Girl Boss Tips Maker Spotlight

Advice On Starting A Handmade Business

Starting A Business

It’s no surprise there’s a huge amount of talented makers in the world. From jewellery design to paper goods and beyond it’s becoming increasingly popular for artists to embark on the journey of staring their own creative business. But just like any new adventure in life, taking the first steps and committing to becoming an entrepreneur can be scary. We chatted with some talented Canadian Etsy sellers and asked them to give their best advice on starting a handmade business.


1. Ashley Taylor, AMTaylorArt

“AMTaylorART is a stationary shop specializing in unique, illustrated and hand-lettered greeting cards. The biggest challenge I face, simply put, is myself. I am my own worst enemy. As a stay-at-home mom, I was able to accept that working at home was best for our family until my kids began school and I had over 6 hours a day to work on my hobby. How could I justify working full-time hours for very little money when I could get a real job? I knew I would have to make a sacrifice and since it was not going to be family time, it would have to be my dream of being a professional artist and business owner.”

“I met some wonderful women online who snapped me out of it. If I wanted it to be a business then I had to stop thinking about it as a hobby. Now I have a wholesale line and have made it into the hands of retailers with big goals to grow it further. Turn your dreams into goals and write them down! Set a realistic date for when you want to meet them (it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 years down the road.) Sitting behind the computer analyzing the stats and beating yourself up because you had a drop in sales or an unsuccessful craft show is not helping. Take it as an opportunity to grow, think about what you can do differently and do it. Don’t give up.” // Shop AMTaylorArt 


2. Chantel Silva, The Paper Shoppe

“The Paper Shoppe mostly sells customized packaging options. I work with a lot of small businesses and brides to create packaging for their handmade items and wedding favours. I also offer labels, stamps and have recently started creating custom decals. The biggest challenge I faced in the beginning was low views and sales, which in turn meant few reviews and little buyer confidence. I always packaged everything beautifully and shipped orders out very promptly with a handwritten note thanking my customers for their order. This seems to be something buyers love as it is often noted in my reviews to this day.”

“When starting out, make sure you have a great quality, unique product. This may be obvious, but it’s important that you give your customers a reason to buy from you. Having good quality photography is also crucial since it’s your customer’s only way to get to know the product. My advice for anyone starting out would be to never give up. Ever. If it’s something you really want, then you just have to keep going.” // Shop The Paper Shoppe


3. Ky Teale, Cheap Thrills Company

“I sell handmade accessories from sculpted clay, enamel pins and resin pieces mostly inspired by retro pin-up style and mixed with some B-horror. At shows I sell some art projects such as my skeleton mermaid plaques complete with real bones and my air plant terrariums featuring bones with crystals grown on them. My shop is unique, at least that’s what I’m told every time I apply to vend shows. Being different makes it very difficult getting exposure within the community. “

“My biggest challenge is exposure. I work a very demanding day job so it gives me little time for marketing. I’ve found Instagram to be a game changer, however. My sales have increased exponentially. My advice for anyone starting is don’t get discouraged. Keep pushing. It could take a while for that first sale but believe in yourself. If you’re not good with social media, get better, because this is going to help you incredibly. I really encourage making an Instagram page for your business, supporting other like businesses and gaining followers which will increase your sales. If you put yourself out there you will be glad you did.” // Shop Cheap Thrill Company


4. Blue, Ocean Locks

“I sell 100% human hair clip-in extensions in a rainbow of colours. Ocean Locks was created with my love of hair extensions in mind. I’ve had blue “mermaid” hair for a few years and wanted my store to reflect this popular hair trend. I also wanted an eco-friendly approach and to give back to a charity which is why all my products and packaging are eco-friendly and a portion of my profits go towards the protection of the Belize Barrier Reef System – a personal favourite vacation spot of mine. As a new seller, the hardest part was not knowing where to start. At first I didn’t have a goal and my approach was to see what happened. After three short months, I’ve sold over 100 orders.”

“It’s not about throwing up a few listings and sitting back. You need to promote outside of your selling platform. Learn how to take decent photos that look appealing because your photo is the reason shoppers will click (or not click) on your listing. Learn social media as it is free marketing and will have the biggest impact on your success.  Keep putting up new listings, keep researching, and don’t give up! It can be overwhelming at times, but there is a lot of support in the Etsy world and we all had to start somewhere.” // Shop Ocean Locks


5. Michelle J White, Niagara Glass Mosaics

“I create glass mosaic artworks, as well as watercolours and illustrations. The glass artworks are created using hand-cut stained glass from recycled windows and picture frames with a glass-on-glass technique. It creates a similar look to traditional stained glass, but allows me to have more freedom with detail and shape.”

“The biggest challenge I’ve faced with my business was learning how to photograph my pieces so they accurately represented the artwork. It took a lot of brainstorming and trial and error to get the photos I use now. My biggest piece of advice is to have patience. It takes a while to build a business, but if you believe in what you are doing and are willing to put in hard work on all levels success will come. I find defining your own version of success and setting your own individual goals is an.” // Shop Niagara Glass Mosaics


Are you ready to take the first steps in starting your handmade business? Start by creating a free Etsy shop and get your first 40 listings free! // Learn More


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