Click to Print

Crafting: A Silver Lining in a Tough Economy

Looking for an outlet for your creativity? Crafting is bucking the economic meltdown. Here are the latest crafting trends you should know about.
March 4, 2009
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/200450

In economic times like these, the urge to hunker down in your house, limit spending and jump off the merry-go-round of shopping, credit and consumerism can be strong. And one way for people to step outside the system, if just for a few hours a week, is crafting. Rather than being a consumer, a crafter becomes a manufacturer; the end result of a night on the couch isn't three hours of empty Tivo space, but a scarf, toy or handmade holiday ornament that one can give away, keep or sell.

Crafting Means Community

Whether you're interested in the crafting industry as a crafter-turned-merchant or a craft supply manufacturer, understanding that crafters are community-oriented is crucial. The internet brings together crafters of all stripes. Here are a few sites to join and learn from:

  • Craftster.org , started in 2003, is the queen supreme of indie craft sites. With 450,000 unique visitors and 10 million page views each month, the message boards buzz with crafters posting their clever projects.

  • CraftStylish.com , created by Taunton Press, went online last spring. It already has 266,000 unique visitors every month and 1.2 million page views. It boasts a variety of members and a burgeoning library of projects.

  • Threadbanger.com and Ravelry.com are just two popular sites targeting specific crafts--sewing and knitting, respectively.

  • Etsy.com isn't just a marketplace for handmade-goods creators. An active blog and messages boards where sellers exchange advice have also made it a vibrant crafty community.

  • Craft Mafias are groups of business-minded artisans who meet in the real world to help support one another in their entrepreneurial efforts.
While data are still being compiled for 2008, the Craft and Hobby Association reported that in 2007, craft sales in 39 categories reached nearly $32 billion, and nearly 57 percent of U.S. households engage in crafting. Online handmade goods site Etsy.com reported $88 million in sales in 2008, a significant increase over 2007 sales of $26 million. With 1.9 million members and more than 200,000 sellers, Etsy enjoyed $9.9 million in sales in January alone.

Like most retail sectors, it's likely that craft sales may decrease in the coming months. But all signs point to more and more people diving into this market, both as consumers of supplies and handmade gifts, and as entrepreneurs selling their own items and supplies.

At the January CHA show, spirits were high as manufacturers and retailers recognized that the economic climate creates more folks ready to put needle to fabric and stamp to paper to join a crafting revolution that's been in the works for more than a decade.

Some of the big crafting trends present at the show, which featured more than 900 exhibitors, include:

Tough times tend to spur creativity. As an entrepreneur, there are few better ways to channel your creativity than in a crafts business. Whether you start to find your artistic voice or you do it to sell personalized gifts, crafting makes the most out of your creativity--as an artist and as an entrepreneur.