A craft business is perhaps one of the longest forms of trade. Craftsmen have been making things with their hands and selling their small-scale products before factories and machines came along and mass-produced almost everything.
Nowadays, these craftsmen often identify themselves as artisans. Since many of these craft-making skills are slowly disappearing, there is a new wave of appreciations for those who can make things by hand.
If crafting is your hobby, a craft business makes an excellent startup idea.
According to a study published in 2019, the worldwide market for Arts and Crafts is a expected to grow at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of roughly over the next five years. The number is expected to reach USD53100 mill in 2024 from USD38400 in 2019.
MADE51 work closely with social enterprises to support refugee artisans in producing craft products.
A craft business is not just about profit-making. For many social enterprises, a craft business is part of empowering and providing solution for the community.
Check out these 20 craft business ideas if you are looking into creative entrepreneurship:
Glassblowing is a technique that involves inflating molten glass into bubble with the aid of a blowpipe.
The most common objects made from glassblowing are table-glass, chandelier piece, paper weight and art sculpture.
When comes to a craft business, sometimes it is not necessary to have the skill yourself. You can seek local glassblowers and buy from them.
When Glassbaby, a multi-million glassblowing company was first started, they did not make their own product. Their glasses were made from glassblowers around Seattle city. From there, they then slowly opened up their own glassblowing studios and stores.
Now, they have more than 80 glassblowers crafting each an every product. The company even had Amazon founder Jeff Bezos on board as investors.
This craft business involves making any kinds of items from wood from furniture making, wood carving to carpentry.
Some people prefer uniqueness and individuality even when comes to their spaces. For them, there is no room for mass-produced furniture at their homes or offices. This is when a woodworking business comes in to cater this kind of need in the market.
Bintulu-based company Matahari Furnishings is an example of making business out of woodworking skill.
The company handcrafted all kinds of furniture such as baby cot, cabinet, bed, table and chair.
Another example of woodworking is woodturning. It is a craft using the wood lathe with hand-held tools to cut a shape that is symmetrical around the axis of rotation.
An artisan can use woodturning to make tool handles, candlesticks, egg cups, Christmas ornaments and hollow forms items such as bowls and plates.
Did you know that the Romans started to make candles since 500BC? Since then, the art of candle making have been developed independently across the world. The Chinese made their candles from whale fat during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).
We might not rely on candles like we used to because we now have electricity and light bulbs but it does not mean there is no market for it.
Author Peter Drucker once said, “Innovation is the specific instruments of entrepreneurship. The act that endows resources with a new capacity to create wealth.”
CandleLab+Co is a perfect example of candle making innovation. Using 100 per cent natural soy wax, the company makes creative designs of candles cater to different kinds of festivals in Malaysia. During Chinese New Year for instance, it offers scented candles in the shape of lokam.
Sewing is perhaps one of the most useful craft skill that everybody needs. It does not matter if you are not planning to open up a craft business, this skill still comes in handy when you need to sew a button.
Since it is a common skill, create something niche and different if you want to stand out as a business.
Erpha Ahdayani Othman used her sewing skills to create gowns for Silkstone Barbie dolls.
These are collectable items with collectors around the world are willing to money for their costumes.
If you want to turn crocheting into a craft business, you must first think of uncommon types of crochet products.
Instead of the usual blankets, hats or bags, how about giving amigurumi a try?
Amigurumi is a Japanese art of knitting or crocheting small, stuffed yarn creatures.
In 2006, amigurumi was one of the most popular items on Etsy, an online craft marketplace.
This Japanese craft is slowly gathering fans outside of Japan now. Tiny Rabbit Hole from Singapore made adorable stuffed animals using the art of amigurumi. Each product they handmade looked like an art piece on their own.
While humans have been using soap bars for cleaning for ages, they slowly became unpopular when shower gels came around.
Now, the craft of soap making is back again as people are slowly getting rid use of single-use plastic products such as shower gel bottles.
Most of these crafters even took soap to another level by making them in unique shapes and sizes.
Kuching-based social enterprise Crafter’s Studio for instance specialised in making soap bars looking like Malaysian desserts.
What made this business more interesting is that they work with drug rehab patients and local communities to improve their livelihood through soap making.
Here is an example of a successful craft business which was started with a knitting blog.
From 2008 to 2014, Christina Fagan-Pardy was knitting through her college days.
In the meantime, she started a knitting blog called shitthatiknit.com
In 2015, she quit her job to knit full-time. By 2016, her company production was outsourced to a team of women in Lima, Peru.
Now, her blog Sh*t That I Knit is a full-blown website selling knitting products such as wraps, earrings and beanies.
In the last couple of years, we started to see the resurgence of hand embroidery through social medias. Now we have embroidery artists sharing their crafts through social networking sites such as Instagram.
An example of an embroidery artist who took the craft to the next level is Sheena Liam. Some might remember her as the winner of the second season of Asia’s Next Top Model.
Liam let the threads fall freely from her hoop, turning them into locks of flowing hair. This gave an almost two-dimension effects to her embroidery.
Her innovative way of hand embroidering was like breath of fresh air to the art. Innovation is always the key to a successful craft business.
If you choose hand embroidering to start a craft business, be innovative like Liam. Create something new or reinvent something old in a new way.
If you cutting and pasting is your thing, then you might want to try decoupage. It is an art of decorating an object by gluing coloured paper cutouts onto it in combination with other decorative elements such as gold leaf.
Crafters can create 3D decoupage by cutting out elements of varying sizes from a series of identical images and layering them on top of each other.
Another style of this form of craft is pyramid decoupage. In pyramid decoupage, a series of identical images are cut into progressively smaller. Then the images are layered and fixed with adhesive foam spaces to create a pyramid effect.
Browsing through Etsy you can find thousands of decoupage items selling online.
Chopping board, tray, candle, box, card, bowl are just the few materials used for decoupage craft.
Speaking of cutting and gluing, here is another form of craft that could be turned into a business.
Did you know that there are people out there offering professional scrapbooking service?
You can hire them to create a scrapbook for you based on the photos and information you provide.
Charges vary depending on the time, size of the project and the cost of supplies.
If you already have fun keeping your own memories through scrapbooking, why not try to make money out of it?
The beauty of leather crafting is that there are so many things you can do. You can dye, paint, carve, stamp, mold, laser cut, perforate or used it for pyrography.
When it comes to handmade leather products, there are so many possibilities. From the common items such as bags, jewelry, watch straps to unconventional (but most profitable) ones like BDSM gear.
In the 1970s, macrame was so popular as wall hangings decorative and plant hangers.
By the early 1980s, it slowly fell out of fashion but recently, this craft began to gain its followers again.
There are many things to make with macrame like hammocks, bags, table cloths and jewelry.
Additionally, using macrame as a craft business has its own selling point. You can use only biodegradable cotton cord and you can already build your brand around this environmentally-friendly product.
In the United Kingdom, the flower and indoor plant market is worth £2.2billion and 36 per cent of adults there prefer gardening as one of their favourite pastimes.
Furthermore, hanging houseplants has becoming the latest trend since it does not take so much space.
Making plant hangers using macrame is definitely a business venture that should be considered.
According to the Fall Fashion 2020 runways, the world of fashion is still obsessed with quilting.
From padded jackets to bags, fashion designers still pay homage to this classic craft.
There are so many types of quilting that one can tap into from hand quilting to machine quilting.
By sewing two or more layers of fabric together, quilting is used to make blanket, bed coverings and other variety of textile products.
Pottery is considered one of the oldest human inventions that originated before the Neolithic period.
It is a process of creating something using clay and other ceramic materials which are fired at high temperature.
There are three main types of pottery; earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.
Like any types of business, it is important to diversify your products and services.
If you are looking to tap into this craft business, do not just sell your product but offers pottery classes too.
You might also want to spice up your class by giving your students a chance to recreate the famous pottery wheel scene from Ghost (1990).
Do you know that during the Renaissance, French and Italian nuns and monks used paper filigree to decorate religious book covers?
Today, you do need to be a religious person to make paper filigree. This form of craft is made from using strips of paper that are rolled, shaped and glued together to create decorative designs.
It is commonly used to decorate greeting cards but paper filigree is also used to design abstract arts, pictures and miniatures.
The craft of making jewelry out of metal combined with precious stones has been around for many centuries.
While there are countless jewelry stores out there, there are always demands for hand-crafted, custom-made jewelry.
Then we have artisans who take the uncommon path of jewelry-making.
Speaking of unconventional, Kelly Lee made her jewelry using polymer clay looking like Malaysian foods. Who doesn’t want a pair soy sauce bottles or nasi lemak hanging from their ears, right?
When it comes to jewelry, beading has become increasingly popular. However, beading is not limited to one string bead after another to make necklace.
Artisans have been using beads to create handbags, coasters, hats, outfits and even painting for ages now.
There are plenty of beading techniques to master if you are looking to turn it into a craft business.
Besides stringing, one can use it in loom weaving, bead embroidery, bead crochet and bead knitting techniques.
For example, Ran & Nong Creations’s 3D beaded statement necklaces are the perfect illustration of intricate beadwork.
Although we have machines to make our textiles nowadays, fabric or cloth made through weaving is still very much in demand.
There is still a great appreciation for skillful artisans out there who take on or carry on this rare skill.
Across the world, there are many types of traditional weavings found in different culture.
The Iban people in Sarawak are known for their pua kumbu, the Malay people are known for their songket and the indigenous people of the Amazon basin weave their product using palm-bast.
As long as the quality is there, woven products such as scarf, rug and clothing will never go out of style.
Additionally, weaving is not limited to textiles. Some artisans turn to basket weaving to make a business out of this craft while others use it to help those who are in need.
For example, Penan Women Project focuses on helping the Penan women of Sarawak to earn regular incomes from crafting handmade bags using their traditional basket weaving technique.
The floral industry is growing all thanks to the ever-growing interest in flowers. It grows so much so that there are official training provided in floral design worldwide.
Furthermore, people are getting more creatives than they used too. We now even have money, beer, chocolate incorporated into flower bouquets.
No matter where you are in this world, we can find flowers for almost every important occasion throughout your life. People need flowers for their weddings, as gifts and also for funeral.
Speaking of gifts, Gem&Feather is an example of artisans who preserved real flowers that can last for years. It is perfect gift for those who do not want their flowers to wither.
By using a one to one ratio of epoxy resin and polyamine hardener, a crafter can make all kinds of wonders with resin casting.
But before that, make sure work in a well-ventilated area and always wear eye and hand protection.
Resin casting is primarily used for industrial prototypes and dentistry. However, there is a new wave of hobbyist trend where you’ll see people crafting resin into collectible toys, figurines, miniatures and even jewelry.