>> Monday, October 12, 2009
For a long time now, I've been wanting to get into the fiber business. I don't consider knitting and spinning to be hobbies; they are an integral part of who I am. Knitting and spinning are, to me, a lifestyle. I'd like to be able to live more of my life in those fields. I have thousands of ideas, things I want to do, try, create. I bounce many of my ideas off of my husband who is always supportive and encouraging. He knows that some day, ultimately, I'd like to have my own yarn and fiber shop. I'd like to get up each morning and spend the day doing what I love and sharing my love of all things fibery with others. I'd like to teach classes in the evening. Have a shop cat. Have an afterschool group of kids who learn to knit and donate their items to charities. In my head, the possibilities are endless.
But like the characters in Eugene O'Niell's play "The Iceman Cometh," I'm afraid that most of my dreams are just that - dreams. The pipe dreams that his characters are forced to confront but shy away from instead of grasping. The great "what-ifs" of life. As long as the idea stays in my head, I can never fail. I can keep dreaming about the yarn shop I want, making it better and grander than ever.
Recent events in my life have, however, forced me to reconsider. To wonder if maybe taking the risk is less dangerous than staying where I am now. Because as my life is now, I am professionally unhappy. I'm questioning my career choice for the first time, wondering if I really want to be a teacher forever. The more I think about it, the more my answer is no.
The problem is that I know NOTHING about owning and operating a business. I have never taken a business class, have no friends that own their own business, and am afraid to risk everything and fail due to ignorance. It's all just so overwhelming!
There are a few things I know that I can do. I can dye fiber and yarn and sell it online. I can start with just an internet presence, and if someday it expands, I can move to a brick & mortar location later. I can start small and get all my puzzle pieces lined up. If I start on the edge, the middle section might be easier.
So I have been spending a lot of time online looking at how to start a business. What do I have to have to do even a tiny bit? I want to have all the legal stuff correct from the beginning so it's easier later on. The first thing I did was google my potential business name. I went to the Trademark and Registration depts. and searched their databases. I found nothing with my proposed company name. I will have to trademark it myself right off, but I don't know if that will cost money so for now I'm holding off. The name? Highland Handmades.
The next thing I did was totally free and super easy. I filed for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS. I can now purchase yarn and fiber *wholesale*. Granted, I don't have the $500 I need to purchase a bump of undyed fiber, but since I'm all about the baby steps, I'll worry about that later.
The next thing I have to do is get a Seller's Certificate. In order to do that, I need to get a tax number. That comes from the State of Maine, and I'll be working on that tomorrow. As I understand it, once I get my Seller's Certificate, I am legal to sell in the State of Maine. No idea if this will cost me money.
Once I'm all legal and stuff, I need to work on increasing my inventory. I'll be selling from Etsy.com, and many sellers on Etsy say you should start with 6-12 items for sale in your shop, and should update with new items often. I have two items so far, and will probably do a third one today, but will have to wait until the end of the month to get the fiber shipment I need for the rest. I will spend some time looking for yarn to pick up in the interim, so I can sell some of that, too.
I am definitely lucky that my friends on Plurk have helped me with much of this. They are infinitely supportive and for that, I love them dearly. Coby, Jenna, and Brandy especially. They are fiber artists in their own right and for them to believe in me means the world.
I will keep you updated as I journey towards the life I've always wanted. Wish me luck!