Side-hustle sales: How to make money with our Maker in Residence Side-hustle sales: How to make money with our Maker in Residence
Photos courtesy of  _angeloesquivel on Instagram originally for Sac News & Review.


Our goal is to help you turn your passion into a sustainable income stream. Join us at Hacker Lab for a member-only, (no-cost) one-on-one office-hour experience.

Making stuff is hard and creating a steady income stream by selling what you make is even harder. Thankfully you have a supportive community at Hacker Lab to help you on your journey! We have found that peer mentorship is the most effective way to expedite the learning process. That’s why we couldn’t be more excited to introduce weekly office hours with one of our long-time members, Makers Luck!

Areas we can support you in:
  • Maker Business Support Specializations:
  • Small Business Formation, Certifications, Local Selling Permitting and Sales/Franchise/Income Tax Structuring.
  • Small Business Development: Target Markets Strategies, Cost/Pricing Frameworking, Packaging Design/Development, Payment/CC Provider Setup, etc.
  • Marketing & Branding: Online, Social Media & Google Marketing Strategies and Branding Development.
  • Selling Locally, Including Selling Products In Local Boutiques/Stores, Setting-Up/Running A Product Vendor Booth at Local Events/Farmers Markets, and Strategies for Doing Commissioned Projects.
  • Selling Online, Including Selling On E-Commerce Sites (Etsy, Amazon Handmade, Ebay, Instagram, Facebook, etc.), Website Development (Shopify, Square, etc.), Inventory Management, Packaging/Shipping Strategies and Online Marketing/Branding.
  • Professional Product Photography
Makerspace Fabrication Specializations:
  • Laser & Shopbot CNC (Engraving/Cutting) Machining
  • CAD Design & Machine Toolpathing
  • Epoxy Resin Techniques
  • Woodworking, Metalsmithing and Acrylic Fabrication
  • LED & Arduino/Microcontrollers
  • Industrial Grade Signage/Furniture/Decor/Art Installation Design and Fabrication Using Tools at Hacker Lab

View upcoming sessions and sign up here!



Meet our new Maker in Residence.
Michael and Hannah Rottman started Makers Luck at Hacker Lab. Now, they're teaching how you can get there, too.

Michael Rottman was looking for a coworking space. When we found the 'back half of the house', the maker space and laser cutting machines — everything changed.

"What  got me started was lasers. What really got me interested was to use it for small business purposes," Rottman said. "I honed in my one skill, one product line with the lamps, and kept that as my bread and butter."

Now, they're making hundreds of Etsy sales a year of shadowlamps in mahogany and other woods, and taking custom commissions from Hemly Cider to art exhibits from the City of Sacramento.

As part of a new series of services Hacker Lab is launching called Maker to Market, Hacker Lab interviewed Mike to ask how they get there and what Maker to Market is all about.

Members: Sign up for Michael's office hours this Friday here; our next free product photography session here and stay tuned for monthly workshops with Mike. Or, join our Slack for updates on farmers market booth availability. Not a member? Learn more here.

Hacker Lab: So, tell us. How did you get interested in making your own maker business? 

Rottman: My last startup failed... I walked away from it," Rottman said, stepping out of the lasercutting room mid-Monday in the lab.

We came out to Sacramento randomly and stayed for dinner one night and decided to start new here – so we did.

I was still living off of venture funding I raised for startup and looking for a coworking space to work out. I stumbled upon Hacker Lab and that’s when I discovered the back half – I had never known maker spaces were a thing.

My background is in IT/product management with specialization in UX design, so when I learned I was able to create physical products using my digital skillsets with the physical machines, it was amazing.

That intersection of art and tech.

/en/content/images?name=high_res%20(2).jpg
HL: What turned your making explode into a successful business?

Rottman: After awhile I was making stuff on laser as a hobby, ornaments, stuff like that — and stumbled across these 12-sided lampshades. What started as a cool hobby turned into more and more every night. I started getting notes on the benches how cool this was.

I started realizing, this is something kinda cool no one makes really. From that point I started messing around with designing light fixtures over 6-8 months, created fully customized LED lighting kit — went through probably 40 iterations between everything, the DC 5 volt power supplies to the LEDs.

Over 6-8 months I was literally just prototyping those until I found that perfect lighting fixtures, which we haven’t changed in 3 years.

We started doing pop-ups at farmers markets and stuff. People started saying the lamps are cool. After the 3rd or 4th pop-up, the Downtown Sacramento Partnership discovered us.

From that point forward we had a great relationship. We started inviting them to our events, helped with a press release for Good Day Sac and invited us to their Calling All Dreamers startup competition.

We were like, "People seem to really like us, people buying from us. Let’s making a business out of this."
HL: What was the next step like from making a product to selling online?

Rottman: We launched our Etsy webpage and spent a full 8 months on Etsy until one person bought one lamp and took a picture that was amazing. The second I posted that picture, within the next month we had 20 orders to fulfill.

We realized that pictures are really important. I hadn’t had pics of the lamps even on before.

We hired Mike Battey to take our photos, who is now offering free product photography at Hacker Lab.

Pictures are super important to selling photos online. Mike battey revamped all our photos from selling nothing online and now we’re doing an average of 100 lamps a month. During the holidays, it’s 250 a month. Just Etsy sales

It really got started with the fun of lasers. What really got me interested was to use it for small business purposes.

That’s what interested me in all of this — the business. I’m not an artist first– I consider myself a business person first and designer second. We found the laser to be the easiest learn time, the quickest for fabrication v.s. the CNC. So what we kept doing to keep us in business.

I honed in my one skill, one product line with the lamps, and kept that as my bread and butter

Once I could pay bills, started to be more creative, more interesting commissions – I able to use the utility finding your core product.
HL: Aren't you one of the top sellers on Etsy? Any tips for makers and hobbyists who want to start small businesses?

Rottman: I listen to this motivational speaker every day, Eric Thomas the Hip Hop Preacher. One of the things I learned from him is everyone is so focused at being the best at everything. Focus at being the best at one thing and use that as a launch pad.

Before you’re great at everything “you have to be great at one thing first.”

The more events we did, we saw we were selling three times as many lamps as others. I decided, let me get really good at that, improving the design, better materials – now I can sell mahogany versions and stain them. We now have a custom wax seal logo to make that one product the best.

Now if you go on Etsy and look up shadow lamp or ambient lamp – we’re in the top 8 listings.

I’ve become the best on Etsy and frequently beat our competitors. We got the best at one product and now can start focusing on other product lines and what I really want to do is commission builds – that’s become really big for us.

We thought sales going down with COVID but had over 100 sales in january and held through all this month – now sales and mortgages paid, have to start building nest egg.

We're currently doing three different commmissions – Hemly Cider, building out shelves for grocery store rollout; an art installation with art blast/City of Sac, two huge 14 foot installations beacons; an exterior stores and décor — we're doing all these things while doing the lamps – only able to do this through focus on the one lamp.


HL: How can people connect with you to learn more as HL's Maker in Residence?

Rottman: Office hours start this week every Friday from 2-4, starting this friday. Then we'll have monthly themed presentations every month — as well as farmers market booth opportunities every Saturday, mike battey’s photography twice a month and a Google Drive of resrouces — DIY instruction manuals, all the machinery around hacker lab, resources to get materials locally, how to file — all the resources to start business.

The main goal of this is to help take members from hobbyists to businesses and at the very least side-hustles.

I’ve brought on 4 people who didn’t even realize they want to do sidehustles to Hacker Lab as members through the farmers market – to get people more interesting in selling.

A lot of people don’t realize they can sell what they’re making. You can!

-
Members: Sign up for Michael's office hours this Friday here; our next free product photography session here and stay tuned for monthly workshops with Mike. Or, join our Slack for updates on farmers market booth availability. Not a member? Learn more here. 

Posts relacionados

0 Comentário(s)

About the Author:

Events you might like: