When I started my handmade business, I had BIG goals.
I wanted to make a living selling my handmade jewelry, but I wasn’t sure exactly how I’d get there.
In the beginning, I was barely scraping by, even though I was working a full-time schedule.
Today, my first business, Tiny Hands, makes $200k in sales each year, and the other two businesses we have make a couple million each, per year.
I’ll show you how I did it – and how you can do it, too.
My name is Mei Pak. I help makers, artists, and designers earn a living selling their handmade products online.
As all online business owners know, the first few years are really hard.
You’ve made so many sacrifices to pursue your dreams, and there’s a lot of pressure to meet a certain level of success – and fast!
Because if we don’t start making money from our shop soon, we can’t pay our bills and we have to give up our dreams and get a “real job”.
That’s a lot of stress.
The more stressed we feel, the more disheartened we might be when our sales aren’t happening as fast as we hoped they would.
Give it Your All
When I started Tiny Hands, I poured everything I had into my business.
I worked a part-time job and did freelance web design, just so I could have some extra money to put into the business.
My first year, I was working full time on my business and I made just $9000 in sales.
When you do the math that’s $4/hour. Far less than I was hoping for.
But guess what? I kept going – and I kept believing in my dream and didn’t give up.
Over the next few years, I took every course I could find on marketing and business.
I reached out to try to get my jewelry featured with
- social media influencers
- magazine editors
Even when it made me uncomfortable, I continued to try.
I’m not a person without fear.
In fact, I struggle with a lot of anxiety, limiting beliefs and negative thoughts.
I’m afraid of stepping outside my comfort zone or making someone angry, but I’m constantly working on all of those things.
I’ve done therapy, I’ve bought coaching sessions so I could learn from other people who have been there and done what I wanted to do.
I’m a huge believer in investing in yourself and that includes education and expanding your skill set and knowledge.
I’m not special.
I’m not super smart but I realized that I don’t know everything and I have a lot to learn.
Invest in You
I attribute so much of what I’ve accomplished to prioritizing my investment in myself.
Do you know what happened when I put myself out there despite being scared?
I got more confident.
The more I knew about business, the better I felt about what I was doing.
I was no longer too nervous to take risks. I felt good about what I was doing and that motivated me to do more.
People make this assumption that something needs to happen before you take any action.
We like to wait until we feel inspired or ready to make that big, scary leap.
The secret is, you become inspired and ready by doing.
Taking that first step even if it feels scary or hard.
Then you take the next step and the next.
Before you know it, you have momentum.
I faked it till I made it.
I never understood what that meant until I was on the other side of that.
Here’s what I mean by “fake it till you make it”.
I worked every single day, even when I didn’t feel like it, and because of that – I got things done.
I pitched my products to celebrities and magazines.
Who was I to reach out to them? I was barely making any sales.
What if no one liked my jewelry?
What if it just sucked?
I did the work anyway and I took action to send that email out, even if I didn’t know the answers to all the questions.
Even though I was afraid of being rejected.
And it wasn’t just one time. I did this over and over again.
It didn’t work all the time, and that’s the other secret.
Don't Give Up
This is all just like a muscle you build as if you’re going to the gym to workout.
The more I did this, I increased my likelihood of something happening.
Getting the results I wanted, the validation for me and my work; that I was doing something right!
So I kept doing more of it and I kept getting more positive results.
That loop helped me grow my confidence, but it all started with taking that first step.
I know “just do it” is easier said than done.
You’re bound to have days where you feel bogged down, tired, or afraid to try.
I’m not saying self-care isn’t important.
It is, but this post isn’t about self-care.
When you start and you’ve got momentum, things start falling into place.
Your business will grow and that’s one of the best feelings in the world.
You didn’t get into this because you thought it’d be easy.
Maybe you got into this because you wanted to share your passion with the world or you wanted to see your hobby become something bigger than that.
Get really clear about why you’re doing this!
If the reason is strong enough, it can motivate you to take action even on days you don’t feel like it.
What it's Worth
Next, I started to really understand the relative value I contribute to other people.
When we’re all starting out, we don’t really know our place in the world.
We’re not sure how to price our products.
It feels scary to price it really high, because “who do we think we are”.
Like a lot of other creatives, I started pricing my products and services at a really low rate.
But unlike a lot of other creatives, I increased my pricing over time and in fact, I know my prices tend to be higher than other people’s.
The more confident I became, the more I realized how much value my work impacts other people.
Not everyone can make the jewelry I make, nor do they have the time to learn and practice like I did.
But people still need birthday presents.
Can you imagine how disappointed the birthday girl would be if she didn’t get a gift?
The stakes are pretty high.
That’s where my jewelry comes in.
The moment I stopped looking down at my own work and started seeing it from the lens of other people who need what I sell, the easier it became to charge prices based on that value.
Not just based on just the cost of material, supplies and the time it took to make my product.
This was a pretty big mindset shift I had to make and it took me years to get there.
Just like any comfort zone, this is also a muscle you have to train.
People almost always undervalue themselves and the products they make.
But as you’ve probably started to see the pattern, believing in yourself is a huge part of the puzzle.
Another thing I did was I never gave up.
I never quit and I persisted despite meeting rejection after rejection.
- I’ve sent out so many email pitches that never got responded to.
- I’ve even gotten people telling me to stop emailing them.
- I’ve done craft shows where I didn’t make any money.
- I’ve gotten negative reviews for my products.
- I’ve had to refund customers.
- I’ve had China factories rip off my products.
- I’ve had months where I didn’t make any profit at all.
There have been so many lows.
But you know what?
These are all just tests.
How much do I really want this to work?
More than just not giving up, I learned to troubleshoot and problem solve.
When something doesn't work, I analyze the situation, collect data and find out why, so it doesn’t happen again in the future.
Over time, my business got better and better.
My businesses didn’t all start perfectly.
They all got shaped and molded to become the money making machines they are today.
Because the foundation got stronger and it became easier to make sales.
So much of running a business is about pivoting and sticking it out long enough to see the fruits of your labor materialize.
What are some of your business goals?
Let me know in the comment section below.
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for more helpful and inspiring videos for your handmade business!