Like many fabric addicts, I often find myself musing how life would be if I could devote myself 100% to sewing.
- Would I be disciplined enough to work when there is no boss to tell me what to do?
- Can I create enough of what people want to buy?
- Have I got the time to devote not only to the creative process but also to the marketing and administrative side of the business.
- Is it possible to make sufficient income to justify the time commitment.
I can answer the first point very easily. This is most definitively a yes since I have run my own successful freelance/consultancy business for the last ten years. It’s extremely hard work, not least because when you aren’t an employee clients have no problem telling you at 6pm that they want something on their desk by 9am the following morning. Running your own show is certainly not for the faint hearted and I’m extremely lucky in having a partner who is very supportive of my efforts (though I still haven’t managed to teach him how to cook a meal that the children will eat!).
Point two is more difficult as with most creative pursuits there is always a twinge of fear that people are only making appreciative noises to be polite. Plus with so much choice both in traditional retail and the online craft communities, is it possible to create a unique enough product which stands out from the crowd? My other problem is that I am both a perfectionist and a creative polymath, a combination of traits which mean I don’t really have a singular style or product.
Time! I am sure that some being comes along and steals hours out of my day. Juggling pets, kids, day job and a plethora of volunteering commitments already accounts for almost every hour right now. The marketing and administrative parts of running a sewing related business are not remotely frightening or new to me (see point one) but I don’t have any spare minutes for just thinking and creating and that is a bigger problem. I could of course give up the day job, but actually I find it rather exciting so that’s a non-starter.
And finally – income. I’ve participated in a number of (heated) online debates about this and I know that many full-time craftspeople get very cross about individuals who run their kitchen-top business without running proper accounts or declaring their income for tax purposes. Since I run my own business already I can ‘fess up here that I don’t fall into that category. I can tell you just how much deficit I am in at any one time! It is very, very hard to make money from a craft business because time is the biggest expense and very few people feel able to charge for the hours they are putting in. There are occasions where I have made something and then had to price it competitively which means I would earn something like 50p/hour for my labour. I don’t want to make industrial quantities of the same product over and over again – it’s not enjoyable for me at any price.
So what’s the conclusion then? Yes I do think that at some point I will find a way to create a sewing related business, but right now I’m really happy producing a small volume of unique products which I sell via Etsy and by commission. All you have to do is get in touch!