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To ask for your thoughts on hand-crafted goods, especially knitted stuff?

(33 Posts)
Flossyfloof Sun 04-Dec-11 12:15:34

I would love to set up my own business selling hand-knitted stuff. But it is expensive and time-consuming so would have to make it quite expensive to make it pay at all. I live in the back of beyond, nowhere near London where the money is supposed to be. What are your thoughts, please? Rubbish idea, brilliant idea, what ever you think!

Graciescotland Sun 04-Dec-11 12:34:37

I knew a woman who had her own business selling woven textiles, she did everything from scratch including spinning her own wool. I suppose really she was an artist but at £300 for a cushion cover she lived in poverty.

I think it's a tricky business to do well in, although I might be wrong!

Good luck.

PurplePidjInAPearTree Sun 04-Dec-11 12:39:05

Get on facebook, set up a page and look for Send In The Troops

Set yourself up accounts with Folksy, Etsy and WowThankYou and use them to see what other people are selling for

Don't rely on the income until you're established

Get good at taking photos my main downfall

I make a bit of pocket money sewing bespoke children's stuff (I specialise in affordable adaptive clothes for kids with SN, so I'm never going to make a living!) and there are a LOT of WAHM's supplementing their income this way, it's very popular and profitable grin

FestiveFriedaWassailsAgain Sun 04-Dec-11 12:42:38

I think you would need to charge an awful lot for it to be a living, esp when the basic materials are so expensive. I knitted a lovely little dress recently. If I hadn't got the yarn in a sale it would have been £13 just to start with, never mind my time.

MabelLucyAttwell Sun 04-Dec-11 12:43:19

I had a knitting phase. I've knitted for so many years including proper fairisle. I took a lot of my scarves to a craft fair a couple of years ago and sold two. Car boot sales are just as disappointing even though I was selling them at cost price (£10). I sold so few because supermarkets, markets, and ordinary shops are able to sell them more cheaply because of economy of scale. I now give them out as birthday and christmas presents but am running out of people to give them to..

LEttletownofBOFlehem Sun 04-Dec-11 12:46:46

Knitted hats= good

Knitted novelty condoms= not so good

jenniec79 Sun 04-Dec-11 12:50:22

To break even (even if you don't pay yourself min wage) you will have to charge so much your sales won't be high in number. Going for quality/handcrafted is probably better than rustic IYSWIM. For cheap/cheerful knitwear you're completely outmarketed by the usual highstreet suspects, so you'll need to poush Your Unique Selling Point, which is handmade, quality, origional.

Check out copyright etc if you're not using your own patterns as that can be a minefield too.

I only knit for friends and family now!

LePruneDeMaTante Sun 04-Dec-11 12:56:12

I would, quite honestly, not do this: you can't pay yourself enough per hour to justify the use of your time. There are people doing it but personally I think they are selling themselves way short.

Or...one way to make it work financially is to totally ignore Etsy or anything at all mainstream: go for the Selvedge market. Don't be a crafter, be an artist. I think you need art school contacts, a potential (probably London) client base with absolutely pots of cash, access to magazine journalists who will talk you up and give you copy. (Sophie Digard, who is sold by Selvedge, has her exquisite fine-crocheted scarves made in Madagascar - cheaper labour?)

Another thing to think about is a knitting machine. Donna Wilson started from art school doing machine knits and seems to be doing really well. It cuts the manufacturing time right down (but is a big investment in tools and training time).

Also: set yourself up properly as a business and see if you can get a wholesaler to give you cost price on materials. If you have a VAT number it's easier. Could you piggyback this onto an existing family business in some way?

If you just enjoy the hand-knitting aspect, then what about a specially tailored web-based business knitting a range of self-designed bespoke items for sale? You have to aim it at people with money - mainly, as far as I can see, newly-retired baby-boomers. Baby knits (for all those grandchildren) is an obvious area, but anything that late-middle-aged women wear is bound to be a seller if you can market it right.

LePruneDeMaTante Sun 04-Dec-11 12:57:36

MabelLucyAttwell, the car boot market is (IMO) the worst to go for: you want to get a fair price, they want to give you peanuts for it.
You need to aim high!

Marymaryalittlecontrary Sun 04-Dec-11 12:58:22

It would be my ideal job to knit for a living, but sadly I don't think it's ever going to happen. For the time it takes to knit something lovely you'd have to charge an awful lot to make any money from it. I just knit for presents for people (mainly for babies and toddlers), but I have thought about knitting enough to have a table at a local craft fair. But when I've been to the fairs myself the table with knitted babies' cardigans etc never seems busy, so I doubt I'd sell much stuff. But if anyone wants anything knitted feel free to inbox me as I would gladly take commissions! Lol

DuchessofMalfi Sun 04-Dec-11 13:17:51

I love knitting/crocheting children's hats. DD and DS have got far too many in their wardrobes grin.

A couple of years ago I looked into the possibility of making and selling small knitted items - hats, and scarves - for children. DH costed it out for me, including paying myself a (tiny) wage, and we concluded that it just wasn't going to work.

At local craft markets I see people trying to sell their hand-knitted garmets, with very little success. It is really disheartening, especially when they are individual items, to see people just walking straight past. The bottom line is that you can't compete with items sold in the clothing departments of supermarkets. I saw some lovely hat, glove and scarf sets in Asda this morning and they were something like £6 - you just can't beat that sort of price.

overmydeadbody Sun 04-Dec-11 13:29:37

I totally agree with what LaPrude said. I really don't think you'd have much making a living out of hand knitted stuff.

Have you had a look on Etsy or Folksy for what other people are knitting and selling?

I did a craft fair last weekend. The woman opposite me with her beautiful knitted cardigans for children only sold one.

LePruneDeMaTante Sun 04-Dec-11 13:36:23

One of the things about the items made for sale at craft fairs is that people skimp on materials when making them: hats are ok but scarves are generally too short, not luxurious enough, the wool is too rough. You only rarely see anyone out and about with a small hand-knitted/felted bag, yet there they are at craft fairs, loads of them. They don't take much wool so they seem like a good thing to make, but they're not really sought-after.

I have a friend who makes tiny little neatly-crocheted brooches and gets about £4 a go at a local gallery shop (ie they sell for £8). It's little enough that people will buy them for a stocking filler, but they take no time to make and you can use fantastic materials. She reckons she gets a fair wage for a days work making them.

If you scale that up to a scarf (fantastic materials and the right size) you'd have to charge a couple of hundred pounds at least for materials plus time. Making a smaller scarf from rougher yarn makes it not really a very desirable thing, hence it doesn't sell.

ouryve Sun 04-Dec-11 16:33:03

You won't even make minimum wage on it. It is time consuming and the only people who really appreciate the effort are other knitters. I know a few people who earn a bit of pocket money with etsy or artfire stores, but they rarely earn any more than that.

theincredibequeenofwands Sun 04-Dec-11 16:36:48

Gorgeous idea and I imagine that your stuff is amazing.

Sadly people won't spend a huge amount when they can get stuff cheaper elsewhere.

Shutupanddrive Sun 04-Dec-11 17:11:31

Just a suggestion, but I saw some knitted dog toys which I thought were really good as their teeth go in the holes so it acts like a toothbrush for them. Random I know but just thought would mention it as I thought it was a good idea! blush

nativitywreck Sun 04-Dec-11 17:37:42

I once sat next to a guy on a flight to New York, who was on his way to a meeting with Bergdorf Goodman (v.posh dept store) with a suitcase full of hand painted silk scarves, which they were going to stock.
He did them himself, and had the strategy of targeting v' high end retailers, rather than individual buyers.
They were talking about retailing them for $300 each.
If you are going to do hand made, beautiful goods, there may well be a market with high end shops.

MenopausalHaze Sun 04-Dec-11 17:47:19

I don't know about knitted stuff - that doesn't do it for me - but I'd pay, and pay happily, for a clothes copying type service! I get very attached to things and wear them until I look like a bag lady and I can't sew for toffee - can't even think how you'd start to go about it!

ReebleBeeble Sun 04-Dec-11 19:30:11

My mother has a stall in Glastonbury, Folksy shop and Facebook page all dedicated to her Knitted goods for alternative babies and children :D (The Scary Gothmother www.facebook.com/pages/Scary-Gothmother-Knitwear/129852057380 Look her up!) Shes loves to knit and sees it mostly as a hobby that she can earn some pennies from to supplement her retirement. She doesnt do too badly- sells 2 or 3 items a week in the winter mostly on comission but during the summer shes lucky if anything goes.

She wouldnt recommend it as a main income, but if youre making little things just for fun anyway and just want a bit of pocket money then go for it.

Tarenath Sun 04-Dec-11 21:35:29

You're never going to be able to make a living from it, but I know quite a few people who make a fair amount of pocket money. It is time consuming. I knit items for my kids but I just don't have the time to knit things for anyone else. You also have to factor in cost. The yarn I use for the kids is about £7/100g. I used 400g to make my 4 year old a hooded jumper. That's £28 before I've added in labour hours. I've seen the same hoodie sell for upwards of £40

jenniec79 Sun 04-Dec-11 23:18:44

My latest socks have taken me months! And I've ended up with a toe in a contrasting colour because I ran out of wool blush.

All fine for me, and I love them that way (mainly cos I did that myself!), but there's no way I'd get the £15 for the wool at sale, let alone the work hours!

Flossyfloof Sat 10-Dec-11 07:35:20

Great ideas, thank you very much. Tis true that the yarn is so expensive that if you factor in your time making (let alone marketing), without a very high-end outlet it will end up costing me money, I think.

aldiwhore Sat 10-Dec-11 07:58:36

If you want to knit, then I would look into knitter for a designer for an hourly rate, or knit items of such quality that yu can charge top end prices for them. For me, there's absolutely no point in a knitting business that produces the same quality items you can buy for a fiver in a supermarket (and supermarket have got some nice handknits).

If you want to sell hand knit items, you could get together with a few other knitters.

I see my knitting as a self sustaining hobby, and though I don't agree that yu should pay yourself minimum wage as any items woould cost MY customers about £400 per glove (I'm a slow knitter) its something I love to do and it costs me nowt. If I went into business, I'd would not be a happy knitters, but either a manufacterer or seller.

I love all things woolen and if I could make a livlihood relating to my love of it, it would be as a knittingcafe owner... supplier, caterer, teacher, blogger perhaps... an actual career in knitting wouldn't happen, but there's always something related to your chosen obsession that you can do to make money.

aldiwhore Sat 10-Dec-11 07:59:27

Excuse all the typos please!

glenthebattleostrich Sat 10-Dec-11 08:08:37

A friend of mine does this, to be able to do more than break even she also makes bibs, childrens leather slippers and assorted toys and blankets. She spends her weekends scouring markets and shops for good quality materials she can use and going to craft fairs.

By making the other things she still gets her knitting fix but also makes a little bit of money on the side.

Have you had a look at shops locally, several of ours sell hand crafted items (including my friends stuff). They like to do it because it increases their footfall too apparently.

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