Thursday, April 30, 2009

Slow but steady?

After my initial burst of enthusiasm that spawned this blog and my first post, I really neglected this whole idea. But recently it's started popping up in my mind again, persistently, so hopefully I will find the energy to make it go somewhere soon.

I never did get together with Aunt Jute to put together a party for Greer and her friends. I would really like to do that, but probably not until at least July once we're (hopefully) all moved into our new house.

Beyond that, I've been thinking a lot about the order of things. How do I even get this ball rolling? It's one thing to talk about it on here, or even to actually throw a party for my cousin, but one event and a couple of blog posts does not a business make. What do I need to do to make this OFFICIAL? To make it actually HAPPEN?

To that end, I've had some additional ideas to expand the scope of the business, and I think having more to offer makes it more viable. For instance, if I am going to actually start an official business, I want it to be socially responsible, so I've had a couple of ideas that I think would both grow the business and give back to the community. More on this later.

I think the first thing I need to do is write a business plan. The ideas I've been having lately make me feel like I might actually be ready to do this, and writing one would itself help me to flesh it out in my mind. I think that's thing # 1 to do.

The next thing I think I need to do is to compile a binder of craft options. A brief write-up of individual actual crafts that I could teach people. Once I've made a preliminary pass of everything I can think of, I would go back through and add detail to each one: what supplies are needed, how much they approximately cost, basic instructions for the craft, age group it's appropriate for, approximate time it takes to do. Plus I'm sure once I write down ten or twenty discrete crafts, I'll keep thinking of (and inventing) more and more to add to the porfolio. An eventual augmentation of this binder will be pictures of actual finished crafts, and also a box of physical examples where that's feasable.

I think once I've done the business plan and gotten started on the porfolio, at that point I would like to see about making it official. I think a sole proprietorship would make the most sense to begin with, so I'd like to get one (however I do that), and open a small bank account to keep that separate, since at this point if I actually did anything I would have to pay taxes on it.

This is where I get stuck. At first glance it seems simple enough to start finding a few people who will hire me to throw a party, but what about legal considerations? It's no big deal to go to my Aunt's house - she's not going to sue me, and I visit her house all the time anyway - but what about someone else's house? Their kids? What if I'm doing a craft involving scissors, and some kid cuts himself on the scissors I've provided while under my supervision? On a different note, how does it work that I'm buying craft supplies and then effectively selling them to someone else? And what about instructions and patterns for certain types of crafts, like knitting: do I need to make sure everything is my own, or is it OK to use a pattern from the internet? If I want to use and teach from a pre-existing pattern, can I get the rights to it? How do I do that? How do I protect myself, my business, and my clients from legal issues resulting from copyright infringement or actual physical harm? What else is there that I haven't even thought about yet? It's more than a little overwhelming.

There are plenty of people out there who run, say, a hair salon out of their houses and never officially have a business. I don't want to do that. I want to be official. I heard a story on NPR a while back, late last summer maybe, about incorporating social and environmental responsibility right into your business plan, and I think there was actually some official part to it. Like not a non-profit organization; a regular for-profit business, but with something extra that made it officially responsible for fulfilling its goals to also give back to the community and to be environmentally friendly. I think I want to do that, if in fact it does exist.

Which brings me back to some of my additional ideas that I mentioned before.

Before we get to the social responsibility part, I thought of how I could actually sell a product, instead of only offering my services. At a Craft Day Party, you would of course be paying for my services as a leader and teacher, but you'd also be paying for all the supplies you need to do the craft. One big benefit, I think, is that you then aren't paying for extra material that you don't need: I'll supply all the re-usable stuff that you would otherwise have to buy, and when you're done you won't be left with the other nine-tenths of a bottle of fabric paint, say, that you don't need but had to buy to get the eighth of an ounce you needed.

Expanding on that, what if you don't have the supplies for the entire craft, but you don't actually need me to teach, or to supply simple things like scissors? Well then you can pick a craft out of my catalog (the one I made for myself in step two), and if you're having ten kids over for your son's birthday party, then you just order ten kits from me! I wouldn't want to get into the business of renting things like nice scissors and glue, so the kits would assume that you had your own scissors, but for the rest you would specify what materials you needed, and that's what I'd put in the kit, in the exact amounts you need! So you still get the benefit of having very little waste, and it's a cheaper option than hiring me to come lead the party for you.

The kits would also be a great thing to get for your kids for, say, a long car trip, or to save up in case of a rainy summer afternoon. In addition to specific craft kits, I could create a more generic Car Kit, and you could just order a couple a few weeks before you leave for your trip to the beach. I could have Car Kits one through five, with different combinations of crafts, so when you get a second one for the return trip it's not a repeat. Or if you need another one for a future vacation, the kids won't be bored because it's just the same thing again. Full disclosure: I totally got the Car Kit idea from a family friend of ours, Betsy S. Or was it Barb E?

So anyway, on to the community aspect: I could do a fund raiser where you'd buy a craft kit, but instead of for yourself, it would go to, say, the children's cancer ward at Hershey Hospital. It could also be a fund raiser for another organization, where you'd sell the craft kits, and a percentage of the price would go to that organization, such as Relay for Life.

One other community idea I had was to do an open house. It would be really neat if I could get a community center to donate an afternoon's use of their space, and then advertise and invite families to bring their kids to do a few specific crafts, and take a free will offering to cover expenses. Or maybe sign people up for approximately twice the cost to cover expenses, and then if I got 20 people to sign up, there would then be room for 20 other people to come at no charge, kind of like the One Laptop per Child thing. Hopefully I could find another organization to hook up with, like Big Brothers/Big Sisters or something. Wouldn't that be neat?

As far as environmental responsibility goes, I haven't quite figured that out yet. I'll definitely make sure that I'm creating as little waste as possible, and I actually thing my business model already does that: since you're using my supplies, and I'm keeping everything you don't use or need, I'll actually use the rest of that bottle of paint or bag of beads at the next party or in the next craft kit, instead of it sitting in your closet for five years until you get ambitious with your cleaning and end up throwing it out. I also hope to think of some crafts that I can do with household materials that would otherwise be thrown away. And of course I will recycle any scrap materials from a party, either by re-using them in the future or by taking them to the proper facility.

I think if I can get this ball rolling, I can probably do it without spending much of my own money, which is another thing that makes this idea seem possible. Hopefully I would be able to grow into everything I want to do, and for the forseeable future I could do it out of my house and in addition to my tantalizingly lucrative full-time job. If, and I can barely imagine it at this point, the whole thing were to grow to the point that it could support having a storefront (with a big room for crafting events!), it would also have to be making enough money to let me quit my job and work at it full-time. Maybe, just maybe, if Paul has a successful career as an engineer, then I could do this full-time and thus also be able to be at home with our kids. That would certainly be an almost unimaginably perfect scenario.

Right now I have so much to plan and do to move into our new house, and in addition to that I have a lot that I want to knit and crochet for all of my child-bearing friends. So hopefully I can gather more information over the next few months, and maybe in July or August I'll have started on steps one and two, and just maybe, I'll be ready to make myself an official sole proprietorship.

Oh, one last thing: I came up with a logo. Which leads to another legal question: how do I claim the name Craft Day, and how do I register my logo? Are those things expensive to do? Anyway, I'm hoping to make a good draft and scan it in sometime in the not-too-distant future, and then I'll make it the heading for this blog, instead of just the text "Craft Day." I'm really excited about the logo, both because I like it so much, and because it really lends itself to some google-esque variations, like for different holidays and seasons. Just wait.

Ideas, tips, thoughts, encouragement, and answers to any questions posed in this post are most welcome in the comments section or by e-mail to!

Here's hoping.

1 comment:

  1. You should also link this post to your own website. You should claim it asap.