Planet Handmade Blog

Are you worth it?

I have a feeling I am about to open a can of worms in this blog post and would like to state from the outset that I am  sitting so firmly on the fence on this one that I have splinters in my bottom!

How you price your products and how you, and others, value your work is a hugely complex subject.  You cannot simply say ‘I deserve to earn £10/hour, therefore that jumper I knitted should be £500’.  Maybe it should be but will anyone pay that? What are your competitors charging? And in your £10/hour have you factored in the hours of training and skill development you have done? Fundamentally do you want to make money or do you want to make a living?

We could debate this for hours but I think I have found a really good example to highlight some of the dilemmas we all face. Wool and the Gang is a very visible brand with fantastic imagery and a great story.  I feel they are firmly aimed at the fashion market and the upper end at that. Have a look at their [read on]

New year resolutions for your business

As in the rest of life, Christmas and the lead up to it can be an overwhelming time for handmade and creative businesses. There was the run up thinking about what your seasonal products were going to be and how you planned to promote them, then there were products to actually produce and finally, we hope, lots of sales and orders to fulfil.

With the new year, may come an urge to slump in an armchair and relax. But in business as in life there are other things to think about – in particular some new year’s resolution to make.

And as January tends to be a bit quieter perhaps you’ll have time to make a start on them as well.

  1. Update your website – make sure you’ve removed any Christmas offers, references or messages. But also think about whether your website is working for you as well as it could. Make a plan about what needs changing and whether this is a long term plan or just a simple quick fix. If they are quick fixes, set aside some time to do it [read on]

A year in craft business

2013 was an amazing year for us at Planet Handmade. We started the year basking in the research from DBIS that put the craft industry forward as an important revenue generator.  The heritage craft industry employs nearly 210,000 people with up to a further 112,000 who work on an ad hoc basis in around 85,000 businesses with 96% of these businesses employing 10 people or fewer and 78% classed as self employed  because it is just them working in the business. The figures show that 83% of the workforce s male but our experience in the craft sectors we operate in would tend to disagree with this.

By April we were trying to decipher the mess that Royal Mail made of their new charges. And after a lot of noise from organisations like us and individual businesses late in 2013 the parcel charges were revised slightly.

Now the “small parcel” rate applies to any package that “does not exceed 2kg in weight and fits within one of two maximum dimensions: (i) Length [read on]

Learn from other creative businesses showcasing their talents

For many small and start-up creative businesses expensive consultancy and training courses are just not an option which is why it is essential to grab any opportunity to learn from others. If you come across a challenge or a problem, the chances are someone, somewhere has come across the same issue.

At the moment the Guardian’s Small Business Network (GSBN) is offering an amazing opportunity to learn from 100s of other businesses. Its Showcase campaign gives small businesses the opportunity to sing their own praises and share their experiences online.

In each category companies can submit up to 250 words explaining how they have innovated or found solutions to particular challenges. So far you can read about innovative solutions for running your business from home, ways to market yourself on a budget, logistics for small enterprises and cashflow management idea in entries from a wide variety of enterprises.

It is well worth the time of any budding entrepreneur or small [read on]

Who do you think you are?

Last week was Global Entrepreneur’s Week.  Did you notice or did it pass you by? When I look at the phrase ‘global entrepreneur’ I find it hard to relate that to what I do.  It sounds so grand, so Harvard MBA and somehow a bit unattainable.  Any thriving economy needs entrepreneurs of all sizes to contribute to its health and vitality.  Whether you are a fledgling business or have been going for a while, you are showing drive and initiative to run your own business.  Well, that makes you an entrepreneur in our eyes. So what are we a part of? “Global Entrepreneurship Week is the world’s largest celebration of the innovators and job creators who launch startups that bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expand human welfare.” is what the website says.  Do you feel part of it yet?

In the UK a group of organisations  have formed the Entrepreneurs’ Alliance and you can read about it here They want to be  a pressure group to stand [read on]

It's good to get out

In the last couple of weeks I have been thinking very much about isolation.  I am lucky because I work in an office with other people but I used to work from home alone.  I knew when I needed to get out and meet with like-minded people because any phone call would become an opportunity to talk AT somebody.  I was craving the social contact that only a face to face encounter can give you.

In September I attended the first Creative Breakfast in Hertford.  A small group of us got together without any particular agenda (although over time I’m sure we will have things we want to achieve).  Our backgrounds included the arts, retail, local council and my Heinz 57 career of PR/editorial/entrepreneur.  And you know what, the hour flew by because we had so much to talk about and to ask each other.

Fast forward to the beginning of October and the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace.  The show is a perfect chance to catch up with yarnies, [read on]

Are you an 'informal' business?

I have been catching up with some magazine reading this week.  You know that pile of tomes that lurks in the corner and which you always mean to get round to reading but you never quite do?  In my pile were a couple of issues of the Royal Society of Arts magazine.  I can seriously recommend it for its thought leadership and downright interesting articles. In an issue from last year I found coverage of a new (well it was in September 2012) piece of research that the RSA had commissioned from YouGov called "Untapped Enterprise".

The research explores something now called the ‘informal economy’ which McKinsey called the 'grey economy'.  It's when workers get paid cash-in-hand or when you pay the plumber with cash – undeclared income or payments.  The interesting thing about this report is that it says the informal economy represents huge entrepreneurial opportunities for the UK and should be supported on its journey to join the ‘formal eco [read on]

A return to cottage industry?

We recently reported that figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that 2.5 million people in the UK now run businesses from home which represents 52% of UK small businesses.

As we know that may not in fact cover all the sole traders working from home who operate below the VAT threshold. We also know that many of these small businesses will be specialist, creative enterprises.

Large numbers of people creating high quality handmade items from their homes using heritage crafts harks back to a previous era when it was common for people to spin, weave, make baskets, carve wood, etc, from workshops in their own homes. In other words we could be seen as entering a new age of the cottage industry.

Or rather we have one aspect of cottage industry – smaller scale, high quality, specialised work from home. What we don’t necessarily have alongside that are some of the other elements such as close communities that provide support and a structure to pass along skills.

[read on]

Home working hits a new high

An astonishing press release hit my desk this morning as I was preparing to write this week’s post which I just had to share with you.

It came from Direct Line for Business and the overall message is to make sure you have proper insurance if you are a small business. But alongside the sales message there are some very interesting facts and figures. 

The release claims that there are 2.5 million people working from home which represents 52% of the total  number of UK small businesses.  Let’s just digest that figure – MORE THAN HALF of UK small businesses now operate from home. The researchers have taken Office of National Statistics Figures on Homeworking and Federation of Small Business data to arrive at their figures.

If you would like the breakdown here are the ONS figures


The FSB estimates that there are 4.8 million businesses in the UK of which 62.7 per cent (three million) are sole proprietorships. But those figures may not include many small bu [read on]

Reindeers in a heat wave - time to think about Christmas

by Bronagh

As the sun beat down over the past couple of weeks and my hands were slipping off the keyboard most of my work (outside pulling content together for the full Planet Handmade site) had a distinctly wintery feel.

Whether I was writing, tech editing or co-ordinating jewellery projects, the focus was on the colder months – there were warm jumpers, fair isle, Halloween themed objects and articles on Christmas sales. But that’s par for the course if you work in the craft sector or journalism (or both) and it serves as a reminder for everyone with a business producing handmade items.

Have you started your Christmas planning yet? Forget the people who moan that Christmas seems to start earlier and earlier each year, planning well ahead is essential. Magazines are already starting to put together holiday season content so you need to be on the look out for opportunities to promote your work.

And that doesn’t just mean novelty Christmas items. Take a good look [read on]