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« on: April 11, 2007 07:50:26 PM »

so I don't know if this is really the best place for this or anything, but here goes...

I'm finishing up my first year in college and I'm still undeclared.  I don't know much about what I want to do with my life except that I want crafting to be a part of it, a big part of it.  I know I want to get a degree and all that, but that's pretty much it.  I'm in Philadelphia for school and there are so many opportunities that it's overwhelming!  (and a bit tempting to play it safe and go for a more conventional sort of internship or job.)

anyway!  that's just me.  I guess what I was really wondering is...

how did you all get to where you are now?  or how do you plan on getting to where you want to be?  what are your aspirations?  if I want to be crafty and make it a part of my career am I limited to just selling things?  can a person work their love of crafting into a more stable nine-to-five sort of job, without it being just something like crochet on your lunch hour?  (not that that's bad in any way.  in fact, I'd love to know about your jobs even if they aren't crafty!)   

so if any of you had any ideas or stories to share, I'd love to get a discussion started. 

I don't know how well this will go over, but I hope some people have things to say!



« Reply #1 on: April 13, 2007 01:30:36 PM »

well - here's my life story!

I've always loved making things, and I decided on doing a 2 year HND (that's 2 thirds of a degree in the UK) when I was 18. I took Textiles with Fashion, which also inlcuded courses on business planning, photography, fine art and loads more stuff.
I really enjoyed my two years, and I learnt an awful lot about how hard you have to work to get where you want to be.
I opened my business officially last year, and I now spend upwards of 6 hours a day crafting. I'm really loving being my own boss, it's very liberating! Of course, it's also very lonely and stressful at times.

I know that building a business up can take years, and I certainly won't be raking in the money for a few good years.
I'm hoping to have my own studio within the next 5 years, and maybe even take on some employees of my own.

« Reply #2 on: April 13, 2007 01:49:10 PM »

Yay.  Thanks for the reply.  I applaud anyone who goes to school for what they actually love.  So, kudos to you.  I know a lot of people going for something they aren't passionate about, just for the money.

That program you were in sounds great, having courses dealing with the business aspect of things, too.

I also took a look at your website and I like your things alot!

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« Reply #3 on: April 13, 2007 02:03:04 PM »

Well, it seems like you have several different questions. First choosing a major. I think it is great that you spent your first year undeclared I think too many people "know" what they want to do, but then start to do it and realize that they actually hate it. You have a head start on them. What classes did you take? What classes did you love? Why? What are your interests? Besides crafts what do you like to do? What crafts do you like and why/what part of them? If you do want to have a crafty business then you should think about taking business classes. If you like writing you should take some journalism classes with the idea of someday working at some sort of magazine. Like computers, take computer classes.

For me, and I only know what I know the obvious "crafty" majors are art, theater and teaching. You can do anything if you like to teach and work with any age from little kids to seniors. You have to think about what you want in a job, if you want security and a 9-5 schedule you have different options than if you like the freedom of having short lived jobs or spurts of working and looking for the next job. I work in theater and the technical aspects of theater are very crafty and offer a more stable schedule and are in demand, especially if you like the real technical aspects of carpentry, scenic painting, costuming, props.

Lastly, I have watched someone and their feelings towards work grow and develop. Starting with "the only way I can be happy is if I 'do what I love'" but were afraid to make the jump of going from a steady job, to completely starting over with no guarantee of earning that steady paycheck. Then coming to the realization that sometimes your job is your job and your hobby is your hobby. You may have to work to live, but you can live to do what you love. I have found this to be true, I make costumes all day and I do love to make patterns and sew, but because it is my job I don't have the urge to come home and sew things for fun. I have lost the ability to have sewing as a hobby, I am not saying that I regret anything, it just totally changed (for me) the way I look at what I do. On the same token, I consider knitting my hobby, I knit when I am stressed, bored, angry, but I wouldn't want to have to do it. 

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« Reply #4 on: April 13, 2007 02:32:23 PM »

I work with a lot of therapists (not the same I know) have never taken any business classes, and that is why they work for a non-profit instead of doing private practice.  It is hard for people who go into business for themselves but don't have the tools they need to succeed at it.  I think people often make that mistake (not that i am advocating a business career) and go into business for themselves and don't know about accounting pracitces, marketing, and a lot of the concepts that a business owner needs to understand to have a successful business.  That is just my two cents, and I wish you luck!

« Reply #5 on: April 13, 2007 02:58:59 PM »

Wow.  Thanks for the replies.  I'd love for more people to keep commenting though, so we can keep a discussion going for anyone who wants to talk about any of this!

Anyway!  I've taken a lot of classes that fill core curriculum, but also explore my interests.  I realize that while psychology is interesting, I could never do the research.  I was thinking anthropology at one point, but I might be leaning towards something where I could work in a museum or do events.  My university has a school of hospitality and tourism, so I'm toying around with that idea, thinking I could be creative in that aspect.  I know Philadelphia has a fabric museum and workshop, which seems amazing, but I think I'd need a degree in art history, something I'm not sure I want to take because it might limit me in the longrun.

& that's a great point about loosing your interest in your hobby.  Or at least, it becoming more stressful. 

Pheather, I think business classes are really helpful for anyone.  My uncle runs his own business and I did a little work for him over the summer, so I know firsthand how much work there is! 

« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2007 09:36:03 PM »

I am currently working on my masters in social work and have a bachelors in social work as well.  My first major was Textile and Apparel Management which I switched from because it was too much fashion and not enough construction for me.  I had originally wanted to do theatre costuming, but then I decided that I wasn't willing to move to a city to get a job (small town girl here!).  Then I switched to Family and Consumer Science Education because I like kids and thought I could still do something creative.  Well, my school decided to phase out the program so I switched to Art Education.  I stayed in that for a semester and finally decided on social work. 
So...in my masters program I have a choice to take either a clinical track or a policy, planning, and administration (PP&A) track.  I have chosen PP&A because I felt that I got enough clinical education in my BSW and I wanted to learn the administrative part.  So, because of the classes I am taking, I will be able to develop and run my own non-for-profit.
I, too am stuck in between a normal 9-5 job and wanting to focus on my design company.  I really don't have much time right now to sew between classes and working.  I basically make things for myself and have made some things for friends.  I do some costuming for a community theatre but it is on a vounteer basis.  I would like to sell a few pieces and maybe some of my photography but I'm not sure how to go about doing that - is eBay easy to work with and is it worth it if I am only selling a few things??  I have a network of women that I could get involved with who sell clothing at street fairs and such but I am honestly a bit intimidated by them!
« Last Edit: April 15, 2007 09:37:50 PM by SnowfallDesigns » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2007 11:16:09 AM »

I can't give you any advice for selling on eBay, but I took a look at a few of your things.  I love the tie-front birdy shirt and, considering how well-made it is, I don't think you should be intimidated one bit.  I also really like the spring dress that you made.

Maybe you could make a few pieces and go to one of the fairs and see how well your things do.  Maybe you could look into etsy, too.  It doesn't hurt to try and I think your designs are great.

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« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2007 02:33:20 PM »

- is eBay easy to work with and is it worth it if I am only selling a few things?? 

Ebay is easy to use but it won't be worth your while, most likely.  Try etsy.

Check out this thread: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=2972.0

« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2007 04:25:50 PM »

Thanks you all are awesome!!
One of the big problems I have is that I can't get the money out of my products that I would like to charge...especially around my hometown!  That is why I'd like to sell on the internet.  I have to knock down prices considerably because I live where most people won't spend more than $40 on a piece of clothing unless it's for a wedding or prom!  Not to mention that my friends and family expect me to make them things as a favor and I end up only charging them for materials....
« Last Edit: April 16, 2007 04:32:46 PM by SnowfallDesigns » THIS ROCKS   Logged

« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2007 03:04:27 PM »

Knowing what I know today and thinking of what classes are offered at most colleges; I would highly recommend the following...

1. Entrepreneurship courses - often are hard to get into - fight hard.
2. Basic web design - even if you hire someone else to do it for you, you will at least know what they are talking about (might be cheaper and easier to take at a community college during the summer - uni courses may cover way more than you'll need)
3. Public Speaking - make sure the course actually involves making speeches, some of the major schools are 100% lecture - IMHO a waste of time without having to actually make a presentation - this would be good for selling face to face directly to customers as well as dealing with suppliers and retailers
4. The most basic of Accounting Courses - a real hole in my bag of tricks
5. Marketing & Advertising
6. Creative Writing - will help you to write your business plan as well as your product descriptions, if it's mainly poetry I think I'd skip it tho.

Some schools have become very progressive and will let you essentually make up your own major because they know the world is changing faster than they are - you might want to look into that.

If you can find it, get your hands on a copy of Create magazine. Once a year they have a creative schools issue - might give you some ideas to check out. Create seems somewhat geared to graphical artists, but quite a few of the schools offer other areas as well.

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« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2007 10:52:55 AM »

I know exactly how you feel. Only at least you're in school. I'm so indecisive, it makes me procrastinate for fear that I'll get into something and hate it and want to back out. Only to be stuck in my 9-5..blech. For me I went back and forth with Culinary school and art school, graphic design/web design, & cosmetology, fashion design, interior design,surgeon, lets see making cosmetics, perfumer, pre-school teacher, translator/interpretor, novelist, and recently esthetician,dermatologist or ASL teacher. All of those are pretty hands on and creative. But my advice is just keep going to school I'm 20 and wasted like 3 years practically out of hs not going to school because I waited and then life handed me a curveball with family issues. Anyway my advice is to figure out what you want and don't want, I exed out alot of said careers because i realized I either didn't have the talent or the effort to go to school for what I wanted to do. Now I'm stuck in a job I dislike wondering what I'm gonna go to school for and when.
I'm planning on going to esthetician school, do that so no more office work..YAY!  I loathe office work ::shudders::
If I like working with skin like I think I will, I'll use that to put myself through dermatology school. If not then I'll take it from there. Just do whatever it takes to figure out what it is you want from your job, what you want, don't want and are willing to do and not willing to do. Besides you can always go back to school again if you hate your major.
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2007 11:51:12 AM »

First, I wanted to thank you all for the thoughtful comments.  It really means a lot to me to know that people took time to write and to share their opinions.  So, thanks!

itscribe makes a really good point.  I'm doing my best to work in classes that will really benefit me later on.  I don't want to waste my electives or core classes when I can be getting something out of them.  Unfortunately a lot of my core classes are already completed.  No maths for me, I took AP Calculus in high school.  Things like that.  But I'm hoping to get into a computer/web design class to fill my science core in the spring of next year.  So many classes fill up so fast!

& jennygurl, I know what you mean about indecision.  I'm currently going back and forth with so many things.  Wanting to just focus on a crafty business.  Wanting to do creative writing.  Wanting to do any writing.  Anthropology.  Linguistics.  Going to our tourism school. 

I've really been considering careers more than just picking a major and then being lost as to what I should do with it at graduation.  I mentioned it before, but I've recently been considering museum work.  Either working with the collection or working with events there and the like.  I suppose I could be creative in that aspect, but I'm still keeping my options open.


« Reply #13 on: April 19, 2007 03:22:55 PM »

If you are interested in museums - maybe look into restoration? You get the anthropology and the crafty all in one package.

« Reply #14 on: April 19, 2007 04:25:52 PM »

Do you mean like art restoration?  Or working with the collection?  Or perhaps both?  I really didn't think that was so seperate of a field.

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« Last Edit: April 20, 2007 08:37:09 AM by jungrrl » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #15 on: April 19, 2007 04:39:58 PM »

Have you talked to people who are doing the kinds of jobs you are thinking about? Since you talked about working in a museum, I would go find someone who does fund raisers or other events and someone else who does restoration work and some one else who is in charge of getting pieces for the exhibits, etc, etc and see what they have to say. How did they get into it, what degress do they have, how did those degrees help them, what do they wish they would have studied in college to make their job easier. I think you will find that people are usually pretty willing to talk about themselves.

Good luck!

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« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2007 09:01:01 AM »

Do you mean like art restoration?  Or working with the collection?  Or perhaps both?  I really didn't think that was so seperate of a field.

Alright so let's try this again.  Embarrassed

It can be different.  I guess it really depends on what kind of museum you work in and how you interact with the collection.

Also, just a little reminder to keep it craft-related, please! Smiley

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« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2007 10:28:14 AM »

I looked into restoration a lot and you need to take some chemistry courses too. Every piece in a museum needs restoration, whether you are preventing future damage or helping damage already done.  Its actually more of a science than a craft, although you do need to be good with your hands.

You do specialize in certain types though like...documents, fiber, oil canvas, sculpture, metals.....its all depends...and you will then typically deal with those types of artifacts.

Hope that helps...


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« Reply #18 on: April 22, 2007 11:35:38 AM »

Ok I don't want to be a downer or discourage you.

Before I start let me give you some background. I come from a very "crafty" family. My grandmother knitted, crocheted, and sewed. My mother sewed, embroidered, did watercolors, pastels, and has done just about every craft under the sun. My dad embroidered, made glass beads, some silversmithing, also custom framing, gardening, wood working and did a lot of photography. My sister knits, crochets, makes soaps, jewelery, flavored schnapps, and lots of wiccan/pagan items. My niece draws, crochets,and makes jewelery.  Myself, I make jewelry, I work with polymer clay, gourd art, glass etching, paper crafts, sew, I do a lot of custom stuff for people.

When I was about 6 (Very early 70's) my parents opened a "gift shop" it was a small place off of a steak house on a major golf course in central AZ. Lots of neat stuff my parents and others made. My dad had a regular job, so my mom ran the place.  I remember a lot of people comming in saying, "Oh isn't that cute." Or, "Wow I've never seen anything like that before!" But mostly I heard, "I bet I can do something like that."  Unfortunately it didn't last a year.

When we moved to Tucson my mom tried her hand at craft fairs. Everytime there was a fair, we went. My mom set up her table, with all kinds of stuff her and her friends made (mostly sewn items) again with the..."Wow I've never seen anything like that before!"  "I bet I can do something like that."  She hardly made any money. Most everything she made was given as Christmas presents by the end of the year.

When I hit my late teens my dad was getting frustrated with his "regular" job and my parents decided to open a custom framing and gift shop (this was before Tucson had a Michael's and way before Ben Franklin's or anyone else was doing custom framing). By this time I was making Christmas ornaments and other small knick knacks. There were a lot of "lookie loos" for the gift area, but when people started asking about the pricing for the framing, they would walk out. Needless to say my dad was way undercutting himself on his time and effort. The shop lasted 2 years and 2 location changes before the rent and utilities on the shop was out weighing what we were making to keep the place open.

Now, my dad has moved back east and is working for a pottery/garden shop. He loves it. More power to him. My mom is no longer with us. I make craft items that my sister tries to sell for me. (Not much luck with that so far) I make things but don't try to sell them any more, I usually give them away for gifts. I was teaching at one of the local Michael's  part-time before people started loosing interest in my classes. I made 46 pairs of earrings for a garage sale yesterday, prices ranged from $2 to $5 a pair which I thought was reasonable. I sat there for 5 hours and sold 1 pair for $2. I also had a display made up with samples of stuff I have made with a sign that stated I do custom gifts and crafts, and all they wanted to do was by my brand new craft tote I had all my supplies in. It was very discouraging.

I don't want to be a downer I swear. Things may be different in the area you live in. I don't know.

These are just the experiences I have had.
The only advice i have is....

1.) Find something really different from what everyone else is doing. Feature it!

2.) If you can't find something different, put a different spin on something that's already out there, make it your own.

3.) Have a back up plan. ( For my family it's a "regular" job)

4.)  Please don't get discouraged. Keep trying.

5.) Start out small. If you can wear what you create and someone shows an interest...hand them a business card or a piece of paper with your contacts on it. With a tag line that says...."I can make one for you too!" (This trick worked a few times with myself and my sister.)

6.)Remember that everything goes in phases. What may be popular today may be out dated or not interesting to people 3 to 6 months down the road.

Sometimes giving something away may help too. I have gotten a few "bites" from people that have seen a family or friend wearing something I have made. I usually give something to some one and say, "If some one shows an interest in it, give them my name and number." I have gotten a few glass etching jobs this way.

Please don't get discouraged. Just remember it may take awhile for things to come together.

Everyone has given you great advice. Hopefully my experiences my help you too.


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« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2007 12:20:51 PM »

I worked for years as a career counsellor, but now I run a craft based business, so I've used a few resources in my own work that might be helpful to you.  You might want to check out this link:


The site can be a bit tricky to navigate if you're not used to it, but it has good info for thousands of different careers.  It's a Canadian site (sorry, I'm not as familiar with U.S. career resources).  Click on the plus sign beside "skill type and skill level",  then under "occupations in skill type" choose 5 Art, Culture, Recreation and Sport and under "occupations requiring skill level", choose whatever level of training you're willing to complete and click on search.  This will give you a long list of different types of jobs related to art/craft (you'll also get recreation and sport, so you'll have to ignore those).  If you click on the number beside any job title that's interesting to you, you'll get a brief description of the job (remember the qualifications stated are Canadian, so you'll need to confirm the training requirements are the same in the U.S. - it usually is the same, but not always).  Many people aren't aware of the huge number of career options that exist, and this site might help you to get some ideas about different art/craft related career options that you haven't thought about.

There are plenty of different types of jobs related to art/craft/culture but people often are either not aware of them, or they shy away from them because they're afraid of the starving artist cliche.

You mentioned some interest in psychology.  Have you ever considered combining that with your interest in craft/art to explore art therapy as a career goal? Obviously I don't know a lot about you to make a really informed suggestion, but it was the first thing that jumped to my mind when I read your posts here.

Do you have career counsellors on campus?  It might help to visit their office. 

Here's another resource you might like http://www.cdm.uwaterloo.ca/index2.asp -sorry it's not craft related- but it's a fantastic resource for anyone trying to make career decisions.


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« Reply #20 on: May 06, 2007 06:10:46 AM »

I'm not entirely sure how much help this will be but here's my life plan!

I'm in my third year of a 4 year Zoology degree at the mo and plan to study Vet Medicine when I graduate.  Eventually I want to run my own craft business but I want to keep it small-scale, I don't want it to become my full 9-5 because as someone has already pointed out, you lose some of the enjoyment when it becomes something you *have* to do. 

Being a vet is something I know I will able to happily work as until the day I retire and it brings the added advantage of being a reasonably well paid career path, meaning later on when I begin to serious think about selling items I make, I'll have a bit of financial backing behind me.  It also means that if I try to set up my own business and it falls on its face, I still have vet medicine bringing in the money.  It's less critical if the craft side of things takes or not.

So I guess my advice would be to work out what job you would be happy in and then maybe think about doing craft on the side.  If you find that your craft business takes off you can go part-time on your 9-5 job to give crafts more time or even eventually give up the 9-5 if the craft business is successful enough.  It makes it less stressful if you're not completely relying on your abilities to sell things you make. 

Good luck with it all Smiley

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