How Phoebe Grew Girl Gang Craft and Built a Community

How Phoebe Sherman Grew Girl Gang Craft and Built a Community

Phoebe Sherman started a feminist apparel line in 2016 while waiting tables and working as a yoga instructor. The high cost of craft fair vendor fees led her to start and host her own event in 2017, representing the beginning of Girl Gang Craft.

While Girl Gang Craft’s main income stream is craft fair vendor fees from events on both sides of the U.S., the business also makes money in several other ways. In this interview, Phoebe shares how she grew GGC into a thriving six-figure business.

Her story shows what can happen when a business truly connects with a specific community.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • Girl Gang Craft demonstrates the power of a community.
  • Social media has been big for GGC, but Phoebe emphasizes the importance of an email list.
  • The pandemic brought challenges, but Phobe persevered, and GGC came out stronger.
  • Today, GGC benefits from several different revenue streams.

Overview

Business Name: Girl Gang Craft
Website URL: www.girlgangcraft.com
Founder: Phoebe Sherman
Business Location: Bi-coastal (United States)
Year Started: 2017
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 5

How much revenue and profit does the business generate?

Multi six figures

How does Girl Gang Craft make money?

The majority of our income comes from craft fair vendor fees. Our other revenue sources include class and course income, coaching, brand partnerships/podcast commercials, and apparel sales (IRL, online + wholesale). I have a long-term relationship with Adobe Express as an ambassador.

Girl Gang Craft
GGC craft fair. Photo courtesy of Phoebe Sherman

How did you launch Girl Gang Craft?

I was trying to get my wares out into the world and finding the craft fair world to be exclusive and expensive. Some Bay Area shows were upwards of $800 for the weekend, and that was just not viable for artists just starting out. So, I decided to start my own craft fair.  I gathered 16 or so maker friends that I had met at other markets, and started a new Instagram, and called it Girl Gang Craft

That first event was magical, and so we did it again and again. Our Oakland event now has about 100 vendors, and we host our markets twice a year. In 2021, I moved to Salem, MA and we started shows in Salem and Providence, RI. We have plans to start a show in Sacramento this year. We even hosted a conference in 2019. 

During the pandemic, we really focused on helping creatives bring in money online. We started a podcast and offered classes on topics like email marketing, brand partnerships, social media, and even how to throw your own craft fair. 

How much money did you invest to start the business?

Bootstrapped! I used my money from waitressing initially to start the business. I took the money I made from products and put it back into supplies. Eventually, I quit waitressing and doubled down on creative pursuits, doing whatever kind of creative work I could get my hands on, like photography, social media management, and website development. We’ve just grown slow and steady. 

How did you find your first few clients or customers?

Our first craft fair vendors were friends I made during other craft fairs. Our customers were my yoga students and friends. The Instagram started to gain traction and attract our community who signed up for coaching or website help or our classes and our events. I’m still a big fan of fliers! And connecting with other aligned communities IRL. 

Phoebe Sherman
Photo courtesy of Phoebe Sherman

What was your first year in business like?

My first year in business was casual. I was also teaching yoga and waiting tables. The events I threw in August and December were meant to be fun and not stressful. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel of my other income yet.

I started to realize we had something profitable when I threw my spring show in 2018 with 45+ vendors. I quit waitressing around that time and focused on GGC and teaching yoga. That time was the most stressful – I had to figure out how to pay my bills. I was doing social media management for a couple of my yoga studios and put together a website package. I think my first website offer was for $300(!!!). 

What strategies did you use to grow Girl Gang Craft?

Our initial strategy to grow the business was very social media-centered. Also word of mouth and fliers to get folx to come to our events. The cool thing about our events, marketing wise, is that all vendors are encouraged to share about the event, so it has a spiral effect for both getting people to our events, but also growing our social media. 

These days our email list is a huge focus, and growing community both IRL and online. We also have our podcast, do outreach to press/retailers/partners, and run some ads for our events and for our lead magnets. 

Tell us about your team.

 I work with  5 part-time contractors. We have a vendor curator/systems manager, an events manager, a social media manager, a podcast manager, and an apparel manager. All their hours vary, and the roles vary depending on what is needed or if the team structure changes.

I also work with a podcast editor and have various other contractors we call upon if we need specialized work or one-offs. 

What are your future plans for Girl Gang Craft?

I hope to continue to build out our events – more cities, more venues, but also educational kinds of events. I would love to bring back our conference and have more micro-events like meet-ups that foster a creative community.

I hope to be able to reach more entrepreneurs with our classes, courses, and the podcast. I would love to create more financial stability for my family and I, and help everyone I work with achieve that as well. 

I want to lift up folx who have been historically marginalized. With more money comes more power, and thus the ability to create political change. 

How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time?

I didn’t really have a traditional 9-5 and a side hustle. That formula isn’t for everyone. Think about what other types of jobs can make you $$ while giving you time to explore your passion. Waiting tables really worked for me as it yielded a high pay per hour so I could focus on building my business during the day.

When I quit waiting tables, I explored creative projects that could support my goals – like photography, website design, and social media management. This also gave me invaluable skills and taught me what I liked about certain projects and what I didn’t like. It helped shape what my business is today. 

Phoebe at a GGC craft fair
Photo courtesy of Phoebe Sherman

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

I know I’m not alone when I say the pandemic was a hard one for me personally and as a business owner. As we know, running your own business is so personal. When events were canceled, that was my revenue, that was my rent.

Figuring out how to get online and subsidize my income was so challenging, and I was doubling down on work when my partner was temporarily laid off and not working. Managing my mental health during that time was a super challenge. 

Moving through those challenges, however, has helped both my mental health and my business. My business is stronger now that we’ve diversified our revenue streams; I learned invaluable problem-solving skills and learned that I can persevere. 

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Find your WHY. Why do you want to own your business? Why do you want it to succeed? For me, it’s two-fold: I don’t want to work for anyone else, and I want to help other folx who don’t fit into the 9-5 mold.

And then, keep going. Don’t let anything stop you. Keep your why close, and make it happen. (But be kind to yourself in the process, please!)

GGC craft fair
Photo courtesy of Phoebe Sherman

If you had to start from scratch, where would you begin?

I would love to have had my email list started earlier. Double down on your email list, entrepreneurs! Social Media is not everything. Build a list and nurture it. If IG died today, how would you reach your customers? Find ways to attract your customers on your list, and keep connecting with them.

Need help? We have a class for that.

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