The crafts around the corner

By Heather Camlot

Last week, my neighbour Michelle hosted a craft party to showcase and sell items that she and her friend Saskia have been busily creating.

They invited friends and neighbors for what felt more like a get-together than a marketplace, which is exactly the atmosphere they were hoping for. “People like to chat, nibble on treats and shop,” says Michelle. “We held one the week before as well and all the moms came alone; it’s a great way to catch up with friends.”

Among the delicious cookies and sweets were sock monkeys, plush owls, greeting cards, screen printed T-shirts, aprons, bags, tooth fairy pockets, decorative wooden fish, cat nip toys and paper garlands – all gorgeously presented.

They call their new venture a KraftKaravan and describe the idea as such: “KraftKaravan is a traveling emporium featuring one-of-a-kind, limited-edition and/or small-run handcrafts lovingly designed and created by two resourceful gals,” says Michelle.

They’ve asked friends and businesses to host the karavan (they’ve had two so far) and have already been forced to turn down others because, being new to the craft business, they don’t want to over-commit. But they do hope to invite guest artists to join them and complement the collection.

Of course, as a crafty gal myself, Michelle’s whole wonderful venture left me with tons of questions.

As a mom with a full-time job, how do you find the time?

“My creative life, as I call it, begins after my son is in bed. I break out the sewing machine, and the dining room table becomes the workstation. Sometimes I will work till 1am… when you really enjoy something time passes quite quickly. If I need to screen print at the studio, I’ll head there on the weekends.”

How do you actually start a craft business?

“You need to be willing to explore different sales avenues until you find the right one. It is difficult to get noticed on Etsy but KraftKaravans have been successful. There are also workshops out there to help you price your work and understand your target market. You need to find a balance between the creative process and the business side of things. You can’t get completely wrapped up in the making and ignore marketing/promotions. Surround yourself with like minded individuals — creativity is contagious.”

How has the business been going?

“Everyone we meet at the karavans is so supportive and excited to see our work. They love to hear the back story on our work — what inspired us, where we work, or how we do it. It’s great for us to get feedback as well; we’ve since learned purple is a big hit with people. Our guests really like supporting local talent and know who they are buying from.”
I’m not sure I could craft until 1am (and I have yet to take my sewing machine out of the box it came in), but I am seething with jealousy. One day….

For a peek at Michelle’s work, check out her site, Kempton Jones. To see Saskia’s creations, visit Baited Hook.


Originally published on December 9, 2010

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