A year has passed since the COVID-19 pandemic viciously spread across the globe. But if one thing’s for sure—what didn’t kill small business owners made them stronger.
Canadian makers continue to leverage their passion, creativity, and ingenuity to create amazing products that appeal to the new way of shopping. And the results speak for themselves. We’ve seen some of our makers achieve their best years yet, highlighting just how in demand Canadian handmade is.
So, what happened over the last year? And which trends should you keep your eye on?
We all know how popular COVID-19 face masks became. In the earlier days of the pandemic, driving past Michaels or Fabricland was a thrilling sight to see, with single-file Costco lines. Seamstresses and makers were next in line to frontline workers, buying all of the fabric and elastic they could to pump out a new batch of fancy masks and shields for their families and communities.
It didn’t stop there.
The handmade marketplace has transformed almost instantly. Makers have had to do everything they could to stay afloat. Virtually overnight, essential products became the focus.
Savvy makers have been using their influence to spread positivity during this challenging time, connecting with people in their tight-knit communities, and collaborating with other brands to circulate business in the handmade marketplace.
You too can be a part of this movement.
Here are some emerging handmade trends you should consider if you’re looking to become part of the Canadian handmade movement.
1. Get down with do-it-yourself (DIY) kits
Let’s face it. People have a lot more free time while in lockdown. DIY kits are a great way to fill in the time and stimulate their minds. They’re also a great way to encourage creativity and create new experiences with your loved ones.
Your effort to create DIY kits could save shoppers a ton of money. This is especially beneficial as many households are looking for ways to lower their monthly expenses. Making their own products at home could be seen as a fun long-term investment.
Selling DIY kits is also a way to further connect with consumers. It’s a great opportunity for you to share a common interest—creative crafting.
Market this product as more of an experience and get people excited about what makes handmade so special and unique. Give them the opportunity to walk in your shoes and discover what it means to be a maker.
Some DIY Kit examples include natural deodorant, scented candles, funky necklaces, art kits, and soups in a jar.
2. Digital downloads are growing in popularity
If you’re a wooden sign maker, chances are, your products are much too heavy to ship to your customers. Selling digital downloads—a virtual product that you sell—is an alternative, contact-free way to continue selling products like these.
Your product is delivered to the customer through a download, saving you the time, money, and trouble of shipping a hefty item. You can sell digital downloads for the following items: wall signage, wall art, and personalized house décor.
Be on the lookout for The Nooks’ involvement in the NFT craze—starting October 2021!
3. Activity-based products
Parents know all too well how important it is to find creative ways to keep your children busy. The pandemic has only highlighted just how important this is. Activity-based products are one of the easiest ways to solve this problem.
Parents are looking for high-quality activity-based products that can survive rough play. This offers a huge opportunity to Canadian makers capable of filling this need.
Some examples of these handmade products include “Paint Your Own” cookie kits, educational toys, canvas sets for children, slime sets, personalized card games, and puzzles.
4. Renewed focus on female empowerment
What better way to empower women than to remind them of their resilience, power, and impact through visible words? There are so many ways to uplift women everywhere! Create and sell personalized merchandise with positive affirmations and uplifting messaging.
Some examples include personalized wearable merchandise (t-shirts, sweaters, purses, jewellery), coffee mugs, to-go mugs, wall art, journals, stickers, and key chains.
Remind women of their strength, bravery, and ability to persevere in these challenging times.
5. COVID-19 baby boom and baby products
As a result of staying home for over a year, many couples have become extremely close—and you know what that means? A COVID-19 baby boom!
Now is the best time for makers to brainstorm and execute ways to serve this new wave of infants as demand could soon catapult to record-breaking heights.
Who knows, perhaps the next big handmade invention will emerge from this niche.
6. Morphing into the metaphysical
Mindfulness has become a huge phenomenon since the COVID-19 outbreak. People have been anxious and unsure of how to cope with these sudden changes.
Some have lost loved ones and are desperately searching for inner peace. Others are frantically searching for a higher purpose to counter their deep pain and have turned to nature to ease their souls.
Now could be the perfect time for makers to provide products focused on mindfulness and wellbeing. Examples of metaphysical products include crystals, tarot, oracle cards, and intention products.
7. Making COVID-19 products functional and stylish
Makers were quick to rise to the task when it came to making masks and other purpose-built COVID-19 products.
The good (and bad) news is this trend is still a big one. While the initial outbreak saw the rise of COVID-19 masks, we’ve seen an interesting shift in this trend.
Masks have become more than medical safety gear—they have become fashion statements and a part of our daily lives. Makers are now focusing on creating fashion-forward masks with funky and bright fabrics.
And as we now navigate the third wave, makers have taken it a step further. We are now seeing the creation of bulk masks for families, mask holders, mask chains, breath sprays, and scrub hats.
It’s clear consumers understand the importance of COVID-19 masks and products. The focus now is all about making those products functional and stylish.
8. Spend less, buy more: shopping experiences matter
With several restrictions (including the stay-at-home order) put in place to keep Canadians from contracting COVID-19, the traditional retail experience is missed by many.
People are no longer able to go to the movies or to their favourite restaurants to spend their money. This has left many people craving in-person experiences.
What does that mean for makers? We’ve seen the average consumer spending less but shopping more often. Consumers are visiting their favourite stores more often because they crave experiences that gives them a break from remote work isolation.
9. Don’t put too much weight on COVID-19 sales
There has been a lot of uncertainty about what happens after the pandemic ends. How will this pandemic affect small businesses long-term? Is there any coming back from this?
Some businesses—small, medium, and large—have resolved to host their services solely online, believing that the brick and mortar way of doing business is no more—at least for now.
It’s important for makers to be open to this change, yet remain careful not to fall for the ever-fluctuating low-high tide of online business. Anything can happen—you just have to commit to riding the wave.
Don’t make the mistake of seeing COVID-19 shopping trends as a long-term indicator for your business. Certain products (like masks) have thrived during the pandemic, but there’s no guarantee these trends will continue. Be wary of making any projections based on the numbers you have. The pandemic could very well be a black swan event.
10. Treat yo’ self: a rise in personal care
People are becoming more self-aware in an effort to maintain inner peace and tranquility. That means they’re willing to go above and beyond to care for their bodies through personal care regimens.
This has translated into consumers purchasing more natural products to improve personal hygiene, including skincare, foot care, and full-body care. Why not help people take care of the one thing they need to last for as long as possible?
Products in-demand include natural skin soaps, body balms, face moisturizers, wrinkle-managing tools, cleansers, candles, and so much more.
11. The rise of digital learning
Digital learning has populated the overall online marketplace as many are stuck at home burning for something fresh and exciting to do or learn.
Specific to the handmade space, thousands of courses (artisan workshops and learning programs like our own nookSTART) have been in focus as makers look to learn valuable skills. Yours could be the next.
People are willing to learn online because the reality is, there aren’t any other options to overcome boredom amidst a severe lockdown apart from the unproductive hobby of watching Netflix. In addition to digital learning, makers are turning to virtual markets, virtual pop-up shows, virtual shop nights, and tours.
It’s pretty clear virtual is the new norm. It’s in your best interest to hop on that trend.
Ready to start the next Canadian handmade trend?
People have been waiting patiently for the world to go back to normal, but what if this never happens? What if this entire pandemic outset to strengthen our creativity and resilience in the handmade industry?
The Nooks wants to help you stay ahead of the curve, so you and your handmade business are ready for any challenges.Are you interested in becoming a Canadian maker? Join The Nooks today to see how we’ve supported thousands of Canadian makers as they build profitable handmade businesses.