If you’re thinking about starting a business selling polymer clay products, keep reading because that’s my very first business that I started, called Tiny Hands Jewelry.
In this post, I’ll share with you some unique things that I’ve learned over the years that you should consider before starting your own shop.
Hi, my name is Mei Pak and I help makers, artists and designers make a living from selling their handmade products online.
So let’s talk about the pros of starting a polymer clay based business.
The Possibilities are Endless
The first is what really attracted me, which is that the possibilities for what to make are endless because of the nature of polymer clay.
You can make and sculpt anything you can think of and once you bake it in an oven, it turns hard and into a usable item, whether it’s a piece of jewelry or a sculpture, figures, art dolls or wall decor.
A lot of polymer clay products tend to be decorative like that.
It’s so much fun to play with clay.
If you’re a creative person, it’s very satisfying to work with clay and to create something completely from scratch with your hands.
It’s the best feeling ever.
The materials and supplies are relatively cheap and easy to find and buy.
Most craft stores and online shops sell polymer clay products, and a 2 oz bar of clay costs under $3.
No Really, You Can Do ANYTHING With It
You can do so many things with clay.
You can mix it with other materials to get different colors, textures, you can even turn it from like a pliable play doh consistency to more like a creamy frosting.
You can do mixed media art with it and use it with other mediums to make something truly unique and cool.
You can chop it, roll it, shape it free form with your hands, it’s really quite a fun craft.
Polymer clay is generally pretty light to ship so when it comes to charging for shipping, you won’t have a problem here in dealing with sky high shipping prices.
Now let’s talk about the cons.
You’ll Want to Make Everything
One of the things I’ve found to be challenging with polymer clay is because it’s such a versatile medium, you’ll be tempted to make anything and everything out of it.
But it’s important when you’re starting a business, to narrow down your niche and make something very specific for a type of customer.
So it can be tricky to think about what that specific product is.
Another challenge is, while it’s not the most time consuming craft compared to something like crocheting or knitting, it can still be time consuming.
Because it’s just clay and not something more valuable like gold or silver jewelry, the perceived value of it is never going to be super high.
There’s a fine line you have to walk between making a product that is priced appropriately for what it is.
So for example, you don’t necessarily want to spend hours and hours making a clay product that doesn’t have a high perceived value, because then you can’t price it appropriately and get paid for your time making the product.
Durability can be an issue.
For a long time I used Sculpey III, mostly because it’s so easy to use, it’s soft but not too soft.
Unfortunately, it’s more brittle and not as durable as a brand like Premo clay.
There are different brands of clay and new ones being made every now and then, so do your due diligence to research and test out which ones work best for you.
I want to share with you some of my favorite resources to learn more about polymer clay from.
These are websites that really helped me out when I was still learning about different techniques.
Check out the Blue Bottle Tree by Ginger Davis Allman. She shares some really amazing in depth blog posts on how to use polymer clay.
Polymer Clay Central has a ton of community submitted free tutorials.
Some of my favorite YouTube channels are:
- Sugar Charm Shop, Stephanie Kilgast who used to have her own miniature food jewelry shop like Tiny Hands
- Polymer Clay Tutor, Polina Creations – I love her miniature food work. She’s so talented.
There are so many other great channels to check out. There definitely weren't this many options when I first started out.
In terms of books, I have almost every miniature food making polymer clay book out there including all of Angie Scarr’s books which in my opinion, are some of the best for making miniatures.
But of course there are a ton of new books for making other types of polymer clay items like beads, jewelry, making faux gemstones, making fantasy creatures and sculptures or learning caning methods, so it really just depends on what your focus is.
Now, I wanted to share with you some tips specific to a business selling polymer clay products.
1. Take Your Time to Learn Materials
Really take your time to learn how different materials react to each other.
For example, not every glue works well with polymer clay if you’re thinking about turning it into jewelry.
Because there really is no limit to what you can do with clay, it can be a lot to learn, at least that’s how I felt in the beginning.
2. Document Everything
Document everything as much as possible, specifically with color mixing.
The challenge with working with clay is that the cured clay, once you’ve baked it, isn’t the same color as raw clay.
So if you mix different colors together, it can be difficult to keep track and reproduce in the future.
For my jewelry business, I jot down every measurement of how much of each color I mix together, so I don’t have to figure it out from scratch every time, which can be a super time consuming process.
3. Starting and Promoting Your Shop
When it comes to starting and promoting your shop, all the same rules I harp on about all the time apply here.
Have a strong brand, great photos of your product, make sure you are strategic about your pricing, set up a way for people to join your email list once they come to your site, so you can continue to build a relationship with them.
To get that traffic on to your site in the first place, I’m a huge proponent of doing media outreach consistently and at scale.
That means reaching out to other people who have large audiences and ask them to feature you in exchange for a free product so they can experience your work first hand.
The trap here is that you get featured once and you think that’s all you need to do.
No, like with any other form of marketing, you need to get featured multiple times in a lot of places for you to really get momentum.
But the kicker here is that all it takes is one really great feature to turn your business into an overnight success.
For example, if you’ve never made a sale yet because you’re just starting out, but you got your products to appear in Good Housekeeping magazine the next day, I can bet you you’re going to get thousands of dollars in sales from all the orders in a week.
If you have the budget for it, Facebook ads are possibly the fastest way to start getting traffic and making sales, but only if you do it right.
I usually hesitate to talk about Facebook ads because it does cost money to do but also because it’s a lot more technical so you definitely need to get training on how to do it right.
If you found this video helpful, please leave a comment and tell me what you liked.
Don’t forget to check out my YouTube Channel for more great handmade business tips!