Indie Business

Where are the blog posts about closing an Etsy shop or handmade business?

Last month I experienced a bit of a crisis of faith in the path my life was taking.  I started questioning several things that were a significant part of my life.

Fortunately, my new husband was not one of them.  🙂

It was as though I came up for air after the wedding and realized a few things:

  1. Running Janery, while keeping my day job, this blog, and my home projects going – not to mention life with my new husband – was really just too much.   It had turned into another obligation.  If I wasn’t sewing, I was feeling guilty like I *should* be sewing.
  2. Creating the same products over and over was, at times, tedious and boring.
  3. I really, really missed having time for blog projects and blog writing.

How did I get here?  The goal was never to become a one-woman sweatshop who spent all her free time sewing.   The goal was to create some special pet beds, test them out, and then either find a local factory to produce them or hire some local seamstresses part-time to create them in bulk so I could wholesale them.

However, I was so busy trying to keep on top of my shop’s day-to-day part time activities that I wasn’t able to work on my bigger goals.

But let’s back up.

Janery Etsy Shop Handmade Biz 101 | The Borrowed Abode

I started selling my custom pet beds on Etsy in January 2012.  Between Etsy sales of all my products and wholesale orders, every week I had items I had to sew after work.  I wasn’t selling enough to be raking in the dough,  but I was selling enough that it kept me busy.  And when I wasn’t sewing for custom orders, I was trying to bring some of my other designs to life.  And when I wasn’t doing that, I was trying to do home projects and blog about them.

In other words, I’d bitten off more than I could chew. As a result I was doing a lot of things a little bit and not feeling wildly successful in any of them.

In the busy months before our wedding I blogged less and less, and eventually I “closed” my Etsy shop because the wedding had to be top priority, of course.

The feeling of relief that swept over me caused some unease, but I told myself I’d get a second wind and dive back into it after the wedding.  I was determined!  Setting up summer & fall promotions with big blogs, I thought “I’m going to rock my shop once this wedding is over!”

Too bad the determination was quickly replaced by the feeling of overwhelm soon after our wedding, right when I reopened my shop.  All of the stress and worry I felt finally congealed into one basic thought in late July.   Maybe I should close my shop.  I missed the days before I started Janery, when I was “just” a blogger in the evenings after work.

Here’s the thing no one tells you when they talk about their handmade business.  Sewing is tiring.  On nights where I sat at my sewing machine for hours, I’d go to bed with my neck stiff and my back aching.  And sewing the same pillow cover or pet bed over and over got boring quickly.

Yikes.  I’m not supposed to say that, right?    But it’s true! While I love creating things from fabulous fabrics, I don’t always love the tedious, repetitive creation of the product.

After some long talks with Ryan, I decided not to “close” my shop; I wasn’t ready to make that kind of move.

Factors I had to consider:

  • I wasn’t ready to close my shop entirely – I just wanted it to be more of a fun choice than a monkey on my back
  • I was accepted to Art on the Avenue, a huge fall art market in October.  Participating at this festival was one of my original goals, and I really enjoy the personal touch of selling at markets.
  • I needed more time for blogging and DIYing things for myself.
  • I had a seriously massive stash of fabrics and supplies, and there’s no way I wanted to quit before making use of them.

Steps taken to make shop-keeping more fun again:

  • I removed the custom orders from the shop, including all pet beds. This way the only items people can purchase are the ones that are already made and ready-to-ship, which means that sales won’t impact my personal schedule.
  • I’m listing only a few pet beds each month.
  • I stopped accepting wholesale orders – they’re too time consuming and not very profitable
  • I’ve stopped promoting my shop until I know where I’m headed
  • I’m focusing on building up a strong inventory of multiple types of products for Art on the Avenue.  Any leftover inventory can be listed in the shop.

It’s been a few weeks now, and the new approach to production feels good.  I’ve been sewing up a storm for Art on the Avenue – and I’ve also fit in time to do some sewing projects for our own home.

It’s easy to find blog posts about people launching or growing their handmade product businesses . . . yet nearly impossible to find people blogging about closing their shops.  That’s why I decided to share my thoughts here – in the hopes that it helps others who may be going through the same dilemmas as I have been.

If you’ve had any experiences like mine, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. Or if you’re just plain nosy about my business or related topics, feel free to ask away.  I’ll answer any questions in a future post.


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  • Reply kalanicut at 2:00 pm

    Ah, Jane. I’ve had lived this story in every way. I started making handbags out of vintage fabrics about 10 years ago. It was a great experience but just reading you say sewing is tiring brought back so many bad memories. Shoulder pain, finger tips ripped up by threads, etc. I had so many people behind me, but it just took so much life energy, was so exhausting and wholesale, which is always the hope was neither easy nor profitable. Unless I could find and fund a production facility it became pretty hopeless. I still miss it in some ways, but halting production and going back to a corporate job with benefits was not the worst thing that ever happened.

    I honestly thought that as soon as I left that corporate world again I would find some creative business I wanted to jump right back into again and it’s been 2+ years and I have not felt motivated to make and sell anything. And in that time I have watched a lot of other people go through a lot of the experiences I did while running my small, home-based business. I could sit and talk about this with you for a week, I’m sure! I’m glad you were able to find a peaceful path for yourself. It sounds like it reinvigorated you for the days ahead.

    Best wishes! -K

  • Reply Christina Leaman at 2:33 pm

    I am so proud of you! It must be hard to make those decisions, but I can tell that it was worth it for you. When I had my crisis of blog earlier this summer, I really did listen to your excellent advice and took it to heart. Doing what we want, when we want to do it and not trying to live up to crazy expectations we make for ourselves is hard, but it feels SO much better. You really are one of my blog mentors. 🙂 Where/when is Art on the Avenue? Sounds like fun!

  • Reply Skooks at 2:39 pm

    There have been many roadblocks to me starting my own handmade business. My fear about all of the things you just mentioned being one of them. Sewing is my escape and my hobby. I have always wondered how people can churn out the same item over and over again without getting bored and starting to hate what they do. In my heart, I still think there may be a way to go into the handmade business someday, but I haven’t figured out what would be profitable and enjoyable about it yet. Unless it was truly just a side hobby business that you only sewed for when you felt like it and not something that was to be your primary income. Still thinking about all of it, but I appreciate your candid post.

  • Reply Ash @ HumberHome at 4:24 pm

    I actually went through this last year. I was working full time, had a part-time work-from-home job, and was trying to get my Etsy shop to be successful. It was exhausting. Then I got engaged and realized there just was not enough time in a day for everything I was trying to accomplish! I was tired and cranky all the time. so I actually quit the part-time job, which was slowly taking more and more time each week. Then I decided to put my shop on hiatus until after the wedding. The amount of time and effort it takes to get your shop noticed on Etsy was just exhausting – plus I wasn’t seeing enough sales for it to be worthwhile!
    I do plan to eventually reopen my shop, but for now I’m just focusing on blogging – and then I’ll hopefully dabble into Etsy little by little 🙂

  • Reply Ashley at 9:58 pm

    I am sooooo sorry to hear that you were feeling overwhelmed, but not overly surprised! You have a lot on your plate, and weddings just add an extra dose of complete insanity! BUT, I’m really glad you’ve decided not to completely close your shop, and I LOVE your new production guidelines. I really think it is such a healthy and fun approach to continuing your shop. Custom can simply equal extreme stress sometimes! Making what you love and just selling it is so much better!

    PS- do you still have that little bit of the Woodland Creatures fabric left over? (the one from my pillow) I STILL LOVE IT!

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 8:21 am

      Thanks Ashley! And yes, still have some of that fabric. One piece, I think!

      • Reply Ashley at 2:08 pm

        Shoot me an email with the price and I’ll probably snag it from you unless you have other plans! I LOVE my pillow so much and I’d love to have one other piece in that fabric for myself or a future nursery! 🙂

  • Reply Brenda K Spevak-Saito at 3:34 pm

    Thank you for that interesting, spot-on post! I just went through my own dilemma over “mothballing” my business a few months ago, and thought I’d chime in even though my business is music rather than handmade items because of the similarities. I pretty much decided to give up on actively promoting it and taking certain types of work because all the drudge work on the administrative and promotional side of it, i.e., the ordeal of trying to do it as a business that would (hopefully) generate a worthwhile amount of income, completely ruined making music for me. It’s interesting to hear that you (and others have expressed in the comments) have the same issues with your business(es), i.e., having to manufacture the same items over and over not being sufficiently satisfying or profitable to make it worth doing, not to mention the fatigue and aches and pains (believe me, playing a 4- or 5-hour corporate gig while standing in 4” heels is VERY fatiguing and painful!), while having all of your “free” time consumed doing it.

    In my case, having to spend time and effort preparing music I don’t care about to perform for clients who by and large just want the “safe and familiar, same-old same-old” is on a par with having a menial day job, except the “real” day job pays better, plus has other benefits like paid time off and health insurance, etc. Well, on top of that, there’s the added insult to injury in my case where fewer and fewer people think artists should be compensated for their creative product 🙁

    P.S. LOVE your analogy of being a one-woman sweatshop — that’s EXACTLY how I’ve been feeling!!

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 3:44 pm

      Brenda, what instrument do you play? Your descriptions hit home as I’m a former classical violinist. I don’t miss the days of standing in sweltering heat playing Pachelbel’s Canon for yet another wedding.

      • Reply Brenda K Spevak-Saito at 6:18 pm

        Hi Jane,

        Ha-ha! Been there, done that! I’m a classical violinist also, and over the past few years my husband and I have been doing a multi-genre instrumental project with our (well, so far, his) original compositions. I’ve posted a bit about our adventures and misadventures with this project on my blog here, in case anyone might be interested in the view from backstage (albeit with a cautionary note about the cobalt-heavy content ;):

        You are one multi-talented woman!


        • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 8:06 am

          Hey! Thanks for sharing 🙂 Also, sidenote – I hope that Pink is doing ok with the kitty chemo. It’s so rough to get adjusted to giving the meds and fluids but often there are great results!

  • Reply Jamillah at 2:14 pm

    good for you!!!! i have no idea how you were doing it all and i’m glad you have taken a step back to think of yourself and your quality of life.

    and thank you so much for sharing your experience. it is super duper interesting to read and i really appreciate when business owners are totally candid about their growing pains.

  • Reply Moxie Lisa at 10:16 am

    I think that this is a brave post because I know so many handmade business owners that start to feel this way after a little while. Creative people love to use their imagination so when you are stuck in a rut having to make the same thing over and over again, it can get really tedious. I think stepping away to make room for other things in your life is awesome. I know it is extremely hard to do.

  • Reply Fired Up to Create a Backyard Escape | The Borrowed Abode: Adventures in decorating a rental home. at 1:01 pm

    […] Whenever I had a really bad day (few and far between, thankfully) I would come home and go straight out to the backyard with my journal.  I’d set up Ryan’s portable hammock or my lounge chair, lay back, and start to write, but without fail I’d end up setting the pages aside and just staring up at the trees.  I recently stared at the trees a lot as I was pondering what to do about my shop. […]

  • Reply Art on the Avenue Preparation – 3 weeks out | The Borrowed Abode: Adventures in decorating a rental home. at 8:37 am

    […] pretty much every day, but I’m still learning things.  For example, one reason I may get bored and burnt out when producing the same item many times over is because I set unreasonable goals.  For some reason […]

  • Reply Jessica at 3:39 am

    I am going through the same dilemma as you at the moment: to close or not to close. I’ve found it difficult to really launch things with my business (I make/sew children’s accessories), and it has become an exhausting and expensive PITA. After out move from Texas to upstate NY this summer, I have yet to reopen my etsy shop. I feel guilty for my lack of motivation, and sometimes wonder why I ever took a friends advice to make and sell the cute things I would make for my daughter. You’re not alone in your situation, and I am so glad to have come across your post. It’s helped me feel less like a failure, and has given me a few options to consider for my own shop. Thank you, and best of luck at your festival booth!

    • Reply Jane @ The Borrowed Abode at 9:45 pm

      Hi Jessica,

      So happy I could help, at least in a little way. But please don’t feel like a failure! I know it’s easy to think that way but think of all you’ve learned, and if you don’t try you’ll never know! Good luck with your decisions and hang in there!

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