Being a Handmade Entrepreneur: Advice from Sandra Oles of Oliver Green Belts
I began Oliver Green Belts about 10 years ago, believing that the public needed high quality, sophisticated, unusual and classic belts. I was right, now years later, still going strong, and I am still invigorated by creating exceptionally tailored belts. There are other hand made D-Ring Belts in the market, however, they haven’t become a brand, and are unmatched in quality, design and durability.
First word of advice is "make" your idea anyway, even if others are making similar items, because your individual stamp of sensibility, workmanship, and personality behind your brand is YOU which cannot be replicated.
Stick-to-itivness is probably the single most important element, as it takes time to build awareness, perfect your marketing strategy and to find your loyal client base.
Do not be afraid to approach retailers to carry your product. Match up accordingly, and understand that they are entrepreneurs as well, and you are essentially partners who are helping one another to be prosperous.
What is handmade? Everything is hand-made, even if it’s made in China, however, in a factory setting, each person has their task and doesn’t deviate from it, creating a disassociation from the product’s final outcome. When someone makes their products alone, handmade is incredibly important due to the personal investment, financial commitment to reduce waste, and the overall sense of achievement and pride associated with your product. Handmade items tend to be better and more carefully crafted, unique and special.
I find it very satisfying when a customer buys one of my belts, I know I made it, and it’s always marvelous when I get to be out in the field and get positive emotional reinforcement and quality feedback from my regular clients and various people attending these events, craft shows and small specialty boutique bazaars. Being in front of your customer is invaluable and listening to them sell your products to newbies in your tent, or as I like to call it, my mobile store keeps me fueled for the not so busy months within my seasonal cycle. This type of direct selling also creates a great opportunity to interact with and talk to your clients, and maybe obtaining new ideas as a result.
You will spend long hours creating, producing, or manufacturing your product and quite often, alone. It’s helpful to love what you do, as the hours will snap by quickly, and you will have found a great sense of achievement. Physical evidence such as mounting product is a satisfying visual reward. Being a sense of completion “high” seeking person, this works very well for me, as well as vacuuming my home, (hahahaha) as I am results oriented.
If you have an idea, can visualize yourself having fun while making something, you might want to consider creating a business out of your hobby or love of craft. I am incredibly happy to have created such a fun, inspiring, and creative business.
I am also grateful for having an interesting sensibility that satisfies all different styles of consumers. I enjoy mixing a couple or even a few different looks within one outfit. A belt is such a great way to express yourself without fully committing. It gives the onlooker a glimpse into one of the many facets of your effervescent personality, which is why one should choose a belt that feels right for them and them only.