Throughout 2018 we’ll be bringing you curated lists of books for craft business owners. Erin Dollar, founder of Cotton & Flax, a home decor products company based in California, is an avid reader with a library of books to share. She’ll be choosing a selection each season and describing what each book has to offer. To kick things off here is Erin with our winter book picks!

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Book list for craft business owners

The internet is awash with useful tips to help us run our creative businesses, but sometimes we need to get away from the screens, and sit down with a good book. I’m excited to share my new seasonal reading list for creatives, highlighting books that will inspire your creative work and strengthen your business ambitions in 2018. Here are my picks for this season:

A timely release from author Erin Falconer may be the perfect book to start the new year. How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything so They Can Achieve Anything was released on January 2nd, and is a great read if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed in your business or your life. Falconer outlines the ways that modern society and the rise of the internet have contributed to women taking on too many tasks to be truly productive. This book is particularly targeted to the struggles women face with productivity, but you don’t have to be a woman to discover some valuable advice here.

An interesting chapter in the book dives into scientific reasons why we aren’t meaningfully fulfilled by checking items off a to-do list, and why we actually can’t achieve our goals by simply adding hours to our workday. Falconer shares the concept of the “default mode network,” the restful state that allows our brain to synthesize data, play with information, and solve problems. Falconer posits that our mile-long to-do list prevents us from doing the deeper, meaningful work of building a fulfilling career and life. In later chapters, Falconer offers solutions to build a personalized guide to re-discovering your true priorities, and provides a framework to restructure your approach to work and life that centers those values. Her writing is relatable and humorous, and her holistic view of productivity is refreshing, especially for those of us running online businesses.

If you’ve already clarified your goals for 2018, you may be craving some creative encouragement. Creative Pep Talk: Inspiration from 50 Artists by Andy J. Miller offers just that, in a fun, easily digestible visual format. 50 talented artists and illustrators each contributed an illustrated motivational quote, accompanied by a short description of where the quote came from, or what it means to them. Some of my favorites were Jon Burgerman’s, “If you can’t be good, be different,” Meg Hunt’s, “You cannot live your whole life in comfort zones,” and Jen Mussari’s, “Make friends, not contacts.” This book isn’t a how-to book. It’s a beautiful art piece, which inspires you to get to work on your creative dreams.

Work It: Secrets for Success from the Boldest Women in Business is a recent paperback release that’s focused on seeing women thrive in their careers. Author Carrie Kerpen highlights stories of high-profile women from many industries to teach fundamental lessons about career growth. While the advice is often tailored for traditional corporate careers, there are definitely takeaways for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers as well. Chapters like, “Hack Your Highlight Reel” and “Stand out with Social Media,” are especially relevant for creative business owners looking to increase their visibility. The cheerful and cheeky tone helps make difficult topics (like sexism in the workplace, dressing for professional credibility, and family planning) more palatable. Kerpen acknowledges that women have an extra set of expectations placed on them professionally, and offers guidance on how to network and build up the support you need to sustain a successful career.

The title is borderline obnoxious, but hear me out: Read This if You Want to Be Instagram Famous By Henry Carroll is actually a concise guide to adapting your photography for Instagram success. Behind the shiny gold cover is are insightful testimonials from Instagram stars who shed light on techniques that have helped them gain admiration on the platform. Beyond just photography tips, this guide offers best practices to follow as you engage with your community, and stats to illustrate how different features can grow your reach. A great place to start for anyone who has been unsure about how to use Instagram to promote their creative work.

Perhaps the most practical book on my reading list this season is a brand new title: Sit Strong: Everyday Exercises to Stretch and Strengthen Your Posture by Harriet Griffey. Creative business owners may get to set their own schedules, and create their dream work environment in their studio or home office, but they’re not immune to the issues that plague typical 9-5 workers. Many creative entrepreneurs and freelancers often lack the support they need to prioritize the care of their body, and get the rest they need. I’m recommending Sit Strong to all my creative friends — improving our work habits and prioritizing our health will help to sustain us throughout our careers.

What are you reading this season? Tag @craftindustryalliance on Instagram (and me, too — I’m @cottonandflax), and show us what you’re reading!


Erin Dollar is an artist, surface pattern designer, and founder of Cotton & Flax, a collection of boldly patterned textile home decor that is designed and manufactured in California. Her work has been sold in 100+ retail shops, from indie boutiques, to large mass-market retailers like West Elm, CB2, and Need Supply. By growing her ecommerce business to accommodate wholesale buyers, she has built a sustainable business that generates income year-round, and built a platform for long-term growth. See her webinar, Wholesale for Craft Business, in our archives.

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