Written by Lan Nguyen
Dina Gan has always loved making things. In college, she designed offbeat, inexpensive jewelry and sold it around campus. But it wasn't until she moved from New York City back home to Baltimore that she once again started to make one-of-a-kind pieces as well as oven mitts and handbags. And in April, she launched
with the help of Etsy.com, an online marketplace that specializes in handmade goods.
Building a company from a cherished hobby sounds easy enough. After all, according to the nonprofit
Craft & Hobby Association
, the industry is $31 billion strong, with the top five selling crafts being scrapbooking/memory crafts, arts and drawing, other painting and finishing, home décor painting/accessorizing/finishing and woodworking. But experts say starting a crafting business takes some planning. Here's how to do it without losing the passion.
Honesty Is the Best Policy
Take a hard look at your products. Are they items you would pay money for? Turning a hobby into a money machine requires not only dedication but also the skills of a professional. Just because it's handmade and looks homey doesn't mean it shouldn't also be well crafted and designed.
Don't be afraid to take your pieces to boutiques and galleries you admire and ask their opinions. Says Kathie Fitzgerald, author of
Country Living Crafting a Business: Make Money Doing What You Love
(Country Living), "You need to take them out and show them to people who are not your friends and family. You need a cold-blooded assessment of your product."