We like to think of The Academy of Handmade as a support system for makers. As longtime fans and sponsors of The Academy of Handmade, we’ve been proud to see so many artists and crafters thrive, growing their small businesses through this amazing resource.  Sharon Fain, founder and director of the Academy of Handmade stops by the blog to share how using Spoonflower custom-printed materials can help give your business an edge against competitors, so you can thrive too! 

Academy of Handmade

Sharon: The rise of DIY small business tools in the last year has been incredible… and so needed for makers who are looking to create one-of-a-kind products and look professional while not having a giant corporate budget. While you may think of Spoonflower as the place to get unique, artist-designed fabric, wallpaper and home decor for personal projects, it is also the place where handmade businesses can go for custom, professional items without breaking the bank.

As someone who works with makers to help them improve their businesses, I love the possibilities Spoonflower presents! Many of Academy of Handmade’s members are using Spoonflower on a daily basis in their businesses. Here are a few examples I found from both our members and other makers.

1. Stand Out at a Craft Show

customized booth at a craft show

You might have looked online at some of the custom signage options for your craft show booth. Spoonflower allows you to make something beyond the “typical vinyl banner” but doesn’t break the bank the way many custom booth branding can.

Academy of Handmade member Rosalie Gale of Ugly Baby, uses printed Spoonflower fabric to drape over her tables. Which is so smart because one of my biggest things with booths at craft shows is that a booth’s branding is usually only in one place–on a sign behind the booth–when it needs to be ALL over.

Another great booth branding idea is to use custom-designed wallpaper to apply to any hard surfaces that might be part of your display, like a sandwich board or sign. You might also want to consider making a wrapping paper and cutting it up to to make a garland that will be perfectly complement your products.

2. Create Custom Projects for Customers

All in one diaper changing pad in "Orchid Purple Birds" by Heart & Art Cottage
All in one diaper changing pad by Yippy BeBe

Spoonflower is great for one-off and custom projects your customer would like to commission. While you might offer products that don’t typically include Spoonflower products, if you do commission work, Spoonflower is a great way to meet the demands of custom orders.

Take, for instance, Academy of Handmade member Rita Cheng of Yippy BeBe. She has a line of baby changing pads and for an extra charge customers can request custom fabrics that she will create to their liking in Spoonflower. She will also soon be taking designs she’s previously done on paper only and make fabric versions as well, further extending her line.

3. Bring Your Product Vision to Life

There are products you want to create that require the *JUST RIGHT* fabric. Nothing else will do. To make that exact idea become reality, you can design your own through Spoonflower.

I love what Academy of Handmade members Jenn of Mods Best Friend and Laura Schuler are doing with their own designs.

State Love Pillow from Mods Best Friend
State Love Pillow from ModsBestFriend on Etsy

Jenn makes pillows in the shape of US states and is currently assembling a “map” of them using her pillows. She is using Spoonflower to get the exact look of the entire map when it is pulled together.

California Small Throw Pillow

Laura’s infinity scarves are brought into cohesive and distinct line through her designs she prints with Spoonflower.

Topanga Abstract Infinity Scarf
Topanga Abstract Infinity Scarf from Laura Schuler Studios
Castro Abstract infinity scarf
Castro Abstract infinity scarf from Laura Schuler Studio

4. Have Memorable Packaging

Thinking outside of the literal box, you can use Spoonflower fabric and wrapping paper branded with your business identity to create a professional and unique “unboxing” experience. Of course, you can always wrap boxes, but taking the paper and making branded treat bags, pillow boxes, enclosure envelopes, or even bags.

Customize gift wrap with your business logo, branded designs and colors
Customize fabric and wallpaper with your business logo, branded designs and colors
create your own envelopes with product details, care instructions, thank you notes or receipts
Create your own envelopes with product details, care instructions, thank you notes or receipts

5. Create A Business Card People Won’t Throw Away

We all get business cards then they wind up collecting our purse or in a pile on our desk. Then we usually throw them out in a fit of sprucing up (tell me I’m not the only one, right?). Which is why the Oleander and Palm sachet business cards are genius. And is really a “value add” since customers are FAR more likely to keep this than a typical business card.

Lavender sachet business cards from Oleander + Palm

Lavender sachet business cards from Oleander + Palm
Lavender sachet business cards from Oleander + Palm

6. Label Your Products With Fabric Tags

Having your label remain “on brand” is huge. Plus it’s important so that people can find you again to reorder! Making the exact right fabric tags for stuffies, pouches and other sewn items has never been easier with Spoonflower. Learn how to make them right here!

Fabric tags for your handmade goods.

Learn how to make fabric labels for your handmade goods
Learn how to make your own fabric labels

7. Make Collaborations with Other Creatives Possible

The inspiration and expression of collaborative ideas becomes easier with Spoonflower. Academy of Handmade Member Rebecca of Relaine works with a photographer friend to create patterns from her photography then makes a print from it and uploads it to Spoonflower. The results are stunning!

Purple Foliage wallet from the Relaine Etsy shop
Purple Foliage wallet from the Relaine Etsy shop. Design by one_sock_photography..

8. Test Out New Concepts

Want to try a look but not get stuck with a bunch of fabric if things don’t sell? Ordering swatches or smaller runs of fabric through Spoonflower can help you test out new product ideas without emptying out your wallet. This is exactly what lingerie maker and Academy of Handmade Member Annika of Married and Bright is doing. She’s recently decided to experiment with new fabrics she couldn’t find anywhere else and absolutely loved.

Married & Bright handmade under garments
Married & Bright handmade under garments using Spoonflower custom fabric

I’ve also used Spoonflower wrapping paper for our photo backdrop at the awards show two years in a row now and I love it! While wrapping paper is a one-time use, you could easily make a longer lasting backdrop for your booth with fabric.

I’d love to know—how do you use Spoonflower in your business? Please share in the comments!

Sharon Fain of Academy of HandmadeSharon Fain supports and celebrates makers as the director of Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters, a membership organization for handmade artists and the businesses that support them.

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