This is the first in a series of Start Your Own posts. Start your own what? Start your own business, silly! I have planned a line up of guest bloggers who have successfully started their own quilt or craft business including shop owners, online fabric vendors, a pattern designer, two long arm quilters and a entrepreneur selling her handmade goods. There will be a new blogger every Thursday for the next few weeks, so keep checking back!
As you know, economically it has been a roller coaster here in Ireland. Still, the Irish are completely innovative and resilient. I see new cottage ventures jumping up, started by folks who found themselves unexpectedly unemployed. It's inspiring. Fabric shops and shows are busy and guild meetings are full. Apparently, crafting knows no downturn. In fact, I see more handmade gifts and local than ever before! I thought with the start of September and school going back into session, its a good time to have a little "how to" on the blog giving those on the craft-business fence a little push to start something new.
Our first guest blogger is my friend Eva of Pippablue. Eva, and her business partner Ger, own a unique fabric, ribbon, yarn, general cuteness and craft shop here in lovely Galway. More information on Pippablue can be found on their website and their blog. Most importantly, though, you can shop online too! They have sewing and knitting supplies as well as a class schedule. Head over and have a look...then come right back here to hear more about their experience opening a shop and their advice for the new business owner. Thank you, Eva, for writing such a fantastic post!
Our original shop, called Yarn, was opened by Ger when she realised how difficult it was to source
quality crafting supplies in
. Ger had come to Galway as a student studying art at the Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, after which she sold her handmade quilts and baby blankets at St. Nicolas Market in Ireland Galway. I (Eva) was also working out of the Market, selling handmade children's clothing, a business I started after the birth of my daughter. I am completely self taught, and have always enjoyed crafts since I was a little girl. It was not until having children that I realised how much I loved sewing! After two name changes, and a move to a more central location in Galway, Pippablue was born. We are very happy to be where we are now!
Both Ger and I tend to dabble in many different sewing projects. Besides sewing items for the shop, like baby blankets and bibs, we like create clothes, bags, toys, home accessories, etc. In the past year or so I have become more interested in patchwork and quilting and have been really inspired by all the fantastic blogs out there.
Pippablue is a collaboration between Ger and myself. Neither of us have a background in business. As we came from different individual ventures, we now prefer having a business partner to working individually. It is reassuring to have someone to bounce ideas off of, to keep motivated and to share responsibilities. At the minute, Ger is at the shop most days. I primarily contribute from home, but come to the shop a couple of days a week. This collaboration works well for us, as my youngest is not at school yet and it would be difficult and costly to arrange childcare.
I think if you are interested in working for yourself, it's always a good idea to do something that you love. Running a business successfully is hard work and it is most definitely going to eat into your family time, as well as your creative time. We do a lot of sewing for the shop, and it can sometimes feel a bit repetitive and limiting. Unfortunately personal projects often get pushed to the back of the line!
Pippablue has both an online presence as well as a shop in the centre of Galway. Having a shop front is very expensive with rent and insurance, making it very hard to survive especially in these times. However, we work hard to make our shop unique and inviting to customers. Online shops might not have these expenses, but it is very hard to build an on-line presence and there are so many other competitors out there.
I would always say, start small and work your way up. It is better to make your mistakes when not much is at stake, rather than when you have huge investment on the line. Etsy, Folksy and other similar sites, as well as local markets and craft fairs are a great way to test your products and gauge interest without shelling out a fortune.
Always do something that you are passionate and knowledgeable about. This will help you through the tough times. Find your own style and unique selling point; this is what will set you apart from other similar businesses. Be patient and realistic. It takes years to create a sustainable business!