How to design a handmade shop: the story behind Caroline-made.

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It took me two years to make this shop happen. Does that sound a little bit crazy to you? I’ll be honest: it sounds a big bit crazy to me. Part of me thinks that two years is way too long, what was I possibly doing all this time while waiting to launch Caroline-made?

Well for one, launching a handmade shop has it’s scary moments. I mean, more often than not I’m putting a big part of who I am as an individual into the products inside my shop. When I started Gussy Sews I was very much into exactly how those products looked. And ruffles? Ruffles everywhere, please.

But what I’ve learned over the years is that it’s the easiest to design an item to sell that I’ll use on a regular basis because it will serve me so much better. So Gussy ruffles made perfect sense. A few things have changed since then: we’ve moved twice (Minneapolis and Los Angeles), we traveled around the world to Africa, and we welcomed our firstborn into our arms.

How to design a handmade shop // Maggie Whitley Designs

With all of these exciting changes it’s only natural that what I look for in a bag or organizational pouch has changed, too. It’s not that I don’t like Gussy ruffles, it’s that the aesthetic/design of Caroline-made serves me better.

Do you own a handmade shop? How can your products serve you to be the best designer and seller of your wares?

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I’m teaching a video course on business! Join me?

Remember when I said 2014 was my year to be brave? I’ve been stretching myself in crazy huge ways and just yesterday I launched my second handmade shop, Caroline-made. I kinda feel like I just had a baby, it was so much work (months and months of preparation and late nights) but this launch has inspired me to unbelievable depths. Caroline is my middle name and the 16 products inside our Spring 2014 collection are pure gold.

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It’s incredibly exciting to have the courage to say “yes” to opportunities that reach deep into our souls. Wow. And to think I could have ignored my Caroline-made daydreams. I would have missed out on something so great.

Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on something so great because you’re afraid to say yes? Dear friend, it’s time to be brave.

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In just a few days I’ll be co-teaching an online video course on turning your hobby into a business. This is another way I’ve been brave this year. On Tuesday the 25th of February, Cassie and I will chat for an hour and I’m so excited! :) And you get to watch!

You can sign-up for the video course here, and to make this opportunity even sweeter you can save $50 on registration when you use discount code LAUNCHIT at checkout.

Being brave is super hard, and I will not skirt around that. But whenever I think about the things that scare me (challenge, motivate, inspire me) I instantly think about how I’d feel if I didn’t follow through — and that is even scarier!

One day it all clicked for me: instead of watching & wishing (sitting idle) we should be focusing on acting & accomplishing (tackle those goals!). Another reason why I deleted Facebook and Twitter from my iPhone.

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When I started my first handmade business, Gussy Sews, in 2008 I was so brave. Very little distracted me from chasing after my daydreams. I was (and felt) courageous and I had a great support system. I think one big factor to my braveness was how unaware I was… I didn’t fully realize how much energy, late nights working, creativity, and persistence was needed to run a successful handmade business. Of course it gets a little easier the longer you do it — you eventually figure out what works best, but in the beginning I had nothing to compare it to. So the only thing I knew to do was be brave. It was amazing, and I often remind myself of this innocence when I am feeling discouraged.

Now that I’m nearing my sixth year of handmade it takes more energy but it’s still just as rewarding. It’s like any relationship, for it to thrive you must give it attention and love. So how about you? How is your handmade business coming along? Are you stuck in a rut? Do you have unanswered questions or are you feeling discouraged? I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned on Tuesday the 25th, simply sign up here.

SOME TOPICS WE’LL DISCUSS IN THE VIDEO COURSE:
– The story of how I went from sewing for fun to turning it into a business
– Creating my very first product
– Finding my first customers
– How I decided on a price point
– Marketing tactics and what I learned along the way
– The process of expanding from one product to a full line
– When I realized it was growing into a full-blown business and how I managed my goals to keep it a business that works with my life
– What other things you are building now, and how you are managing the transition and growth
…and more!

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Don’t hold back from experiencing what you were created to do. Your talents and passions are invaluable! Take the leap towards braveness and let’s chat about business on Tuesday, February 25th. See you there? xo

PS. Remember to use code LAUNCHIT at checkout to save $50!

5 ways to advertise your handmade shop for free.

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Whether you’re brand new to the handmade community (welcome, welcome!) or you’ve been around for years (hello, gorgeous!), it’s fun to find new ways to help your biz grow — without spending a dime. You know the saying, You have to spend money to make money, right? Consider this my personal twist on that. Each of the five tips below require you to have spent some money initially (ie: ordering business cards or paying your cable internet bill) but quite honestly, these are important tools in your handmade toolbox so you can kinda brush off the saying ;)

My 5 best tips to advertising your handmade shop for free: 

1. Keep a secret stash of business cards in your purse and hand one out to everyone who comments on your product or asks where you work (don’t be shy; you know your business the best!). TIP: a clean, easy-to-read business card is visually appealing and reiterates professionalism.

2. When family or friends ask, How is your business doing? be honest with them. It’s OK to: brag about the amazing things you’re making, share what you’ve learned, or discuss a goal you’re currently working on. It’s true, the more confident you are the quicker (and more easily) they’ll take you seriously. TIP: need help with your elevator speech?

3. Share weekly shop updates through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or your email newsletter list. Give them a call to action, share a photo of something you’re working on inside your studio, or link to your newest product collection. TIP: have you set up a Facebook business page?

4. Email someone who’s indirectly mentored you and ask them if there’s anything from your shop that catches their eye and would they mind sharing a link to your shop? You never know — they could say yes! And networking is so super easy to do. TIP: keep your email short & sweet.

5. Invite some of your fellow blogger friends to a private Facebook page and cross-promote your content with your social media communities. TIP: curate a diverse list of trusted bloggers to avoid over-saturating your communities.

 

My personal favorite is tip #4, some of my best friendships and business contacts have been made from sending a quick “hello” email. How about you? Which tip is your favorite? Or, do you have a tip not listed here? I’d seriously love to know! Advertising is so important, no matter how long you’ve been around ;)

Why I deleted you from my iPhone.

About two weeks ago I felt like my head was going to explode. Not because I had a headache, not because I was angry or confused, but simply because I was overwhelmed with social media. Like, super crazy overwhelmed with it.

It is HARD running an online shop and writing a blog. And before I even do those two things I need to be a wife and a mama first. I have my people to take care of, and I love taking care of my people. We learn together, laugh together, go on adventures together. I like waking up in the morning without an alarm clock (well, I take that back. My alarm clock has a really cute grin and claps when I pick him up from his crib). I like having a slow morning with my people before Zack heads off to work. But, so much of the work we do requires us to not only plan ahead but to be follow up so we remain in community with one another.

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(all photos from a recent trip to our neighborhood Farmers’ Market)

For me personally, I find time in between naptime and playtime and mealtime to do my online work. Mostly it’s done while Maxwell is sleeping, but occasionally I’m able to work during the day when he’s awake.

But way too often I found myself feeling like I was going to burst — I didn’t feel present in the current moment — so I did what any smart creative/handmade/entrepreneur/mama would do…

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