Thursday, February 23, 2012

Can You Make Money Knitting?

And the answer is, yes!  I know that, because I know people who do make money knitting for craft shows and consignment shops.  I am certainly no expert, but I have observed a few things about this:

1.  Do not assume you can predict what will sell, because almost nobody can.  I realized when I had my yarn shop that I certainly have no talent for that.  My friend who works at a craft consignment shop has begun to develop a sense of what people will buy, and as she talks about it, I often hear surprise in her voice.

So how are you going to figure out what will sell?  Trial and error is one way.  Another way is working at a consignment shop, or watching one.  Another is checking what items seem to sell on online forums.  You can watch the nice department stores to see what the fashion trends and colors are. 

If you're starting out with craft shows, consider making a wide assortment of things so you can glean information about what will go.  It makes your booth more interestig, anyway.  Start conversations with customers, and LISTEN.

There is no other way to find out what will sell other than working at it, making some mistakes along the way, and being determined to find things that work for you.

2.  Can you make money doing big custom orders or fancy things?  Yes, I believe so, again because I have known people who do it.  Some of them find a niche, some unusual item that people want.  We're talking knitting for terribly hard-to-fit clients, like the lady who is 4'10" and weighs 80 pounds, for whom nothing is short enough or narrow enough, and people on the other end of the range, men who can hardly find a sweater that's long enough.  I've heard of people knitting for movie wardrobes, music festivals, and funky hippie-ish gift shops. 

3.  You have to love it.  Seriously, you have to be as-wacky-as-me.  You have to like to knit while the TV runs (and pester the husband with questions about what just happened, driving him nuts, like I do).  You have to crave a knitting session when you're tired, or troubled, or just need to feel it in your hands.  And then, watch out, because your knitting can turn into work if you accept too many deadlines.

4.  This is not a business model that can bear any overhead.  You will want to do it from home, and you will need to be very careful about what you spend on materials, getting wholesale deals on supplies once you know what you can sell.

5.  I don't believe in keeping a client who wears you down, who won't pay a reasonable amount for your work, or is never satisfied.  I had an employee with a different philosophy:  she was fine with them being difficult, but she always charged those clients a lot more so she got paid for the stress. 

6.  I hear stories about people making big money, but that's almost as rare as unicorns.  This is probably not going to pay as well as a day job, especially if you figure by the hour, but it can work for knitters with compelling reasons to work from home

So - tell me if I'm wrong about this!  Fill me in, and share your wisdom...there are a lot of folks out there who really would like to knit some yarn into gold.

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