One topic in particular that never bores me is on the business side of blogging and handmade shop ownership. And when I think about it, this topic goes back to the beginning roots of my blog’s content. For this very reason I’m inspired to introduce a new series, State of the Biz: blog & handmade shop. Inside each post a reader question will be featured and answered. I’m really excited about this and how it will allow us to dive even deeper into a multitude of business topics. Do you have a topic suggestion for this series? Perfect. Either leave a comment below or send me an email.
Whenever I reflect on why I truly love blogging I come back to this thought: I thrive on community and the personal encouragement that swells from it. This is going to be a really fun series to write, no doubt…
Q: Could you speak briefly about the issue of imperfection in regards to sewing. I feel like all I can see in my products (I make custom iPad covers) are the little imperfections, and it holds me back from feeling secure enough to ask the price they are worth, because of MY hang ups that they are not “perfect” (store bought looking). Does this feeling ever go away, the longer you sew? Or is it feeling you just try to manage? — Jessica
A: It’s so easy as a maker to see our imperfections everywhere (we can be overly self-critical with our work, yes?), so my advice is to ask a few trusted sources for feedback. Start with your spouse/another close family member, then add a couple other people to the list: fellow handmade makers, close friends, mentors you trust. Your goal is to receive their feedback as a buyer. Would they buy your product “as is”? What would they like to see differently in your product that would encourage them to buy? That sort of thing. But, it is also important to spend some time making your product as perfect as it can be, within the handmade/”small imperfections are beautiful” mindset. Remember you’re exchanging your work for the buyers money — you’re running a business here!, so you should aim to produce high-quality work.
Your products prices should reflect your materials, labor, profit and overhead — but also included in your labor rate is your experience. The more experience you have the more you are able to charge for your time (or your seamstresses time, should you have hired help). You also need to decide the amount of flexibility you’ll allow for visual variances from piece to piece. Definitely make sure the product is 100% functional, but the beauty of handmade is there are tiny margins for variance. Note, I’m not saying the finished product should be negatively different from what you’re advertising it to be.
Also consider yourself as the customer: would you be 100% satisfied with the finished product even though it has an “error” or two?
With sewing, for example, you’ll want to pay close attention to ensure your zippers are sewn in straight, your stitch tension is even, and your materials aren’t flawed. Of course there are other things to be on the lookout for, these are just a few things that come to mind right away. I think ultimately you have to decide what you’re comfortable putting your name on and selling for profit, and then that will likely help you decipher what you’re not comfortable selling. Lastly, don’t be afraid to spend some extra time perfecting a technique so your business can grow and be it’s best.
Have a “State of the Biz” post question you’d like me to answer? Leave a comment below or send me an email!