Americans are experiencing a resurgence of interest in the simpler, sweeter things in life--things like handmade birdhouses, hand-dipped candles and handcrafted arts of all kinds. So much so that the crafts industry is booming, with close to $10 billion in annual sales, reports the Association of Crafts and Creative Industries. If you're skilled at a particular craft, you can satisfy others as well as yourself with a crafts business. The trick is to sell your crafts for enough money to justify your time and materials. Think about where you'll sell. Going to art fairs and crafts shows is fun but people who attend these events tend to only buy if your craft is very inexpensive. A good way to solve this problem is by selling your wares to wholesalers or sales representatives who will turn around and market them to retailers. You can also sell to the retailers themselves, place your crafts on consignment in retail shops, or sell them yourself via mail order. The advantages to this business are that you get to earn a living doing what you truly enjoy, startup costs are low, special licenses and certifications are nil, and you can start part time if you like and work up to full-time earnings. While you don't need a master's degree in fine arts to be an artisan or crafter, you'll need a genuine love for your specialty and the talent and skills to turn out items other people will want to buy. It also helps to have mastered your techniques. If you've already successfully turned out candles, birdhouses, pottery or whatever your specialty is, then you have a pretty good idea of how long each project takes, what materials you'll need and how much they cost--all of which are essential to pricing your wares.
Your customers can be friends and neighbors, people from your community who attend shows where you display your crafts, or the world at large reached through wholesalers and sales reps. Some artisans have had success selling their products through Tupperware-like home parties. If you plan to go the wholesale route, hook up with reps at gift shows, which you can locate by calling local and regional chambers of commerce and convention centers, reading gift-industry publications or contacting associations.
Your equipment will depend on what crafts you'll be turning out. If you're already crafting, chances are you have the necessary equipment. But take a good look at what you've got and decide if there are other pieces of equipment you could use to make your work life faster and easier--remember, the more pieces you turn out, the higher your income will be.