Welcome to the Kleber & Associates blog!  Handmade: Crafts and DIY on the Rise Here’s the latest.

Handmade gifts have always been both charming and meaningful. Although the popularity of mass-produced and manufactured items is still the norm, a new trend has emerged that returns to basics: crafting, DIY (do it yourself) projects and handmade items, as well as traditional forms of art, including sewing and knitting. The popularity of this craft phenomenon has revealed a tight knit group of artists and designers who are seeing big success as small business owners.

What’s so great about handmade? Consumers are attracted to one-of-a-kind pieces to give as gifts to friends and family or as furniture to fill their homes. The difference being the exclusivity and uniqueness—something you would never find in Pottery Barn or Bloomingdales. Plus, customers are blown away by the intimate customer service from the designers themselves. Who knew you would actually speak one-on-one with the person responsible for their design? With this new trend comes plenty of resources for anybody interested in establishing themselves as an artist, including books detailing the process of turning a hobby into a business and an online market for artists and consumers to buy and sell goods. It’s easier than ever to bring an idea to reality.
Etsy is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of handmade. I discovered it on a whim as I was looking for unique dog tags, and I haven’t looked back. Since then, I have enjoyed discovering new artists and reading new content in the community section. Sellers number in the hundreds of thousands and span the globe from more than 150 countries. Etsy was founded in 2005 by Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire, Haim Schoppik and Jared Tarbell. Their mission “is to enable people to make a living making things, and to reconnect makers with buyers.” Considering the success that Etsy has seen over the past four years, they’ve succeeded. One of the most important aspects of the site is spreading the word that success is attainable. Many sellers have quit their day jobs to sell on Etsy full time. That says a lot, especially in this economy.

One of the best books out there for making a business with handmade crafts and the one most recommended by Etsy sellers, is Craft Inc.: Turn Your Creative Hobby Into a Business by Meg Mateo Ilasco. Having owned a successful wedding invitation business and currently owning a housewares and gift business, Ilasco knows the ins and outs of starting and operating a business and what it takes to actually succeed. Beyond the glamour and superficiality, Ilasco touches on the more difficult and realistic aspects of starting a business, from obtaining a business license to sourcing materials and vendors. Plus, the personal stories from real artists and designers will not only inspire you, but teach you how they overcame challenges in their own business ventures, from selling products for too little to what marketing techniques didn’t work. Ilasco’s book is something that every designer (at any level) should own. You will refer back to it again and again.

What does all of this handmade stuff mean? Faythe Levine, director of “Handmade Nation,” a film documenting the emerging arts and crafts community, thinks that there is no end in sight for the growth of handmade. “I think that there are a number of reasons why there has been a resurgence in craft and handmade, including people appreciating things made by hand, wanting to take time with family and friends making things in groups and the empowering feelings one gets after finishing a project,” she said. “I think that there is no end in sight for the community, and the contagious feeling people get from seeing each other’s work will push our movement forward.”

And that’s just it. When you find an item that just agrees with you, the urge to create just takes over.