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The Boss of You

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Crafty Superstar

January 11th, 2010 by Lauren · 9 Comments

I suspect most of us creative types have, at one time or another, considered picking up a few bucks on the side doing something we’ve previously done just for fun — whether it’s knitting ASCII-art wrist warmers, making spicy fruit preserves, or making hand-tooled leather belts. But not all of us want to turn that hobby into a full-fledged business; there are plenty of fine folks whose Etsy stores are maintained in their off-hours. But how do you ensure that your extracurricular enterprise is both fun and profitable?

Crafty SuperstarEnter Grace Dobush’s Crafty Superstar: Make Crafts on the Side, Earn Extra Cash, and Basically Have It All, a very helpful resource for crafters who are looking to make a part-time living from their crafting work. It’s a short, portable paperback — under 160 pages including the appendices & index — and reads like a breezy but informative chat with a roomful of helpful friends (which, as far as I’m concerned, is way more fun than getting your info in dry, bullet-point style). Each chapter is illustrated with beautiful drawings, snappy checklists, fun exercises, and pull quotes that lend the book a magazine-like feel.

(Full disclosure: Grace interviewed me for the book, so I am both rooting for her to sell lots of copies and a little biased about the advice contained within its pages — since some of it comes directly from me.)

It’s focused on crafting specifically, so although other entrepreneurs making products may glean some tips, the spotlight is firmly pointed at purveyors of indie, handmade goods — and that’s the book’s strength. There’s a chapter on indie craft shows, including a handy Day-of-Show Checklist; a “How to Make Your Own Light Box” guide for DIY product photography; and lots of tips on using Etsy effectively. (But don’t worry, there’s plenty of info for technophobes, and for people who prefer not to go the Etsy route, too.)

The prose is richly peppered with tips from experienced crafters (and, uh, me — though I am hardly a crafty superstar myself) & written by someone who’s been there – Grace Dobush runs her own bookbinding “quasi-business, gracie sparkles books.

I loved the section called “Taking Stock,” where Grace talks about the importance of re-evaluating your business on a regular basis, and learning to take input & criticism from outside sources. There’s a great bit from Sublime Stitching founder Jenny Hart on filtering the helpful input from the not-so-helpful:

Once, a dude started telling Hart what to do with her five-year-old company within the first five minutes of their conversation. “I listened politely and considered his advice, but I recognized it as not applicable to my business model. You should never apply advice that you don’t understand or work with an adviser who doesn’t speak to you in ways that make perfect sense to you.”

That doesn’t mean you should discount an adviser who is unfamiliar with the craft scene. “One of my most trusted advisers is someone with years of business experience but no direct relation to the DIY movement, needlework or crafting. He didn’t start offering advice before he’d spent several hours listening to me talk about my business model, my customers and my goals,” Hart says. “The types of questions he asked about my business were how I knew he ‘got it.’ He offered advice in our first meeting that I had never before considered, but it made sense to me and I could apply it immediately and see results from it. Those were all indicators that I was dealing with a valuable adviser.”

We’ve had the same experiences as Jenny on both fronts, so her words really rang true for me. But my favourite part of the book is the three bullet points with which Grace closes. Every entrepreneur could do well to use them as guiding principles in shaping her business:

  • Be informed.
  • Be confident.
  • Be yourself.

You can pick up your own copy of Crafty Superstar at Amazon, or buy an autographed copy directly from Grace here.

Added 21 Oct 2010: We just discovered Amazon’s new Kindle for Web feature, so we thought we’d embed the first chapter of Crafty Superstar right here:

Tags: Boss Ladies We Love · Business Advice · Resources for Women in Business

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Leslie // Jan 12, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Thanks for the informative post! I have just started a custom scrapbooking business and I can’t wait to read Grace’s book!

  • 2 Vic // Jan 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm

    Interesting and promising book. I’m glad every book selling are done online. And I agree with the technique on reevaluating of our business and getting the outside sources. As it is effective, independent sources will give you independent information that is useful in developing our businesses.

  • 3 Lydia // Jan 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you for posting this! This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I’m currently a graphic design student and do a few crafty things here and there. While my goal is to be a graphic designer, I think it would be really good to sell a few things here and there on the side. I’ve just recently started a blog where I’ll eventually post some of my own work once I get more readers. Feel free to drop by sometime–I would love to get your input on my blog/work and what I need to improve on!

  • 4 Charlotte // Jan 28, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    I read this post and went out and purchased this book… so inspirational, informative and fun/easy to read! I couldn’t put it down. It is helping me tremendously with my little business. Thanks for the intro!

  • 5 Jennifer Perkins // Jan 29, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for the review, the book sounds great! I love collecting all the biz books to take to my crafty biz classes, this one sounds like a must have.

  • 6 Marcia // Jan 30, 2010 at 8:30 am

    This really does sound like a fantastic book. I myself am considering starting up my own business with my creative ability.

  • 7 simpledaisy // Jan 31, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Ooh…sounds like just the book I need!!!
    Thanks for reviewing it!!!

  • 8 Nichole // Mar 3, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    Thank you so much for this book suggestion. Called the bookstore, put it on hold and ran right out and got it the moment I finished reading your post! I think it’s just what I need to complete the second half of this equation for me.. your book took care of the first half! :)

    thanks again!

  • 9 Terrisa Coobs // Feb 23, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I am working on a platform to connect the artisan market and consumers/consultants and to bring teh artist’s personal story to bear on the sales process. It’s difficult to do this through Etsy. This will be a great resource to discus with my featured artisans and as a nice gift for their participation and good will toward their business, thank you!