For my birthday earlier this month, my sister-in-law graciously sent me a copy of Country Living’s Crafting a Business: Make Money Doing What You Love by Kathie Fitzgerald. I just finished reading it, so I wanted give it a little review for those of you out there who might be curious if this book is for you.
This book was published in 2008, so it isn’t new to the market, but it was new to me because I had not seen it before. I didn’t know exactly what to expect from a book put out by Country Living because I am not really a country livin’ kind of gal. That being said, I would not let the fact that it is by Country Living put you off in anyway. The one thing that makes it obviously Country Living is that all of the featured artists and crafters belong in the pages of a Country Living magazine. It might seem kind of hard for you to imagine finding any inspiration from most of the women in this book who are your mom’s age making things like American flag rugs (which is how the book appears at a cursory glance), but there were a few crafters in here I had heard about before, such as Amy Butler and the ladies of The Junk Gypsy Company.
I’m certainly not saying the other ladies in here aren’t inspirational, it’s just that, well, they are a lot older than me, and it makes it hard for me to relate to them or see any linear connections. See, one thing about this book is that the first 140 pages is 2-3 page short bios about successful women. If you like reading about others successes, or sneaking a peek into the shops of successful women, then the first 140-ish pages are for you. One of the women who “spoke” to me the most was probably Julie Dobies who said:
“I enjoyed my job at Shabby Chic and had a great salary, but it wasn’t about having money anymore; it was about having a life. So, I decided to take a week off and paint every single day as if it were my job and see how it went. I produced so much work it was phenomenal.”
See, this is a desire I can relate to. So, yeah, I get some of these women, but just not all of them in Part 1 of this book.
Part 2 of this book is about 40 pages titled “Business-Crafting Workshop.” Here is where the reader starts to glean a bit of information about how they could accomplish what the other ladies in the book have done. There are 7 sections: The Business Plan, Financing, Product Development, Marketing and Sales, Financial Management, Staffing, and Growing Bigger. Each section is anywhere from 3-5 pages long and has very basic information about how to create a business plan or deal with staffing issues. In the “Financing” section, I was surprised at how much focus was spent on debt and equity financing. Personally, I don’t feel like most people starting out in a craft business like I am should be dependent on credit cards, taking out bank loans, or dipping into our home equity lines to finance our needs. It just seemed really intangible.
Now, the Product development section had good information on pricing your items and remembering to including such things as not undervaluing yourself or being afraid to raise prices as the market changes. The Marketing and Sales section however, gives advice like “Get Your Products into the Hands of the Media,” but does not tell you how to go about doing this at all (Of course you could check out my post about Craft Business Press Kits for some ideas).
Overall, I found this book to be a bit out of touch with the typical type of crafter I am used to working next to at craft fairs. It’s focus is more on the successful women than telling the reader how to succeed, and one thing that it doesn’t spend nearly enough words on is how to use the internet to help your business. My last words: If you are just starting to consider starting your own business, then this book is definitely for you. However, if you have been successfully running your business for a year or more, then you probably won’t benefit much from this book. If, though, you are looking for some simple inspiration, regardless of how long you have been in business, and you like peeking into the lives and workshops of others, but are not hoping for all the answers to your craft biz questions, you’ll probably enjoy this book quite a bit.
So, please tell me, what are your favorite and most useful books to go to for inspiration? What book do you go to again and again for business help or advice?