RECAP: Happy Chaos: Turning Your Passion into a Business

Session Description

Crafts and handmade products have gone mainstream in a big way. With so many people selling their creations, it’s hard to stand out in a crowd.

Learn how to take your passion and get out of hobby-mode. Ashley, Jessica, Lindsey and Liz will share how to balance all the working parts of a business, take risks, make standout products, all while actually getting paid.

Session Recap

When did you take a leap and make it a business?
Lindsey: it happened organically, it was fun at the beginning, then when the economy went down, I started to taking it seriously
lil boo: it was organic. But now I work 9-5 at home
Lizzy: I entered a contest and won … got the confidence and took the leap. Networking
Jess: It was not organic for me, I wasn?t planning on this path. My husband went back to school, I needed to help and pay our rent. I needed to make this work, it was not an option. I never had the ?hobby time? for my business, it went straight to business mode.

How did you find what you were good at to where people would pay you for it?
Lizzy: When you?re so excited about it, it will show.
Lil Boo: I tried other things, but I know what we are good at and I stick with it. Go with what works and something that you actually love making.
Jess: Make something that I would wear. It makes me confident when I present it because I love it. I make stuff for me. I continue to improve and expand my products and sees what sells.

What makes your product stand out more than other companies with similar things?
Lindsey: Mine started as a blog. People buy from me because they resinate with me. They go to my blog and they go to my store. I keep on top of my quality control.
Lil boo: Know your strengths and weaknesses. I use a photographer to make my products look wonderful online. Use collaborations to strengthen your line. Using best materials and good quality control. Photography is key.
Jess: Don?t get wrapped up in the competition. Make your customers loyal customers. Something needs to be different to stand out. Think outside YOUR comfort zone. Take risks to stand out.
Lizzy: Go to other products for inspiration. Use other aspects for inspiration. If you?re a jeweler, don?t look at other jewelry, etc.

How do you get your price points?
Jess: Material cost {double it}, time and labor {decide how much you want to pay yourself} … consider all aspects … listing, making, social media, shipping, etc.
Lil boo: trial and error. Work with your prices, see what sells and what doesn?t. Think about how much you?re charging, your marketing, paying yourself, etc.
Lindsey: Don?t devalue your product with low prices. Your work and time is valuable.

How do you pay yourself?
Lil boo: do your taxes monthly. Use an accounting program to help you
Lindsey: I have a hard time keeping my hours and keeping track. I pay my employees twice a month, but it?s hard to calculate X amount of dollars every month for myself.

Who keeps you on track?
Lizzy: When you?re in a ?happy? place, it?s easier to create. Making sure my family needs are met and they?re happy, I?m able to create faster. Having a cheerleader really makes it for me
Jess: this handmade community keeps me going and inspired. and my family keeps me going, they make me feel excited. I do something that they don?t quite understand …
Lil boo: hiring an assistant to do the stuff I don?t like to do. I get inspired by other things like thrift stores or anthro, etc. Keep new and fresh. Get out the social media world for a bit.
Lindsey: having a business mentor, one that is a couple steps ahead of you.

How do you stay encouraged and encourage others to start a business when the market is over saturated?
Lizzy: don?t compare yourself. find what you love to do. Be a dreamer.
Lil boo: not being scared to shift gears. I try to balance blogging and creating. I love being involved in the online community. There are other people out there like you. I love being happy for others.

How do you balance everything with your personal life?
Lindsey: I hired out. I had to let go. I have seamstresses, a shipping person, and an assistant. It was a jump. I?m able to be a good mom and concentrate on what I love to do. Be flexible. Try to find someone that can help you, but I have a trial period to make sure things works out for both of you.
Lizzy: Let go of some things so that you can be amazing in what you?re good at. Be patient finding the ?right? person.
Lil boo: I have my friend help and it?s worked out for us. Word of mouth. Craigslist is an option, but sometimes it might not work out.
Jess: I?m very particular and my product is a bit hard to teach. Finding a person who is teachable as well

How do you pay your help?
Jess: I pay some by piece work or by the hour
Lindsey: Everybody is an independent contractor, so I pay an hourly wage.
Lil boo: Salary, hourly, and a contractors are paid by piece. works for us paying our employee … it tracks and helps with taxes.

DECA Distributive Education Club of America is a good resource to have ?kids? work with you to establish credits for school

What do you wish you knew when you started your business?
Lindsey: Make it a business, start with the legal things you need to do to have a business in your state. I have a sellers? permit and a business license.
Jess: Have a flexible schedule. I dedicate my days to my kids, and evenings to my company.

How do you get the word out?
Lil boo: I collaborate with other handmade owners. We share customers. I partner with someone that is different than I … my customers will know about her and her customers will know about me.
Lizzy: work together and promote eachother. I do a lot of giveaways on my blog.
Jess: i used to have a monthly budget for giveaways and advertising. When I reach my monthly limit, that?s where it?s stops. People who will talk about your stuff. Talk about their stuff and they talk about yours
Lindsey: i did giveaways a lot, so I hardly advertise. I have a lot of traffic from my blog.

How much to you charge for custom orders?
Lil boo: I used to do them, but I don?t do them anymore as it cut in to other parts of my day. I used to charge $10 to $15.
Lindsey: It takes hours out of your day …. make sure you pay yourself for the time it takes for it to make it.

Are you on Etsy?
Jess: yes, I was on etsy, but I have moved over as I saw how much they were taking a lot of % $$. Once I felt I could drive my own traffic, I switched. I took the money I was paying to Etsy to put towards my advertising and giveaways.
Lil boo: I?m on both Etsy and Big Cartel. You can buy templates for your Big Cartel shop. Try is another customizable online shop. has great tutorials on customizing your online shop.

Tauni is a former public relations executive who spent 12+ years handling communications and events for an array of clients, from the NBA and Olympics to numerous high ranking politicians. Today, she handles social media for a local agency and hosts SNAP!, an annual social media conference for bloggers focused on entertaining, craft and home DIY.


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