abby glassenberg: crafting a creative business
By Patricia Belyea
WELLESLEY MA An uber ride dropped me in front of a charming house in the picturesque community of Wellesley. There craft ambassador Abby Glassenberg greeted me and guided me to her studio.
A re-purposed living room, Abby’s tidy studio included a long table, work area, library, and bin storage for fabrics. The mantle of the original fireplace brimmed with cute handmade stuffed animals—samples from Abby’s home-based business While She Naps.
After early stints in education, as a young mother, Abby made stuffed animals that she sold at craft fairs and on Etsy. Soon Abby recognized that sewing and selling her products was not a reasonable way to make money. Over time Abby wrote two books and began producing stuffed animal patterns that she sold online.
Now Abby began to make money! She incorporated and bought business bookkeeping software for While She Naps (Her company was named after the short window of time she had to work each afternoon.)
A born teacher—augmented by an undergraduate degree from John Hopkins and a Masters in Education from Harvard—Abby began communicating everything she was learning about running a craft business via her blog.
She self-published two e-books to help other craft entrepreneurs—The Insider’s Guide to Starting an Online Sewing Pattern Business and How to Create A Powerful Email Newsletter: A Comprehensive Guide For Creatives. Customers buy the e-books off Abby’s website and download the publications right onto their computers. Now take a deep breath, because I’m going tell you know even more endeavors that have been sparked by Abby’s curiosity and interest in sharing everything she learns.
More recently she began offering an online course: Email Marketing Jumpstart.
Every Wednesday morning, Abby sends out an e-newsletter to over 15,000 followers. Each missive includes a bigger article—usually with insights into how to run a better creative business or an insider report on an industry issue, quick news clips, a short advice column, and a highlight of one of her products. It’s an easy read that often encourages me to think about my own next steps.
Monthly Abby talks with a craft industry leader and creates a podcast. She is now up to Podcast #91!
As a freelancer, Abby offers small business consulting, writing, and design services plus she occasionally speaks and teaches around the country.
One year ago Abby and Kristin Link of Sew Mama Sew founded a trade association, Craft Industry Alliance, to weekly share industry information with others.
Abby just finished up a boxed kit with book packager Becker & Mayer Ltd. called The Felt Taxidermist that will release in the Fall. The kit includes instructions for 10 projects and all the materials for making two.
At one end of the work table in Abby’s studio is her sewing machine (and her MIL’s machine) and supplies. The heart of Abby’s business is creating patterns for her stuffed animals and baby lovies.
At the far end of the table is her computer, cell phone and mega microphone. Her thinking, writing and publishing create another kind of product that is in full demand—intelligence for creative business owners.
Yet, perhaps most importantly, Abby is a wife and the mother of three school-aged daughters. Abby shared with me that she has only 4.5 hours a day, four days a week, to work. When her kids are at home, she turns her attention to family needs.
Abby finished our conversation talking about the false promises of “quit your day job” articles. To have an outstanding craft business, you have to do more than love what you do. You have to be more than a hard worker. For Abby, smart decision-making and ethics are key to all successful craft businesses.
To visit Abby’s website +click here
To visit the Craft Industry Alliance website +click here