Friday, March 26, 2010

Handmade Cottage Industry


When I was in college in the late 1970s, I had a printing press in my dorm room. I used the press to print return address labels that I sold through mail order. I would have to print during the day because that press was old and noisy and made a "clickity-clickity-click" noise that made everyone crazy. I have ever since loved the feeling of being a part of the handmade cottage industry. I love the freedom, the creativity, the sense of accomplishment, and the rush of success!


Another benefit of cottage industry, which means making a product for resale inside your home, is that when you grow, you get to move out of the dorm!! Perhaps I wasn't completely ready to move out of the dorm, but my business sense told me that living in community and operating a noisy printing press was not ideal. And also, the people in charge told me that the time was right for me to move out of that dorm, so, it worked out for everyone.


Sometimes getting too big for my space means I have to simplify instead of move. Being forced to plan growth is good for entrepreneurs because many of us tend to take on more than we should. If we are running out of space, we are forced to make choices about what to pursue, and that thought process is useful. One key benefit to simplifying the artwork I produce in my home based art studio is that I can better manage my cost of goods sold. What do I mean? If I produce 25 kinds of folk art, I need many more raw materials than if I create 10 kinds of folk art. My space limitations allow me to store wholesale quantities of supplies for my 10 folk art specialties. I could not buy wholesale quantities, space-wise, when I was trying to create 25 different items.


I have received many words of wisdom as I grow my small business within the exciting field of handmade cottage industry. Here are a few links you might find helpful, too!


http://www.sba.gov/ U.S. Small Business Administration

http://www.score.org/ SCORE: Counselors to America's Small Business

http://karichapin.com/ Kari Chapin, author of The Handmade Marketplace

http://countryliving.com/ Crafting a Business by Kathie Fitzgerald

1 comment:

kimbuktu said...

Thanks for your post, I love reading about small business success, and your words of wisdom on concentrating on a few items rather than too many, hit home.