Do you find your self in-content with your current career choice? Do you feel like you try and try, and yet, just aren’t going anywhere? Don’t you think it would be swell if you could make a living doing what you love, with the people you love? Of course you do! This is why so many hoopers- turned entrepreneurs- have popped up in our feeds in the last few years.
It always starts out the same way. You love pretty hoops, but you hate the high price tags. So, you decide that if Moodhoops can do it, so can you! But what do you do with all that extra tubing, since you really don’t need 10 hoops all to yourself?! You gift it to hoop friends, of course! And then you rinse and cycle repeat. This is how nearly every new hoopsmith is born. The cheap price tag on hoops, if you make them yourselves, draws us in. And since we are so broke from buying all that shiny tape, selling our creations to those less crafty seems like a great idea! But is it? Ever?
So many young women and men see hoop-making as an opportunity for extra cash, that they seem to fail to recognize the dangers and inconveniences that come along with it.
1.) You’re sending your address out to every single customer.
If you use your home address as the return address on items, you are putting yourself at risk as a seller. Although it is mostly fine, you never know which customer might be that one creep who decides to drive down and watch you make your hoops in person. Or the hooper who actually just wants as much information as they can find about you. You can, of course, easily combat this by using a P.O. box, but that costs on average, $20 a month. Some seller platforms, like Ebay, will even give your phone number to customers! Make sure you know exactly how much information you are choosing to giveaway before you accept user agreements on seller platforms, because your privacy is important!
2.) You will not make any money in the beginning.
You will not make any profits when you first start. This is how most businesses are, and hoops are no different! There are so many hoop shops out there already, the market is very saturated and difficult to break into. A combine social marketing push and low prices can help new hoop makers build up clientèle. Low prices, however are unsustainable for any business. All money made from hoops must be funneled back into business to pay for hoop supplies, shipping supplies, new tools, etc… And once you start getting a steady clientèle, you will find yourself drowning in hoops! Time you used to spend cooking, cleaning, relaxing, will now all be spent making hoops! It can take over your whole life! So at some point, either raising prices or lowering cost of production is a must.
3.) Large customer base is not the goal.
There are many shops who will push and push for more customers. They keep their prices at “just starting out” rates and adopt sponsor after sponsor to push their name out. After a while they have so many orders that they have to start hiring help. And you know what? That’s expensive. Why push for more and more customers at low prices? That just leads to more and more work. People are willing to pay for quality, which is why the most successful hoopsmiths are the ones who raise their prices and take on a much smaller clientèle. Building multiple hoops every single day will take hours, and put strain on your muscles. And employees cost money. In order to fairly and legally pay them, they must receive a living wage and hopefully some sort of health care. Not to mention, the cost of training the employee, since it can be pretty difficult to find seasoned hoopsmiths looking for work. Work smarter, not harder.
4.) You can’t please everyone.
There will always be customers who are displeased with your work. No matter how many times you ask them if they are sure they know what they want, they will still be upset with you for their own choices. Know that you can’t make everyone happy and remind them of your return policies. They can take their business elsewhere, you don’t need to spend time worrying about them!
5.) Be ready to answer lots and lots and lots and lots of questions.
Some people love to “window shop” on etsy. They’ll ask you question after question, like “What colors do you offer?” “Do you have that reflective tape?” “I’ve never hooped before, what size should I get?” “Is it Polliepro?” “What colors do you offer, again?” “Can I get this color that you don’t offer?”
If you suspect someone is asking you question after question, then cut them loose. Let them know that you will be happy to answer any questions after a purchase has been made. Do not spend hours talking with customers who only want to waste your time. You are not playing games, you are trying to make a living.
6.)If your shop isn’t doing well, it’s probably because your marketing sucks.
If your entire goal is to make lots of money with hooping, then your primary focus needs to be on marketing. The stores that make the most money are the ones that make cuts on production and materials and pour all their money on marketing campaigns. These stores all have their own websites, usually have very low pricing, and constantly run deals and sales to promote their product. They also tend to hide any negative reviews made by customers concerned about safety. There are, however, stores who have more ethical business plans that have utilized marketing to make their businesses as successful as they wanted. Ruby Hooping is one of my favourite examples, because it is a company that was built by one woman, all on the ideals of body positivity and inclusion. Now, years later, she is able to sell as many hoops as she wants, sets her prices to what she sees as fair, and has even built an entire community dedicated to the same ideals she built her business on. Other hoopmakers have had success in making their businesses as eco as possible, or aligning themselves very closely with LGBTQ+ rights. They have all been successful because they know how to use social media to both promote their shops, and help share their humanitarian messages.
Although hoopmaking is not usually a very profitable road to go down, for some people it is the only road. Since I was young when I dabbled in it, I remember I had no idea what I was in store for. The amount of customer service I had to deal with made me anxious, the amount of money I had to spend on shipping labels was outrageous, and my hoop supplies was so plentiful that it started taking over my entire apartment! Before pressing that “Post Item” button on Etsy, really think it through. Are you ready to live, breathe, and dream hoops? Because that is what awaits every bright-eyed new hoopsmith. And it can certainly be fun, but only if you are truly prepared for all the hurdles you will have to jump over.