Starting a Craft Business? Meet Your Customer

Can you make a living as a spinner? Support yourself as a dyer or weaver? (Would you want to?) Selling your work is not about crafting for yourself. “Who will buy my work?” is just one of the questions you’ll wrestle with while starting a craft business. Let’s meet your customer.

Who’s your customer?

Hand-dyed fiber by Fiber Optic Yarns.

Hand-dyed fiber by Fiber Optic Yarns. Photo by George Boe.

How many times have you been told, “You should sell your ______,” by well-meaning family and friends? That’s encouraging, but as fiber artist Robyn Spady says, “They aren’t the ones who are going to be buying _____.” They are not your customers. Robyn explains that from a business standpoint, the further away you are personally from the customer, the better. Friends and relatives may want to support you, but they may not be willing to pay the actual cost involved in making your product.

Another common saying ringing in the ears of fiber artists starting a craft business is, “I can buy that at for less than half the price.” It’s not personal; those are not your customers, either. Someone willing to pay a fair price for a handcrafted item sees your work as more valuable than something from a big-box store. This is your customer.

Why does handcrafted matter?

Cenote Shawl designed and knit by Anne Podlesak.

Cenote Shawl designed and knit by Anne Podlesak. Photo by George Boe.

Distinguish your work from the run-of-the-mill goods sold at big-box stores by educating the customer about the unique qualities of your product. Whether you’re spinning one-of-a-kind art yarns or knitting specialty garments, you need to teach potential customers about the special handmade qualities of your product. Spinning fibers sourced locally? Dyeing with natural dyes? Let ’em know! Include that information on your website and the item’s tag. Robyn says, “The more they understand, the more they appreciate what we make.”

Do you want to start a craft business? The spinners, dyers, and weavers who’ve done the same can help you answer the tough questions and guide you along the way. In the Spinning Business Kit, you can learn strategies to find customers for your handcrafted products making your craft business a success—and making your dreams a reality!

—Elizabeth

Featured Image: Handspun by Esther Rodgers. Photo by George Boe.


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