Book Review | Grow your handmade business

Grow your handmade business book review

You know those books where you know it’s going to be one of those reading experiences that are going to change your life? Yeah, this one is one of those. I’ve been blown away with how incredible resourceful and interesting this book is. Licensing, online advertising, coworking, agents, marketing management, taxes, money, business models, I think Kari Chapin covers it all. Grow your Handmade Business – How to envision, develop and sustain a successful creative business is for sure a MUST HAVE in you bookshelf. Making Jay McCarroll words mine “If there was ever such a thing as a creative business therapist, I would be lying on the couch in Kari’s office gladly throwing cash at her” (well not really sure about the cash thing but I would bring her some cupcakes).

“When you’re dreaming up your dreamy dream business, you need to be clear about just what exactly you want to do.”

Through the whole book Kari guide us through the different emotional and practical stages of understanding the different sides of a business, with examples and exercises for us to do while reading the book (keep a journal next to you). Questions like My strongest creative skill is? and

When I look at the list of things I need to do for a normal day-in-the-life of me business, the thing I want to do the most is? will put the reader’s thinking wheels spinning.

“The success of your business depends on you, and you are human. You have strengths, shortcomings, superpowers, and areas where you might want to improve.” (p.35)

I’m telling you, as you read the book you’ll feel Kari’s words echoing in your head and they really are going to make you question and think on everything. Self-care, limits, success, EVERYTHING! For example: What makes you feel like a real business owner? or Why are you in the business? To be honest I always felt a little anxious when I have to explain what is that I do to people around me because mostly are not really into the creative field so sometimes I think the message I want to pass through doesn’t reach it’s end successfully BUT I’m working on it. Does this happen with anybody else? There’s a Q&A with Michelle Ward (p.110) where she talks about “elevator speeches” where they both go over this exact issue. “It’s all about being articulate, concise, and intriguing in about three sentences or less”.

I really liked the chapters where she talked about goals and introduced, at least to me, a new side of goals: intentions (p.71). I’m a big apologist of to do lists, the sky will fall if I don’t start my week with a list of goals for the day, even if it’s a mental one I need to organize my thoughts and chores that way because it really keeps me focused and on track. You probably know what a goal is but what about an intention applied to this context?

“It’s the end result of your goal (…) and a series of goals will help you make your intentions come true.”

Here’s a really good example Kari gives to explain both:
Intention: I will find support for the parts of my business that are overwhelming me so that I can focus on what I do best.
Goals: Consider the possibility of hiring an intern; consider the idea of working with a virtual assistant. Make a list of duties I would give to a VA and investigate what a VA usually charges; …

As you can see Kari’s examples are really practical and she uses situations that most of us can relate. Also through the whole book there’s a group called creative collected where people from different fields (teacher, painters, illustrators, crafters, and others) give their two cents of wisdom and there was a particular one that hit the spot:

“I tend to work 24/7, and it’s only lately that I’ve realized that if things aren’t working for me, it’s because I’m burned out. Sometimes, that means committing to a real vacation. Other times, it means not letting me feel guilty about not working on the weekend. And sometimes, it means getting the bare minimum done on a given day and then doing something else.” – Megan Auman (p.149)

I’m one of those people that if by the end of the day I feel that I didn’t do anything productive that will hunt me around and I force myself to sit down and try to do something. Well I reached a point where I realized that this wasn’t working for me so I’m trying to change that. As you go further in the book you are confronted with a really useful business plan checklist (p.163). I’m happy to say that I’ve already checked most of it but Kari introduces some new points that I really thought they were secondary at this point. It goes something along with: creative cover page, mission statement, job description, bios (Ah the bios!! I never thought that the bios written in the third person were actually written by the actual person! I always thought people would ask other people to write it for them), product photos, future opportunities, etc. She even gives you the formal version of this plan in case you need to present it to an investor.

“Have fun, dream big, and know that you can adjust or change your plan at any time. You’re the boss!”

The final chapters are more focused on money and budgeting topics. I’m not a numbers person, math was NEVER my forte but somehow I was able to follow along with the terms and examples that were given in this book. Capital, budget, balance sheet, forecast, profit margin and the cousins go on. It’s definitely a side of the business that I’m not eager to interact with but I’m learning that is a necessary part so, I’m going to slowly dive into it.

So to resume it all in, I think that this book is one of those were you’ll read not one, not twice but you’ll keep coming back to read it again and again. Aside from its content, it’s really easy to read, I found Kari’s speech really friendly and inviting while she mixes the perfect amount of humor with being direct on things so, even if you don’t like to read, give this one a try because It will make worth your time.

“One of the best things about having your very own business is that you have complete control. You’re in charge of how hard you work, when and where you work, how much money you make or you’re capable of making, and all of these pleasures are a direct result of your feelings.”

Have you read this book? Have you read another book by Kari Chapin? Maybe her first one “The Handmade Marketplace”? I would love to know your thoughts/opinions on it. You can check my previous book review here.



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