First things first you need is supplies and the skills to make your supplies into beautiful hand crafted items. When just starting out it might be best to use stores like Michaels or A.C. Moore even though they are a bit over priced and might not have just what you want but they have decent quality things and before you decide if you really want to create a business it’s a good place to shop. This includes and local craft stores you may have as well. There are fewer and fewer local craft stores and a lot of times the products are over priced but there are a couple of real gems of stores. I have one called Buddha and Beads in Ocean City MD that I just love. And if you live is a city like NYC there are a lot of great places to check out but it’s better to start at michaels and the like to know if the prices are decent or not.
Now if you have already shopped at Michaels and are looking for more specific items or cheaper choices here are some places for you to search in. Walmart actually has a nice craft section at many of their locations. They have inexpensive fabric, ribbons, wire and beads. They have some really nice dollar colored aluminum wire that is pretty good quality. Their chains are also better quality than the spools or chain at Michaels and cheaper and the same quality as the nicer chains at Michaels as well. The dollar store is also a good place to go for fabric flowers, nail polish, and lots of random things that you may need. The hardware store is also a great source. I get my thick gauge steel wire there for my Jewelry Trees as well as some of my copper wire. It’s also a great place to go if you want to make steam punk things.
Depending on your craft yard sales, craigs list, and freecycle might be good sites or things to check out. If you are a seamstress you can save fabric costs at yard sales by buying old cloths. They are especially good if you want to paint or refurbish furniture as well. You never know what you can find at a yard sale and you might find something great for supplies for you. Gem and Jewelry shows or craft supply shows at an expo center near you. There and many different shows that will sell both crafts and supplies for the crafts. I get most of my gems at a gem and jewelry shows. Also nature is a great source. Go to the beach and get shells, drift wood, and sea glass. Go hiking or to the river to find beautiful natural stones. It’s free and you can sell it as eco-friendly and towards those more nature minded.
Here are some online sources for supplies. If you want jump rings and scale maille for making chain maille theringlord.com is the place to go. You don’t need to want to do chain maille or have the chain maille skills to use jump rings and scales. The featured image is a cute flower hair pin I made with scale maille without any chain maille skills. http://www.firemountaingems.com/ is also a great site to get all of your crafting needs. They have lots of things and are a great resource. Seeing how I started out selling only on Etsy I love supporting my fellow crafts person and I get supplies there as well. There are a lot of people on there that have wonderful items and you can find supplies easier than on big sites like Amazon and there is usually more selection too. It can be way overpriced at times but you just need to check prices against other sources.
Along with good places to start buying craft supplies craft stores also have a lot of workshops to build your crafting skills. If you want to become a beader or jewelry maker or seamstress craft or fabric stores are the place to go to hone your skills. If you are like me and want to figure everything out on your own you can get to a higher skilled place but it takes much more time. I wish in the beginning I had gone to lessons because they are good places to learn new skills and meet fellow crafters. These fellow crafters may know good local places to shop for supplies and good craft shows to sell your products at. Believe it or not it’s hard to find craft shows. There are sites like http://www.artscraftsshowbusiness.com/ , http://festivalnet.com/ , and http://www.artsandcraftshows-usa.com/ but often it’s hard to find info for the actual craft show website to apply or application deadlines. And most of the time you can’t tell how many people attend these shows and if the cost of a booth will be made up in your sales. Having a someone in your area that has sold at many of these shows can help you decide which ones are right for you.
If you want to learn how to do specific talents youtube is a great place to learn. They have some really good tutorials where you can learn to make nearly anything you want. There are thousands of people on youtube and it can be overwhelming. I say just pick one tutorial per day and learn to make that one thing well. That will keep you from getting overwhelmed and watching dozens of videos and not making a single one of them. Pinterest is also a great site for finding tutorials on crafting. Do searches like _______ Tutorials or ________ DIY. And once you get to a certain level just looking at jewelry others have made can inspire you to make a new thing. This can get into a copy right infringement area. Be sure that you are simply inspired by things others have made and change them and make them your own. Use other jewelry as muses for things you can make and not templates to copy.
Once you have a nice base for your skills you might want to look on sites like groupons for lessons from a profession at a discount.They might not have anything that you want to learn but it is a nice place to go just to see if you can find something. Local rec centers often have classes and you can look at studios that sell what you want to make because many will have classes. Also just search engine on google for classes in what you want to learn.
Hope this helps!! I’ll be adding more of a tutorial next time. Or at least that is the plan.