31 Ways to start a Crafts Business
Buy and sell African craft items from a suitable supplier, or import them yourself.
Craft items such as this can be sold by mail order or directly from a well designed website using good clear photographs of each item. You might also consider selling them at craft fairs and from a craft stall.
Sculpt and cast miniature models based on local historical architecture.
Moulds can be made from latex, and the models cast in plaster. Obtain a catalogue from a good supplier of mould making products. Decide on the best materials for the job, based on quality and price, and price your finished designs accordingly. You can sell your work through local gift shops, collectors` fairs or even car boot sales, depending on your scale of operation.
Produce a set of designs for house names and numbers.
Paint them on sliced wooden logs and varnished. Alternatively, have moulds made to reproduce a wide range of designs that are easy to cast and paint. Have an attractive colour leaflet designed and place them door to door. You could also stack them in a display rack in garden centres that are willing to sell your products.
Design a new board game based on a popular subject that is currently in vogue.
e.g. Computer genius trying to take over the world. Use your imagination, there are thousands of possibilities. Take a close look at what makes other successful games so popular and incorporate some of their best features into your own design in a new way. Careful market research is essential for succeeding in this very lucrative marketplace.
Make and sell customised glass display cases and wood bases.
These are often used by collectors of models, antiques, coins, stamps and stuffed animals etc. Advertise your business in the appropriate subject-related magazines and display your products at collectors` fairs.
Become a supplier of unusual craft items.
Preferably things that are not widely available. One way to do this is by importing craftwork from abroad. If you are a regular traveller abroad, visit as many arts and craft shops as you can to scout for new products. Build up a selection of the best ones and make enquiries on how to place an order. Once established you could regularly import and supply these `exclusive` items to customers of your own.
Make soft toys for children.
If you`re a dab hand at sewing, why not put your talents to good use by designing and creating a range of cuddly toys? If you specialise, for example, making giant teddy bears, dogs or elephants etc. you could soon gain a good foothold in this popular market. Alternatively, you might prefer to make smaller items in larger quantities. Whatever you decide, try to think up something different and out-of-the-ordinary.
Make small garden ornaments to sell at car boot sales and craft fairs.
Or through any of the numerous small garden centres that don`t already sell their own. New designs have the best chance to succeed, so don`t be afraid to experiment with new ideas. Once established, you might consider expanding into the area of large garden ornaments and statues, for which there are ready-made moulds available.
Sell arts and craft supplies by mail order.
Research firms who can supply you at minimum cost. Libraries often have trade reference books that list suppliers. Approach firms for a catalogue and prices using a business letterhead. Once organised, advertise your own mail order catalogue in arts and crafts magazines and on the internet.
Make small and unusual sculptures.
Take apart old fashioned tape recorders and clocks etc. Use the small mechanical components to make the sculptures by sticking or soldering them together in various ways. Display them in small glass cases and sell by mail or through art galleries and museum shops.
Sell glass sculptures and ornaments from a craft stall.
Track down small manufacturers and craftspeople who specialise in this type of thing. Many of them sell from their own craft stall, but if agreeable, you could sell them on commission in a different location. Another option is to sell by mail order or from your own website.
Make and sell chess sets plus small ornaments, such as birds and small animals.
Set up a small production line, reproducing them from moulds. The finished items can be painted and glazed and set on a wooden base. Have them packaged in a colourful box and sell them through gift shops.
Make and sell kites. There`s a whole range of designs you can choose from.
The chinese have kite-making down to a fine art. If you can reproduce their designs and techniques, you could sell them by mail or from a craft stall. Study their designs as well as others by referring to the relevant books, and any other literature available. Check the library and the internet for starters.
Frame and sell old prints from books.
There`s a vast resource of pictures in old and unwanted books that can be cannibalised and turned into attractively framed prints. All manner of subjects are available. From Artists` botanical sketches to painted Zebras. It`s just a case of finding anything suitable. Almost any kind of interesting pictures can be framed to look even better. Apart from books, look at old magazines and calendars. Even greetings cards can be used for the smaller prints. Sell your pictures from a market or craft stall.
Produce and sell framed decoupage pictures from a craft stall.
Alternatively, supply the kits by mail order for other craftworkers to make their own. Decoupage is becoming more popular, and striking designs can be produced using this technique. If you would like to learn more, and find a list of established suppliers, check your local library or the internet.
Make and sell cross stitch pictures or marquetry pictures.
If sewing or working with wood is of interest to you, then you may find pleasure and profit in producing pictures using these skills in the form of needlecraft and marquetry. Tools and materials are readily available from good craft shops and mail order dealers. Start with one of the ready-to-make kits until you feel ready to make your own designs. Eventually, you can sell your designs at craft fairs and by mail order through craft magazines.
Design and make novelty paperweights.
For example, small resin-casted ornaments, painted realistically, based around unusual or topical subjects such as croquet, archery, fly-fishing or more conventional sports like golf and tennis. The object could be as simple as a golf ball and club head mounted on a plinth or cast inside a clear resin cube. Alternatively, miniature statuettes of sportsmen and women in suitable poses. Sell through sports clubs, gift and souvenir shops.
Reproduce old prints using glazing and cracking techniques.
Any modern print can be made to look old by giving it a yellowy stained effect, glazing it with varnish a number of times, and hitting it with a cloth covered hammer or mallet to crack the glaze. Add a suitable antique frame and hey presto! you have an authentic looking old master. Easy to sell and easy to make.
Make and sell unusual 3d sculptures.
Working in the material of your choice, i.e. wood, stone, resin, clay etc., there are infinite possibilities for creating your own special brand of sculpture. Look to nature for inspiration and change it in various ways to create something different and out of the ordinary.
Make and sell wooden wishing wells and wheelbarrows.
These relatively easy to produce items make ideal ornamental objects for holding a colourful arrangement of flowers and plants. You can sell them at car boot sales, craft fairs and even some garden centres, if your designs are good enough.
Design and make novelty picture frames in resin.
Unusual frames can be cast in resin from suitable silicone moulds. Designs with cute little animals and other objects such as hearts and flowers etc., can be added to the frame and duplicated from a sculpted original. The copies are then painted to add an individual touch. The frames can also be made in unconventional shapes, such as star-shapes or heart-shapes to add a bit more originality to each picture or photograph. Materials can be obtained from specialist craft suppliers by mail order. Finished designs can be sold at art and craft fairs or through selected gift shops.
Make and sell large wooden insect ornaments that double as something else.
For example, a grasshopper lampstand, a beetle ashtray, a ladybird candlestick holder etc. There are many more ideas that I`m sure you can think of.
Make and sell dolls houses.
There`s an amazingly wide range of designs available from specialist firms who can provide you with plans and materials to build these much sought after toys. Alternatively, you could design your own and make your own parts if you have the right tools. Check the internet and the Yellow Pages to see what`s available in your area, and check out the competition. Once established, if your work is good, you`re most likely to get the best part of your business through recommendations.
Make and sell toy forts, castles, farms and garages.
As an alternative to making dolls houses, you might prefer to cater for young boys. Although electronic gadgetry and games have become more popular these days, there`s still a place for the more traditional toys, especially for younger children. As previously described with dolls houses, there are also a number of hobby plans available for wooden toys that cater for boys. Check out the latest issue of the hobby supply catalogue and associated craft magazines. If you`re particularly creative, with a good eye for detail and drawing skills, you might also consider designing and producing your own plans for other craftworkers to enjoy. Advertise and sell your designs by mail order.
Design and make small soft toy lucky charms.
These could be made to hang from key rings or as a car accessory. Or, if made a little bit larger, just a simple ornament to place on a bedroom cabinet. Sell through gift shops and toy stores.
Design and make photographic gift items that relate to a particular subject.
For example, photographs can be incorporated into the design of plates, clocks, barometers, wooden trays, letter racks, key rings etc. Suitable subjects might include pictures of certain breeds of dog, horses, cats, classic cars, steam trains and numerous other possibilities. Sell your designs through craft fairs and gift shops.
Produce and sell mosaic picture kits.
With attractive designs and suitable packaging, your kits could be sold for mounting in frames, adding to pieces of furniture, such as table tops and food trolleys, or even as special designs for incorporating into tiled walls and floors. Sell by mail order catalogue and through selected retail outlets.
Design and make unusual bookends.
The possibilities are endless. To start with, think of something that would appeal to a large group of people, such as movie fans or football fans. Your design could be based on a pair of movie cameras perhaps or an icon from a famous movie. For example, a movie monster or a superhero. The bookends could be made to match or be completely different, as long as they work as a pair. Sell through various gift shops.
Buy and sell arts and craft books.
Advertise for books through local and regional newspapers. Set up a regular stall at arts and craft fairs, car boot sales and flea markets. When you have a sizeable stock, start a mail order business and sell through craft magazines.
Make and sell hand carved fish and birds from wood.
Woodcarving is a long established craft that`s still popular today. Good examples will easily sell through craft fairs and gift shops. If you`ve never tried woodcarving before, but have a good eye for detail, why not give it a go? You may be pleasantly surprised. It takes a lot of practise to become proficient, but the end results are generally worth the effort. There are many more possibilities for proficient woodcarvers.
Make and sell garden gnomes.
Still popular, particularly in Europe. There are hundreds of design variations on the well loved garden gnome. If you would like to make your own, find a supplier of existing moulds and materials and try your hand at casting. Each one you produce will need to be hand painted, so don`t expect to sell a lot, unless you take on extra workers and set up as a fully-fledged business. Consider making your own designs and selling them through garden centres as well as craft shops and craft fairs.