Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crochet is a Business

Crochet is a business . . .  What makes it a business? What makes me a professional?

The Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) defines a professional as a person who is deriving income from crochet. 

I learned to crochet when my 2nd lovely came home from China in 2004. I sat down with a book, a hook and a ball of yarn one night after they had gone to bed. Two hours later, I had it! My technique was poor, but I had a rectangle of crocheted fabric.

The session that night ignited a passion; I found I crocheted everyday and when I wasn't crocheting, I was reading about crochet. My first love was throw rugs, and soon all of my friends had a rug and rugs adorned every room in my home.

I had always loved going to arts and crafts fairs, so the next logical step for me was to set up a booth and sell my rugs. I knew that I needed to design my own rugs (copyright laws prohibit making and selling items from another designers work), so I started coming up with original designs for rugs.

I had a great time and I made some sales, but certainly not what I'd hoped for. It seemed that folks loved my work and they loved my designs, but they wanted to make the items themselves, rather than buy from me. I was rich on praise and compliments.

Which steered me toward the idea of selling my designs to someone who would publish them. I submitted 2 designs and they were rejected, just as I expected. But I kept submitting and eventually an editor bought one of my designs. I was ecstatic!

My business shifted from selling products at fairs to creating designs for publication.

Back to my original questions . . . what makes it a business, what makes me a professional?

For Patsy Harbor Designs to be a going concern, a real and viable business, I must . . . keep on keepin' on. 

First, I have to treat it as a business, and that means that I have to manage my time so that I am productive toward growing my business. I have to swatch and sketch, even if I don't feel like it today. I have to keep up to date on the yarn market (what's in and what's out). I have to be aware of styles and trends, as well as new techniques.

Second, I have to submit my ideas . . . consistently, timely, and in a professional manner. I'll write more on putting together a proposal later, but that proposal (or submission) has to be done well. It has to showcase my idea in a sample of the finished item. It doesn't have to be a complete model, but the swatch needs to be big enough for the editor to see the characteristics of the fabric as well as any details (shaping, edging). The proposal has to include some discussion of the techniques used, the method or direction that the item is worked . . .

Basically, the proposal is a selling tool, and that requires me to wear a different hat than the one I wear when I'm designing.

Third, that lucky day comes when the editor contacts me to buy the design. Yippee! Then I must put on my stitching hat (while keeping up with the designing and submission process). The yarn comes to my door and I work on the model.

Fourth, I've got to finish the model (with my highest quality of work) by a DEADLINE.

Fifth, I've got to write a pattern that is accurate, that is clear (so everyone can follow it), and that is concise (so it doesn't take up too much space).

Being a professional means I have to WORK, not just play with a hobby. Being a professional means that I might work while I'm watching TV, but I'm not just sitting around watching TV while my business grows on its own.

I love designing. I love being to able to make money while doing something that I'm passionate about.

I love that crochet is a business.

Happy Stitching!

2 comments:

Sara Duggan said...

Thank you for sharing your crochet business. I've considered submitting designs to a magazine but am afraid of the rejection. Not sure I want to concentrate solely on design as I'm sure I lack in technique.
So glad I found you, looking forward to reading more in this series.

Patsy Harbor said...

Sara, thanks for reading! Don't be afraid of rejections . . . they just mean you are in the game.