Sarah J. Bray is resident nation-builder at [&yet](http://andyet.com) and writer, teacher, and maker-of-side-projects at [sarahjbray.com](http://sarahjbray.com). She loves toast, idealism, and good people like you.
Kenna is an outspoken indie soap & cosmetics formulator, instructor, & saponification to success biz mentor. She’s addicted to caffeine & working at 3 am (because that’s when her three kidlets are asleep!) She owns Modern Soapmaking, and hosts the annual Central Soapers Workshop conference.
Look at this, it’s already September! Just when the leaves begin falling and I find myself dropping the boys off at school in the crisp morning air- relieved that I can finally sip coffee and talk to myself without interruptions… I’m reminded- Christmas is coming. Cue the Jaws soundtrack.
I’ll be the first to admit my first holiday season as a purveyor of handmade goodness (nearly 5 years ago now) left me a little bit… disheveled. I had stocked up on the things I would need; tees, printer ink, shipping supplies, and the Tylenol. Slowly sales began rolling in. I was excited & humbled knowing that a little piece of my movement was going off to far corners of the world. By the time December rolled around I was fried, toasted, and crispy. The term might be a burnt out daze.
Of the many lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) through doing business- these four are worth their weight in gold. Valuable nuggets to remember not only during the holiday season but always.
- It’s okay to say no. Taking on custom orders 3 weeks before Christmas, staying up late, stressing about delivery dates- no bueno. Set the tone for your holiday season by having deadlines, honest turn around time frames, and clear shop policies. My first season I took on every order that came my way- the thought of turning away someone or disappointing a customer broke my heart. Sure I earned a few additional sales that way but they cost me valuable time with my family and my sanity. That brings me to this next bit…
- Know your limits and accept that your handmade business will only be as big as you can keep up with. You don’t NEED to hire help if you don’t want to. Promise me right now, that you will never be bullied into thinking that bigger is better. If I wanted to be a mega-millionaire then I wouldn’t have started to make one of a kind, totally unique, and completely handmade items in the first place (that’s why I play the lottery)!
- Make stuff ahead of time. Ahhhh, yes it seems like a no brainer right? Some days you’ll feel like no one is shopping- take advantage of the downtime to create stock, add new listings, and/or photograph items. This is a double bonus because the more items you have the more chances your shop will get found. Plus, your customer may want to buy multiple items from one seller to save on shipping.
- Lastly, make time for yourself and don’t forget to eat lunch. It’s easy to become wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and we often forget to unplug, step outside, and enjoy! As long as you keep offering those awesome products and stellar service, let me be the first to tell you: You are doing a great job! Avoid getting burnt out with a little extra self love celebration.
Are you ready for the holidays? If not, here are 40 more ways to thrive this holiday season on Etsy + a great free Holiday Prep Inventory Planning Guide. What are your best holiday maker survival tips? Share them in the comments below!