March is National Craft Month
-Kellyanne Conway, the polling company inc./WomenTrend
March is National Craft Month! Crafting has exploded in the past decade as women of all ages, races, socioeconomic stages and geographic locations across the U.S. have gotten into the act. Crafting is about self-expression through manual labor. It allows for customization, personalization and even “in-sourcing” rather than outsourcing. Historically, the sales of DIY crafts and kits have increased during recessions. Early indicators suggest this is true in the current economic downturn as well.
Here are several trendy ways to get crafty:
1. Say Cheese Permanently in a Scrapbook. Get started with a class (offered at many large craft store chains) making a scrapbook of your honeymoon pictures that you have shoved in that shoebox under your bed; or finally design the perfect baby book for your baby – who’s now 18. The scrapbooking industry does about $2.55 billion in annual sales – a huge increase from $200 million in 1996 when scrapbooking originally took off. In fact, more than 80% of scrap bookers are between 30 and 59 years old, with 40-49 year olds making up 31% of the market.
2. Go Green with Crafts. Repurpose old items into “new-to-you” items. You can recycle almost anything and create accessories for your home. Turn old egg cartons into “chicks in a basket” Easter décor, or transform an old pill bottle into a magnetic vase and spruce up your kitchen for spring.
3. Yarn and woodworking aren’t your thing? Brew your own beer instead. From 2007-08, brewers of craft beers sold nearly 6% more by volume and took in almost 11% more cash. A basic home brewing kit costs $75-100, and can supply you with a whopping five gallons of beer. If you’re more into grapes than hops, you can make about 30 bottles of wine at home with a vino starter kit for $60-80.
4. Learn to Sew and Save. Tired of forking over your hard-earned cash to the tailor to hem your pants? Go Grandma and learn to sew. Wal-mart recently reported that sales of starter sewing kits are up 30%. If you want to do something more advanced, many local craft or fabric stores offer low-cost classes for everyone from the novice to the expert. Last year, sales of sewing machines across the country increased a whopping 50%. If you keep sticking yourself with the needle, join the growing contingent of Liquid Stitch users. It’s a fabric adhesive that will help you complete your crafty (or necessary) fabric projects. Sales of this wonder product have increased more than 50% recently.
5. Need an excuse to spend more time outside? Craft a “you-scape” in your backyard or even on a small patch of green. Rather than paying big bucks to a professional landscaper, you can try your own hand at it. In fact, so many people are doing this that landscaping companies have seen a 7% drop in revenue over the past 12 months.
If you’re not into flowers, many would-be landscapers are creating vegetable gardens instead. Sales of seeds are already up 20-30% this year, and the ground is still frozen in much of the U.S.
6. Don’t be a Craft Snob. Celebs like Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Hudson, and Catherine Zeta Jones may be mega-stars, but they certainly aren’t too cool to craft. Many women who use their heads at work during the week want to use their hands at home on the weekends. In a 2007 survey, Ace Hardware found a shift in their consumers from “handy mans” to “handy ma’ams,” reporting that women drive 75% of home improvement projects. When it comes to getting their hands dirty, 44% of women do 70% of the DIY work, and 26% of women do all of the home improvement. And once your home transformation is complete, you can add that “little something extra” with an affordable, handmade craft. Take a cue from a crafty celeb, and you’ll also save some major cash by picking up a few skeins of yarn. Making a throw yourself will cost under $50, or you can purchase something similar at a home furnishings store for well over $100. Touches like this can put you in the room, even when you’re not there.
7. Need an excuse to kavetch? Join a “Stitch and Bitch” knitting club. Cheaper than a $12 Merlot or three-course sushi dinner, you can “dish” with the girls and actually create something while you chat. These clubs are popping up nearly everywhere, and sales of knitting supplies are up 14% over last year. Not only will you get some quality time with friends, but you’ll save money too. Even celebs have been spotted with sticks-n-yarn; on the set of Doubt, Meryl Streep taught her co-star Amy Adams to knit in their downtime.
8. Craft with a Purpose. The average cost of a wedding dropped nearly $7,000 in 2008, from $28,704 to $21,814. Much of that is attributed to brides paying with their time rather than money. Seventy-five percent of brides-to-be surveyed by David’s Bridal said they’re cutting back on their wedding spending due to the economy. Making invitations, personalizing simple head pieces and veils, and creating centerpieces at home will all save a pretty penny for the brides in your life – making the special day both affordable and more personal than doing it the “old-fashioned” way and paying vendors to handle everything from the invitations to the cake.
9. And if you can’t make it, take it – support someone else’s craft habits. Visit Etsy.com, a Web site that allows people to sell their homemade wares to consumers all over the world. Clearly, the anti-craft contingent does not want to appear unskilled in the arts department, as Etsy’s sales have skyrocketed since its launch in 2006 – from $3.8 million to a whopping $88 million!