This post is about my Oshun clothing business that you might have heard me mention one or two times, or have spotted the links on the right hand side there! I thought it might give food for thought or be useful for anyone else running a handmade craft business. I have recently turned down the opportunity to make a whole family different Clash of Clans costumes, and have since had two more requests for the Witch character’s costume for Halloween. This is why I said no….
There comes a point in everyone’s business when you need to look at whether you can actually earn a living from it. Yes, I probably should have done this much sooner! When you decide to change your hobby into a business or begin a one-man band, I recommend you take a good look at the beginning of your venture as to whether you can actually earn a decent wage from it. Look at how much you need to charge to cover your time and costs; look at how much people are willing to pay for them, and how many of those items you can make in one week.
I recently made a Clash of Clans Witch costume and it was the first one since Halloween season last year. I discovered that all my suppliers of the different
fabrics I used were either away on holiday or out of business or had simply stopped stocking that particular fabric. The purple crepe for the cloak was the biggest issue as I had charged for the costume based on last year’s fabric prices, £5 a metre for the crepe, but I couldn’t find it for less than £15 a metre and I ended up spending about three to four hours in the end sourcing all the fabrics. On top of that, when the t-shirt I alter finally arrived it was much paler in real life than the picture showed, so I had to order another one as that was still cheaper than dying it. Altogether it was an absolute nightmare, and I realised that the same situation could occur with any similar custom order I take on.
If I charged enough to cover the time it takes to look for the fabric, as well as the ever increasing prices of new material, the costume in the end would simply not look worth the money, particularly when we’re competing with cheap imports from China all the time. However, there is a more important issue to consider:
Custom orders that require me to buy new fabric at the end of the day are against the whole ethos of my business. Pretty much my whole point is that I’m using vintage and found materials to patchwork together and create something new with them.
So I’ve taken the brave (and hopefully not stupid) decision to take down the ‘Custom Order’ listing on all Oshun Etsy shops. I will still offer custom-made clothing, but it will be for wedding and special occasion dresses in my particular style of working. I made a few of these this year and I enjoy making them the most, and besides which, it’s the only way for my business to be financially viable. I’m excited to be working on a collection of dresses that customers will be able to order in a similar style. Every one will be unique, made-to-measure and in their choice of colours. I’ve just done a photo-shoot for the first wedding dress design, and here’s a sneak peak: