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Anyone making a (modest!) income from a cottage industry?

(4 Posts)
iwantacountrylife Wed 16-Jan-13 09:44:28

If so, please come and talk to me!

I'm due back to work after a year on maternity leave in the autumn and have to decide whether to go back (part time) or take the plunge as a full time mum. Whilst I've been on ML I've discovered a love and (surprisingly!) some talent for needlecraft, knitting and other DIY kind of things. The upshot of this is that I'm thinking about staying at home and trying to start up a small business selling pretty, country-style home accessories - think candles, lamp shades, cushions and bed linen, decorative garlands and bunting etc. I'd be looking at selling online (probably etsy and Facebook, the eBay shops thing looks a bit complicated to me at the moment!) and local craft fairs. There are quite a few market towns/villages around here with regular, popular fairs and some small independent shops selling these kinds of things which makes me think there is a market for it (although I know it will be extremely competitive).

I know I'm not going to make a fortune out of it <wishful thinking> and I know it would be really hard work, but is anyone out there making some income from this kind of enterprise? I'm in the fortunate position that we can survive on my DH's income (pay the mortgage and bills and feed ourselves) but I would want to bring some money into the house. I'd also be giving up a good, 'professional' career which would be quite difficult to get back into if I leave it, so I'm looking at doing this long-term, and so I would want it to be successful. I'm likely, with family members providing some childcare, to be able to dedicate about 40 hours a week to the business at this stage. this realistic or am I bonkers? Do you manage to do anything like this? If so, what advice would you give me and what things do I need to be thinking about?


DolomitesDonkey Wed 16-Jan-13 09:55:57

There are lots of people doing this making pin money. If you want to make it a successful business then you're going to have to treat it as a serious business and not just "lovely things" that you sell to your friends.

MrsJimmyChoo Wed 16-Jan-13 11:06:18

The main question is- why would anyone want to buy from you rather than say John Lewis, or Not on the High Street, Garden Trading, and all the other places doing this- online and in the high street?

Not being mean to you- but it's a basic question you need to ask yourself.

If you are making all these items yourself then that is a huge amount of outlay in time and you would need to price them as luxury one-offs to make any money at all when you factor in your time and materials.

If you are buying the items and being a middle man, who do you intend to undercut or provide something better to other retailers?

Ask yourelf all of this!

PhoebeLaura Wed 16-Jan-13 13:34:47

I didn't go back to ft work after having my 1st DC and instead sell customised prints for new babies/Christenings/birthdays etc. I only do it 1 day pw plus evenings so probably commit about 10 hours a week to it in total. i am now making enough to cover the DC's nursery fees for the day I work plus my cleaner so although I'm not making a fortune it means I'm covering my costs and I'm a happier mum for having a day to myself (and someone to clean the toilets for me grin).

The only thing i would say is take a good look at your costs and the production time. I chose something which would have low set up costs and are quick to produce. The trouble with more 'crafty' things is that they can take so long to produce that you end up working for pennies per hour.

I also avoided selling on ebay and the like as a lot of the products on there are quite shoddy and sold so cheaply that it is hard to compete. I sell on Etsy Folksy and Not on the high street. The latter is my biggest earner by far.

I haven't done fairs as some can be quite expensive (though I am in London, may be cheaper elsewhere) and I was never sure that I would get my money back. I might look at this when I have more time (maybe wait till after DC3 is born!!!).

I have given out lots of flyers to local mums which has led to a few sales but to be honest online is where I make my money.

There are lots of people on NOTHS making a good living so it is definitely doable. Good luck!

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