My Failed Small Business

While I was funemployed I had big plans for how to fill my time and bring in a little cash. One of these plans was to start my own Etsy shop. I love Etsy because a. Everything on there is so cool and b. It is a great way to support small businesses (and people who may be funemployed like me) and c. they have extremely low fees so it is easy to get started.

I have had an idea for a while now, inspired by my wonderful ex-roommate, Willow. Willow is very environmentally-minded, and she used to complain to me that she felt so wasteful throwing out makeup remover pads every day. (To those who don’t wear makeup: it’s a thing. Like a little felt circle that helps you take off mascara so you don’t wreck your hand towels.)

So I thought it would be great to make reusable flannel makeup remover pads. I googled it, and there are already a ton of those on Etsy. Good! But they didn’t have any sort of practical system for washing the pads. Some people said you can hand wash them weekly (that snort you just heard was me laughing at the idea of remembering to hand wash makeup pads before they run out). Other people said you can just toss them in the washer (um hello, if a washer makes my socks disappear, do you think my tiny little flannel pads are going to fare any better?). Finally I found a shop that sells mesh bags to wash the pads in….but you had to buy it separately.

Plus…where do you store the clean ones? How do you keep them separate from the dirty ones?

I decided to start my own Etsy shop that sells the pads, the mesh bag and a zip-up storage bag all together. I thought $20 would be reasonable for the set. Having an environmental background, I have a lot of friends who would buy the product (not just because they love me, but also because they buy things from Etsy and they don’t like filling up landfills).

I got a sewing machine (borrowed from my sister, thanks Anne!), bought some fabric for $40 (I just wasn’t together enough to make nice things out of Goodwill flannel shirts, but it would have upped the appeal in the environmental community, let me tell you!) I found a (sort of) pattern. I was ready! Want to see the results?

Look how lovely!
Look how lovely!

I loved it! I was super happy with my results. They look great, are practical, and I was sure lots of people would want them.

Except…it took me about 8 hours to make the whole thing. I’m sure I would get faster, but 8 hours + cost of materials = not worth selling them for $20 each. Waah wah. It doesn’t look like I will be a successfully self-employed craftster after all.

Instead, I think they will make lovely gifts (if I ever have time to make them!). In the meantime, any of you who are craft-minded can make your own and stop using disposable makeup pads and/or make your own Etsy shop with my idea (you have my blessing!)




  1. dont give up on this! when i first started sewing it took forever to do a project now a similar project only hours. you will get faster; you will find ways to save time. maybe check out quilting blogs for shortcuts to cutting out squares. look for sales on fabric and stock up or look into remnants to save on the cost.


  2. I agree with dariusanania! I think it’s definitely an idea worth further investing 🙂
    The only thing I would do is maybe figure out a way to streamline the process (and reduce time) and maybe even increase the price (at least a little). If you ever decide to sell them, I know I’d buy one, and definitely tell those friends I have who wear makeup about them!


  3. Thanks, guys! I appreciate the support. I decided not to go forward with it because I just got a (really awesome) full time job, and I don’t expect to have the time or the energy to run a side business (plus write this blog, too!)
    Maybe at a later time!


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