038: How To Grow Your Handmade Goods Business (Kari Chapin)

Kari Chapin

Sometimes events and experiences in our lives lead us to opportunities we would never have predicted. And what we do with those opportunities is up to us. Someone who has made the most of doors that have opened for her is Kari Chapin, our guest for episode 38.

Kari is the published author of four books, three of which are on the topic of taking physical art or crafts and making a business out of them.
On today’s show, Kari and I talk about how these books would never have been possible if she hadn’t said yes to an opportunity that fell into her lap, as well as her varied background and interests…and plenty more!


Kari Chapin spent her youth and much of her adulthood living in various states in the US. She’s called 17 states her home…so far! But she has spent the most time in the city of Denver. Which is where she also took one semester of art school, before deciding learning in the classroom wasn’t for her.

Leading up to college, she had already done and explored a variety of paths from journalism to redoing furniture and selling it on the side. Though she wasn’t always sure what her career path was, she always knew she wanted to be a writer and she loved entrepreneurship. It wasn’t until she was took a job as manager of a retail shop that she saw the link between her creativity, her passion for writing and entrepreneurship.

Because she was brand new to retail, she discovered many artisans had no idea how to work with retail shops to turn their goods into a profitable business. Over time, she gathered the experiences and the knowledge she needed to write her first book addressing this need in the marketplace. That first book, called The Handmade Marketplace, turned into the next book which turned into a third. She soon became the go-to person on the subject of selling artistic crafts online.


  • Kari wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer as a child: true or false?
  • What is analysis paralysis and what can you do if it afflicts you?
  • Why it’s ok to have a hobby, and not a business with your art.
  • The question Kari has never stopped asking and why you should ask it too.
  • How to find the courage to put your work out in the marketplace.
  • And so much more!

That store manager job was something Kari never would’ve expected to cross her path, but her willingness to follow her gut and go for it opened a whole new world for her. And as Kari shares in this episode, if she hadn’t done the things she had done previously, she would not have seen the need in the marketplace for someone to help artists grow profitable businesses selling their goods.

Kari has always been willing to try new things and go down an unexplored path if her instincts tell her to do so, and she’s never stopped thinking and pondering what’s next. She says she’d probably get bored if she ever had to stay with just one endeavor for the rest of her career! So let that be a lesson to all of us: if you find your passion and you want to build a business out of it, go for it and always be open to following a new path and a new endeavor down the road.

If you’re someone wanting to take your hobby and make it a viable business, Kari has a few suggestions for you to get started.

  1. You should have a web presence. Many people don’t buy today without researching the item first.
  2. It’s best to own your own Internet real estate vs relying on social media or other platforms (like Etsy). We all know social media sites and other people’s platforms can change, vanish even (MySpace anyone?!). If you own your own Internet real estate, then you still have a place where people can always find you.
  3. Talk about your wares with confidence, on your web site, on other sites and in person. You must encourage people to buy from you and you can do it without being pushy or “salesy”. But first you must find the courage! Kari says this does gets easier with time and with more success under your belt.

Please join me in thanking Kari for sharing her knowledge biscuits! She was an awesome guest and it was fun to hear how her windy path has led her to where she is today, and, of course, what you can learn from her trials and successes. Let us know what you got from this episode in the comments below or send a Tweet.

Tweetable: “I’m always willing to try new things or do something in a different way.” Kari Chapin


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