Sure, many Boston University students rely completely on a part-time job or a work-study position to land a few bucks – but many others have chosen to get crafty.
Whether selling exclusively to friends and family or operating a small business, many small-scale entrepreneurs use their creative ideas to market knit crafts, jewelry and edible items.
There are a handful of groups at Boston University dedicated to arts and crafts, such as the BU Knitting Club and Crafts for Charity.
BU Central holds Crafternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. one Sunday per month, with the next one taking place on Apr. 17. According to their Facebook group, BU Crafternoons “help get your Martha Stewart on.”
Additionally, many students congregate weekly at the Women’s Resource Center for Make Stuff Hour to create some artsy products.
And on Feb. 18, 15 students from the arts and crafts industry at BU successfully sold a variety of items at the Handmade BU Craft Fair.
Ariana Katz, a coordinator of the WRC’s Make Stuff Hour, has “knit” together her own mini-business.
“I run my own business called “Ariana Makes Things (For You!),” Katz, a College of Arts and Sciences junior, said. “I design things from crochet, like hats, gloves and reasonable sandwich bags.”
Katz has been knitting for about six years, but this is her first year of managing Ariana Makes Things (For You!).
“Crafting has always been a part of my family,” Katz said. “When I was in high school, I’d knit at lunch and in class and people would ask me to make them things.”
Despite expenses, Katz makes an effort to make her goods affordable.
“Items range from $22 to $25. It really depends on the complexity of the design. I try to keep prices low so people can buy them, but I also have to pay for supplies and a small business tax,” Katz said.
Buying from a friend or acquaintance makes for a more personal transaction.
“You can buy from a factory or you can buy from someone you know,” Katz said.
School of Management senior Corey Nicely sells jewelry at BU and on her Etsy.com boutique, Hapa Chic.
“Over the past winter break, my sister and I wanted to start making jewelry. We’d both make each other earrings and fabric bracelets,” said Nicely.
Nicely said she keeps prices low by buying in bulk, and added that her most popular item is her feather earrings.
“We make long and short feather earrings. They sell at between $15 and $25 per earring set,” she said.
However, Nicely’s business may be expanding its inventory.
“We’re looking to explore new areas, like shell rings made with shells from the beach.”
Hapa Chic also designs braided fabric bracelets for a cause, Nicely said.
“We made red and white bracelets that we sold, and the total profits went to Japan.”
Nicely had some advice to offer for any potential crafters, especially when there is such a vast market of vendors trying to sell products.
“I would definitely find a niche. There are over 900,000 people selling products on Etsy.com,” Nicely said.
CAS junior Sarah Merriman has been making her crafts both beautiful and delicious for about four years.
She is also involved in the WRC’s Make Stuff Hour.
“I’ve always baked,” Merriman said. “It started as a thing I’d do for friends as gifts. They told me I should try to sell them, and I didn’t mind taking a lower profit margin.”
Merriman keeps her prices low when compared to higher end bakeries, such as Sweet, which charges about $4 per cupcake.
“I sell cupcakes and baked goods. Brownies are usually $1.75, and cupcakes are $2.75 to $3. I usually make $1 or $2 per baked good,” she said.
The logic of Merriman’s business acumen is simple: short and sweet.
“I just make my goods beautiful and decorate them,” Merriman said. “My most popular item is definitely my Mexican hot chocolate cupcake. It’s chocolate, cinnamon, and cayenne to give it a little kick. I also make specialty cupcakes, like vegan and gluten free.”
Merriman’s secret recipe calls for baking with creativity and innovation.
“Having your own recipes and unique things to offer is really good,” she said. “Really take some time to perfect what you’re doing so it’s beautiful and sellable.”