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  • Advice from all you experienced crafters out there

    Hi all,
    I was wondering if it is all worthwhile setting up in business and trying to make a living out of it?
    Here's my story....
    I've just finished a foundation degree in Applied Arts but am now debating on whether or not I can afford to go on and the 3rd Year top up to get a BA Hons degree in Applied Arts. So far I've had to pay my own uni tuition fees so as you can imagine things have been tight.
    First of all does having that BA Hons make much of a difference to my career? and can you make much money setting up in business in making jewellery and ceramic goods?
    I am just at that point now where my head is a bit frazzled and don't know what to do. £3400 is a lot of money just to get the degree.
    I feel like I've learnt a lot and feel that I can go on ahead on my own. I already supply 2 small businesses in my area and have set up my own website. But can I seriously make a decent living out of it? Are people spending money on craft items?
    I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this and would love to hear what other people have done with themselves.
    Website; www.hannimaydesigns.co.uk
    Blog; www.hannimaydesigns.blogspot.com
    Folksy; www.folksy.com/shops/HanniMayDesigns

  • #2
    For what its worth I would advise you to finish your course.Its a tough world out there and it seems a shame to get so far but not complete. Why not try to build your business alongside your studying so that when you have graduated you can put more time and energy into pushing it forward.Good luck with whatever you decide.
    www.littlebead.blogspot.com
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    • #3
      With my careers adviser hat on I'd be inclined to agree with Janet as a full degree opens the door to so many other things in the future - you'd kick yourself if a few years down the line you see the ideal job or course which required a degree and you hadn't done it.

      Some colleges/uni's offer the top up year part-time over 2 years - if yours does then this would help split the tuition fees so it's not such a large chunk in one go plus you'd have more 'craft' time to build up your business alongside getting your degree.

      Alternatively, have you spoken to your course tutor about the possibility of deferring your top up year so you could try out the 'real' world in the knowledge that you could go back to your degree after a year or two if necessary?
      Visit Natty Netty for a huge selection of Iris Folding supplies

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      • #4
        I fully understand your comments and those thoughts had crossed my mind. I started uni with full intentions of going on to do the 3rd year. But money has been so tight and I'm already in debt with student loans and overdraft that I just don't know if I could get through another year.
        My poor mum has been so understanding and has helped me out whenever she can and I work 25 hours a week to pay for materials, car etc. I just wanted to see if people are actually making a living from their crafting.
        I realise that it can be very hard work but rewarding at the same time. Think I'm in a bit of a catch 22 situation.

        I think my plan is to see how far I can get with my own business, fairs etc over the next couple of months and see how much money I can raise before I decide if I go back in September.
        Website; www.hannimaydesigns.co.uk
        Blog; www.hannimaydesigns.blogspot.com
        Folksy; www.folksy.com/shops/HanniMayDesigns

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        • #5
          I am afraid I agree with the others hon, it is best to finish your degree but I can image how poor you must be feeling now! Saying that though, I graduated in fashion and apart from the year after I left I havn't had a job in it since, although i am now finding it coming in handy with my craft. I do believe it has helped me get where I am with work though.

          I heard the diplomas had changed now or was that just in fashion? After I had done mine they said they were scrapping it in favour of more A-levels, as employers preferred those? I think diplomas are particularly good for spe******ing in a subject, so I hope not.

          Whatever you decide hon, good luck, if you really want it, it will happen x
          Dee x
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          • #6
            A good education is never a waste of time. At the end you will have a good qualification, be more able to make a rational decision regarding crafting and if all else fails, have your qualification to fall back on. It also depends on whether you can manage another year of studying, and crafting to finance it and not a lot of sleep doesn't it.
            Carol
            God helps them that help themselves.

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            • #7
              The thing with foundation courses is that you work with a bit of everything. I did a BA Hons degree in Applied Arts, graduated last year, and I would say its the best start and thing to have gained for my business.

              On an Applied Arts degree you are able to special ise in one certain craft, so you can develop your skills and techniques much more, just in this one area. 3 years is a long time and you might be surprised at all the other things you will learn and pick up from the course. Being surrounded by other people on the course all doing different crafts will be such an inspiration for you. Also talking to others in the same situation, helping each other etc. You will get to hear from graduates that should do a presentation about their businesses, and explain how they got to where they are.

              On the degree course you will also learn a lot about business, I did a module called Professional Practice and this helped so much in terms of setting up a craft business. You can also have a student business mentor to help you.

              I would definitley not rule the BA Hons Applied Arts out, after all you will be able to have letters after your name!!

              Which uni are you thinking about doing the degree course at?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Daniella141 View Post
                Hi all,
                I was wondering if it is all worthwhile setting up in business and trying to make a living out of it?
                Here's my story....
                I've just finished a foundation degree in Applied Arts but am now debating on whether or not I can afford to go on and the 3rd Year top up to get a BA Hons degree in Applied Arts. So far I've had to pay my own uni tuition fees so as you can imagine things have been tight.
                First of all does having that BA Hons make much of a difference to my career? and can you make much money setting up in business in making jewellery and ceramic goods?
                I am just at that point now where my head is a bit frazzled and don't know what to do. £3400 is a lot of money just to get the degree.
                I feel like I've learnt a lot and feel that I can go on ahead on my own. I already supply 2 small businesses in my area and have set up my own website. But can I seriously make a decent living out of it? Are people spending money on craft items?
                I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this and would love to hear what other people have done with themselves.
                There are a few threads on here about what it takes to make a go of a craft as a business.. use the search function to find them.. you should find lots and lots of info about what is really involved.. Also look up the threads on pricing of goods.. to make a "proper" living, you will need to sell for top prices.. as a significant part of your working week will be taken up by running a business, not crafting your wares.

                You will be able to access a range of free advice, and probably some start up funding too - "Princes Trust" if you are young enough, and/or business link through your local council.. all are worth getting in contact with before making any major decision.

                As for your education, I also agree you have little option but to complete - unfinished is the same as unstarted!! so dont waste the time and money you have already invested!!

                One other thing that should "encourage" you to continue is that by having a decent qualification, you will perhaps find it easier to promote your work at a commercial price.. customers will have a better perception of you, and should be willing to pay a little more as a result...

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                • #9
                  I'd say finish the BA. I did it, my husband did it, my two older sons did it and we all got jobs off the back of the qualifications and eventually manouvered ourselves into jobs we love.
                  You don't pay the student loan back until you start getting a decent wage so in effect you can put that worry to one side.
                  The overdraft is more frightening (to me, I've never gone near one - but my husband and sons seem to have juggled theirs well).
                  We've all been through fingernail biting times but all came through and are OK at the moment.
                  My youngest son is going through the mill of waiting for exam results, burdoned with debt and overdraft and immerging into a dodgey job's market so my thoughts are with you.
                  Thinking about that last remark - you might be better going back to uni as this year's graduates are predicted a rough time and it's said next year's graduates will take the jobs when things pick up economically.
                  all the best with whatever you decide.
                  AnnieAnna

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                  • #10
                    Hi Guys,
                    I really appreciate all of your thoughts on my predicament. Its nice to hear some thoughts from others outside of my situation, rather than friends or family.
                    I did do Professional practise during my last 2 years doing the foundation degree so have learned all about trade shows, how to run a business's etc so that has been really helpful. Skills wise I have also learnt so much. I thought that I would spe******e in Textiles when I first started but now I love jewellery and ceramics. Strange as I didn't like either when I first started.
                    As I don't have funding for my tuition fees my student loan basically has gone straight to the college to pay for my fees the last two years. The same will apply for my final year.
                    I will see how I am financially in Sept before I decide but as someone mentioned earlier I can always defer for a year or two then go back and complete my 3rd year to get the BA Hons.
                    Thanks to all who have replied so far.

                    xxxxxxxx
                    Website; www.hannimaydesigns.co.uk
                    Blog; www.hannimaydesigns.blogspot.com
                    Folksy; www.folksy.com/shops/HanniMayDesigns

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Daniella141 View Post
                      Hi all,
                      I was wondering if it is all worthwhile setting up in business and trying to make a living out of it?
                      Here's my story....
                      I've just finished a foundation degree in Applied Arts but am now debating on whether or not I can afford to go on and the 3rd Year top up to get a BA Hons degree in Applied Arts. So far I've had to pay my own uni tuition fees so as you can imagine things have been tight.
                      First of all does having that BA Hons make much of a difference to my career? and can you make much money setting up in business in making jewellery and ceramic goods?
                      I am just at that point now where my head is a bit frazzled and don't know what to do. £3400 is a lot of money just to get the degree.
                      I feel like I've learnt a lot and feel that I can go on ahead on my own. I already supply 2 small businesses in my area and have set up my own website. But can I seriously make a decent living out of it? Are people spending money on craft items?
                      I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this and would love to hear what other people have done with themselves.
                      Absolutely you can make a living from crafts. It takes time - and usually money - to set up properly though. It also needs to be thought through very carefully from a business angle. Also, while we may be in a recession now, and people may be spending less, we won't always be.

                      Should you go on and get your degree? Absolutely, yes yes yes. It is the single most important thing. You will get by without it, you may even do well. But your degree will open doors you haven't even thought about yet.

                      You can use any spare time you have to play about with a business plan, research business models, ideas, marketing angles, etc. The more time you put into planning and research, the more successful you are likely to be. You've started already, supplying businesses and having a website.

                      Also consider a part-time job alongside your business for the first couple of years. Part-time adult ed teaching pays about £20 per hour - and your degree will open doors there for you, even if they want you to do a Cert Ed or C&G teaching qual as well (part-time). Teaching adults is a fabulous back-up to a business, financially-speaking. It also gets you out there in the community and can help promote your business.

                      I know how it feels financially, but I promise you it's but a short time in your life - I turned my back on a degree, and regretted it ever since. I went back to education in my thirties, and got a teaching qual and then degree equivalent. I'm not sure how I'd've managed without them. More so than ever now, qualifications open doors.

                      Good luck with whatever decision you make - you will get where you want to be!!!
                      digital stamps for cardmakers: http://www.handmadeharbour.co.uk
                      blog: http://handmadeharbour.blogspot.com
                      hand painted personalised plaques, clocks, canvases, etc: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk
                      blog: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk/blog

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                      • #12
                        I've been slogging away at it for four years and, until recently, was working full-time as well...so, in all honesty, the chances of you being in a really good financial position within months is pretty remote...

                        You'll need to invest in your business (both time and money) and probably won't see a return on that investment for a few years - so you'll still be in debt. And, whereas the loans you'll get to continue your studies are easy to get and at a low interest rate, the loans you'll be able to get as a sole trader (if you can even get one these days) will be at a very high interest rate and any sniff that you're not making a good profit will see your creditors trying to recoup thier losses...unless you can borrow from friends and family and that's a recipe for disaster...

                        My best advice is to try and run your business alongside your studies and then make a decision when you've finished your course...perhpas alongside some part-time work?

                        As to whether people are spending money on Craft Items - yes I think they are. I sell craft kits and my business is well up on previous years - I think because people are looking for things to do at home and also to make rather than to buy the end product...

                        HTH

                        Jude
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                        • #13
                          Re: "I will see how I am financially in Sept before I decide but as someone mentioned earlier I can always defer for a year or two then go back and complete my 3rd year to get the BA Hons. "

                          That isn't a bad idea. If you can get a job in that 'gap' year and save enough to pay off debts and have enough for fees you'll have several things going for you the other students won't have.
                          Financial reassurance.
                          Maturity.
                          A certainty this really is what you want to do.
                          A sense that time is flowing through your fingers and you must not waste a moment of it.
                          You'll have clear goals and be going straight for them.
                          You'll have work experience,
                          and the gap year job will probably have been totally boring so you'll know what you DON'T want to do.
                          It'll give you a clarity of purpose and dertermination younger students can lack.
                          So you will be more go getting and likely to succeed where they might be more laid back.

                          I'm just saying this because it's what my middle son did and the difference between his attitude and the more normal aged student was quite striking.
                          (And he's succeeding where they are still floundering.)

                          AnnieAnna

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