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 Kristin Link. Lots of you will already know and love Kristin as the owner of the fabulous Sew Mama Sew! fabric shop. Not only does SMS stock gorgeous fabric and essential sewing kit, her blog is amazingly inspiring and wonderful in bringing the sewing community together online. In our interview Kristin shares with us her experiences of starting up and running her own Craft Business.
Here’s Kristin with her daughter – what a really lovely picture!
CraftBoom!: How long have you been in craft business?
Kristin: Five years in some form or another.
CraftBoom!: Where/how do you sell your items, and do you work from home?
Kristin: fabric store is online only. Someday I’d like to have a brick and mortar shop–maybe when my children are older.
Fabric from Sew Mama Sew: I’m sorry, but this gorgeous fabric stack is just more than I can handle…I need to go and lie down..
CraftBoom!: What made/inspired you to go into craft business, and what were you doing before?
Kristin: long story!
I was a secondary education teacher, then I left that and became an instructional designer in a software company. I developed our company’s first distance learning program. It was a job I loved, but once my daughter was born, that was it. I had no desire to go back to a full-time office career.
Like so many other moms, I started sewing and selling bibs and blankets and other baby things just to try to earn a little money to help bridge the financial gap that appeared when I left my job. I started with a few things on ebay, but quickly decided to open my own online store. Etsy hadn’t started yet, so it was either ebay or your own site, and I chose my own site. That business was called Go,Goose,Go! (GGG) I was lucky enough to grow it to the point where I had some product reps around the country and we were mostly selling wholesale.While I was designing for that business, I was frustrated by my experience sourcing fabric. Everything was still so quilting-oriented. I felt like finding cool fabrics was like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I’d scroll through hundreds of pages online before I’d find something that caught my eye, and the local fabric stores were the same. Thousands of prints, but only a few I really loved. Amy Butler was becoming popular and that was very exciting, but still, I wanted a go-to place to find everything that I loved. I started considering opening my own online store, catering to all the small manufacturers like myself who wanted something a little more modern and hip. I eventually opened Sew, Mama, Sew! with just a few collections and ran that parallel to GGG for about a year.
CraftBoom!: How did you finance the start-up of your business?
Kristin: had to give, so I sold GGG. I was able to use some of that money to expand the SMS inventory.
CraftBoom!: How do you decide what you are going to sell?
Kristin: After a few years of doing this, I can tell pretty quickly what I can and can’t sell on the SMS site. The fabric reps know me to be a very quick decision-maker. Out of 10 or more collections they show me, I might buy one.
It’s good to know your product well if you are going to sell it. Kristin is herself very handy with needle and thread! Heat Therapy collection.
CraftBoom!: When did you realize that your craft business had real potential?
Kristin: I worked with SCORE (a group of volunteer entrepreneurs that help small business owners) to write a formal business plan, complete with different financial scenarios. I had a rough 3-year plan, so I knew what I was getting into. That is something that I didn’t do with my first business, but I wish that I had. I recommend that everyone serious about starting a business, no matter how small, a) get help and b) write a business plan.
CraftBoom!: What things do you do to market your business?
Kristin: I do some magazine advertising, some online advertising, and a lot of work on the blog. (The blog is where most of my marketing money is spent.) (The things that Kristin’s incredible blog does to promote sewing leave me in awe! – Lisa)
CraftBoom!: What things do you know now that you wish you knew from the beginning?
Kristin: that you should hire people! Hiring Beth and Lauren were the two best things I have done for my business and my sanity. I hung on way too long with the baby business, trying to do everything myself and I burned out big time. Working with people who share your vision, but are full of their own ideas is wonderful.
CraftBoom!: What do you love most about running your own craft business and what do you like least?
Kristin: I love my job so much, it is hard to narrow it down. I love picking out fabric and patterns. I love the customer service aspect of the business. (Really, you couldn’t ask for a nicer customer base than ours.) I love seeing all the inspiration and participation on the blog. I don’t love accounting.
CraftBoom!: What advice would you give to newbies who want to start their own craft business?
Kristin: Don’t sell yourself short! Literally, I see so many people underpricing their products on Etsy and other places, it makes me sad. If you want a long-term sustainable business, you need to write a business plan and you need to include the realistic cost of your labor into the price of your work.
Some very cute embroidery on linen by Kristin.
CraftBoom!: Are you satisfied with the income that your craft business brings?
Kristin: Luckily, my husband works too, and has insurance and all that. Right now I work part-time, as do Lauren and Beth, so for the time spent, the income is fine.
CraftBoom!: What are your plans for future growth?
Kristin: My biggest plan at the moment is to grow my family first. I am pregnant and due in June! As for the business, we’d like to move out of our current space so we can expand the inventory a little. As I mentioned, I’d like to eventually have a retail space.
Quilt blocks by Kristin.
Thank you so much for your interesting and informative interview Kristin. Keep up the good work with your lovely fabric store and your AMAZING blog. I hope you get your wish to become ‘bricks & mortar’. Best of luck with your family and everything you do.
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