If you’ve every daydreamed about spending your days in a beautiful, sunlit studio rather than a less than beautiful cubicle, or even just upping your game at local craft shows or on Etsy, Craft Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Turning Your Business into a Successful Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco is a great read. Craft Inc. gives you a crash course in what is involved in starting and running a craft business, with tips, resources and interviews with successful crafters throughout.
I love how this book talks about each of the various business considerations in a way that can apply to any scale of craft business, from a hobby business to an international success. A theme throughout Craft Inc. is that craft businesses are great for starting small and then growing from there — it probably isn’t the best idea to quit your day job and splash out on a studio before you’ve really figured out the ropes. I also like how Meg Mateo Ilasco has an entire chapter on “Ups, Downs and Next Steps” because any business needs time to be successful, and there may twists and turns (and dead ends) along the way. Thinking about this and even having strategies in place to deal ahead of time is so smart and can save some aggravation down the road.
One of the a-ha moments for me when reading this book is that as a professional crafter, you are — from a business point of view – a small scale manufacturer. Anyone who has made tons of inventory leading up to a craft show can certainly relate to the factory-line aspect of craft production, but it’s also an important thing to keep in mind when thinking about sales, marketing and your business operations. Expanding your business could involve attending trade shows, dealing with wholesale or consignment agreements, or licensing your designs. Craft Inc. shows that in order to really grow your craft business, you need to think about all the aspects of manufacturing, which could include copyrighting, outsourcing, customer service, pricing, being able to fill wholesale orders on time, etc. These are obvious considerations when you think about it, but probably not the first things that come to mind when daydreaming about selling your craft pieces in boutiques around the world!
The only criticism that I would have of Craft Inc. is the first chapter on tapping into your creativity, choosing a craft and getting inspired. I think this part probably belongs in a different book. From my limited experience on Etsy and local craft shows, one thing that I’ve observed is that the successful crafters have spent years honing their talents, are driven to succeed and are doing something innovative. Even when you have all of these characteristics, it doesn’t mean that people will support your business. It seems to me that the passion and background in your art/craft has to be there before you ever actually consider building a career around it.
That said, Craft Inc. is a fun and inspiring read, and is a great starting point for crafty entrepreneurs. I would highly recommend this book if you or anyone you know wants to turn their creative pursuits into a career… or just likes to daydream about it. :)
PS: Check it out this cute book trailer for Craft Inc.!