I want to help you build a sustainable, profitable handmade business that makes you consistent income and sales. I only ever teach or recommend marketing, social media, pricing, production and branding tips that I’ve personally used successfully in my own 7-figure handmade businesses.
I'm Mei, from Los Angeles!
starting a business
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You’re busting your butt doing a craft show on a hot and humid Saturday.
Your booth catches the eyes of two women and they walk over.
They look interested!
They flip your product over and look for a price tag.
Oh uh, sticker shock.
They don’t quite notice you standing there in your booth.
One of them whispers too loudly to their friend, “I could make this myself” and walks away.
Kind of stings, doesn’t it?
This is definitely one of those roll-your-eyes moments.
Or imagine for a second what it’s like in my handmade jewelry business, where my primary medium is polymer clay.
You can buy 2 ounce blocks of polymer clay in any color you desire at virtually any craft store in the US for under $3 each.
The price of my material cost is a known fact to many polymer clay hobbyists.
And hobbyists know that I’m only using a small fraction of a 2 ounce block of clay to make one $28 necklace.
People balk at my high end prices all the time.
They also think they could make the jewelry that I make for a living.
This is an important discussion to have, especially with the recent viral video where an art curator explains why you couldn’t really make that art.
I bet at some point in your creative business, you’ve had someone say this to you too.
“I could make that.”
Here are a few brilliant answers (that I think are better than the response from the video linked above):
Dolores Shier from D’licious Treats: When I first started selling my baking I got that all the time. They not only said that. But they would point out they could do it for cheaper, as they scowled at me. I would smile and say I’m sure you could. But believe it or not the comments didn’t bother me as much as the way they looked at me when they said it. But I stuck it out and now I get” wow” I’m sure glad you’re doing the baking so I don’t have to.
Kyle Looby, Fickle Fox Design Co: I hear it a lot at craft shows. I just smile and say you should try-it’s really fun. But this took me xx number of hours to make so if you don’t have the time or money to invest in the tools I use to make it, you might want to consider buying this one and doing something you really want to do with your time. And lots of times they didn’t realize how much money and time went into it and they buy my item.
Nandi Duszynski from Bliss Joy Bull: It seems to come from people who are seamstresses themselves (I make clothing and accessories). I’ve said something in the vein of it’s not easy, is it? Also, it’s fun! I love to sew. And try to engage them and talk about sewing. These interactions have also made me thought of selling sewing patterns, so people COULD actually “do that”. I have yet to start on that endeavor!
Krista Nolan-Benskin, Dazzling Peacock: I would say how I often think the same thing when looking at other booths, but then have to ask myself, “Do I have the time to make it myself?“
Vanessa Jimenez, Lala’s Party: I’ve never had anyone say it directly but I have had people write it in comments on Pinterest. At first it annoyed me but now I don’t worry too much because most people on Pinterest don’t actually do the DIY-ing and just go buy it lol.
Unless you’re selling instructions, patterns or teach classes that show people how to make your craft, these people are never going to be customers who will buy your finished products.
There’s nothing wrong with them.
They’re just not the right people for you.
I normally take a cheerful position when responding to “I could make that” comments.
It’s unlikely they’ll ever buy something from me, but there’s no point trying to set someone straight and risk getting into an ugly argument.
It’s all part of providing amazing customer service, even to people who aren’t your customers.
I would say:
Yes! You probably could make this yourself. You can get all the materials you need at Michaels or Joann craft stores and you can bake the clay in your own kitchen oven. It’s totally safe.
The positive note leaves them feeling nice inside (maybe even empowered?), and you always want people to leave with a positive, lasting impression of you and your brand.
Even when they say distasteful or tacky things to you.
If they’re truly inspired by your work, they’ll try to actually make it themselves.
But they’re going to have an epic fail and as a result, they’ll have deeper respect and appreciation for your skill and craftsmanship.
Let people think what they want to think.
It’s not our position as makers and artists to educate our customers about life.
But you can be that person that makes them feel good.
Let me know in the comments below!
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I make chainmaille jewelry-and I teach classes at least once a year. If someone says that, I tell them that I’d be happy to help them and I’ll even provide materials, tutorials, tools, and experience to get them through it. I have a lot of repeat customers who would rather purchase a piece after trying a beginner project!
I also like to explain my pieces in terms of the time it takes to make each one. The price tag makes much more sense when you know that something takes 7 or 8 hours of dedicated time or that it took me 3 hours initially to learn the weave for a pendant.
That’s a great response, Anne! When people realize how much work really goes into what we do, they gladly pay our prices.
Thanks for your comment!
I too make chainmail and often get this. I tell them yes they can and tell them where I get my supplies but I also tell them it is a very ancient art, a couple thousand years old, but it is a dying art because most people find chainmail tedious and boring.
I have said that to myself especially if I couldn’t afford their price, but never to the crafts person. I think its rude. I love all the positive replays. It takes talent and a LOT of practice and time to craft something beautiful. How many have said I would love to play the piano very well, but who wants to practice 6 -10 hours a day to do it. You are appreciated.
I haven’t gotten this yet–have yet to have my first craft fair! But you make a super good point that I didn’t think about. That it’s better to let people think what they will think and just have a positive interaction with them. So true.
I think this question can also come in the form of “that’s so expensive”. A lot of this stems from a lack of understanding about our craft process or how business works.
I’m glad you got a takeaway from this. Both your Etsy shops are awesome!
Best reply I’ve ever heard was from a guy next to me at a craft show. He made bird feeders from recycled tires, and they were very well done. Men would walk up to his booth with their wives and check them out. Invariably, they would say “I can make that”. And the guy would immediately reply “yes, but you won’t”. Whereas, the wife would give the husband a look and say “that’s true!” – and buy one. It worked over 75% of the time!
Ha, that’s the perfect response! Thanks for sharing that, Debbie!
Same here. Woman likes my wooden snowman said “oh my husband can make that!” I said I bet her could… but will he? She thought he would and left. A few minutes later she returned and said” you’re right! He won’t do it!” She left with the snowman! Lol
I have a sign on my table that says:
“Sure, you you could make it you’re, you won’t!
Thank you for supporting my handmade business!”
Gets sales and laughs….it also drums up conversation!
A slight variation that’s friendly, “Yes… but WILL you? This one’s already made!”
My friend and I are both crafters and do lots of craft shows!! We both hate it when people boast that they could make that!! I’ve always said I was going to make a cute sign to hang in my booth that says “ Yes, I know you could make it, but will you?” And no I’ve never really made the sign!! HaHa!! My next project!!
Similar to my response. I say “ yes you could, but the question is WILL you?”
They usually look at me sheepishly and say no. Then I say “Well I teach this one in my class on how to make them if you’d like. I hand them a registration form. They usually end up buying what they were looking at!!
Heyyy, thanks for the shout out! I feel so ~fancy~ now :D
“Let people think what they want to think.” <—THIS. Not only will it help you in business, but in real life as well.
I had a conversation with someone recently (I can't remember who) and we hit on the fact that in a lot of ways creative business owners self esteem is reflected in their businesses. This can be good and bad. So I say to someone feeling down in the dumps; Always be working on your self esteem. These "issues" will become easier to deal with.
That’s SO true Nessa and something I’ve personally struggled with before especially with starting this consulting business! How you are in life translates to how you are with your business. Love that wisdom, Nessa!
P.S. You are super fancy :)
Oh you’re not the only one Mei, for sure. It’s refreshing though when we get to be honest and talk about these sort of things. Cheers! :D
Depending on what item they are referring to, and how it is phrased.
Simple item: ” Awesome” with a Smile.
Designs unique to me responses depending on the customers attitude:
Nice: “This is my original design” with a Smile.
Snarky: “This is my own original copyrighted design unique to me” with a Smile.
Aggressive: “This is MY own original proprietary design,” with a Smile.
Essentially implying that if they want to try copying me, that they may be infringing on my creative intellectual property, and if they still want to make something, perhaps they should consider coming up with their own design.
Thanks for sharing Grace! It’s almost important to consider that adding fire to fire isn’t always the best strategy.
I had someone come up to me one year and tell me that I must have gotten my ‘kit’ from the same place her daughter did because she had gotten a set for Christmas the year before. This was an original designed product by ME! I don’t know what annoyed me more, that the daughter had taken credit or that she wouldn’t believe that I had created my own designs. She like her product so I guess that is a plus somewhere!! LOL
I don’t do craft shows, but I am a Sidewalk Chalk Artist, and when people mention that they could do it, or should be doing it (because they have a fancy art degree or something) I just invite them down to the pavement with me. I also let them know about upcoming chalk festivals and events that they can participate in. I’ve yet to see them at any of these events :)
Ha! What a zen approach, Tiffany. That’s like something the Dalai Lama would have done ;)
I had a customer say this to me at my market stall. I responded with “Sure. You can make it yourself. But I hope you realise the work I have made to have this available for you today.” He didn’t reply, simply grabbed his wife, let her pick a product, then picked one for himself, and then paid for them both in cash!
Sweet score! What a great response. Totally stealing that next time I’m asked. Is that okay?
Sure they can make it themselves, but would they have conceptualized the IDEA? Probably not. Most people who say “I can make that myself” are really saying “Why didn’t I think of that?”
So much more goes into selling handmade goods than simply making the products. If a customer doesn’t appreciate all of the behind-the-scenes work that I do then they are not the customer for me. I simply smile and let them move on.
That is SO clever Mindi! You’re so wise. What people say isn’t always what the think or truly feel at the unconscious level. Totally agree with you on this!
I get this a lot too. I simply say “the hardest part is making it look easy” It’s not instigating and usually people smile back. The truth is, your pieces (if they are genuine to you) carry a demographic and the ones who don’t purchase are not your demographic. That’s a good thing. Appealing to everyone is sort of like appealing to no one in particular.
I appreciate well made things but I tend to spend my money on new shoes as opposed to clothing which I thrift 80% of the time. Shoe companies get most of my income just like someone will be that to your business.
A very talented (photographer) friend of mine said they waited outside IKEA to see what kind of people were purchasing their ‘art’ only getting angry that they were buying so much of ikea’s art than his. He tried to do research to get ahead of the game but Ikea is cheap and easy to buy. He was watching the wrong demographic all day.
I love that you’re putting yourself in the shoes of the customer! It’s so true. Makers and creatives don’t get specific enough when it comes to marketing their products, but when it comes to our own purchasing behavior, it’s very clear that we have specific likes and dislikes. That same profiling can be used on our customers!
Your story about your photographer friend brings up another good point. Sometimes we want so much for a kind of person to be our customer. But we don’t always think about their psyche and whether they’re in alignment with our own brand. Good food for thought!
Yes, but you won’t is the best one. This is especially true if wife is present. I do turned wood. I get, ‘it is only a piece of wood.’ The last time I reached over to the guy, grabbed his arm, ‘It is only a piece of pork.’ I am doing my retorts in a second language. There are people who just do not understand, face it most people do not even cook. I try to be informative to these people and will even invite them to the studio. Then there are just arrogant asses, they get roasted.
Too many e-marketing gurus do not understand the demographics issue. To most of them a product is a product. I do quite up scale work, a lot of it is not really functional. There is no way to make enough to support myself. I am crazy in business terms. (I pay my overhead.) Then I find my collectors also have a screw loose. Does any ordinary couple need 40 wooden bowls? No, but I have found them and they keep buying.
“Appealing to everyone is sort of like appealing to no one in particular.” Best sentence ever!
Keira, I love that comment!
I hear a lot “I can make that, it’s on Pinterest”. The last time I heard it, I asked the person if they have ever seen the epic fail Pinterest boards? You know, where something looks so easy that people are excited to try it!
They bought several pieces from me after that.
Most everything looks easy, until you actually try.
I love Keira’s comment too, April!
Mindi a few comments above also said something that really resonated with me:
When people say “I could make that” they’re really asking themselves, “why didn’t I think to make this before?”
This comment never bothers me, because I’m one of those people! And if we’re being honest, all creatives are one of those people in one way or another. Nobody started learning a creative technique because they thought “I can’t do that, so I’ll just buy it.” Trying new arts and crafts always gives me a greater appreciation for the time, energy, and skill that those who make it their trade. Sure, I can make my own earrings (and often do), but that doesn’t stop me from buying them. All it has done is made me more picky about the earrings I buy and more likely to buy at a higher price point and handmade. Because I now know what unique earrings look like and I know what quality earrings look like…all because one day I said “I can do that.”
So if someone says that to me, I don’t let it get me in a tizzy. There are really only three outcomes to someone saying “I can do that myself.” 1) They’ll go home and NOT do it, because having that item was never that important to them to begin with (which means buying it was never something they would do anyway). 2) They’ll go home, try it, realize they can’t do it (or can’t do it to the high quality level I could), and come back to me to buy it. Or 3) they’ll go home, try it, master it, and join the ranks of artisans – to which I say “good for you!”
I’m like you in this way, Katie! I’m very particular when I go shopping from other artists. I find I tend to buy things that I don’t know how to make, and that mystery is what’s awesome to me!
A lot of times when I see something super pretty that I think “I could make that” or “why didn’t I think of that”, it’s a reflection of what I desire and appreciate. Even though the comment itself sounds cynical or distasteful out in the open, it’s sincerely a compliment. I don’t say it out loud because I know it will always come out the wrong way to an artist.
Thanks so much for stopping by Katie. I love your photography!
I’m one of those “I could make it myself people”, so I understand the thinking behind it for sure. I go to craft shows for inspiration and to get into a creative mood. Knowing that side of it, I don’t worry about the “make it myself” crowd because for every one of those I hear, I also hear “I wish I was creative like you are!”. THOSE are my customers.
I used to make a lot of jewellery from recycled copper and was often the recipient of comment such as these. On one occasion a very brusk gentlemen picked up a bracelet and stated “£X for that I could make it myself this price is ridiculous”. I replied that I had taken a long time learning how to make them and I was sure he could but it would take time and patience. His reply was again very brusk and said ” that I had a nerve charging such a price”. His wife was so embarrassed and tried to get him to walk away but he just continued berating me. I then reached below the stall took some wire, pliers etc and handed them to him saying “well this everything I used to make it have a go then”. He became irate and asked if I actually wanted to sell my jewellery and if so “insulting customers” was not a good marketing tool. I responded ” I don’t think I would sell anything to you as you obviously don’t appreciate the work that went into making it”. The result, 3 people who overheard him bought jewellery and his wife returned, after giving him a very public dressing down, to buy 3 pieces. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so direct but I am a great believer in positive outcomes from negative situations lol
Oy vey, some people just exude drama! I always wonder what would possess a person to go out and pick fights with strangers they meet in the world.
I’m sorry you had to go through that rough conversation, but not sorry because you turned it around perfectly!
Awesome story Norma. Thanks so much for sharing!
Such a great story!!!
Many years ago I hand painted silk scarves ( I have done a LOT of different crafts and now I do mostly papercraft) and they were of Australian native birds. They took a lot of time and had a lot of detail. I was selling them for $20 each (yes, it was a fair while ago and now I price things a little better). A woman picked one up and said “Oh, I could buy one cheaper than this at (name of cheap clothing store)”. I said, “Well, why are you standing here then, off you go and buy one.” She said, “There’s no need to be rude.” I told her that they were selling handmade scarves at Myers at the time (and they were nearly as good as mine- they were just very simple and plain, but hand painted) for $150.00 each, so she had better run off and buy the cheap one before other people realised the bargain and beat her to it. She flounced off, but several other people standing nearby complimented me on my scarves and bought one. These days I do a lot of paper crafts and make handmade greeting cards and even though a similar sort of thing with a fancy brand name sells for between $10 and $12 each or more for the fancy cards at the newsagent, people still feel the need to comment that my price (a little more than half that price) is expensive- so I just tell them that the card is relatively cheap compared to the ones you can buy at the newsagent, and that I have thrown in a great deal of time and love and attention to detail for free, so that THEIR card is a unique, one of a kind card that is as special as the person they want to give it to.
I LOVE how you dealt with that! Not letting that man cow you and meeting his aggressive intimidation with assertiveness and wit! Hurray for you!
I would definitely say “go on and try”.
I do beading and sometimes (non-)customers ask, how long does it take to make it. And I would ask: to me or to you? :) To me it took one hour and 10 years of routine.
I do scroll saw woodworking. Never really done the craft shows (only online selling ) but have heard other crafters talk about this.. I think if I did craft shows I might consider taking along blank wood and saw blades.. I can sell them their block of wood and the correct blade for them to do the job themselves..
maybe even bring my saw ( many scroll sawers do and work in their booth) and let them buy the wood and blade and point them to my saw, LOL
Probably best not to do such because of insurance issues etc. but sounds great. LOL
Thank you first of all for writing this! I have people come into my shop (and tourists on the weekends) looking at all sort of items I make in the shop from spice mixes, to incense and body-care products, inspirational cards, etc. .
And while it may look easy to some, the time it takes to create, to design packaging, to posting articles about it, etc. it can be overwhelming. And for me it is!
When I hear a few choice words (and it happens once in awhile) from people who don’t understand, it reminds me of that famous anonymous quote about modern art:
“Modern Art = I could do that, …but you didn’t!”
It can be very difficult to have people judge your work repeatedly, day in and day out. Yet I often explain that my store offers products so they too, can create and heal themselves (in my particular case). And I often add, “Nothing that I am doing is anything ‘new’ but rather herbology, the art of apothecary and eating foods to heal has been around for centuries etc.”
I find by being my most authentic self helps thwart those whose negative comments can sting, if they say I can make that! I encourage them… I show them the raw goods I use to make my products…But when they when they realize the associated costs they see how the finished product is actually more affordable despite its high price.
Running your own business whether it be a street fair, a one day craft fair, an Etsy shop, or a physical store is always demanding. Doing ‘recon’ work is a must. Learn what others in your field are doing and how they price their products. Understanding the true value of your product is as important as knowing who your customer is. Who are you creating for? These will help lesson comments from people who don’t know any better.
I don’t get this too often, but occasionally I get something similar when it comes to the price of my pieces. My goal is to make every interaction a positive one, for myself and anyone else involved. I’m much more concerned with enjoying what I do than making a mint off it. I have had many repeat patrons whom I established relationships with by offering tips on the pens/paper I use, or methods for online marketing, etc.
A positive experience is a win, regardless of the cash exchanged.
Guilty as charged. I go to craft fairs for inspiration. It never occurred to me that would be offensive. I am a creative kindred spirit. I have so many people tell me they envy my creativity because they can’t do what I do. We also own a cleaning business and are well aware that people hire us because they don’t want to clean, not because they can’t clean. I know not everyone is my target market.
In my many years of working in the craft sector, shops and event managing, when someone says ‘i can make that’ I instantly say ‘ isn’t that great, why not bring it into the shop/fair for others to see and maybe buy’ thats the last I hear about them, nobody has ever come back to me. All mouth but no action!!
People saying “I could make that” tells me that they really like my product. It means they think it’s clever. As someone who got into the crafting business by saying the exact same thing, I know how much money I’ve spent on tools and supplies, the hours spent researching suppliers and techniques, all the failed attempts until you finally get it right, and even the space sacrificed in the house to store everything! Personally, I try to take it as a compliment, because I know that most actually won’t, the majority who try it will fail, and the rest will get sticker shock upon seeing how much the supplies cost at the craft store!
I’d say, “Cool, lemme know how it turns out.” Or, “You are paying for MY time and talent , not your own” (if they don’t like my prices)
We are driving to a show right now and enjoy reading everyone’s response. After 15 years in this business our response is simple….You can make something, but you can’t make that.
If I ever do any shows, I always take a piece to sew when there, stops me being bored.
Prospective customers then say…..Oh …do you make them ? ….yes I reply… all these ..indicating the stand .. are my creations. Wow, they go and walk away with a card.
However as it’s mostly custom made to colour for specific events, converting the wow into sales from such shows is not cost effective, so I only do a few. I do post photos of the work in progress on my facebook page, so people can see how its done. I have yet to reach the right platform for my work, am still learning and have to fit it in with full time work, so for me,, the “I could make that” is rare, as materials to make one piece ( without wooden blocks) cost more than it costs in “Debenhams”. I do get repeat customers and referrals from previous customers so it works for me.
What about actually, at your fairs, selling a mini ‘beginner’ kit (if possible). Then you could 1, monetise on the fact they have said this with a great ‘why don’t u then? With my fab starter kit’ and 2, know they will be back next year to buy a finished piece (with every likelihood their starter kit is still sitting in the corner of a cupboard at their home!). Just an idea?
I make quilts and sewn items. I was at a show recently when a woman walked into my booth and said “You made these?” I said yes. She said ” I could do it too, if I got off my fat a$$.” I said, “Well, if you decide to try, please keep my store in mind. I also sell fabric online.”
A good friend who overheard was shocked at her comment, but very proud of my reply. I felt insulted by her comment, but kept quiet. She can’t do what I do as well as I do it. My combinations of fabric and design, and my hand-guided quilting is different than anyone else’s . It’s like a signature. Unless someone practices for hours and years, they won’t be able to copy me, and by then the fabrics I’ve used will no longer be in print and available. I realized later that she never will, but she probably won’t be a customer, either. That’s fine, if she wants a Walmart quilt. She’ll never know the pleasure of sleeping under one made with love and with my heart stitched into it. It’s her loss.
In the meantime, I have many repeat customers who love my quilts., including people in England and Germany. I know someone somewhere will find something I’ve done, purchase it, and treasure it. In the meantime, I love doing what I do.
Others who say, “I’ve always wanted to learn” I offer lessons. I give my card and often explain the hours put into a project, and that it’s fun and easier than they think.
I COULD make a quilt like yours…but it would take me the good part of a year and I don’t know that I’d have much left of my hair (after pulling it all out because I had to sew and unpick, sew and unpick…) I think that there are three kinds of people who say “I could make that”. The first kind is really saying, “Boy, I would love the make that myself …..but the truth is that I’m too busy, don’t have the stuff, can’t put in the effort…and so on”. They are the wishful thinkers who long to be able to be creative or have time for it- you could talk them into buying your quilt because they really DO want it deep down. The second kind of person is the multi-crafter like me, who is really just pleased to see something beautiful that they think they may be able to do themselves, maybe one day…but not right here, or right now, or maybe not ever because they are far too busy with their own crafting endeavours, and this kind is really just saying that your stuff inspires them, and they really like the idea and your creativity- you could make a sale from them too, because they value the creativity, feel inspired by it and would love to be able to make it themselves, but truth be known, won’t get around to it- but would really love to have it. The third kind looks down their nose at you says,”Oh, I could make THAT” as though it were nothing special, something that THEY could just whip up in a minute flat…and that kind of person, you just have to smile at and feel sorry for, because they aren’t creative at all….and life without creativity? Well, it’s not life, is it. I love buying things (from other crafters) that I know I could probably teach myself to do….EVENTUALLY….because I have it NOW, and without all my effort, and it’s what I want and I appreciate all the time and effort that someone else has done to make me happy :) and it’s kind of like having a sandwich for lunch- it always tastes just that little bit better when someone else makes it for you.
“I’m in the business of inspiration not imitation. “
As a potter I am more likely to hear “I did pottery in grade school” to which I smile and respond with “How fun. Do you still have the pieces you made?”. In the beginning it was difficult, and honestly still is some days, to not hear “I made pottery when I was a child therefor you are no more skilled than a child.” That’s clearly not true. Making pottery had an impression on them and once I engage them, ask what they made, explain the differences in techniques, often it turns into a sale.
On the rare occasion someone mentions they can make it, I let them know I’d love to see their version since everyone has a different interpretation. No one has shared, so far. Grin. What I do is quite labor intensive and requires tens of thousands of dollars worth of studio equipment and supplies.
If a potter, or hobby potter says they could make it, they usually ask me to clarify my techniques. Most of the time I’m willing to do a quick demo (if I have supplies on hand) or share a tutorial with them so they can try it themselves. Lord knows it isn’t going to look like mine, so why not keep it positive? I usually get a sale out of it.
Love your article, I’ve experienced this but have always tried to turn it into a positive experience. I respond with “There is no machine work, all the holes are hand punched, then I hand sew them, it takes about 15 hours to complete one mask, start to finish, and there are some mornings when my hands don’t function.” at this point they are opening and closing their hands at the thought of all of the work. Then I say, “if your interested in learning I’m happy to teach you how to create your own, you’ll need a tool like this…” and I hand them my super heavy duty leather punchers, the tool itself weighs about 3 pounds and give them a scrap of leather to punch, most can’t even make a dent in the leather, then I show them how easily I do it. Most people then reflect on their comment and offer “Wow, there is no way I can do that.” and I tell them “Yes you can, it just takes a lot of practice” Just to note, not even my hubby can punch a hole one handed :D Peace and happiness to you all.
I get this when I am at a booth, and when I am on the other side of the booth…..After some time, I found that when I was saying I could make that, it was a way of talking myself out of making a purchase, because I was not “good enough”.
I have started to get to the point where I say, you know what? I can make that myself, but this one is here, now, and I like it.
I used to get so hurt by the “I could make that”. Then I started doing patterns, tutorials, and streaming on Twitch’s creative channel. Now it’s just an opening for a different kind of sale or to get more viewers.
En mi caso te hablare de un caso real que me paso.
En mi puesto pasaba mucha gente y un señor me pregunto si eso era la famosa arcilla polimerica que el había visto en YouTube. Que le parecía un material muy interesante, fui muy amable y estuve respondiendo a todas sus preguntas como siempre lo hago, da igual si explico 40 veces que es la arcilla polimerica. Paso por mi parada varias veces y preguntando. Al final un dia me dice que va a comprarlos materiales para probar. Le estoy dando unas recomendaciones sobre herramientas y me dice : ” Ahhhh no yo se lo que voy a hacer porque tu trabajo es muy algo que hace todo el mundo y yo tengo ideas mejores “. Decidi no darle mas consejos y callarme. Mi trabajo no es básico precisamente y para muestra mi blog… mi trabajo habla por mi (una chica inglesa me dijo que ella trabajaba la arcilla polimerica en ese mismo puesto y me dijo que era muy bueno) . A la semana el señor volvió y no me dijo nada solo miraba y cogia mis piezas y se las acercaba a los ojos fijándose en los detalles. Mi trabajo hablo por mi y desde entonces no trato de convencer a nadie. Si quiere intentarlo adelante. Tal vez tengan un genio creativo dentro, si es asi me alegrare mucho. Pero el arte interior hay que trabajarlo mucho.
I encourage them to have a go.
Just as often I get ‘I wish I could do that but……I haven’t got the patience or either you’re born with talent or you’re not. .. etc I tell them I run classes and sometimes they join.
Sometimes I think people want to have a look but don’t want to buy so they come up with a reason eg I could make it myself, I haven’t got money with me or they pick a painting already sold and say that’s the one they would have chosen.
I actually think this to myself a lot however I wouldn’t say it to someone :)
Most of the time though I will buy it off the person who makes it, mainly because I don’t have the materials to make it and would have to sorce them. I don’t have the time to make it as I am busy making my own things and also if someone else already makes it then it is just as easy to buy directly from them :)
A number of years ago, working a particularly slow craft show, I was working on a project to pass the time (also a great way to strike up conversations). A woman stopped, asked what I was doing, I showed her, gave a fairly simple explanation, told her I teach, and she took my card & moved on. The artist next to me nearly busted a gasket thinking I had given away “my secrets”.
Several weeks later, the woman called me. Apologized that she had “googled” what I was making, purchased a very expensive kit, and could not figure it out. Would I be willing to come to her house and do a private class? Turns out, her very expensive kit was (intentionally?) missing several key steps. She learned that the technique wasn’t so easy and now has a better appreciation of the craft. We had a lovely afternoon, and are still friends!
Thank you so much for this fantastic post! I participate in a handful a shows every year and this is one of the most discouraging things for vendors. I make recycled pieces so everyone seems to think they can just find the ‘junk’ I do and make whatever… Which in theory is totally right! What I like to do is remind them (gently) about the time, on top of the material that goes into it. Sure you can find a typewriter and take it apart, but are you really going to? Do you have the tools? What happens to the rest of the typewriter when you’re done?
It’s so hard to get over this hump when you’re out there in front of people grinning nervously, but I think you say it best by saying leave them smiling with a sense of empowerment!
It’s too bad you didn’t know my dad. He had Alzheimer’s and his favorite “hobby” was having me pick up an old typewriter at a thrift shop so he could methodically dismantle it. He would sort all of the pieces into plastic cups as he took each one off. If I offered to help with a tight piece, he would say,”I got it!”, with pure delight in his voice and eyes.
I crochet and when I hear this, I share where I got the pattern (if I used one) and offer to help them learn. Though often I hear more such and such (like my grandma) can make me one. I just smile and say if such and such want more info on said project have them get a hold of me. Than hand them a business card.
I am a face/body painter, crocheter of toys, knitter of scarves, painter of fans and parasols and anything else that holds still. I’ve done ceramic and beading, I’ve played with other crafts and I have thought this phrase myself from time to time. And I have fielded it. The answer I give is “Great! Then you know how much love and care goes into one of these. I bet your family will love your gift to them!” They either hem n haw and wander off or a parfner/friend will tease them about the unfinished projects they already have. Most wander away, but a few who admit their procraftination foibles will grin and buy. To ‘use as a pattern’ most likely. For the ones who give me the wistful, ‘I wish I could do this,,,’ I encourage You Tube. There is a video for darn near everything you want to learn.
Haters gonna hate
And makers gonna make
I’m just gonna shake shake shake.
It’s often men who criticize my 3d printed jewelry, balking at the price. I remind them that 3d printed jewelry must be priced for profit and I pay my bills and mortgage with my sales. There are many 3d printing hobbyists out there and they practically give their work away. It’s insulting, really, that they would think they could make what I make.
When they ask what kind of machine I have or what software I use, when I reply with solid, technical answers, they usually can’t follow and it really weeds out the enthusiasts from the serious professionals. The hobbies to will never get it, the professionals totally do.
I was quite intrigued reading all the responses & have been there along with these other crafters.
Yeah! Anyone who’s done craft shows can definitely relate to this!
Yes! You can! I have classes – here is my card. You can learn to spin, knit, crochet, weave – whatever your heart desires. Call me! I’d be delighted to teach you!
I spin yarn, dye fiber and sell hand made items like hats, scarves, bags etc. I hear I can make that and usually ignore it. I feel like they like the design enough to imitate it. That is a positive. More often I hear “I can buy that, hat at Wal mart for $3.00”. I try to explain that this is hand spun, hand dyed wool and though they can buy a hat for a low price, it will not be wool, and will not be unique as all mine are designed by me and each is done with out a pattern. I like the idea of a tag saying how many hours of actual work went into an item, and the years of experience to make it look easy.
oh man. you are a true master. no, they can NOT buy it at walmart. heck, you can’t even get decent yarn most times at big craft stores…not to mention the muscle memory and time it takes to turn it into a garment. plastic yarn hat at walmart that will scratch up their forehead and give them dandruff and stinky hair! ew!
I am a seller of American hand crafts & very protective of my wonderful artists. My standard answer for that comment is ..”.But, will you?”smiling all the while…we all chuckle and they usually respond “probably not”
I often will liken it to cooking…I’m a damn good cook too…but I don’t wanna learn to make sushi or Indian food. I like the mystique and having the treat of going out for it. I don’t want to invest in the specialty tools and spices for Indian – I can go get it for any range of price and not do the dishes to boot!
I don’t want to learn to felt wool – there are women I can purchase from that have mastered that task. Ditto polymer clay! Give me any fabric and my machines, and I can make a custom garment or a lovely quilt. The rest…I bow to you!
I have seen this type of comment on a pair of my barefoot sandals posted to Pinterest , and I responded by telling them that I would love for them to share a picture when they finished recreating my design.
Great article! As a crafter myself this runs through my head a lot. I take pride in my skill and when I truly honk I could make something I probably could have a half decent go. Many commenters are right though, I don’t go home and try to make the thing, because I don’t really want it that badly. It’s just me giving myself an affirmation of my skills, and partly thinking why didn’t I think of that lol. So keep in mind the people saying that to you probably aren’t your de,I graphic or potential customers in the first place!
I agree. I have to say that when my sister and I go to craft fairs we agree beforehand to not say,”Oh, isn’t that cute” and “I could make that”. (I know we could but would we.). This agreement leaves much more time for compliments to the artist.
This is one of the reasons why for a time, I did not care for Craft Shows. In my area, it seems that patrons look to Craft Shows expecting yard sale prices.
The first time I heard someone say they could make my items I felt like someone punched me in the center of my stomach. I talked to my Dad about it and he said that there’s no way they would make time to do it. I felt a little better. I learned to have thicker skin!
Now when I hear them say it I respond with; “Wow! You crochet too?! I thought I was the only one!” Then they usually admit that they’ve only made a wash cloth or two,
I just smile and nod.
What wrong when someone says that. If they say they can make it then they most likely can. They are just admiring your work. Its something they love to do. They don’t force themselves to make something for profit and butch about it. If I hear that I would say……..Oh that’s wonderful to know someone else with my passion. Might make a friend.
I design and make high end teddy bears for a living and have for 30 years. I hear over and over again “I can do that” or ” You want how much for that?” or “Whose pattern do you use?” My response: “Here is the date of my next class. The mohair you need is 150.00 a yard and I will provide my pattern and everything else”
IF they take the class, 9 out of 10 never want to make another and they will buy one of mine. Most look at my work again, especially the costumed piece and then I explain how they can have a special piece created just for them. And many will buy the next time they see me
I make paper bead jewelry. Talk about EASY! And cheap. But I’m more than just a paper bead maker. I’m a designer. I’ve made some really nice pieces (and a few clunkers) over the years. I’ve taught several people how to make them.
But most people won’t take the time to figure out how to make the beads, match them to glass or ceramic beads, string them, add the clasp, etc.
I have to agree with them though; they are very easy to make.
I encourage them to hit youtube for videos on making paper beads and try it themselves.
I don’t want negative people in my hemisphere so this is a good way to get rid of them.
And if they’re nice and actually interested, I’ll point them to Youtube so they can succeed.
*I have no idea of there are videos on Youtube – I learned how to make them almost 45 years ago*
As a creative person, I am the “I can make that” person. With that being said, I wanted to share what I have learned that I wish I would have been told, seen, or heard at the show… #1: the cost of EVERYTHING and how difficult certain supplies are to get. I just made an ornament wreath I saw in a magazine after deciding I could make mine “cheaper” (because I have extra ornaments on hand) and better (because it was to plain and I could personalize it), and I wish I would have known more getting into this! To make this story short, 2 weeks, excessive hours spent finding supplies, letting things dry, failed attempts, etc. I now have a “better” ornament wreath… but with all my failed attempts, it was in no way cheaper! People need to realize that all supplies and tools add up… especially with failed attempts. And #2: the time! My craft specialty is rhubarb leaf bowls. To make a great bowl takes 1-2weeks… you cannot rush the process of some things you make! When I explain each step and the hours of drying time, even though it is drying time it shocks them. #3 offer them your card!!! After my failed attempts, I wish I could buy their product! Now that I make my own thing I understand prices, etc. but back when I was a “looker” understanding crafters prices for all supplies, time, skill, etc. would have helped me!
I’ve seen signs at craft fairs: “Yes, you can make it, but will you.”
My thought is to say “…but if you don’t get around to it, take one of my classes.”
Loved the article and the responses.
This post completely reminded me of a few months ago. Every year my little town has a craft fair with some really cute things. I had just bought a new house so I was a little tight on my budget but needed some decor, badly. EVERY time we walked into a booth and I said “Oh I love that!” and then had sticker shock, my friend would LOUDLY, right in front of the seller, say “You can totally make this. Take a picture. You can do that at home. Seriously. Take a picture.” She did this at every booth and I was seriously humiliated. I was so embarrassed of her attitude in front of all these vendors. Kudos to all of you for dealing with people like her…
Oh no! That does make it even more uncomfortable when it’s your friend. How do you go about it? Do you tell her? Or let it be? She probably doesn’t realize what her words mean to the person on the other side of the table.
I sell vintage items, but often stencil, decoupage or transfer images onto old pots, planters, toolboxes, etc.
When people say that in my booth, my best response is, “Oh, are you a crafter, too?”
It gets people talking and sometimes even buying!
Surprisingly, (or not) the answer to my question is usually, “Well, no … Not really, but …”
I own a brick and mortar that represents over 50 artists. I have a few patented lines for those types of comments. Anything negative to do with pricing or style, I simply respond: well, it’s not for everyone. And smile. Let them browse and bitch. When they say they could make it, I make a joke and say: you could, but wil you? Hehe I’ve made a few sales with that response.
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I LOVE your responses! Thank you for sharing and I hope other readers will use your suggestions at their next event.
P.S. Great range and variety of handmade products in your shop. You obviously do a fantastic job curating amazing work!
Thank you so much for this post xo
I was googling this morning, one of my items went viral and a few people posted the ol’ “I’ll make one!”….
My reply, through gritted teeth (I’m not the best with politesse when it’s undue): “They’re so fun to make ❤ If you make one and you post it, could you tag it #_______® so I can see? ????????”
Perfectly passive polite lol!
That was perfect, Suzanne!
I hope you get some traffic and sales from going viral!
I make greeting cards using Spirograph. I’ve had parents tell a child “you could make that”, at which point I begin explaining what I did. One of three things happens…. They buy :), their eyes glaze over and they walk away or I’ve inspired a creative child. Win, win, win!
I own a small local art gallery, I hear this all the time. Usually when they think I’m not paying attention. I pretend I didn’t hear it. If they ask to take a picture to use as a reference I ask them not to take it in respect of the artists hard work and creativity. I have had one lady buy something just to take apart and use as a pattern. My Husband on the other hand is the worst! He finds something he likes in every craft store or art gallery I drag him in, and we have a “hey babe! you could make this! Maybe but I don’t have time” conversation each time. One trip I threatened to make him sit on the bench outside if he said it again…
The comment I get most often at a craft show is “how do you make it? Some are brazen enough to ask where I get my supplies and directions! If they are rude, smug and blunt than I have a very foggy memory. If they are kind I will give them the basics.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with someone thinking they could make it themselves. I’m one of those people. I love craft shows but I usually walk around and look at all the stuff and think about how I could make it. The trick is getting around to actually making it, though! Although I attended a headband party a few weeks ago and couldn’t bring myself to pay so much for a headband I knew I could make myself, so I challenged myself to do it and I did! I’ve now started making my own headbands and other hair pretties to sell. I was inspired by the mom who started her own headband business and now I’m starting mine. I hope one day I can inspire someone else to start something of their own.
I no longer do shows. I sell consignment through stores that specialize in artistmade. I can better spend my time MAKING.
But when I did, and I got the I-can-make-that, I responded with , “You are more then welcome to try”.
And when I got How-long-does-it-take, I say, “Several hours sourcing my fabric for inspiring combinations, 5+ hours of actually sewing, 4 years developing my design and 40 years of experience “
I use to work a boutique bakery making wedding and occasion cakes. Prices were $5+ per serving. I can’t tell you how many mother of the brides and grooms would say “it’s just flour and sugar.” If I ever get around to having my own bakery I am for sure going to have a sack of flour and sugar for sale for $15. Haha.
I have to admit I am a person that looks at booths for ideas. And there are a lot of things I could actually make. It’s how I made an $800 end grain cutting board after having to buy the wood, Sandpaper, planer, pipe clamps, router bit and wood burner I bought to “sign” my work. There was the 3 trips to the hardware store and Rockler (45 min away). It was an intricate design that
required multiple glue ups. And then the time. I could have bought the inspiration board on Etsy for $300.
I’d never dream of dissing someone’s work. But I’d be fibbing if I didn’t think to myself often “I could make that.”
I sell high quality gluten-free baked goods. When people tell me they could make it themselves, I often say, “I’m sure you could. But aren’t you glad that you don’t have to?” By the time they finished trying all the samples they’re in full agreement with me. :-)
I spent several years doing craft shows and have since taken time to find my own creativity and passion again. I made and sold candles and my favorite response to the “I could make that. All you do is melt the wax and add scent and color”. My typical response would be to ask a technical question like what ratio of fragrance to wax would you like to use? This would either shut them up or spark a conversation about what really went into making them.
Very good article. I’m facing some of these issues as well..
Hello, i think that i noticed you visited my website
thus i came to go back the prefer?.I am attempting to to find thins
to improve my website!I guess its good enough to use some oof your ideas!!
I am a fellow creative type, and probably have thought that, but would never say that to the vendor! I usually just compliment their work and keep moving… I have done my share of craft fairs as a vendor, but not with much success… I still create, though, and plan to make jewelry to sell on consignment… I will have to find my niche, though. I have had hordes of folks gushing over my work, but only a few sales when I sell. I think the venues just weren’t right for what I was selling.
I like to tell people to go on and spend $100 or so and then when they finish with their project to please donate their materials, I would like to buy them second hand at a thrift store.
I enjoyed reading that brilliant answers section a lot. Because, at some time I have also faced such problems.
Interesting, to say the least. I’m a vendor in Freeport, Bahamas and have had that said to me many times. I now know what my response will be next time somebody say that to me. I really like a lot of the replies.
When I began to sell my crochet items, I did have a comment posted on a FB post of a hat/scarf/mitten set. She didn’t say she could make it herself, she said she could get it at Walmart!!!!!!!! That was like a hot poker through my heart! I first gave her the business LOL “Walmart will never take your custom order, color combinations, and specific to you.” Then I got the I could make it myself. I then ended the conversation with a positive. “My goal is to do the best work in an art form that not many do or know about. So if my aspirations become your inspiration, then I have done my job!”
The handmade crafts for home are usually intended for the decoration or use of artifacts that are recyclable for artistic purposes. This is an art that is not only used by the children to enjoy the crafts but is often used by the adults. Over time, handcrafted articles in every aspect relating to decor and style have become very popular.
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I will say…please try making it once n feel the pleasure of every moment…only if you that much patience …coz it takes both time n interest….if you both than just try to make something n see it will give you immence happiness ……n happiness is contagious….give others n it will come back to you in bulk….that is why we sell our products even after seeing it grow in front of our own eyes….when we see that happy smile on our clients face we are happy too….try making it n feel the pleasure….krafty affair is not only selling handmade products but also inspiring…n spreading happiness ….you too be a part of it… most welcome in our world😀👍
I make handcrafted jewelry out of silver, copper and brass . I often am faced with people who think I have bought the components, i.e links in a chain, and simply put them together. When I explain that each piece was made from wire and a sheet of metal, I don’t usually hear “I can make that.” I have found that when you have a more expensive craft, it definitely helps to educate the customers on the work involved in making the piece. Have a display explaining your process and it will show customers the value of your products!
Thankyou For the information you shared. I love your points. I make handcraft gift for all the occasion. Do shop with us.
I work in an artisans co-op and had to respond to a customer when she remarked how lovely the display of earrings were but a bit “pricy”. I politely pointed out that the earrings she was admiring were sterling silver crafted with either Swarovski crystals or the artisans own glass beads that she created in her studio. It was then that she was able to appreciate the price tag.
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