Review: Craft, Inc.

The ultimate dream for any artist and crafter is to be able to open up a shop where they can sell their creations and make a living from their passion. Thanks to sites like Ebay and Etsy, crafters can do just this. For those of you who think you might want to eventually swap out your 9-5 job to pursue a business based off your creative designs, then Craft, Inc.: Turn your creative hobby into a business, by Meg Mateo Ilasco, is your guide into getting your business started

Mateo Ilasco uses Craft, Inc. to hit all the major points of starting your own crafty company. Her writing is crisp and tailored perfectly to today's crafting audience. The chapters are loosely organized around topics such as: starting a new business; overview of business topics; making your product identity; marketing (with heavy emphasis on internet and trade show techniques); production and pricing; and how to live beyond the dream. She teaches you how to make business and marketing plans and how to act when you're invited to trade shows. The book also contains many internet resources to help you along the way to turning your crafting hobby into a profitable business.

Craft, Inc. contains a lot of good information over a very broad scope. Mateo Ilasco covers a lot of ground in 160 pages. I'd almost recommend that you read this book twice. Once to see the variety of information in the book and a second time to really understand what to do with the information. There are lots of check lists to make sure that you have what it takes to open shop or successfully attend a trade show. She also includes some very good questions to ask yourself about why you are doing what you are doing with your craft and business. The book includes many positive success-story interviews, illustrating that craft businesses can and do make it in the real world.

I personally loved the final chapter, "Ups, Downs, and Next Steps". While knowing business plans and marketing styles is important, this chapter goes into the specifics of what to do if your design gets plagiarized, or if you burn out quickly, or want to end your business because it's not doing as well as expected. These are important things that happen to new entrepreneurs and usually get glanced over or forgotten from most business-oriented books.

On the flipside, while the book contains a lot of information, the information it does contain tends to be broad and generalized. This is a book that caters to craft-people but it should be read in conjunction with other business books out there. For example, the book talks a lot about marketing and where to go to market your wares. But it doesn't really tell you the specifics of making a great marketing plan that grows with your business over the years. I also would have liked to see more interviews with crafters; especially one or two where turning their hobby into a full-time business didn't live up to their expectations. Adding a touch of realism to all the bright and shiny success stories would ground this cheery, "can do" book back into reality. Craft, Inc. also focuses mostly on US markets and techniques, so I'm not sure how useful this book would be on a global scale; even though Mateo Ilasco does mention outsourcing globally.

The bottom line is that Craft, Inc. is a good, solid book to introduce basic business principles to crafters who think they want to open shop and sell their items. It gives you a complete view of the business process from creation to ending your business gracefully. Like most craft books on the market, this one has a nice graphic design and color scheme that seems to cater to woman crafters over men. But don't let that fool you as Mateo Ilasco does illustrate that the book works for anyone.

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One little complaint

Good review, but you've got to watch those blanket statements. A lot of us crafters feel like doing our art for money would take the joy out of it. :)

Very true. But you gotta

Very true. But you gotta admit that the idea of leaving a job or supplementing an income by doing something you love is always a good dream to have.

/innowen

Perhaps at first thot it would

"A lot of us crafters feel like doing our art for money would take the joy out of it. :)"

That is something I struggled with for a while. I started making books on my kitchen table in a tri-plex in Seattle and loved it. It consummed the evening and early morning hours. Then I became almost unable to walk because of arthritis in both my hips, had no source of income, and so I turned making books into a business. At first I loved it but then there were aspects of it that just became a chore. But then doing it full time brought about many other interesting challenges which made things more interesting than I would have ever thot or imagined. And, from an art standpoint, coming up with new and innovative ways to make things, designing new things, creating new and better construction techniques and learning about different materials and mediums keeps things quite interesting.

So, I think that turning a craft into a business can actually help you to develop and evolve your craft and at the same time it will change you as a person. Part of that evolution process is changing to keep alive the joy of what you do.

Btw... my first summer art fair booth cost me $150. It was 2 folding card tables covered with burlap. I sold $70 of stuff. My first trade show cost $500 for the booth. Same setup as above. I had one order for $86. I drove everywhere doing shows in my 1972 green Ford pickup. Changed the radiator in Boise, the alternator in SLC, a spark plug exploded out of the engine block one hour from Atlanta, had 2 flat tires in one day, broke down 15 miles east of Bismark, ND and 15 miles west of it the next morning. Turning a craft into a business was not always easy but it has always been an adventure.

Arthur
www.renaissance-art.com

Thank you!

Arthur, I just wanted to thank you for sharing that! That's quite a history! And knowing the source. :-) wow. (yes, I'm feeling a lack for words to describe my appreciation and admiration)

-Jon

Thanks!

I like hearing things from a business craft point of view. Thank you!

I've given serious thought over the years to knitting for money. A big problem, even if I wanted to do it, is that people generally don't want to pay what something's worth. If I spend four days knitting a pair of socks out of $20 wool, I want to get a fair price for them given my time and materials. But most people won't pay more than $20 for a pair of socks, so I'd just be covering the cost of materials. No profit at all. And god forbid I try doing sweaters or shawls or anything that takes a while.

So I think I'll stick with knitting as a hobby for now...