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Learning from Mistakes – or – What handmade business owners wish they knew when…

{A note from Jess: Hey awesome creatives! I’m in Portland, Oregon this weekend, gearing up for the World Domination Summit! I’m sure I’ll have HEAPS of inspiration and awesomeness to share with you afterwards, but I don’t have the time to answer a Q&A this week… so here’s a fantastic post from Katia on why making mistakes is a good thing…}

Every year, when it comes closer to July, I feel like looking back and thinking about what I’ve learned and what would I do differently if I knew what I know now.

The journey between the first toy that I created and today has been such a learning curve!

Every new year I meet with one or two things that I’ve learned to take with me in order to make next year bigger and better.

Learning from the experience is so important, and knowing that other handmade business owners went through similar experiences and faced similar problems that they had to overcome is very comforting. Learning from each other does make the journey so much more easier!

When I meet successful handmade business owners, one of the first questions I want to ask them is “What you wish you knew when you just started?”

Thus, I asked a few of my fellow handmade business owners to reply to the same question:

“When I started my handmade business, I wish I knew…..”

Here are some of those replies:

…that all artists, creators and makers have days when they feel hopeless and failures and others when they feel that they could take on the world. The secret is to push through the negative days, they will and do pass. Nicola, Enoch and Plonk

…to be aware of the fact that consumers very much dictate the market and no matter how creative and how much ingenuity you display with your designs, if the consumer wants what is on trend, then that is what my display shall be filled with. Hollie, Little Goldfish Invitations & Stationery

To be so very aware of all of the different types of hats you must wear regularly and sometimes quite a few at the same time when running your business. From all the great stuff to the in-between and the boring – eg: designer, creator, accountant, marketing, warehouse, dispatch, customer service, financial controller, buying and many more. There is so much more to running a business than just the front face that people see. You always need to be on top of your game at the back end and on your toes every step of the way to make way for constant change. Greta, Colour & Spice

….that success can take a while. An over night success can also be a short lived one and anything of quality takes time. Nicola, Enoch and Plonk

….to get the branding correct from the beginning. Including a logo, business cards, stationery & website, all have proved so very invaluable. Sonia, OSONiA Designs

…how important it is to have confidence and place value on your time and abilities…and to keep clear accounting records from the start! Annaliese, Cordelle Jewellery

… that while people may try to copy my ideas, they will never replicate my quality and attention to detail. Have confidence in your products and never stop developing ideas”. Debra, Very Debra

….that I’d be spending most of my day on the computer, learning how to use accounting software, editing pictures, using photoshop, creating invoices e.t.c. The sooner you accept this and take the bull by the horns and learn how to overcome your computer fears, the quicker your business will grow. Being scared of obstacles that stand in your way, will not help you or your business to thrive. Be proactive from the start. Jump on to a computer course, ask for help, write down the advice you receive and keep it safe. Just don’t hide from it like I tried to, trust me, it won’t go away! Alison, Cheeky Pickle 

….who to ask advice from and get it right from the start. Find out as much information as you can and then make an informed descision to either keep it as a hobby or turn it into a business. Deena, DeeZigner Papercraft

.. that is impossible to do everything and asking for help is not so difficult. Managing my time as a mum at home with 2 young kids, work was and still my big challenge” Anne, Anou Design

…that markets aren’t so super scary – but they are a LOT of work!” – also for me it was VERY important to have the right insurance… running my business from home actually voided my original home-insurance – so I had to search out another company to cover me properly for business and separate home insurance. – this is something I always warn people about! – Melinda, A Little Creative

……that sometimes your creations will sell quick, sometimes they will be looking for the right customer for a while. Don’t feel discouraged, move on, make new things and keep being creative brining new creations to your customers. What is the worst that can happen?! If no one buys some of the items, clear them out on sale or re-design and just don’t make them again.” Katia, Plushka’s Craft

To sum up, here are the quick 5 top tips…

  • Work hard and pace yourself, success takes time and making mistakes is part of the journey.

  • Have confidence it what you make and be prepared to follow the customers’ taste.

  • Learn as much as you can and don’t hide from developing your skills when necessary.

  • Keep your records and correct branding from the start.  There is much more to the business then just making.

  • You are not a super-woman, don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Do you have your own gem of wisdom to share?

Katia Donohoe

Katia Donohoe has written 10 posts in this blog.

Katia Donohoe is designer and maker behind Plushka’s Craft brand. Being of Russian heritage she treasures handmade crafts and love spending time creating things by hand. She cannot live without hand-stitching, hot chocolate and Mr. Plushkin, bright tights and suede shoes. She blogs at Plushka’s Craft where she writes about Plushka’s handmade creations, inspirations as well as her main craft passions – cross-stitch and crochet.


Lynette Long

I so agree with the “success can take a while”! I’ve really tried to not get discouraged when sales are few and far between. Though it seems that when I get the most discouraged, that’s when a small sale happens to give me hope! 🙂

What say you?