I live in an over-55s apartment complex and I’ve been amazed and thrilled to discover old time crafts making a comeback in the biggest way. Apparently, homemade is now respected, saleable and profitable, and quite a few of my neighbours are ‘cashing in’ as a pension top up.
Their advice, know your value and do not be afraid to request payment for your skills. These canny, talented people — mostly over-65s — are enjoying the fruits of their labour; and joyfully accept the pension higher income allowance. Following is a blueprint of recommendations, suggestions, guidance and opinions designed to somewhat hand-hold interested parties through an initial assessment period.
If you decide to ‘sell your wares’, treat it as a part-time ‘business’ not just a hobby. Your skills and the end product may have value. Many have turned volunteering skill-sets into income-earning opportunities. For example, if your church floral arrangements are a big hit, why not make it known you now take orders. Define your borders and keep it business-like, target your audience and upcoming events; Easter, Mother’s Day, even small floral doodads for school formals can be money spinners. Nobody is suggesting for one moment anyone give up volunteering work but, if you think a little extra income is what the doctor ordered, then you may be able to turn those talents into cash.
A male friend thoroughly enjoys his ‘man cave/shed’ camaraderie, sharing his skills and learning new techniques with others. Young ‘double-incomers’ now realise the value of skilled, handmade wood products and word-of-mouth from satisfied customers more than fulfills his advertising requirements. Doll’s Houses, old-fashioned go-karts (yes!), personalised puzzles and bespoke furniture pieces are all popular items he has made. He only takes orders he wants and works at his own pace. He gives freely to schools, but also enjoys the satisfaction of extra dollars from paying customers.
There are many platforms where ‘homemade’ is considered top notch. I’ve found wonderful crafts on Pintrest, Gumtree, and at garage sales, community groups, fetes and boot sales. Some charge a small fee — such as eBay, Etsy, Madeit, Shopify and the local paper — but others are free. You need to do your research to find the best platform for you if you’re thinking of selling, especially if you’re selling online. Ask your family or Google.
If you decided a sign on your fence or front door might do the trick please be careful. Check with your local council (or body corp), but also consider whether it looks professional. The public can buy cheap and nasty from any two dollar store so be mindful of your image. Yes, your image. Even in your local suburb it is important and maybe your customer’s first assessment of your business. The pensioner entrepreneurs I’ve spoken with emphasise ‘Don’t do cheap!’.
Tea towels with crocheted button tops and toilet roll holders with doll heads may not make the top 10 list — sorry — but that’s not to say there isn’t a market for them somewhere. Be creative, innovative and bold, however, that’s not to say scarves and beanies in the local/suburban sporting club’s colours should be ignored.
I’m not talking any highfaluting, vague, mystic eastern commodities learned from monks in monasteries; although Japanese cloth wrapping (furoshiki) looks appealing. I’m talking cake making and decorating, knitting, sewing, macramé, wood work, small ornaments, hair accessories and big girly bows. Stuff you learned at your mum or grandma’s knee. Or more recently learned art expressions, specialised photo/memory albums, jewellery making, embroidery, lace making, calligraphy, all-natural bathroom and beauty products etc. The list is endless and only limited by your imagination. Personalising any product with name or initials is extremely popular, just saying.
People are working longer hours and you may be surprised to know a new value system is rearing its more appreciative head. Speaking of parents working longer hours, maybe you’re a grandparent on kid watch duty. Yes, it’s so they can make more money without childcare costs (and you do it for love) but it’s surely not unreasonable to request food and petrol reimbursement, if not a small weekly wage. Your childcare skills do have worth, so please do not undervalue your importance!
This wonderful little band of neighbours share knowledge, resources, creative ideas and assist each other with large orders, sharing the profits. With forethought and research, they tell me anyone can do it. The government’s proposal for higher income for pensioners, they believe, may be the icing on the cake.