When Phoebe Sherman decided to start selling her homemade jewelry at local fairs, she faced many challenges. Existing fairs were exclusive and very expensive for small business owners and solopreneurs.
So, she decided to organize her own more inclusive craft fairs. As her success grew, so did demand, and she created Girl Gang Craft. Her journey wasn’t easy, and she came up against many obstacles, but she stayed the course. Today she’s making +$10k per month by selling her crafts, organizing fairs and summits, producing a podcast, and teaching small business owners how to thrive.
In this interview, Phoebe talks about:
- How and why she got into the craft scene
- Why she started her own fair
- Why she launched a podcast
- How Girl Gang Craft came to be
- How much money she’s making
- The strategies she uses to grow her email list
- The books that have inspired her the most
- Which tools are most useful in her business
- The biggest challenge she’s faced
- Her most notable accomplishment to date
- How she views mistakes
- Her advice for other entrepreneurs
Hope you enjoy!
Meet Phoebe Sherman
I always knew I wanted to do something with art, and I knew as a young adult I didn’t want to work for anyone else. Also, I had problems with authority, and I generally thought my ideas were better!
I went to UCSC and studied studio art and found feminist studies along the way. In college, I discovered yoga, and immediately after I graduated, I took a yoga teacher training course. I proceeded to teach yoga classes for 7 years while waitressing to pay my bills.
In the midst of that, I was making simple jewelry for something to do with my hands, and I started selling my work around the Bay Area craft fair scene. Then the 2016 election happened, and when Trump called Hillary a “Nasty Woman,” I created an art piece in response.
It was this woodcut print with a uterus and a diamond that said “Nasty Woman.” This uterus emblem became the humble beginning of my apparel brand. The uterus was then screen printed on fabric, and I made pouches and then sewed patches on vintage jackets. Then it became an enamel pin, which still exists today. I donated 10% of the proceeds to Planned Parenthood.
The Local Craft Scene
However, I discovered the craft fair scene was expensive and exclusive. I wasn’t always getting into the shows, and booths were as much as $800 a weekend, so I decided to make my own event. I gathered 15 artists for a mini craft fair in my friend’s cafe in Oakland. That was back in 2017. It was a success, so we did it again and again.
Now our craft fairs have 100+ vendors, most of which are women, non-binary and trans individuals, and we’ve had shows in LA, and now Salem, MA. We’ve hosted conferences and offer a podcast, classes + courses for creatives to thrive.
We hosted the first #smallbiz summit in 2019 in-person in Oakland and then again online in 2021 for small business owners. Today we offer a class on brand partnerships and email marketing, plus a Reels class and branding classes. We have a lot of evergreen courses.
In 2020, we launched a podcast, with a cadence of episodes every other week.
Some episodes are lessons from me on showing up on video, getting ready for holidays, craft fair tips, etc. Most episodes are interviews with femme creatives from all types of niches. You can check out our episodes on all platforms or watch them on YouTube.
How and Why She Created Girl Gang Craft
Starting out as a creative/small business owner/designer/whatever is hard. I wanted to create an event that was affordable, fun, and vibrant (and political!)
Today our business looks much different than when we started, but our mission has always stayed the same: to help femme business owners make money doing what they love while building some community along the way. That’s how Girl Gang Craft came to be.
How Much Money Phoebe Sherman is Making
Last year, we made 120k in revenue, and we’re on our way to maybe 200k this year. Remember that is revenue; my profit is less.
My income streams are as follows:
- Craft fairs
- Gift guides
- Classes and courses
- Partnerships, affiliates, and sponsors
- Apparel sales
How She Markets Her Business
We use social media, mostly organic for advertising. Additionally, we use ads to advertise events to customers, and that often gets us more vendors. We do direct outreach to get vendors, especially in a new city. But word spread fast about us in Salem this year, so we didn’t do that this season.
Her Email List
Our email list is at 5k active subscribers. We use all sorts of ways to get people on our newsletter list, and we offer a class for this!
Mostly we offer guides or freebies to get people to sign up, and also our 5-day Reel challenge was a great lead magnet. We also do in-person raffles at our craft fairs to get sign-ups.
Achieving Current Revenue Levels
It took us 5 years.
Phoebe Sherman’s Favorite Resources
Some of the books that really inspired me this year were:
- Money Magic: Practical Wisdom and Empowering Rituals to Heal Your Finances, by Jessie Susannah Karnatz
- How to Build a Goddamn Empire: Advice on Creating Your Brand with High-Tech Smarts, Elbow Grease, Infinite Hustle, and a Whole Lotta Heart, by Ali Kriegsman
- You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero
- Untamed, by Glennon Doyle
- Atomic Habits, by James Clear
- We Should All Be Millionaires: A Woman’s Guide to Earning More, Building Wealth, and Gaining Economic Power, by Rachel Rodgers, and
- Launch: How to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams, by Jeff Walker
Phoebe Sherman’s Top 3 Tools
My favorite tools are:
Flodesk, for email marketing. Email marketing has been a crucial way to stay in touch with our audience and to make sales. I love Flodesk, it is female-founded and so easy to use, and gorgeous!
Asana, which is the best way I’ve found to communicate with my team and stay organized with projects.
Google Calendar is so simple but a trusty way to stay on task, schedule meetings, block my time, and know what is happening!
We have a team of 6 (including me), all part-time (except me!) independent contractors who have their hands in other projects or have their own businesses.
Her Biggest Challenge
I quit teaching yoga in December in 2019, right before the pandemic, ready to take my events business to the next level.
Obviously, that didn’t work out so well. That time was stressful and so scary. Working for myself full-time, and really having no idea what was going on for my business, much less the state of the world. We made it work by bringing many of our offerings online.
Her Most Important Accomplishment
It was really exciting to speak at the Adobe Conference. I would say that is my “biggest accomplishment” on paper. But recently having a Zoom meeting with my team of 7 was so powerful, and I felt like my little business is real.
I taught about how to make videos for your product-based business.
I’ve also spoken at PLANOLY’s conference.
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
The business that you start with will not be the business you stay with.
Read the room, and also, follow your enjoyment.
Phoebe Sherman’s Main Mistake
I don’t believe in mistakes! I’ve learned so much from everything that didn’t go “as planned.”
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Be kind to yourself! Be patient! Don’t quit your day job before you’re ready, but also take that leap when you can.
Oh, and keep going!