Kate's career path didn't involve DIY projects at first. After graduating from Cornell with a degree in Communications, she took a media relations job in a Corporate Communications department of a Fortune 500 company in NYC and then did business development and evaluation work for a national PR agency.
When her first daughter was born, Kate took a career break. Her second daughter arrived three years later. Though Kate appreciated having the time to spend with her children, she always knew she’d find her way back to her career. When her daughter was about two, she told Kate one morning that she didn’t want to work when she grew up . She didn’t think she was going to be “a daddy”, she explained. Of course, she knows now that women have career options, too.
So Kate started her own line of hand-made felted purses that she sold at craft shows in the area. Then an old business contact needed some part-time help and Kate leaped at the chance. "It was an amazing re-entry for me, helping my family reassess our systems, refreshing my technical skills, and reminding me how much I really enjoyed working outside the home".
About two years later, with her youngest headed to kindergarten, Kate heard about The Grommet through a job posting. She sent her resume and cover letter along, and joined them part-time for a few months, adding another day in their offices every chance she could. "And here I am".
I asked Kate to share some advice on starting a small business. She graciously agreed, using hand-made soaps as an example.
Do your research.
- Ask yourself:
Do they fill a need in the market?
- Ask friends and family:
- Ask people who aren’t your friends and family:
Will they buy your soaps and what they’d be willing to pay?
Write a business plan.
- What are all the costs that go into creating the product?
- What will people pay for this item? Look on etsy.com and in gift stores to get a sense of the going retail price. Is your cost less than half of this price?
Market the product.
Makers have many options, but have an initial plan and be ready to tweak and adjust it as you get started.
- You may set up a shop of your own on etsy.
- Maybe you’d like to have your own web site so you can create some content and blog on the side.
- Would you like to sell your soaps wholesale only and attend national trade shows to let shop and store owners know about you?
- Are there any small Maker fairs or craft shows in your area where you can set up a booth and let local people buy your soaps?
- Maybe you even want to try a crowdfunding campaign through Kickstarter or Indiegogo?
Be open to the feedback you get about your idea and the product.
Learn from people who have launched products.
Grommet recently published a free e-book called Makers who Made It. It is chock full of ideas from our Grommets on how they got started, the obstacles they encountered, and what success looks and feels like to them.