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There’s No Shame in Outsourcing

Seaside Mirror Locket – a collaboration between Studio MME and Polarity

It’s an unspoken myth but when we start out we can’t help but feel that every single part of our product and every step of our business needs to be done solely by you.  We have to design, produce, package, ship, market, and handle all the legal stuff all by our lonesome.  If we let someone help us or have another artist make part of our product, we think our item is no longer ‘handmade’ or that we’re no longer a small business.

But here’s the truth: outsourcing is acceptable.  Heck, it’s even encouraged.

I don’t mean you should be sending your dress fabric out to a Chinese factory to be sewn.  Nor should you hire unpaid interns to do the brunt of your work.

Outsourcing can be much more beautiful than that.  Outsourcing for you could mean:

  • Having a printer print your artwork on paper, tote bags, t-shirts, etc.
  • Having someone sew purses alongside you.  (There’s no reason you can’t have your help come in to your studio.)
  • Having a group of your favorite fans sew embroidery patterns for you before a trade show or photo shoot.
  • Having another artist construct the basic element of your product, such as ear wires or a necklace chain.
  • Having someone take charge of packaging and shipping your products.

Outsourcing doesn’t mean going for cheap.  It means making decisions to save you time and energy so that you can focus on what your customers most value about your work.  Is it your ear wires they’re raving about or the beautiful design of the earrings?  Is it your sewing skills they admire or your eye for putting fabrics together?  Is it your product people swoon over or your brown paper packaging?

The full-time makers you see online got where they are today because they know they don’t have the time or energy to do everything themselves and thus they found someone else to do the parts of their business least exciting for them.  Outsourcing not only allows you to grow your business but it allows you to collaborate and add products you couldn’t make on your own.

For example, I’ve teamed up with a jeweller to create a set of lockets featuring my work and a maker with a laser-engraving machine to make a set of lasercut pins.  If I’d stuck with the myth that I have to make every single thing entirely by myself, I would never have been able to make such well-crafted products.  (Believe me, it would have taken me a decade to learn the welding skills the jeweller has.)

So look over your offerings today and see what someone else could do.  You don’t have to take any immediate steps.  Just realizing that you don’t have to do it all is a big leap.

Megan Eckman

Megan Eckman has written 146 posts in this blog.

Megan Eckman is a quirky pen and ink illustrator who never outgrew her overactive imagination. Her work merges the style of old fairy tale illustrations with modern fantasies. When she’s not drawing (and giggling all the while), she can be found pacing her apartment writing more stories to go with her artwork.


Link Hype 8-2-13

[…] week to discuss a mindset that most small business owners hold to for far too long.  Learn why There’s No Shame in Outsourcing.  In fact, if you’re not outsourcing, you may be running yourself ragged for no […]


A very thought provoking article. I have been toying with the idea of outsourcing to create custom designs for customers, but it always feels like cheating to me! I’d be interested to read more about building those outsourcing relationships (finding a supplier/crafter, asking to collaborate, etc). It’s tough to find that ‘sweet spot’ where both shops can profit from the arrangement without raising prices or affecting quality.

Ginger Morgan

I would LOVE it if I could let someone else make the material I use for my bags. I think it is (almost) utterly mindless. But, I have had two extremely well-meaning folks have a go at it and I wish I could say that “hilarity ensued”, but it was sadly, not to be. Actually it ended up being a big mess, with ruined material, crushed egos, etc. I laughed, but that was the wrong reaction, apparently. Sheesh!
I’m sure I could find someone with a little more dexterity/talent/patience, but what do you pay for ‘calm’ and for the security that they won’t take your business? Non-compete clauses get by-passed all the time, at least in the US.

Megan Eckman

Ginger, what is your website? I’m curious to take a look and see if I can’t come up with an idea for you.

Megan Eckman

Charmed by Wine, I’ll definitely make that a follow-up post! Thanks for asking for it!

Sue Bertozzo

See I knew it!!!! That’s what I said and everybody gasped!!!!


This is really a different take on outsourcing, and I like the way you encourage your readers to do it. I’ve been reading a lot of outsourcing articles and this one has struck me more. Good luck on your business, btw. 🙂


Glad it resonated with you!

What say you?