Saturday, March 1, 2008

So you aren't ready to do craft shows...what else is there?

My area of Texas is inundated with folks who crochet themselves, so I bombed when I tried to sell my finished pieces, but don’t let my disastrous results at craft shows or other sales events deter you from even trying to make your crochet- at least pay for itself.

I’ve heard crocheters all over the US have great success in selling things at craft shows. Keep in mind that their Success, could be less money than I made in my Disasters. Here are a few other ways folks are making money with crochet.

You will get those folks who claim the ‘quality machine made crocheted things in stores’ are much cheaper than what you are asking for your products.
You can explain, that the mechanics of crochet are impossible to recreate with a machine; every piece of cheap crochet you find in a store was crocheted by hand, by ‘slave labor’ in a third world county.

Unfortunately, there are a gazillion variables that can determine your chances of making money with crochet: your locale, the demand & appreciation for hand made goods, the time you can devote to your work, your abilities, your cash flow management as an entrepreneur, your ability to work under a deadline, etc.

These are my experiences, or what folks have told me they do, and I include the negatives I considered when making my decision on how to be profitable with crochet.

Special Orders....

I did crochet a few special order pieces for folks, but have since stopped. When folks pay even a little extra for something that is specially designed for them, they expect nothing less than perfection... even if their idea of perfection is impossible to attain.

When customers asked about my doing a special order blanket, they would choke when I wanted $200 for a large piece, not including the yarn. They could buy the same thing at Wal Mart for $30. (not really, but that was their attempts to shame me into lowering my prices).

I would then offer to teach them to crochet so that they could spend 60+ hours crocheting their piece and only pay $50 bucks for the yarn. At this time the tension would be so high, that they would leave muttering that they would get their grandma to do it and she wouldn't charge them at all, not even for the yarn!

My thoughts were: if you would do that to your grandma, then I don't want to do business with you...

I’ve had folks write to me from all over the country saying they are pleased with their special order business, and I’ve had just as many folks tell me they refuse to do special orders any more.

Those that do special orders, these are the limits the place on their services:

  1. They do only certain projects: like baby blankets or other smaller pieces.
  2. They have a product list and offer to stitch in different colors or different types of yarn/thread.
  3. They place a reasonable delivery date for the special order: 2 weeks or more for blankets.
  4. They set their price, and terms ahead of time, and do no negotiate. I want $XX to stitch this baby blanket; you buy the yarn; I keep the leftovers.
  5. They DO NOT stitch anything and everything folks ask of them.

The one time I did a big special order, I lost money on the deal. I spent hours working with Boucle yarn, mailed the piece to her, it wasn't exactly like she wanted, so she mailed it back and I had to carefully frog half the piece in Boucle yarn and then re-stitch it. Did I mention that I frogged Boucle yarn? yeah, it was that nasty. :-P

I have crocheted a few other special orders, that weren’t as painful as this, but with none of them did I make enough money to cover the amount of time I spent.

This is the one important aspect of Special Order crochet: you get no choice on what you are crocheting- even if the yarn and design are not working together, you still have to finish the piece. (boucle yarn comes to mind.)

Some folks have told me they are pleased with their 'special order' crochet sales, but that they had to limit the types of projects they do or they would be overwhelmed with projects.

Which made me think: If they are turning customers away, they were undervaluing their labor in their pricing. Yet, if they go up on their prices, they would loose many of their customers.

Also, many of the ladies who do Special Order crochet were retired with social security checks, so their crochet was supplemental income. It paid for their hobby.

I have never heard the Special Order Crocheters say what happens to pieces that they work up and then the customers turned down. My 2 dozen shawls comes to mind, that I'm sure I made some battered women and their daughters quite happy, but I made no money on the deal.

Tomorrow’s Post: Parties & Portfolios

© Angela ‘ARNie’ Grabowski 2008. All rights reserved. For more crochet fun, visit
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