offer gift shopping to the staff. Since you have items that can’t be found in the mall, teachers, nurses, office personnel, etc will be excited about having this option.

It’s a good idea to set up two consecutive days because as employees go back their workspace, they show their co-workers the treasures they purchased and the excitement is viral. Be sure to bring plenty of cards, brochures or other material with your contact information. And of course, ask permission to capture contact info for your mailing list. Do some kind of drawing where people can drop in their business card with email address for a chance to win a piece of your work.

The next time you return to each venue-for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day- you’ll be able to notify your customers in advance.  They’ll look forward to your return and likely have orders from their friends who don’t work there.

For more tips like this, put your name and email address in the box to the right and you’ll receieve a free copy of “13 Quick, Easy, Low-cost or NO-cost Ways to

Turn your Craft into Cash NOW!”

Are you supporting the stores that are going to put you or your friends out of business?

Last week, I attended a first birthday party.  I went to a local store that often carries all lot of fair trade items in search of a handmade gift . I found some puzzles perfect for a one year old boy but when I checked the labels, they were made in China. I went home to search online for handmade wooden puzzles. The ones I found were significantly more expensive. I know I could have found something larger and just as cute at Toys R Us or Target for a fraction of the price and the baby sure wouldn’t know the difference.  BUT I WOULD. I wanted to support indie craftspeople so I ordered the puzzles from a couple who make them in their shop in Oregon.

I know that the socks you hand-knit and the jewelry or lotions or candles you lovingly make take more time and are better quality than a seemingly similar item made on a machine in China so of course you have to charge more for your hand crafted products than the big box stores do.

I also know you’re a sensitive, empathetic person so let’s turn the tables and as you’re holiday shopping this month, think about this:

If you want consumers to support you, it’s your duty to make it a point to buy hand made because if you are are buying from Walmart or other discount shops, you’re supporting companies that will eventually put YOU and your artist buddies out of business. MOST PEOPLE JUST DON’T THINK ABOUT IT. But you, as an artist yourself, you want others to support your work so PLEASE don’t rationalize about buying imports because they are cheaper.

Don’t assume that everything at a craft fair is made domestically, either. Only juried shows control where the items come from and you’d be surprised how many mass produced pieces show up at craft fairs.   If you have difficulty finding locally made gifts, seek out an artists’ co-p. These are generally owned and operated by a group of artist and you can frequently meet the artists and even watch them at work.

Remember, if you want the public to buy your work and support you, commit to buying handmade because you have the choice.

How can you get guys to buy your handmade creations

My male friends, relatives and readers may deny this, but let’s face it, most men don’t start Christmas (or Valentines Day or Birthday) shopping early. (they come up with excuses like “it’s more exciting right before Christmas when everyone’s in the holiday spirit” or, “I’m still trying to come up with the perfect gift”. The truth is, many guys don’t know where to begin and need guidance (and a little nudge.)

As a crafter with inventory,  you can take advantage of their procrastination and need for gentle “peer pressure” by holding a “Guys’ Night Out”.

Whether you make wearable, household, or garden art, men need guidance in getting gifts for their wives, girlfriends and mothers. They also spend way more money when they are in groups because they don’t want to look cheap in front of the other guys.

(especially if these guys are hubbies or boyfriends of their wife’s friends. ) So, invite your friends’ partners, your partner’s friends, the guys from your day job-(and if you still have a day job, you really do need these hints) and “help” them choose a gift for the

women in their  lives. They’ll particularly love if you know what styles, colors, etc their partner likes. If you  don’t have lots of male buddies, another great venue is any kind of club where men gather. An upscale barber shop or men’s spa is always a great place and remember they will be glad to have you.

Are you wondering how you will entice the men to come?  Partner with a caterer, winery or brewery to do a tasting.  Vintners love to do pourings at upscale events to promote their wines. In fact, they’ll often be thrilled if you hold the event at their tasting room. Didn’t your mother always tell you that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach?

Well, it’s also a great way to get the wallet out of the pocket, cash into your hands, and your creations under the tree.

For 12 more great ideas like this, enter your email address at the right of the page for your Free Copy of “13 Quick, Easy, Low-cost or NO-cost Ways to

Turn your Craft into Cash NOW!”