Year one with a handmade shop
This time last year, I launched a small handmade homewares shop called Cedar & Sail. I did it to scratch an itch to both make a physical product and to get back to doing ecommerce again (something I’d done years ago and loved).
I went in to this with zero expectations. Really, I just wanted to cover my costs so it wasn’t a hobby that I was losing a lot of money to do. Here we are, at the end of year one, so let’s take a look back and see how I faired.
Gross Revenue: $9152
Number of Sales: 242
Average Order Value: $38
I sold my products across five different sales channels:
- Online Store
- Amazon Handmade
- Local Markets
Here’s a percent of sales breakdown by channel.
What really surprised me was the amount of revenue that came from doing local markets. 50% of all the revenue for the year came from doing a series of markets in the last 3 months. And what’s crazy is that I did the first one in October on a whim, purely because it was happening in my neighborhood and would be really low-hassle to do (my booth was literally a block from my house).
It was successful enough that I decided to just start doing as many as I could register for through the end of the year. I ended up doing five of them and the majority of them were very much worth my time.
They were also great for meeting other makers and vendors and the community as a whole.
Handmade is basically Amazon’s Etsy competitor and with relatively little work it did nearly 80% better than Etsy. I’m guessing due to the reach of Amazon’s distribution and the fact that Handmade items show up in regular Amazon searches.
I started the year thinking Wholesale would be a sizable portion of revenue, but we really only ended up with a couple of wholesale orders.
Honestly, I’m glad I didn’t end up with more as I found producing large quantities of the same item was actually pretty time consuming. I have a limited number of molds that I use to make a given item and so making 10+ of a single item actually is a lot more work for what amounts to basically half the profit.
I launched in January with 6 products and 4 color variations on each product, for a total 24 different SKUs. I ended December with 13 products and 6 color variations for 78 different SKUs. That doesn’t include the dozens of limited edition color variations and candles I did.
That’s…a lot. Especially for one dude in his garage.
I wish I could say I ended the year knowing what my best sellers were, but the fact is I had so many variations, there’s just no way of knowing.
Part of me likes the variety I’m offering, but it also makes fulfilling orders much more time intensive since I can’t batch them. The variety works really well at local markets, so I may just keep doing what I’m doing but keep the online offering more limited. Haven’t figured that part out yet.
I put every penny back in to the business so essentially came away with no profit. I’ll likely do the same for 2018 as well. Using the revenue to buy new equipment, try new products and purchase supplies makes the whole thing much more laid back and interesting. Eventually I do plan on having Cedar & Sail be a profitable business, but I’ve got my main business that’s my focus for the foreseeable future anyways.
There are a number of things I’d like to do with the business this year:
- Figure out my profit margins. Right now I have no real idea how much it costs in supplies and time to produce a given item. I’m definitely not losing money on them, but I just don’t know how much I’m actually making.
- Design larger items. Almost every item I sell is under 5 inches on its longest side. That’s great for little desk and small table decor items, but would love to introduce some larger items that can really be a focal point in a room.
- Try new mediums. I’d like to create more items out of other materials like wood and metal, and also work those in to the cement items I’ve got.
- Become a plant guy. I’ve been geeking out big time on plants, namely succulents, cacti and air plants. Been learning how to actually grow them myself and would happily start making them a part of the product line up (i.e. “This succulent would pair really well with the cement planter you just added to your shopping cart!”).
- Involve my kids more. Towards the end, with all the local markets, they started helping out a bunch and we all loved it. I want them to feel like they’ve got some ownership in it as well.
I generally like to bite off more than I can chew and my plans above are very much that. I likely won’t get to all of them, but I can certainly try! 🙂