Etsy and pesky.
July 31, 2007, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Browncheckpinkhellototebagmain1 Blueorangerosetotebagapplique Navyyellowhellototebagmain1_2

I’ve been sewing! The last two weekends I’ve been making bags. I’ve made six each weekend, and the first six are up on my Etsy page! I’m very nervous about starting my Etsy page again, but I think it feels like good timing.
I’ve been thinking good and hard about where to go next, in terms of Toast.
Having my own website was great, it looked good, I sold a few things and generated a little bit of interest, but it was hard to maintain and very time consuming to update.
Selling at craft fairs is really, really lovely. I definitely want to continue doing the Craft 2.0 fairs in Wellington, beginning again in December. I love seeing all the other crafties and, as nerve-wrecking as it is, I do quite like meeting the faces behind some of the lovely e-mails I receive and seeing people try on, and like my things. It’s good money and it’s fun.
Consigning in stores, like Dandylion, is a great way to make a relatively steady amount of money, if I keep up to date with stock then it’s usually quite safe to say a few things will sell each month. People get to try things on, touch things and decide while holding the garment if it’s for them or not. Dandy already has its customer base, and its reputation and I like that. I think that’s a big plus, but the biggest minus is of course I really can’t make much money.
Consigning would be a perfect option if I was merely designing the garment and having it made, using wholesale fabrics and without the hour-plus long process of appliqueing. But when each hoodie takes a little more than three hours all up, earning half of the retail price just doesn’t really cover my costs without the retail price becoming quite ridiculous. (Especially if you consider I’m going to have to set up wholesale accounts and buy new fabric soon.)

Where am I heading with this? Basically I need to make a plan.
At the moment I’m on a benefit, with a case manager who makes me jump through hoops to get anything, and refuses to pay for things like counselling etc, and quite frankly I’m ready to start working towards supporting myself. But it all seems so huge. It seems like such a big daunting thing.
Can I tell you a secret? I’ve never really worked.
I had jobs through highschool, working weekends of evenings, but pretty much since leaving high school I’ve never had a job. I’ve been on a benefit, or I’ve been supported by Abraham or my parents. I’ve never had to depend solely on myself to pay all the bills, and cover all the costs, I’ve always just divvied the money up. I’m petrified of earning my own money, and the possibility of not having enough!
There are allowances and grants etc I could go for to get things started, but I need a business plan, and a really good idea of what the heck I’m doing. And frankly I’m freaking out a little.

So here’s my question to you:
Those of you who craft full time (if there are any of you..), can you offer me any advice at all?
(Especially if there’s anyone who doesn’t have a partner…)
And to the rest of you.. do you think it’s a viable option? Do you think crafting is ‘big’ enough these days for so many people to try and make a living out of it? Do you have any advice for me? Should I just keep this as a ‘hobbie’ and go and get a day job? ( or find a balance between the two?)

I think the combination of trying to cut down on internetting, and trying to figure out quite what on earth I’m doing with my life is really not helping the sporadic nature of my blogging, and I’m really sorry about that. I write little blog entries in my head during the day, and I have lots of things planned to show you, but as soon as I sit down to write them I realise I’m missing photos, or I’m running out of time. I’m hoping things will one day run smoothly for me, and my ups and downs will bump together somewhere closer to the middle. Until then, I’m keeping my seatbelt fastened and as I’ve said before, please bear with me!


14 Comments so far
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going to go and have a look.

Im back and Im going to save my $$ for one of them they are lovely

praying for a good plan for you.

case managers seem to be like that arrr
and it is a big scary move isnt it

I have been on the benefit for 10 years and yep it is scary
but think of not having to tell SWelfare where every bliming cent goes
Id get info from places like citizens advice bureau they might be able to show you how to budget and they might even ideas about a business plan

Comment by jen

I think you COULD make a living from it so long as you don’t try to do it with Aesop at home. I know I’ve really really struggled to hold down my part-time job with M around my ankles these past couple of years. I think you’d have to use childcare (which, of course, costs money) or wait until he’s in school before you try to go full-time with it, and I think a combination of etsy / markets / consignment sales would be the way to go. I thought your website rocked, by the way, maybe you could use an easier-to-update format, like a blog-program?

I’m sure there would be shops in all the major cities who would love to stock you – and did you know that Cherry Bomb comics in Auckland sell crafty stuff on behalf? What you need is to do a little reccy-tour of the major cities, sussing out the local shops. Could be fun, maybe? As well as the usual indie-boutiques, you could try art-gallery shops – they often like to stock good-quality locally made things. + Have you approached Toggle?

Wishing you lots of success, however you do it-
xx Helen

Comment by Helen

Wow! I agree whole heartedly with Helen. It would be so difficult to do it with a toddler round your feet. WINZ do have a thing called the Enterprise Scheme to help beneficiaries set up businesses. I think it’s $5,000 plus the dole for 6 months while you get started. I think it’s worth looking into that. Perhaps a short small business course would be helpful and if you have someone to help you write a business plan that would be good too.

I really admire you Rhiannon. Good things will come. And I loved your website too bit I do find it difficult to buy clothes without actually seeing them. That said, the things I bought from that website are perfect.

xx Rach xx

Comment by rachael

well first off, its great to read your blog even if it is sporadic. so don’t worry there. I don’t craft full time and I have a partner so I don’t have much experienced advice. But I do think its great that you are trying to be self supportive, even if you can’t do it all at once.
I think being a mother is already a job and like helen said, it may be too hard to work full time on craft and be a mum a the same time. Also she is right about the website… they can be built in such a way that updating is very simple and easy,so consider that. Also I have also heard about the small enterprise scheme, its out there.

Good luck and good job. reflection and change can be tough, but its worth it!!!

Comment by kimberlee

I agree with your previous commenters and would like to add: enjoy your wee one while he’s young they grow up so quickly. Your craftwork is beautiful, charge what it’s worth. I have friends who have done the WINZ enterprise allowance, it seems to be a pretty succesful start up scheme. What about an artists benifit I think they introduced one a couple of years ago. The above mentioned friends have moved on to make a living off their craft and get “garenteed minium family income” allowence from IRD which helps them through the slow season. Oh and snotty case workers, next time they intimidate you ask to read their policy’s on clients rights and write a letter to the office manager! If your Dr says you need counselling they’d probably pay.

Comment by Gill

Rhiannon….. I have spent the last couple of days thinking about what to write to you for this post. I’ve been where you are with the decision making….. it’s so hard to be pulled in so many directions.

I have to say that a few years ago I quit my “real” job and started my “full time at home crafting job”. I used to make primitive dolls and would sell them at craft shows about once a month or so…… with my Mom sharing the booth fee. Then web-sites and ebay started getting popular. So, I bought a web-site and with the suggestion of the lady who designed it……. I began selling my patterns for them too.

I don’t know if it would pertain to you as it was patterns but this is what I did. I started on my website but when I found ebay I started listing dolls and patterns on there too. Everytime someone bought something from me I would of course plug my web-site. I also saved up enough money to buy a spot in “Country Marketplace” magazine and advertised my patterns. I did pretty good with that as well. This is when I decided to start full time. At this time I was still getting child support from my almost ex-husband. As soon as I quit my job….. he lost his and I was on my own. This makes you take working at home a bit more seriously.

I made sure I had several patterns on ebay with “buy it now” and also on auction at a lower starting bid. I was also sure to have a couple of dolls on as well as they usually fetched about $35.00 and up. (Mostly but sometimes less).

Like I said before….. I don’t know if it would pertain to you as it was patterns and they only sold for $6.50-$7.00 each. I also took part in a group of people at “” and sold a few things monthly and tried to have a “new” item involved.

I also had a newsletter that people signed up for and I sent out updates with new patterns.

Now….. I made the mistake of working day and night. I felt that being it was my hobby that it didn’t quite count as work and since I was with my boys it didn’t feel as though they were paying any price either. Here is what I would do:

1. Set your hours and let it be that. Treat it as a job….. you could even make a schedule and write down your hours as you would at a job.

2. Get yourself a business plan: a. What you plan to sell, b. A good variety of items at different price ranges, c. Decide where to sell like Etsy, Ebay, Trade me….. and etc…

3. Set a good schedule of when to add new stuff. I find that if I added a new thing every day or every other day on Etsy ….. people found it faster as they didn’t want to filter through tons of pages of stuff.

4. Find a place to showcase them. Use any and every source you can at a reasonable price! Do the craft shows and hand out cards with your info & make sure your stuff has your info on it too! Do you have a little market to go to every weekend like Tiny Happy?

5. Enjoy what you do. This is the most important thing. If you like what you’re doing then it pays off in the end. Even if you do end up working “overtime” then at least you’re at home with Aesop. You could be around obnoxious co-workers who bug the crud out of you! (Yes, I know he’s two and he can bug but he’s yours!! So much easier!).

I hope this helps you. I also think you have such a knack at finding great vintage items that you could sooooo easily sell them on a site, your blog or ebay or wherever in NZ. You’re the envy of many of us who have no way of finding these great things you get your hands on. YOU have a definite style about you and you could carry it through with offering the things that give you such style. I think you have a following on Flickr….. use it to your advantage!

I’ve added so much I better go……. email me if you want. I think you have so much talent and would love to see you happy with it. I think you worry too much…. relax and enjoy your life!

Comment by Plumtickled

Wow, what great advice from all your friends – I think they all have something wonderful to take from. I had a friend who did the Enterprise scheme a few years back, she has since had her own sewing business in Nelson, and found the course to be great – of course the biggest benefit is getting paid at the same time as learning and getting business mentorship. I did a small business course a couple of years ago through Te Wananga o Aoteaora. It’s absolutely free (with no strings attached), I did mine in Nelson, but am pretty sure its a nationwide course run by local operators. It was a VERY good course, went for a year part time – in the evenings, and by the end of it I had a well structured, detailed and completely realistic business plan. A business plan helps you really focus on what kind of goals you want to achieve in your business.

Another thing, do you know the clothing shop ‘Go’ in Nelson? She started pretty small too, her clothes are quite funky and I would say she may cater for the same market as you. Perhaps you could ask her for advice? She seems pretty savvy when it comes to promoting herself and I’d say she’d be very open to helping someone in your situation, as she was a young single mother when she started. Another good thing about having a business plan is you work out how much money you have to make in order to live, which translates to how much you need to sell every week. The lady from go participated in local fashion parades, sometimes fundraising for charity and she also did a fashion show at Lambrettas which had a massive audience. Great PR can often lead to great sales. You’ve got an awesome talent for greating really different clothing – the talent is the hard thing, so you’re already half way there! There’s also Bizinfo who offer business mentoring (i think they may have changed their name).

And….we’ve never met but I read your blog every day, I have just moved to AKL from Nelson and am studying photography so if you ever need some photos taken of your clothes then I’d be happy to help. Networking is a great way to go! I’ve done some clothing shots before and am now doing a little bit with James & August.

Good Luck!

Comment by Vanessa

Hi – this is the first time I have looked at your blog, and I read this and just had to comment.

I’m a fellow designer, dealing mostly in jewelry. I work full-time and make my handicrafts in the evening and on the weekends. I, also, am aspiring to pay the bills with my craft some day, though I am not even close to ready yet.

Anyway – asides from all that, I use to work for my local economic development office. I live in a rural town where any new non-ag related business that comes in and stays in is a breath of fresh air, and the economic development office has a program to help small businesses start up, keep in business and grow. They help find money that is available to new businesses and they give counseling and advice. You might want to try your own local economic development office and see if they have services that can help.

Whatever you decide – good luck!!!

Comment by Tiffany

as a very part-time crafter i have very little advice to offer, but i am soaking up all this wonderful advice from your other comments… it sounds fantastic. so many different possibilities to explore. so many avenues. i know that whatever you choose to do you will be an amazing success! i am swooning, swooning over your etsy shop… the bags look fantastic! the first steps towards job/ self-sufficiency are frightening. i know that for me it has been a scary process and in between full-time school/work i have been really lucky to be with e and his (much bigger than mine, though still moderate) salary and the attendant **health insurance**, which for us in the united states is always so important and frightening to be without. starting school again without any financial aid (when i was in grad school i was on scholarship) and taking out huge loans has made me reconsider so much about money. sigh. this is a long comment but what i am trying to say is… good luck, i believe in you, and sending you love.

Comment by amisha

I’ve no experience of crafting for a living (or even selling anything i’ve made), or running a business. So probably not much use. But, i am juggling a day job with studying. In my opinion, if you don’t *have* to have a day job it would be better *not* to have one – it eats up so much time and, just as importantly, energy: i thought i’d be able to do some study/ reading in the evenings after work but in reality i get in, have dinner, slump in front of the telly or computer and that’s about all i can manage. I work 3 long days (10.5 hrs each)per week so that i can have two days for studying, but usually end up knackered on at least one of those days and struggle to be productive (my natural laziness also plays a part in this). And i don’t have a toddler! If you could find a job you enjoy, esp. one maybe related to something you’re interested in, then i guess that would likely be different. You’d also have to get childcare though, which would (if NZ is anything like the UK) just eat most of your salary anyway.

Sooo… yeah, like i said, probably not much use but my main point is that if you can make a living out of crafting then fabulous, but if you decide to ditch the benefits and can’t make ends meet with your clothing, i do believe that having to get any old job just to pay the rent will set you back more than sticking with the current situation for a while.

Feel free to ignore me! & best of luck

Comment by alice

I did make some paragraphs in the above. I’m not sure where they went….

Comment by alice

Your blog along with Melissa’s was one of the reasons I set up my own with the thought of selling handmade, because I could see that it was a possibility. Your stuff is very sure you could do it full-time. The thing about making decisions is it leaves you with polarised choices, this or that? my suggestion would be to do the thing that you can that feels comfortable and explore the things that aren’t so comfortable ie go see a business advisor at your local enterprise if you have such things, as you explore you’ll start to get an idea of what you do and don’t want. I think this “problem” is eternal with all artists and makers & commerce. I spent an hour with a friend talking to a gallery owner this weekend about just this sort of stuff. In the end he decided to set up his own gallery and display his work, and sell arts materials too in a very small town and is now in his 2nd year. The other thing would be to join with others in a collective – I read recently of 6 women who work one day a week in a shared gallery that sells all their stuff. Best wishes whatever you do. Oh, the bottom line on the gallery conversation was to be true to yourself, if you make what you love – that’s what others pick up on and why they buy it… xxx

Comment by caireen

excellent advice above, in terms of childcare, would the 20 hours free thing work for you (my son is not old enough yet so i dont know the detail of it)? otherwise, can you share care with someone else – so you get 2 and a half days with Aesop plus someone else’s child, then the other child’s parent takes both kids for 2 and a half days?

Comment by Gina

I saw a link to this book on another site – maybe it will be helpful for you…? Craft, Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco.

It’s only recently been written and you can have a sneak peek through it on

I love your gear – and would love to be able to buy it here in Australia. You should definitely give this business idea of yours a go. Don’t give up – find a way to do it.

Comment by Michelle

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