{Handmade Business in 31 Days — Day 15, Developing your product/style.}

Day 15// Deciding on a type of product to sell in your handmade shop — not to mention developing your style to infuse into your products, is kinda complicated, but only if you let it be complicated... and who wants that? Before deciding on your product, spend a couple of days reviewing,

  • your talents {what are you really, truly good at?}
  • your interests {what do you find yourself daydreaming about?}
  • your natural tendencies {how do you react to schedules, stress, new ideas, making mistakes, etc.}

This handmade business you start ~ it’s likely to consume many hours of your everyday life, especially in the beginning stages. That’s just what happens. But you need to avoid burnout, and reviewing the above three points will help you to highlight a bit more about who you are in order to do so. For four years now I’ve been working on Gussy Sews. It hasn’t always been named that {I started out using my first/last name} but we have always made fashion accessories, zipped items + bags. Why, you ask? Because for twenty-some years I’ve had an interest in these items — and knowing things like how they work and what size/shape makes them the easiest to use, to give you a few examples — has made it a wee bit easier to turn my ideas into a sellable product. The products we design + sell have always felt like a natural fit. Turns out, that’s pretty important :)

Now maybe you’re like me and starting out you know NOTHING about the things that interest you! No need to worry though, but you do need to get serious with yourself. You absolutely, absolutely, absolutely must study the trade, history + current happenings of this interest. For me, the public library and YouTube taught me most of what I needed to know about sewing + running a handmade business. And Google.

How about you, what tools will you/do you use to help you study?

On becoming an expert in your field + a list of my favorite books

This is a great question that should be asked often.

Now, take the product you’re trying to develop and think about,

  • how to make it {materials, techniques}
  • how to photograph it
  • how to list it for sale
  • how to market/promote it
  • how to ship it

Then take your personal style into consideration, how can you infuse this into every above step? Not sure how to answer that? Start with this question, what about you makes you unique? With handmade, people really want to know more about who the maker is. I personally think it’s fascinating to read about + meet other handmade artisans. It’s like we automatically have something in common, which makes it a little less scary to turn Maintenance Mode off + invite others to visit your online space. Infusing more of who you are into your brand will help you to develop future products as well as refind your style.

Developing product can be a continuous project, one that grows you + allows you to experiment. I don’t think we’ll ever be done developing which — can I be honest? Is so comforting. Nothing needs to be forever. That one crazy idea I had, if it was a total bomb we can simply phase it out and work on something different. And the same goes for developing your personal style. I know who I am now is a more refined version of who I was in college compared to who I was in high school compared to who I was entering middle school. I do think there are common threads to be found though and it’s those common threads that I know are safe to infuse into my handmade business.

Homework// Do you feel a strong connection between the products you sell + who you are as a person? Depending on your answer, what could you work on to make that connection stronger? What products could you add to your shop to strengthen this even more? Don’t be afraid to spend time evaluating this area of your business. 

Where do you find new product inspiration? How well is your style infused into your product? What experiences have you had with developing these two things?


everything you wanted to learn about starting a handmade business starts right here

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  1. 1


    love love love this post – soo relevant.
    i got started making childrens hair things, and then got a custom request for a bridal garter. that one order changed everything – my entire business is 90 percent bridal now. when i started this biz did i think i would be in the bridal industry? um….no! :) :) i would have giggled at that, probably. but customer requests + seeing what sells well has turned my shop into that and i LOVE it.

    p.s. you are looking cuter every day friend.

  2. 3


    Building the brand sounds difficult but when I look back on my brand it’s amazing to see the progress & the steps it has taken and even more steps that lie ahead to define it.

    I am a visual learner, literally. I can’t read a pattern (correctly) to save my life. I never read on how to install a zipper or how to use my machine. I just had to do it & learn from doing.

    This series is amazing & I look forward to reading your entry every morning before I head into work…… the school I work at. It gives me energy to come home & get to work!


    • 4


      @Katy (lil’ alice), I don’t even own a zipper foot! How crazy is that??? The machine I have is about 30 years old and has been a family machine the entire time, and some of the little accessories are missing. What encourages me is I didn’t let not having that foot set me back.

      Proud of you and how you’re doing the same thing!!!!

      • 5


        @Gussy Sews, I bought a universal zipper foot. I also have my grandmas sewing machine in a box & she has all kinds of gadgets in there. I also bought a ruffle foot for when I make crib skirts or ruffles for aprons or pillowcase dresses. I’m a sucker for feet (sewing ones that is)!
        I remember you blogging about how you don’t sew with a zipper foot.

        Looking forward to tomorrows post!

  3. 6


    Thanks for doing this series! I’m a SAHM to a very active & chatty 5 month old lady. I’ve always crafted and recently started looking at opening up a handmade biz so I can continue to be a SAHM. All these posts have been amazing {on top of reading Chapin’s books} and have really helped me as I am testing different products & creation methods at the moment. I started the blog portion because hey, its a start :)
    Thanks again! I’m so glad I stumbled upon this site.

  4. 7


    I own two businesses, a graphic soap shop and a mineral make-up store. Both stores reflect ME and only ME. Sometimes I feel like I interject too much of my personal taste and style into my product. For instance, with the soap shop, I would seek out and buy fragrances that I do not wish to fill my home with, am I losing a target market? Possibly, but I’m the one who as to smell it for hours! :)

    I agree that if you love what you do, then it’s never work and there is less chance for burnout!

  5. 8


    Gussy, I like the part about your business name and changing it when you felt you needed to. We are at that stage because we “fear” it’s too old fashioned? What do you think? Today’s post is great! :-))))))

    • 9


      @Diana, WHAT? Your name is soooo perfect! It matches your photography style perfectly and your items put a fun twist on the style you’ve created. I will cry if you change your business name.

  6. 10


    Okay! Don’t cry…we’ve just been playing around with the idea! thanks for the encouraging word that it’s not oldey! New word!!! Sometimes you feel you need to change it up a bit and have a renewed spirit. I do like it but Kristy was thinking something different. I’m thinking a new logo. Don’t like the crown. Hope you’re having a great Monday. :-))

  7. 12


    This step can be intimidating, but when you look back on it, a lot of times it almost seems natural and like everything eventually fell into place. If it wasn’t that way, perhaps you were forcing yourself to like a certain style/hobby?

  8. 14


    This is a great post. I just spent a good deal of time packaging up several orders on Friday & was feeling like I had spent too much time on something that should have been pretty simple. I then reminded myself that creating a handmade business is a process and that is how you learn impotant things! Nothing is just laid out in simple steps. I ended up taking the time to wrap my products and in the end came up with something that has my style all over it. The time it took was totally worth it and then I didn’t feel like it had taken too long at all.


  9. 16


    I have just started my blog and Etsy shop. I LOVE to craft but as a teacher full time it is hard to find the time to learn all the ins and outs! I read your blog post today and went out after school to buy a few of your book suggestions. I am so thankful there are other people out there willing to share some advice when starting up a new crafty adventure.


  10. 17


    To develop your product that you want to sell can take a long time, but suddenly one day all the things will fall into place and you will know that you “have arrived”. But product development don’t stop then – you must always work on things to make your product better.

    Guzzy, I really like this series.I am learning a lot from you. Thanks.

  11. 18


    this post was an eye opener for me! for months I have been wanting to add wristlet/bag line to my etsy shop, but i’ve been struggling how to stand apart. I knew I need something to set me apart, something to signify my brand and after months of racking my brain it came to me after i read this post. thank you, thank you!

  12. 19


    I figured out my style!!! It’s combining crochet & knitting :) I am so glad God revealed it to me after I have spent the last few days thinking through what my style was. I even asked my husband how he would describe my style… It came about that it’s unconventional. I don’t follow the “style” rules & therefore have always felt unstylish, but low and behold I have one :)


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