Thursday, March 01, 2012


Hi! I'm Erin Wilson and I blog over at Sunshine and Carousels. I'm the designer and owner of the Sunshine and Carousel's shop. I'm really excited that Savannah has asked me to join in on her series, because I'm a firm believer that you can always learn more no matter how much you know. Today, I wanted to share a little bit about what I've learned on how to create a successful small handmade business.

1. Foundation. ---> First things first...I've learned that the foundation to a business is know *who* you want to be. By that I mean, who you want your business (i.e. products) to market towards. Knowing the age group, gender, lifestyle etc. Know this first and create your product *for* these types of people. Do your best to stick to this in all areas of your business; whether it be packaging, where you advertise, how you write your blog, and so on. It's all one full circle and the more you know about your market and the more you apply that to your product the more successful you will be. You can't sell to *everyone*, but you can sell to *everyone* who loves your style.

2. Debt - Finance. ---> Don't go into debt over a small business. This is something I'm very, very passionate about, because I started from a teeny-tiny small business on my kitchen table to a full-on in-home studio with assistants and all. I started making accessories from supplies I had collected over the years, maybe spending 20 dollars of my own money. Then, what I earned from those first 10-20 sales, I used 100% of that to buy more supplies. I used a huge portion of what I made to invest in tools, photo hosting, packaging, business cards...etc. Don't think that you *need* super fancy business cards or the most unique packaging and tools before you start. This is something you will grow into. If you base your business off debt, you won't be successful because you'll always think you need more. Just start small and always invest a portion of your profits towards the tools, supplies, and other fun small business needs.

3. Design. ---> This next part somewhat relates to #1, but I think there are two types of handmade business owners out there. 1. The kind of handmade business owner who simply reproduces an item that is already in existence. A maker. 2. The kind of handmade business owner who *designs* and *invents* an item. An artist.

A handmade business owner that is creating and designing something that has not been done before, has not been seen before, will be more successful simply because you can only find that product from that handmade business. If you are not creating something unique and only known to you and your brand, then you are doing yourself a disservice. When your handmade business is original, branded, and one-of-a-kind, you will be far more successful than you ever dreamed. Don't simply be a *maker of things*; rather be a *designer of things.*

4. Social Media. ---> Social media and online friends can take your business to the next level. I, personally, am a rather shy person in real life. I feel more comfortable chatting away on Twitter and blogging about what is going on in my creative mind on most days. I've learned to step out of my comfort zone and make friends and use social media as a tool within my business. I think all small handmade businesses should have at least one of these things: Twitter, Facebook fan page ,and//or a blog. It is completely human to be curious and see how the person or persons behind a business live their daily life, see the kinds of things they like, take peeks into their handmade business world, and so on. This is also a great way to keep costumers connected with your business. If they ordered your product online, got your business card with your blog, Twitter or Facebook link, and started following you...the next time you announce a new collection or product, they will know about it and there is more of a possible return sale from that customer. Along the same lines, I've made some great handmade business owner and blogger friends throughout my handmade business journey. These friends are a community and love to help each other out. They will freely promote you and love your work which gives you confidence and creates more connections.  

5. Hope. ---> If I've learned anything from running a small handmade business, it's that you should never *give up.* There have been times when I am over worked, under worked, fed up, hopeless, confused, and stressed...but I just won't give up.  There is never a mountain too large or a goal too small. It may sound cliche, but for some reason, every time I've been down about small businesses, I will somehow, somewhere hear someone say, 'Don't give up.' It can be someone on a TV show, a blogger blogs it, a song sings it...'Don't Give Up.'  Sometimes I can't see the next step in my business for a few days and I get a little cloudy or stressed, but I always tell myself...don't give up. It's all the small victories, it's all the small goals being met, it's all going to work out if you just keep trying. If something's not working, just step back and take a look at the whole picture and decide what needs to change. There is always hope in following your dreams and being true to yourself. Just don't forget that.

Thank you so much, Savannah, for having me! I really appreciate the opportunity to share what I've learned and I just hope to encourage others, too. Love, Erin!

Find Erin Here:  Blog  |  Shop  |  Facebook  |  Twitter 

Thank you, Erin!! You are so right. Hope is such an important part in running a small business. You have to realize your dream and patiently persevere toward it. If you are doing what you love and what you are truly passionate about, don't give up! 


  1. All of these points are great- so important, but at the same time achievable!

  2. Thanks for this! I'm working on starting my own small business, so I love to hear tips from anyone, especially someone that is successful and creative. I will keep these tips in mind!

  3. Thanks for this! Sometimes I really complicate things, and reminders to keep it simple are always good! I am such a fan of Sunshine & Carousels, her products are awesome.


  4. Wow thank you thank you. I needed a little push. Thank you Erin and thank you Savannah. This series is one of my favorites out there, so helpful and kind, and so many amazing women!