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tips for launching your own handmade business (part one!)

At markets I meet many new customers, and one of the questions I often get asked is: how did you get started? There are many tips and tricks that I learned before I launched my jewelry business. In part one of this blog post, I will share some of these tips (and some great advice I received myself). 

Choosing what to make and sell

When I was decided to start my handmade business, I received some helpful advice and it has guided me through a lot of my decision-making. I'll share it with you here:

Choose something you're truly passionate about. When you start your own business, it will take up a lot of your time and energy, and it's not always easy. I chose to make jewelry because I love designing it, I love making it, and it brings me joy to sell my wearable art to excited customers who really appreciate it. If I didn't have that excitement and passion, it would have been hard to push through days where sales are slow (or non-existent). 

Think about what makes you and your work unique. There will be competition getting into any market, but no two people will make the same art if it's authentic to them. Focus on what you're good at and what moves you, and follow that.

Be realistic about what you need to get started. Consider the resources required, the cost of materials, and what your production timelines will be. Remember that it is okay to start small! A business will take time to grow, and it's better to take things one step at a time than to invest in too many materials, all of the fanciest tools, or an overstock of products that don't sell. 

check out the competition

Before you launch your Etsy shop or book your first local craft market, spend some time digging into your target market. This will help you in the long run.

Start by researching your competition - who else in your area is making similar designs? What price are they selling their work for? How do they handle customer service? How do they handle shipping? Do they have branding that stands out? Looking at all of these factors will help give you an idea of how you can differentiate your own business. Before I started DON'T WORRY DESIGNS, I did a lot of reading, a lot of scrolling on Instagram, and a lot of searches on Etsy to see who else was out there and what they were doing well. I was inspired by all of these incredibly talented makers who showed me that I could run a business too. 

One thing I will say here is that it's okay to be inspired by others work - but it's not okay to take their ideas or to recreate their designs. Your work is unique to you, so focus on what you like and do best. 

crafting your brand

Brand identity is how your business will be perceived by others. It's important to take the time to develop a brand image because this is what will help you stand out in a crowded market.

To craft your brand identity, it can help to start with some of the values that you want your business to be associated with. These might include things like quality ("everything is handmade"), environmental responsibility ("we only work with recycled materials"), or uniqueness ("you won't find our designs anywhere else"). Once you decide on these values, think about how they can be incorporated into every part of your business - from packaging to website design.

One of the hardest parts (for me) was coming up with a name. I'll be honest - I'm more than two years into DON'T WORRY DESIGNS and I am not always certain it was the right choice. I also receive opinions from both sides. I felt it was the right choice for me at the time, and we'll see what the future holds. Remember that names can change and businesses do rebrand - so don't let the act of making a choice hold you back from just starting.

A business name should be memorable and it should reflect your values. You should also think about how it will work visually, like in an logo or word mark. It should be easy to read, understand and reproduce on your marketing materials. Hot tip: try searching different business name ideas online and see what comes up. It will help you avoid a name that is already taken, or one that has negative associations! 

When it comes to designing a logo, you can try tackling this yourself if you feel confident in your design skills using Canva or VistaCreate, or you can hire a graphic designer. There are some affordable options to hire someone online, like through fivver or Upwork.

Once you've decided on your brand, make sure to use it consistently across all of your marketing channels, including your website, social media, and packaging. Ideally you want people to recognize your brand and have a positive association with it. 

Crafting your brand identity is a difficult task, but it's an important one. By taking the time to carefully consider your values and create a consistent image, you'll be well on your way to growing your handmade business.

More tips to come in part two!

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