why i opened up shop [a guest post from kasey]
the first lovely lady rushed to my rescue almost immediately and i squealed when she did. (no really kasey, i did!). i found kasey through a comment she left on gussy sews and clicked over to her blog and then her shop. fate definitely intervened that day - i tweeted about one of her items and immediately BOOM there was a friendship-slash-business relationship.
yeah - some say it might have been kind of quick but when you know, you just know, right kasey? ;)
kasey is here to tell you a little of her story and i couldn't be more excited to share it with you! xoxo
Hi Everyone! My good friend Skye is giving me the floor today to say hi and share my story of how I became a handmade business owner. These days I spend a lot of time running the Buttonwood Cottage blog and shop, managing a resource group for handmade business owners [Skye and I co-founded this group], and learning how to turn my dreams into reality with the help of my mentor Gussy. But I didn’t start here. Let me tell you about the beginning.
Way back when I graduated from college I only managed to land a part time job. It was fulfilling in a lot of ways, but it was not creative (in the sense that I wasn’t making anything with my hands, which I thrive on) and it certainly wasn’t paying all of the bills. I did the obvious thing when faced with these very basic problems. I went out to find additional part time work to supplement my income and stumbled on a Craig’s list posting looking for crocheters.
Let’s be honest. It was a Craig’s list job posting and I was suspicious at best, but I took a risk and met with the Etsy shop owner who was looking to hire help [in a Starbucks, with my boyfriend at another table pretending not to know me in case I needed back up]. It turned out the shop owner had landed a wholesale account and was overwhelmed by her first order. We talked about money – she was willing to pay a very small about per piece – after I crocheted a test pattern and she approved my skills. I’m not naïve. I knew the job wasn’t going to pay the bills, but it was a creative outlet and I would earn some money while continuing to look for a “real” job opportunity. I decided to go for it.
She put me to the test. I was emailed a pattern and given the supplies (yarn and notions only, no needles, fabric measure etc) to create a test product. A week later we met for the second time at a Starbucks so she could inspect my work. I got the job and some wonderful compliments on my work that really boosted my confidence as a crocheter. If anything those compliments made the whole project worthwhile because they completely changed my view of my skills as a crafter. I was given a box of materials, emailed three more patterns, and asked to make 25 pieces in three weeks.
Do you crochet? Do you realize how much of a fool’s errand this was? Each product took 3-4 hours to create. Don’t do the math, I’ll tell you. At best that’s 75 hours of crocheting in three weeks. Which means 25 hours a week.
I was crocheting every second of my spare time. Crocheting at 6:00 in the morning before heading to work at 9:00 and crocheting again at 8:00 at night after work (I was commuting an hour each way for this part time gig) before passing out at 10:00. In three weeks I just barely was able to fill her order (and I canceled a lot of dates with my boyfriend and other plans friends to do it). For those 25 pieces I made about $280. I didn’t even need to do the math. I crochet fast, but that was less than $5.00 an hour.
I thought about asking for more money per item, but then I went and looked at her retail shop prices. I calculated the different between what she paid me per item and what she charged her retail customers. There were only 3-4 dollars left to cover materials, shipping, overhead, profit…I didn’t see how she could be making any money. And that was retail! I can only imagine the wholesale order was significantly less per item, was she in fact losing money?
I didn’t know this women particularly well and I wasn’t comfortable telling her I was worried about her pricing. It wasn’t my business (in both senses of the word)!
Instead, I politely declined future projects, she only asked me once more, and then I lost track of her business.
I still enjoyed the crocheting. Loved it in fact! Even after hours of cramming to finish a wholesale order and all of the stress that goes with it I still wanted to crochet. So I started thinking about “if I had an Etsy shop” and what I would sell in “my shop.” How I would figure out “my prices.” And then in February 2012 (after lots of hard work people I didn’t just throw up a banner and say this is my shop, come get it) I opened Buttonwood Cottage on Etsy.
It has been wonderful, awful, stressful, fulfilling, and more. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
The End. (or the beginning…or whatever.)
i love reading your story kasey! seeing where each of us comes from is so cool because it is all different backgrounds! thank you so much for sharing your words and your awesome crocheting skills with the world!!
ps - i'm turning my comments off so you can hop over to kasey's blog and show her some love there! she would love a visit from you i pinky promise.