Artsy Options

Small Business

I’m an art history major getting ready to graduate this coming May. I’m trying to understand my options for what happens after. I already have a part-time hourly gig at an art studio, which also gives me some space to put together a workshop. I was basically contemplating the idea of designing and selling trinkets during the time I’m not working for the studio itself. The only problem is that I’ve never done anything like that before. Once I decide what to make and sell, I need to find distribution channels. I have to have all of these things figured out, otherwise, my parents will probably be livid with me. Are there free opportunities to merchandise products? What products would sell best? What are the legal steps to doing this?

The decision to start a fledgling business is never an easy one; running it successfully is even more challenging. That doesn’t make the endeavor impossible--only demanding. Writer Melinda Price at The Muse addresses the thought process often encountered by recent graduates preparing to make the plunge as entrepreneurs. Some of the recommendations apply to you, which is excellent news. The odds appear in your favor already.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that success relies exclusively on your odds, though. There’s a host of different pros and cons to becoming a young entrepreneur. It’s important to realize that much of the glamour behind startup culture has been sensationalized and, in certain cases, simply fabricated by influencers within the mass media. Ensure that you commit to the endeavor for the right reasons and manage your expectations accordingly.

The ability to produce handcrafted consumer goods is certainly an asset you can tap into profitably. Experts at Shopify published an informative list of 10 things to make and sell online. There’s no shortage of different product categories to explore. Given your access to an art studio’s resources and desire to run an effective workshop, some of these things might be easier for you than a traditional DIYer. For example, you could design blown glass products for tobacco or cannabis enthusiasts (e.g., “RooR Bongs”). Many of the most ornate pieces sell for several hundred, if not thousands, of dollars.

Thanks to the internet, there’s probably never been a better time to be a seller. Those familiar with the industry swear by Etsy but it’s not the only game in town to consider. Editors at Make Use Of outline 6 alternative ways to sell your crafts online and make money. It’s difficult to go wrong without trying one firsthand, but always take other users’ feedback into account before pulling the trigger.

The legal aspects of starting a business are relatively straightforward. The Department of Commerce typically has free resources available online for those that wish to learn more about the process. You will have to investigate the tax ramifications of selling products out-of-state, which is likely to happen with a digital storefront. Don’t hesitate to seek the advice of experts should you run into confusing aspects. Never underestimate the value of a brief consultation with a business lawyer.

“Only buy something that you’d be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years.” -- Warren Buffett

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