Woo Hoo! Here is another fabulous Crafting Heroes Interview hot off the press. I am really loving these interviews. Like you, I am finding them so inspiring and full of great advice on how to run my own business. For those of you who don’t yet know, I asked the lovely readers of my other blog to vote for their favourite Crafting Heroes and LOADS of them responded, it was great! There are more wonderful Crafting Heroes interviews in the pipeline and this one is no exception…
This time the I’m featuring the lovely Georgia Hadley. Lots of you will already know and love Georgia as a co-writer of the FLIPPING AMAZING Craft Revolution – a site that supports and informs indie craft makers and shoppers alike. I have big respect for Craft Revolution because it was so informative in helping me start up my own craft business. Georgia also makes the most beautiful bags and tasteful jewelry in her pretty shop August Lately. On browsing her shop it’s evident that she applies much of the sound business advice that she shares on Craft Revolution to her own business practices. Georgia lives in Vermont, with Husband and 2 boys. In our interview Georgia shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her Craft Business.
CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?
Georgia: I have been in the craft business since 2003.
CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?
Georgia: We live in an old farmhouse in Vermont, and my studio is located in the biggest, brightest room in the house. I sell my work primarily online and through retail stores. I have done some shows, but it’s just not my thing.
CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?
Georgia: When my youngest son was born, I quickly realized that my life was too hectic trying to juggle my work schedule with the schedules of a school-age child and a newborn, so I decided to stay home and try to find a way to earn an income from home. I began designing and selling jewelry at that time, and branched out to sewing handbags and accessories in 2005. Before my decision to stay home, I worked first as a counsellor and then as an assistant manager at a private home for the mentally ill for seven years. The staff and residents there were guests at my wedding, and I am still very close to them all.
One of Georgia’s lovely bags; I love the professional looking photography.
CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?
Georgia: My husband had just changed fields at the time, and I wasn’t working, so things were very tight at first. I already had supplies from designing as a hobby, so I budgeted a very small amount of our personal money for start-up that included necessary office items and a website program. (There was no etsy when I started!) Over time, I invested more money into supplies and some marketing. You could say I took the slow and steady approach.
CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?
Georgia: As far as designing goes, I make what appeals to my own personal style. Since I offer design-your-own items, I have to be able to replicate a bag’s shape with a high level of consistency. I normally don’t add a product to my line until I’ve gotten to where I know it well, and can put it together in a reasonable amount of time.
CraftBoom! When did you realise that your craft business had real potential?
Georgia: When I started to get wholesale inquiries from people that wanted to sell my products in their own stores, I knew that I had reached an important crossroads in my business. I could grow my business as quickly or as slowly as I wanted to. I no longer had to wonder if there would be enough demand for my products, and I had control over how much or how little my business grew. This gave me a tremendous sense of security and allowed me to feel much freer on the creative side of things.
Autumn Hues Cluster Earrings – if I could make jewelry like this I would be able to sell it, I’d have to keep it all!
CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?
Georgia: In the beginning, I submitted my website to as many directories as I could find. I also worked to set up link exchanges with other websites whose visitors might be interested in my work. Now, when I have a special promotion or a new product, I make sure to submit to blogs. I also purchase ads, both online and in print. Now that my youngest son is in preschool (and will be in kindergarten next year) I have stepped-up my marketing plan to include submitting to magazines.
CraftBoom!: What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?
Georgia: I’m basically self-taught in every aspect of this business, so there are many, many things that I wish I had known starting out! However, I would have to say that a very big problem I had in the beginning is that I was so enamoured with owning my own craft business that I could justify almost any purchase because it was “for the business”. I sunk a lot of money into custom printed packaging and other things that were not really necessary, and didn’t contribute to my business’ growth. Now, when I contemplate any major purchase for my business, I spend a lot of time thinking about how it will benefit my bottom line, and if there is a better way the money could be spent.
CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business, and what do you like least?
Georgia: I absolutely love being my own boss. Maybe it’s because I’m a first-born, maybe it’s because I’m a Leo, I don’t know! But I definitely know that I am not good at being told what to do. I also love that my income is not limited by what someone else thinks I’m worth, or how many hours I can spend working for them. The worst part, I’d have to say, is all of the hours I spend alone with my sewing machine. I’m a social person and it does feel lonely at times. It’s also difficult to have my studio in my house, because it is very tempting to go work on a looming order when I’m really supposed to be spending the evening with my husband and two boys.
CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?
Georgia: The first thing I would say is, unless you have a large source of funding that you can afford to lose, start slow. Don’t quit a steady, full-time job with benefits to start a craft business. Spend some time getting to really experience what crafting as a business really is like, because I promise, it isn’t always fun! Then take small steps toward full time, if that’s what you desire. Some people find that part time is really all they want out of their business, so that it can stay fun and not feel too much like “real work”. Success is what you define, and it means different things for different people.
The second thing I would say is not to expect success to come over night. Yes, some designers do happen to hit on a design that people go crazy for and instantly find themselves on every blog out there, but that is by no means the norm. Most of us spend years slowly growing our businesses before we begin to see any real profit or notoriety, and that’s okay! We have to remember that even though we are doing what we love, it is still a business, and all businesses need time to establish themselves before they become truly successful.
CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?
Georgia: I am very satisfied with it! I have always felt that if I was going to sell my work, I needed to be making a fair wage. I structure my pricing so that the item is within fair market value and allows me to make a decent amount of money from it. If I can’t meet those two conditions, I don’t sell the item.
CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?
Georgia: Like a true entrepreneur, I’m one of those people that are always dreaming, and always have at least a couple of irons in the fire. As far as my business goes, I’m kicking wholesale into high gear by adding a sales rep and I’ve also hired a fabric cutter and hope to find some sewers to help meet the increased demand. I’m also working on a book and considering publishing some of my own sewing patterns.
Design your own Mini Messenger Bag in your own choice of fabrics.
Thank you so much for your open and informative interview Georgia, keep up the good work with your August Lately (well done for doing the wholesale thing and hiring more folks, hopefully that will free up more time for you and your family!), and inspiring people to shop and make indie with Craft Revolution. Best of luck with everything you do.