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August 26, 2008


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OMG! It was the same for me in the sewing business. I was making handbags and hooded baby towels (and I still have some left in my etsy shop PLUG, PLUG, PLUG) -- but I was making them all -- all by myself.

It took me a long time to get how little money I was actually making in the process. But it finally hit me how overworked I was and I had to stop. I did start down the manufacturing road -- got samples and minimums, etc... But it wasn't for me.

I can totally relate to this post!

Hi Jamie, Almost 3 years ago I went to my first MARKET to sell my Hand Painted gift items. I picked up 60+ stores, great right? Wrong! I had no plan and no help to produce all my orders. I am still hand painting everything but have plans to incorporate some mass produced items. Of the 90 stores I had at one time... 70 dropped me like a hot potato. No matter how much a store loves your item, you need to be able to get the orders to them, and I was not able to (20 hour days weren't enough).I haven't ENJOYED a Christmas for 3 years! I will this year! I have minimized the number of items I paint and I will not overextend myself again.
When I started 7 years ago I started with one shop and did A LOT of custom orders, I painted on EVERYTHING. I still have that shop and the owner still wants me to do EVERYTHING. I had to put my foot down and so far it hasn't hurt my sales.
I have big plans for 2009 and hope to really enjoy my business again.

jaime...you are right on. This is really the difference between being a business and an artist. I am still an artist....and in fact, I wish my time was spent more on the creative stuff than the business stuff...but I decided to create my artwork and print it with a professional printer than create originals for that very reason. I actually started hand painting canvases, but with my babies, it was so unrealistic. And I would have to charge so much more, which frankly most people don't care about any more. They want good work at a good price that is still unique, abut affordable. So, really, by getting help, you are really just benefitting the customer as well! And, it leaves a whole lot more time to CREATE new work. That is my favorite. If I had to create the same thing over and over...I would go crazy! Arists need to CREATE and that means try something new! So, the best way is to work on a piece, get it just right, and manufacture is so it is affordable. Very nice post by the way...and I am glad you mentioned the "hire help" blog post too. Something I have been thinking a lot about!

You hit the "nail on the head". Everything you say here is correct and I wish I had read this a few years ago. The only difference is that I sew (instead of paint)... and YES, I just got carpel tunnel syndrome!!
Thank you for writing such a great blog!!

Preach on Sister! In 1997, I started selling hand-painted things and doing custom work in a great little shop. And 5 years, 15 stores and countless painted votive cups later...carpel tunnel and not much $$$ to show for all my hard work. Now, I paint for fun. Create for fun. One day maybe I'll think about trying to break into liscensing...but for right now, I'm just content to create. Great post!


This is such a great post because it TOTALLY puts things into perspective. One may love the idea of creating by hand, but it's not alway PROFITABLE considering time constraints and all. And you make it clear in a way that really hits home. Because let's face it, us beginners have illusions...

Thanks for one more insight into what goes into creating and growing a small business. I've already thought about what will come next, although I have a long way to go before I have to actually do anything differently. I am one woman with a sewing machine and can only do so much. Once things get rolling I can see where I will need help with the sewing and/or turn it over to others so I can develop new products. I also appreciate the comments of people who have already been through this stage. Thank you all.

Ain't that the truth Jamie! In sewing, it's the same way. Some seamstresses say handmade is better than manufacturing when it is so far from the truth. Manufacturing gives CONSISTENT TIMELY results.

Great post!

With friendship,

I really want to be your best friend! You are a genius! I've never thought of it that way! I've got things brewing in my head for mass producing and after reading this post - O my - I need to make the time to focus on them!

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