When glaucoma forced Ann Fridman to leave her job as an accountant in 2008, she searched for something just to occupy her time. Her decision to take a quilting class would turn out to be a fortuitous one. Now Fridman's hobby-turned-business provides her with an opportunity to practice what she's passionate about and create additional income for her family.
Although Fridman first started sewing when she was 5-years old and had continued sewing—mostly making clothes—throughout her life, she had never made a quilt. When she started her very first quilt in class she rediscovered her creativity and imagination. It was as though a needle had found its thread.
“It just took off,” Fridman said. “I was already technically proficient and I took to it like a natural.”
The fabrics, colors and design sent her mind racing and she began quilting constantly. Even while she was making her first quilt in class, she was simultaneously making a second one at home in Webster, New York. The quilts began to pile up around the house, although she gave many away to “everybody.” Finally in 2011 she decided to try selling a few online. It turned out people wanted to buy them.
The time it takes to make one of Fridman's ExpressionQuilts and the price depend on the style, size and design complexity. “A patchwork quilt might only take a day or two,” Fridman said. “But they generally take a couple of weeks, with some intricate designs taking up to six weeks.” Baby quilts range in price from $49 to $300, while regular quilts start at $99 and can reach several hundred dollars.
Fridman figures with her labor she breaks even, but her side business does bring some useful funds into the household for important expenses like healthcare.
Starting your own business isn't easy, but it's rewarding, according to Fridman. Here's how you can follow in her footsteps and turn your hobby into work:
Start with consignment shops: If you have just a few items, try placing your items on consignment in local area shops. This will get your name and product out to the public while allowing you more time to develop and produce your products.
Seek help from family and friends: Running a business is very time consuming. You need to handle all aspects of a business—accounting, marketing, purchasing, banking, cash flow, etc. If you do not have the skill set for these functions, seek possible assistance from family, friends, or other organizations. You will be amazed at what you will learn as you begin to run your own business.
Be open-minded about growth: Growth can come from different approaches. I have found growth through diversity, both in products that I offer and various market venues, Fridman said. Some products sell better in consignment shops while other products sell better on line.
Be flexible with pricing: If you have products with higher price points, try offering related products that are less expensive. This will increase your sales activity and attract potential buyers to your shop.
TELL US: Have you started your own business? What advice would you give first-time entrepreneurs about turning their hobby into work?
About this series: As part of our Smart Spending reporting, Patch is profiling people across the country who have found creative ways to save money. If you're a smart spender, we want to hear from you! Share your story here or in the comments section below.