Hana’a Bou Nasr Ltayf is a crafty mom of twin toddlers. She holds degrees in Architecture, Philosophy, History of Art and Business. Before her start-up ‘Crafty Dust’, she had a career in construction and industrial manufacturing. Today she specializes in turning creative craft ideas into professionally designed decorative objects, gifts, and souvenirs. We were thrilled to meet her through a 100% Handcrafted online competition. She reveals to us in this interview how she decided to take her hobby to the next level.
The 100% Handcrafted Online Competition is powered by Melltoo, a mobile marketplace that allows artisans and handcrafters to sell on mobile and to share their passion with a larger audience.
I’ve been crafty as far back as I can remember, making greeting cards & surprise gifts for my parents and siblings from scraps of paper, used up tissue rolls and empty match boxes. I owe most of it to my mom’s genes, for she is quite the artist and by far the craftiest person I know.
As an Architecture student I secretly preferred designing objects to designing buildings; and although my professional career took off in construction and industrial manufacturing, I always longed to make things with my hands.
When my children arrived almost 3 years ago, I took a break from work to be a full-time mom. And with the little time I had in between the feeds, the diaper changes, and the night wakings, I thought seriously about starting my own professional crafts business. I had the technical know-how and manufacturing network to make it happen, and working from home provided me with the flexibility to work around my children’s schedule.
So when my children finally started nursery school, I randomly decided to make greeting cards for personal use. Upon suggestion from my brother, who thought my work looked good enough to sell, I did my research on the greeting card industry, sent out some emails with pictures… and to my delight, got my first order from an international bookstore chain within a few days! That was 6 months ago, and that’s how Crafty Dust began – with a purchase order for cards.
Since then, one thing has led to another and my product line is evolving as I continue to experiment, explore, and chase opportunities that come my way.
Starting a crafts business doesn’t need a lot of money. It has a low barrier to entry because of the relatively low investment required and anyone can do it from the comfort of their own home. Nowadays there are various online platforms as well as physical markets that facilitate selling handmade crafts. However, things get tricky when you decide you want to increase your sales volume and turn your love for crafts into a registered, serious, full-time business. Unless you have the funds to set up your own shop and are willing to take the risk single-handedly, the better option would be to sell your products through existing retail stores and online platforms that already have the traffic. (Expect to be up against some harsh contract terms if you choose this option). But other ways to make money from crafts do exist: some through teaching, some by selling only the design, and others by publishing articles or books about it. Overall, hard work and hardships are expected like in the starting of any new business no matter what the industry.
My first challenge as a Handcrafter is understanding that although the handcrafted design process is a personal one, the end product is to be sold to other people. Therefore it’s really about them and what they need and value; and not so much about what the designer thinks or believes is valuable.
My second challenge is accepting that many products will not sell or gain interest. It may take a while before one may become a success or a best-seller, so until then it’s all trial and error.
My third challenge is to find the right venues with the audience that is willing to buy my creations. Given the diverse population in the UAE, targeting the right community is not always easy.
This is the first time such an opportunity has come my way, so I would definitely like to try it out. You never know… M-commerce could become the next best way to sell given how the concept of buying and selling has evolved over the recent years from the physical to the virtual store.
I think Melltoo can give my business more exposure and visibility, which is crucial for my start-up.
The most interesting and important creations (in any field) I think, are discovered by accident – when trying to do one thing leads to another and you persevere along the way.
‘Thank You’… for your interest and for taking the time to read about me, my thoughts, and my business.
Where can we find Crafty Dust ?
Website : http://craftydust.webs.com
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/craftydust
IDEYNA – Handmade Marketplace : http://www.ideyna.com/shop/crafty-dust.html
ARTE – Artisans of the Emirates : http://www.arte.ae (ARTE)
The Artisans of the Emirates are based in Dubai and run Art & Craft markets (every 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Friday of every month) featuring exclusive, locally handmade products.
And coming soon on Melltoo…
[Tweet “Spread the good news when it comes to you!”]