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Gaining "credibility" in crochet

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I am in the process of taking my crochet up to the next level, as I'm in the process of developing my own crochet non-profit based ministry. I've been seriously crocheting now for 5-6 years. I enjoy trying new styles, yarns, patterns, etc... I'm also developing other types of skills required for this ministry, including Biblical background and I hope to take a finance class soon.

 

Anyhow, my question is: How do I gain true credibility that what I'm doing is more than just a hobby, but something I can and plan to make a living (non-profit wise)?

 

MEMBERSHIPS

- Do I need to join local arts associations in my city? I've already looked into this and plan on joining one soon.

- Do I need to join the Crochet Guild of America? I've looked into this too and am considering joining this too.

- What about looking into the small business group associations within my city?

- Any other suggestions on what organizations I could join OR would joining any of these organizations even help to establish credibilty?

 

PORTFOLIO

- I know this is a big thing and I plan on setting up not only an online one, but also have a simple photo album I can carry around with me when doing business related things. I also plan on keeping a variety of physical items on hand (I tend to give almost everything away after I make them, as charity is one of the fundamental areas of my non-profit) to have as physical examples of my work. I can use these when approaching local businesses when I start selling my work locally.

- I plan on getting some simple business cards printed with my contact information and logo to hand out with all of my items, as well as for face to face advertising within my community.

 

AWARDS

- I entered a local fair a few years back on a fluke and ended up placing in 2 of the 4 pieces I entered. I wasn't serious about competing and was simply doing it for fun... However this year, I'm going for GOLD! I'm planning out and putting intent behind every piece I'm making. I'm going to enter as many categories as possible, which will help me stretch my current skills and help me define my niche (I bet I'll find a category I don't care to compete in... haha!!).

- How important are awards/ ribbons in terms of establishing credibility as a true artist?

- Should I be entering online contests with my written patterns too?

- I am aware that entering competitions and such after the non-profit gets off the ground will happen more sparingly and will reflect more the craftmanship and skill of those within the organization, but having skilled artisians within a company is important (right???).

 

CHARITY

- For me, I plan to start keeping better track of where and what I donate. In the past, I've just been giving things away to where I saw a need. Keeping a running tally has never been important before now.

- Is keeping a record (photos, dates, and company information) of where I'm volunteering my crochet time really important?

- I know that where and what I donate can and will potentially reflect on the non-profit, so what I give with the assocation of my non-profit is crutial. I won't stop making things for friends, but I'm wanting to keep better track of what groups and organizations the non-profit is making donations to... as it can set a personality/ theme/ feel for what the non-profit supports and hopes to accomplish.

- Volunteering time and effort is very important to me as a person and I plan on keeping charity work as the backbone of my non-profit.

 

Being the President and Founder of my non-profit, I want to establish "credibility" as an artist and ministry leader. I know how to work on the ministry leader component, but I'm unsure of how to do this in the area of crochet... if that makes any sense. Working on and learning more about my craft is something I do daily, as it is my passion.

 

Any help or suggestions???

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Establishing credibility takes time. I do think that joining the Guilds and Small Business Associations are a great start. I really don't think winning contests has much to do with your business credibility. People can see the quality of your work for themselves.

 

The first step to gaining credibility is to set it up as a business. I think you need to sit down with an CPA to get some of your questions answered.

 

Keeping track of what and where you donate is vitally important.

 

Check out http://www.vistaprint.com for business cards. If you sign up for the newsletter you'll have the chance to sample bunches of their different products for free. All you pay is shipping.

 

Amy offers a Do I want to start a crochet business class. It is invaluable.

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I agree with RoseRed that joining the local art and business assoc. is a good idea---for the networking if nothing else. There might be some kind of association of ministries, or social service agencies, that would be applicable.

 

Joining CGOA would make available a lot of resources too. they have a mentoring program, and professional development classes at the annual conference. Did you know that Amy Shelton, Crochetville co-owner, is the current president of CGOA?

 

CGOA also has a master of crochet course that would be a good way to obtain crochet credibility.

 

If a lot of people in your area follow the fair competitions, I think those entries and possible winners would help publicize your name and your work.

 

As far as establishing credibility as an artist, i think that is a really big question. Entering original pieces in local art shows would be one way I suppose. CGOA does have a design competition at the conference, and info/results are on the website, but that won't translate into local people knowing about it. I suppose you could try to get the local paper to run an article about the fact that you entered that, or any other national competition.

 

Of course there is the "is it craft or is it art?" debate, and the tendency for fiber art to be considered more craft than art, to contend with.

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Post was getting long and I had to take clothes out of the dryer:lol

 

Further thoughts:

It would be good to join any local crohcet/knit get togethers or more formal groups in your area. It would be a good support system just in terms of spending time with people who "speak crochet" so to speak, as well as networking, and learning about the craft from one another.

 

Also agree with Rosered about the ville classes, the ones I have taken have been excellent and well worth the cost, which is very reasonable compared to any other kind of class I know of.

 

I am curious about how you are going to use crochet in a ministry, would like to know more about it, but I know you may not want to publicly divulge all your plans:)

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You have received some good solid advice from Michelle and Kathy and I agree with everything said so far.

 

The only bit of advice I would add is to create a blog. This is where you can introduce yourself and other members of your group, as well as discussing your charitable goals. You can do this by sharing personal stories and the reasons behind your decision to turn your small acts of kindness (donating handmade items to groups or individuals) into a growing ministry.

 

You can also use this venue to seek out both monetary and tangible donations, but first be sure to check with an accountant and/or attorney to be sure you are in adherence with all applicable laws and ordinances. Things must be carefully worded and dealt with when working with charitable contributions.

 

If you are going to be accepting handmade items as donations, a blog is a great place to catalog visually what you have received and to announce where the items will be going. If you don't have access to a digital camera this would be a wise investment. Crafters love to know (and see) that their gifts have been both received and appreciated. Readers will also enjoy seeing the faces and other "behind the scenes" workings of the ministry.

 

I am also curious about how you plan to use crochet in a non-profit "business" as it were. I've only heard of the prayer shawl ministries, but yours sounds like it goes much further than that. Please elaborate as much as you feel comfortable sharing. :)

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Establishing credibility takes time. I do think that joining the Guilds and Small Business Associations are a great start. I really don't think winning contests has much to do with your business credibility. People can see the quality of your work for themselves.

 

The first step to gaining credibility is to set it up as a business. I think you need to sit down with an CPA to get some of your questions answered.

 

Keeping track of what and where you donate is vitally important.

 

Check out www.vistaprint.com for business cards. If you sign up for the newsletter you'll have the chance to sample bunches of their different products for free. All you pay is shipping.

 

Amy offers a Do I want to start a crochet business class. It is invaluable.

 

I know for absolute sure that I am to do crochet for "business", however I believe it is more of a ministry calling area of emphasis... if that makes any sense. I love to crochet and crochet helps me tell others and share with others about God = bottom line. I literally dream crochet, relate almost everything in my present healthy and recovering life back to crochet and how God has taught me about Him through it. I'm not quite sure how to explain it ;/

 

Before I got a chance to check the board, I ran into someone who eats a lot where I work. Since I wasn't at work at the time, we got to chatting a little bit more candidly and he shared with me about a local organization that can help me get my business/ non-profit business off the ground and can help me do this for FREE! I had no idea even where to look for this in town other than with the BBB, so it was an answer to prayer to have run into him outside of work and in a place where he could share this information with me. I'm absolutely going to be contacting them soon and then take it from there.

 

I sincerely appreciate you reminding me that my credibility will be evident in my quality of work. I practice very hard at crochet and I strive for constantly improving my skills. I take my time and do my projects thoroughly, only progressing when it's time. Freckles are what I call my mistakes and even though I strive for perfection, there is so much I can learn from making mistakes and moving forward. Perfectly crocheted items are unrealistic in my honest opinion, as everyone defines "perfect" differently. Some of us weave in ends, others of us knot. There is no one exact technique. For me, CONSISTENCY is what I strive for within my pieces. I want things to be uniform and constant, even if it means I make the same constant mistakes over and over and over again (turns into a pattern in a twisted sense).

 

I'm probably over thinking this whole thing, but I'm really on fire for getting this ministry up and off the ground! Finding this forum and website has been a blessing and I can't wait until the next Crochet Business type class is offered on here because I could indeed use the training.

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I'm not sure I understand quite how you're going to make a business (that will pay you a salary) out of a crochet-based ministry.

 

How will the ministry make money? Financial donations? Selling crochet classes? Selling crocheted items?

 

I'm also not sure how you'll use crochet in the ministry? Will you be teaching others how to crochet and while doing that, share with them about God?

 

It sounds like a very interesting concept, and I wish you much success!

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I sincerely appreciate you reminding me that my credibility will be evident in my quality of work. I practice very hard at crochet and I strive for constantly improving my skills. I take my time and do my projects thoroughly, only progressing when it's time. Freckles are what I call my mistakes and even though I strive for perfection, there is so much I can learn from making mistakes and moving forward. Perfectly crocheted items are unrealistic in my honest opinion, as everyone defines "perfect" differently. Some of us weave in ends, others of us knot. There is no one exact technique. For me, CONSISTENCY is what I strive for within my pieces. I want things to be uniform and constant, even if it means I make the same constant mistakes over and over and over again (turns into a pattern in a twisted sense).

 

 

I agree with you that there is no such thing as perfection, and in many cases there are multiple ways to accomplish the same thing. Examples would be the no-chain beginning dc, foundation sc/dc etc. And what begins as a "mistake" may well end up as a better way to do something, or an improvement to a design. There is room for all kinds of creativity in crochet, whether following a pattern or winging it.

 

But I do have to say that the no knot rule really is a firm standard. I think if credibility is a goal, one should never tie hard knots in their work. I believe this is a requirement for winning entries in fairs, and is covered in crochet reference books as well. The only exception I can think of would be fringe, where knotting is part of the fringing process.

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I'm not sure I understand quite how you're going to make a business (that will pay you a salary) out of a crochet-based ministry.

 

How will the ministry make money? Financial donations? Selling crochet classes? Selling crocheted items?

 

I'm also not sure how you'll use crochet in the ministry? Will you be teaching others how to crochet and while doing that, share with them about God?

 

It sounds like a very interesting concept, and I wish you much success!

 

 

Non-profit ministries can and do make money, just not often very much (especially in the beginning).

 

Selling crocheted items and patterns, including a curriculum in order to establish "branches" of the ministry within other churches will be part of bringing in financial contrubutions.

 

Donations of yarn and supplies will help considerably with the cost issue of materials needed in order to do the actual street evangelism aspect of the ministry. Donations of space and facilities to teach the classes are what I'm hoping for, otherwise I'll be renting a small storage facility to hold necessary supplies for the classes/ fairs/ events/ ect...

 

Fund raising events, such as raffles, will help bring in contributions. Items can be sold at auction, especially larger items.

 

The ministry aspect comes from the items made and the teaching curriculum itself. It will also be displayed in the use of the items.

 

I'm staying rather vague right now, as the ministry is still developing considerably at this time. I also don't have a blog, website, or store set up yet in which I can display and start sharing the story behind the ministry and the purpose behind the ministry.

 

I'm busy designing patterns and writing the curriculum at this point. I hope to meet with the organization I heard about today here in the next few months, as they help people start and organize new buisnesses here in my city. I want to have as much together as possible before I start doing the financial side and legal business side. In terms of continuing to develop the Biblical depth, I plan to take classes at a local Bible college in the fall.

 

Right now, I'm accepting yarn donations from friends and from people in the community. They know I make items for charity and that I'm in the process of setting up a non-profit. I'm making items and giving them all away, mainly with donated yarn and yarn that I purchase for personal use.

 

I plan to get a better camera within the next week and start photographing everything I make from this point, so I can start developing a portfolio of items to be used within the ministry organization. I also plan to start a blog or journal (unsure yet if I want to make it public at this point) about what I'm doing and how the ministry is starting to develop. I want it for my records and for the historical aspect of the ministry.

 

I'm slowly starting to transition my crochet from being about ME, to it being about THE MINISTRY - when I talk with friends, family, and coworkers. I've been talking with people at a few churches and I'm starting to spark some interest, simply by word of mouth. I hope to to make it an inter-denominational based ministry.

 

I have big dreams and I know it will take time, but the first thing is for me to make my crochet all about GOD - not about me. I don't crochet for me or for my friends, I crochet because God wants me to. Crochet is part of my personal testimony and has been a major aspect in my recovery from some life threatening illnesses. The more I make it about Him and the less about me, the more opportunities this ministry will have.

 

I'm going to enter the fair again this year as a challenge to my skills, as a way to expand my crochet skills. There are so many areas of crochet that I'm not good at. In fact, I've only been crocheting a little over 5 years. By all standards, I'm a beginner. I practice and practice and practice, literally hours a day on some days. I read patterns and books, I watch videos, I read what others are saying about crochet in terms of teaching and learning and experimenting. I literally spend hours a day working on my crochet skills at this point in time.

 

It is my dream. I love crochet and even if it doesn't bring in enough money for me to quit my day job, I'll forever remain thankful for still having a day job and for it allowing me to crochet. That's where I'm at right now --- I work fast food because it is simple, gives me the flexibility I need, and because I'm good at it. Despite being college educated, I work an easy job because it lets me do what I have a passion to do - crochet and work on developing this ministry. I have no complaints!

 

Sorry for the ramble... I'm just so thankful to have found a place like Crochetville. I've already learned more than I could have ever imagined in the last 2 months and it has helped me become even more passionate about continuing to develop this ministry. So much support and love around here - what a blessing!!!

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It sounds like a very interesting concept. Just be aware that it's very difficult to sell finished crocheted items for an amount that will cover your materials and give you a decent hourly wage.

 

It's frequently difficult to sell items for even enough to make minimum wage for the hours you have invested in making the items plus the cost of materials.

 

Also, be sure to check your state laws about raffles. They're illegal where I live, for example, and even the schools had to stop having raffles at their fall festivals. They can do silent auctions, just no raffles and no bingo games. Strange!

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The 'Do i want to start a crochet business?' class isn't to help you decide if you want to. It goes over all the 'behind the scenes' things you need to know to start a legal business. While laws vary from state and county - it gives you the information needed to find out what you need to know.

 

Granted - this isn't about starting a non-profit - it's about starting a for profit business but the information is invaluable. For a $10 class - it's well worth every penny and then some.

 

I'm really not trying to give you a hard time here but there are already thousands of Prayer Shawl Ministries across the country. These people volunteer their time and material and occasionally have things donated. Why would anyone want to pay you for what they're already doing (that doesn't cost them anything)?

 

I tried to start a Prayer Shawl Ministry once. I was the only one in the church that crocheted. Some people knitted. All I got was a lot of frustration and lip service. The rest of what I heard was "Oh, I just don't have the time but can you make this or that?"

 

Here in Florida - raffles for money are illegal but contests for advertizing purposes where the prize is a tangible item are legal. So many of your questions can only be answered by a professional in your local area. The laws vary depending on where you are.

 

I'm with the others here. I really don't understand how you plan to make a livable wage from this. If it's meant to be it'll happen.

 

Are you planning on selling pattern books for your items? Are you planning on charging a 'join my ministry' fee? I guess I just don't have enough info to really 'get' what you're getting at here.

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It sounds like a very interesting concept. Just be aware that it's very difficult to sell finished crocheted items for an amount that will cover your materials and give you a decent hourly wage.

 

It's frequently difficult to sell items for even enough to make minimum wage for the hours you have invested in making the items plus the cost of materials.

 

Also, be sure to check your state laws about raffles. They're illegal where I live, for example, and even the schools had to stop having raffles at their fall festivals. They can do silent auctions, just no raffles and no bingo games. Strange!

 

I'm eventually hoping to publish my teaching curriculum and distrubute it so that other churches and ministries can set up their own "chapters" --- I see this as being the largest financial aspect of actually paying for more than the supplies and basic ministry costs, if that makes any sense. If possible, publishing and then selling a crochet pattern book of Biblically based patterns and their stories would also help increase the revenue.

 

Wow, I didn't know that about raffles. Thanks for giving me a heads up! I'll be sure to look into that right away! I don't have any immediate events lined up where I'll be raffling an item or was going to attempt to, but I'll look into that asap.

 

The main source of materials, I'm praying and counting on, will be through donations. Yarn isn't extremely expensive and just one skein of yarn can go a long way when making smaller items within the ministry. I've had many people donate and give me yarn they didn't have a use for or found on sale places because I crochet for charity. I'm hoping and praying that this will continue once the organization gets up and running too.

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The 'Do i want to start a crochet business?' class isn't to help you decide if you want to. It goes over all the 'behind the scenes' things you need to know to start a legal business. While laws vary from state and county - it gives you the information needed to find out what you need to know.

 

Granted - this isn't about starting a non-profit - it's about starting a for profit business but the information is invaluable. For a $10 class - it's well worth every penny and then some.

 

I'm really not trying to give you a hard time here but there are already thousands of Prayer Shawl Ministries across the country. These people volunteer their time and material and occasionally have things donated. Why would anyone want to pay you for what they're already doing (that doesn't cost them anything)?

 

I tried to start a Prayer Shawl Ministry once. I was the only one in the church that crocheted. Some people knitted. All I got was a lot of frustration and lip service. The rest of what I heard was "Oh, I just don't have the time but can you make this or that?"

 

Here in Florida - raffles for money are illegal but contests for advertizing purposes where the prize is a tangible item are legal. So many of your questions can only be answered by a professional in your local area. The laws vary depending on where you are.

 

I'm with the others here. I really don't understand how you plan to make a livable wage from this. If it's meant to be it'll happen.

 

Are you planning on selling pattern books for your items? Are you planning on charging a 'join my ministry' fee? I guess I just don't have enough info to really 'get' what you're getting at here.

 

 

Living off of the wages of the non-profit won't happen for a long time, if ever. That isn't the true purpose or goal behind the ministry. I'm hoping, like I said in my response to Amy, that later on down the line that books and teaching materials can be sold to help continue the ministy. The teaching methodology and curriculum is something that churches and other organizations can pay for in order to learn how to teach crochet from a Biblical perspective. There are plenty of ways and classes and books on how to teach crochet, but none that I have found teach it from a truly Biblical perspective.

 

I'm wanting to teach other people about God, while teaching them to crochet. The classes themselves will be a Bible Class, in a sense. I don't want to charge for the Bible Class, but I want to teach the people in the class how to make items that can be sold and or given away with the purpose of evangelism. We will sell the items so we can make more items to give away --- selling larger items and giving away much smaller items, with the items given away designed as witnessing tools.

 

I'm only striving for enough money for supplies and materials. If I get a salary out of it later on down the line, fantastic, but $$$ are not my main priority.

 

I'm really eager to take the class on here because it will give me a good business type perspective with crochet, especially some of the behind the scenes stuff that I'll need to be aware of. If the organization decides to sell items online for example, this class will help me be more aware of "customer stuff". Donating and volunteering are both very different from selling and meeting customers demands.

 

All of the questions and concerns you all are posting are helping me so much --- giving me many wonderful things to think about. It is helping me get my goals further defined and I'm learning how better to explain my business concept. Thank you for posing these questions and concerns because they are making me really think about things I've never thought about before. :manyheart

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As a non-profit you'll need to give 'letters of value' for each donation you receive and keep track of all of it.

 

Also, once you're set up as a business you should have a sales tax exemption certificate plus be required to collect it.

 

The best way to gain credibility is to be upright and honest in your actions. The recognition will follow.

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Selling curriculum seems like a viable money-making option to me. I don't think I ever have seen any type of Biblical curriculum that includes crochet, so you'd be going into new territory. :)

 

I'm still not sure I understand about tying the process of learning to crochet to learning about God. This next question is just because I'm curious. Please don't feel like you need to give an answer if you're not ready to. Is there any way you can share with us just one little snippet of how that will work?

 

You'll need to be careful to check into IRS regulations with any items you sell, especially online sales, as product sales can affect your status as a non-profit. It all depends upon what type of non-profit status you seek, and whether the items you are selling are closely related to your main purpose for which you received the non-profit status. The IRS has very specific guidelines about what non-profits can and cannot do. The group you'll be meeting with will probably have all sorts of this type of information to share with you.

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The questions you are asking are both good and complex. YOu need to find out what the laws that govern the place in which you will be doing business.

 

A non-profit is MUCH more complicated - in most cases they are not only subject ot all the rules and regulation of any business, but must meet other operating and record keeping requirements.

 

Perpaps you should locate the nearest SBA (Small Business Association ) SCORE office (Service Core Of Retired Executives)

 

Local colleges (including community colleges) often have classes, some of which are even offered at a very low cost - many are geared to beginning a home business. These classes include invaluable information for your locality.

 

MANY states and even county websites include links to rules, regs and laws govern your business.

 

Good luck with your venture.

 

Wheat

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Very interesting exchange! It shows you that a Creative with a generous heart can come up with something that most people might never have thought of! Having said that, the only thing that I am going to address is the credibility factor. These days, credibility also includes what is being termed "social proof," or informational social influence, in other words, it comes from other people, through endorsements, testimonials, recommendations from those who know what you do and can vouch that it is top quality or unique. The minute you start, begin gathering those testimonials. They will do wonders for you, believe me! I am also a person of faith who has a crochet business and is involved in charities, so I understand perfectly where you are coming from, but you have to know where you are going and how to get there. This is one step in the right direction. Wish you the best!

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