I get a LOT of questions each and every week about how to get started as a maker who wants to open a business. What’s the best path forward? Do I have to get a sales tax permit? Can I wait to open a biz bank account until I have steady sales? How is this going to affect my tax refund?

There are so many questions. And not really any clear & comprehensive resources out there…like wouldn’t it be so nice if you got a little pamphlet in the mail with all this info once you started your Etsy shop?

Unfortunately there’s not. And making your finances EASIER and more COMPREHEND-ABLE is exactly why I started Paper + Spark in 2014.

It’s also why I debuted my signature course, the Get Legit Toolkit, in 2017. The Toolkit is your one-stop source for getting ALL your creative business’ financial ducks in a row.

I could go on and on about why this Toolkit is not only so needed in our community but also worth the investment of your time, energy, and money. But instead, I’d like to share some of the testimonials I’ve received from real life students of my program.

Hearing from an accountant about how I can help you deal with your finances is probably less exciting than hearing from real life artists & makers like YOU who went from confused to confident when it comes to their financial responsibilities as business owners. If you’re not sure if you can do this, I want to assure you that YOU CAN! Just look at these three amazingly talented ladies who GOT IT DONE! ✅

rock n rollie cholie

Nichole Oenes – designer of Rock n Rollie Chollie

“I have been knitting since I was 15 years old, crocheting for the past 3 years, and taught myself how to sew back in 2013… unless you count those fun Home Ec. days in school growing up!  In early 2018, there I was, sitting on the couch, yarn and crochet hook in hand, I dreamt of being a part of this amazing Maker world I saw through an Instagram lens…

Being a stay-at-home mama, I was able to dedicate my time to learning so many techniques and trades.  As more time went on, my little family really started to struggle to make ends meet.  So, I found myself wanting to do something that I actually ENJOYED as a profession but also brought in money to provide for my family. 

I came across Toni from TL Yarncrafts, Chantal from Knitatude, and Melissa from Woods & Wool and their Instagram/Facebook Group “Maker Strong.”  I learned so much from them on my worth as a maker and knowledge to be able to use it in a professional way. 

The group held a webinar and brought an AMAZING person named Janet LeBlanc on to talk… She gave such great advice and information. I was completely intrigued on finding out how I could take this LOVE and PASSION I have for making things with my hands and obtain an actual, legitimate profit to help provide for my family.  So I went to her website, Paper + Spark, and was in awe of the *free* content and information that Janet had already provided through blog posts, social media posts, etc.

There she was talking about her new course, the Get Legit Toolkit, which she came up with to really truly help makers know the legal side of their craft and the steps on how to become an actual small business owner.  It felt so freeing knowing that I could go into business for myself and that I could actually enjoy what I was doing and to KNOW what I am doing. 

Now, did I have the finances right then and there to be able to put any money into starting a business? Not really! But something inside of me kept telling me to just try the course and make that first leap into building a life better than we had.  So, I scrambled to find the funds and bought Janet’s course, the Get Legit Toolkit!

One afternoon, I decided to finally start my new course.

I was BLOWN AWAY with just scanning over the overall content she had provided.  Right off the bat, I learned SO MUCH about what is actually expected of me and fellow small business owners from my own state government and the federal government. 

I love how Janet has you come up with a reward for yourself for completing the course.  I am most definitely a person who is not motivated unless I know that it truly has a good *reward.*  So, I hunkered down and really focused on each module, which did not feel difficult at all!  Janet really takes you by the hand and gives you a step-by-step approach on what to do next while setting up your small business. 

Being a 21st century person, I enjoy learning visually, and Janet has that covered!  You really feel like your close friend is sitting in front of you, explaining why certain steps are very important and how to get them DONE.  Even the intro/outro music is loved by my family… I found my husband and daughter dancing on more than one occasion!  The ability to pause and replay really helps the information stick and I always know that I can go back to that specific topic and re-learn so I know without a doubt on what to do next or what certain information means.  The course is FULL of really amazing resources, just a click away! 

When I purchased my course, I decided to get the level of the course with the most products included..and I’m SO THANKFUL I did.  I just barely completed the whole Get Legit Toolkit and have a whole BONUS course chalk-full of even more resources, checklists, legal advice, and more!  I can’t believe how IN-DEPTH this course has been and how KNOWLEDGEABLE I feel going forward. 

I’ve seen so many fellow friends and handmade shop owners just trying to make money and not think about the legal ramifications of not taking the steps to legitimize their business.  So much hard work and time and effort can be lost if they don’t decide to make the right steps…I don’t even want to think about where myself or my small business would be without the knowledge I have now and the necessary tools to keep building!  

It is the beginning of 2019 and tax season is rolling right in!

I find myself being so prepared and ready to accomplish my first tax preparation as a legal and LEGITIMATE small business owner.

I understand the lingo and don’t view tax forms as a scary legal word and number game anymore.  I even have been teaching others who aren’t in the handmade world, about what certain tax phrases and expectations are.  They are so surprised with the amount of knowledge I have about taxes, they each have assumed I took a college course! 

The Get Legit Toolkit is truly an indispensable course if you are a handmade shop owner or someone who wants to take their crafty loves and be able to make a living off of it!  With the lifetime access, all the resources, videos, and modules broken down into individual topics, you will really find yourself prepared for the big world of business ownership!”


BPaul Creations

Barbara Paul – designer of BPaul Creations

“Sell your jewelry!” I said. “It will be fun!” I said.  

So, three years later, I am selling my jewelry and it is fun.  I got my business license; my tax number and I was off and running!  

Unfortunately, I knew nothing about bookkeeping or what was the difference between inventory and materials.  When a friend informed me that I was supposed to do an end-of-the-year inventory count, I was stunned.  Count all those little beads I had so much fun buying?  You’re kidding me, right?  Nope.

Thankfully, I found Paper + Spark.  My Paper + Spark Inventory Spreadsheet has changed my world. 

So, I had my spreadsheets, now what?  I’m golden, right?  Well, as I said, the business end wasn’t my “thing” and I wasn’t always great at keeping up with everything (it was more fun making earrings than keeping up with receipts).

One thing I have learned about Janet is that she is stellar about trying to help her clients.   When I saw that she was offering a “Get Legit Toolkit” to further help me on my path of getting my business organized and helping me to understand my business, I knew that it would be a good thing.  

Working through the program at my own pace, checking in with Janet at the end of each module (through a closed group Facebook posting), I felt like I was getting the understanding and support I needed to make sure my business was getting the attention (from me) that it needed.  

I just got back from the accountant and he said I was in the top 1% of the small business owners he sees in terms of having my numbers in order, readable, and ready to go!  Thanks to Paper + Spark.”

Carolyn Smith – designer of Carolyn’s Jean Bags

“I think of myself as a classic example of an Etsy seller. I initially started out making items for family and friends. Sometimes they would pay me but mostly what I did were gifts… Our town was starting up a Farmer’s Market and they were offering local crafters the option of setting up a booth. I applied and was amazed that I managed to sell 5 items in just one afternoon.  

The following January (2016) after carefully reading the Seller Handbook on Etsy, I opened my shop. I did have enough financial sense to use a separate checking account from my personal checking account, but that was the limit of my financial wisdom. I didn’t think about sales tax, and while I knew I would have to report my income on my federal taxes, I was not aware of how that was done. So all through the Summer and Fall of 2016 I sold at craft fairs and online.

Facing my first year filing as a business, I stumbled on the Facebook group Accounting & US Tax Compliance. There I saw an ad for the Bitesized Bootcamp [from Paper + Spark] which would help me get my books in order for my tax preparer. It was a life-saver that first tax season, but it really exposed how little I knew about the legal/financial side of the business. I just saw my business as a hobby and had not really thought out all the other parts of a business.

When I received an email from Janet offering the Get Legit Toolkit and describing all the various modules, I signed up immediately. I knew from the Bootcamp that Janet designed courses that were easy to follow.  

Here were the answers I was looking for.  How to get an EIN. How to set up a business banking account. How to do Inventory correctly not last minute. The fact that I needed to register with my town for a DBA.  All the items I had read on Etsy in the Seller Handbook which were so vague and incomplete now made sense.

The statements that the SCORE people had made about business name and registering with local authorities was replaced with concise instructions. At no time did I feel condemned for having put off all these tasks. Rather simple instructions and videos gave me a feel of “I can do this”. I can really handle the business side of crafting. I can handle my finances. I can’t say I love the financial side of running my business. Keeping my books up is always a challenge, but having complete the course I can now feel confident that I am legit.  

There is a lot to setting up a business on Etsy or even your own web site that is not really explained. Sure I could have DIY’d  a lot of these items, but there are ones I never thought of like sales tax or registering my business name as a DBA. I now recommend this course to every seller I run into at craft fairs. So many of them are just like I was, crafters who haven’t a clue. They don’t realize what is needed to be legal and financially sound. I have sent links to friends who think they should open a shop to hopefully keep them from making the same mistakes I made. 


I want to give a huge shout of thanks to these women for sharing their stories with us!


Interested in learning more about your financial responsibilities as a maker? Check out my free workshop below and get your learning on!

when to worry about taxes for your handmade shop