I’ve always been interested in a lot of Japan oriented crafts. This includes Origami. Suddenly, I thought of a business idea: “Why don’t I create Origami art and sell them?” I guess I’m not the first person who thought of this idea.
Inspired by the thoughts of making money on a seemingly simple idea, I began to do online research if this business idea was sound. Almost immediately, my seemingly brilliant business idea was watered down by an article I saw online:
Online Article: Why selling origami is a bad idea
I must say that she has verified what has been tugging in my head ever since I thought of the business idea. To make the point simple, it takes time to create an origami paper craft, unless you are doing nothing else, your time is almost always better spent working on something else.
Make no mistake. Origami is a very financially cheap business to start and operate. All you need as raw materials are paper and almost nothing else. You don’t have to buy expensive machinery and other raw supplies unlike other products.
But therein lies the trap of this craft, since your product is made out only of paper, chances are that the buyers of your origami craft would not value it greatly. You may be lucky to find a few enthusiastic buyers who are willing to pay for your time, but this is not very likely.
This is because time is valued based on supposed result. There are artists and other creators of all kinds from painters, writers, software developers, inventors and so on who create something for sometimes years on end, but never earn a penny from their creation.
This is the reason why machines are invented. Machines are better suited to making use of time rather than humans. In terms of Origami, if humans started making Origami machines, very soon, this art would be only present in factories.
And this is already happening. I did a random search on Alibaba if there were companies in China mass producing Origami paper crafts, I happen to find a factory staffed only by four people.
This company that I’m referring to, is mass producing Paper Cranes. If you are not familiar with paper cranes or Origami Cranes, all you need to do is Google the keywords: “Paper Crane” to have an idea of just how popular they are.
Their popularity extends not only in Japan where there is a great cultural affinity of them, but even in other countries. There are enterprising people who have capitalized on this and are selling them on a wholesale basis, like by the hundreds.
Your eyes might have widened by the mere thought of making hundreds of paper cranes. Even if you like making origami paper cranes, I know that you would balk at the idea of making hundreds of them.
But this is apparently what a few enterprising businesses are doing. If there are people doing this on a mass scale, it only means that there is a genuine demand for them, most notably in Japan where some celebrations necessitate their use.
But is making paper cranes really difficult and time consuming? For the answer to this, I suggest watching a few YouTube videos about how to create these paper crafts. A YouTuber was able to create one in less than five minutes in a leisurely fashion.
YouTube Video: Miniature crane origami (tutorial)
If a paper crane could be made in under five minutes, then it means that someone could make twelve paper cranes in an hour or 96 paper cranes in eight hours. So, to make paper crane making commercially viable, 100 paper cranes should equal a days wage or even much less.
I don’t know if the paper crane factory in China has automated the process, but I assume that they have simplified the process already by making some processes akin to mass production. For example, the process of cutting the paper into smaller ones can be done by a machine.
The simple folding processes of the paper crane would have been automated already and all that would remain in the production process would be the factory worker putting in the final folds of the paper crane.
These simple mass production techniques could have reduced significantly the time needed to create a paper crane. It should be noted that these mass production techniques makes each paper crane also more identical or uniform with each other.
Here is a YouTube proof of concept video which shows that given time, anyone can create an Origami folding machine:
It’s clear that once you develop or acquired a machine that creates Origami craft or other paper folding craft, the issue of time investment as related to manufacturing cost significantly diminishes.
Here is a simple Origami cutting machine that proves how cost effective are these machines in making not only paper craft making easier, but more profitable: YouTube Video: Make pieces FAST & EASY | 3D origami Machine
I don’t think this machine is expensive for the average individual, but look what it can do in terms of making a paper cutting and folding business more financially viable. As can be seen by the video, intricate paper crafts can be made for the fraction of the time using automation.
But nothing is more convincing than this video: YouTube Video: Paper Plane Folding Machine Gun - 120 Planes Per Minute!. This is not strictly Origami, but it’s paper folding art as well.
Imagine if a mechanical machine expert put their mind into building mechanical machines that can do intricate Origami. Imagine for example our humble toilet roll paper having Origami folds in them.
In one of the previously linked YouTube videos which showed yellow colored strips of paper being punched to create pieces of paper which can be folded, the punching machine showed how cost effective punching machines can be.
I estimate that a person with a scissor would probably spend close to half an hour to do the same thing that the machine did in mere minutes. In terms of wages per hour, this is a very costly expense!
This made me realize another important thing in paper crafts: Paper folding machines may not be as useful as paper punching machines. This is because paper folding crafts are not as popular as paper shape cutting crafts like scrapbook making.
The number of websites devoted to paper cutout arts and scrapbooking are proof that paper cutouts are more popular than paper folding art. The reason maybe is because paper folding needs skills while cutting paper cutouts just entails cutting patterns on paper.
But this is further simplified by punching machines which eliminates the need for anyone to spend a reasonable time just to cut a reasonably complex pattern. In fact, there are many cheap paper punching machines being sold online for just such purpose!
I tried to watch YouTube videos about DIY paper punching stamps. Some of the videos I watched entailed cutting razor blades in order to make a puncher which is dangerous that I don’t recommend it.
Besides, there are already a lot of commercially available cheap punching stamps that are sold wholesale and in batches that simply making your own DIY paper punching stamps seem very less practical.
I recommend just buying the commercial ones rather than creating them yourself. I happen to come across a video: YouTube Video Paper Punch Craft Haul/ Introduction to Paper Punches/ How to use Paper Punch.
The video shows a woman with a collection of paper punching stamps. She even showed how easy and safe it was to use them. It’s important to note that she showed that paper punching stamp quality is so top notch now that DIY versions are no match for them.
If you look at it, she has the makings of a micro factory with her paper punching stamps as her factory machines. Her differently colored papers are her raw materials, and she herself is the lone workforce for her micro factory.
Let’s get practical here, not anyone has the money nor the time to use all of these paper punching machines. A family or a company may want paper star shapes during Christmas, but are unwilling to make them by themselves.
If you have a paper punching stamp with a star pattern, this could be your opportunity to earn. Perhaps a flower shop might want paper flower cutouts in their shop and their packaging, this could be another opportunity for you to make money.
But let’s make it simple and turn our attention back to scrapbooking. I’m sure not everyone who’s into scrapbooking is enthusiastic about buying several paper punching stamps to perhaps only use them once.
The more paper punching stamps you have, the greater choice you can offer your customers. You can also sell them in a mixed bag pattern. You may sell for example a bag of cutouts containing an assortment of stars, flowers and so on.
You can even sell scrapbook pages and other paper sheets adorned with the different paper cutouts you sell. Again, we should not underestimate the skill of “creativeness” when it comes to marketing your paper cutouts.
Cheap and simple paper folding and punching machines could be the very thing one needs to make a paper craft business profitable. This is because paper folding and cutting can be a tedious task that costs a lot of money in labor costs.
With paper being only your raw materials and these cheap folding and punching devices your “factory machines,” you could already start a business right in your very home. As you can see, anyone can do this at a very cheap cost.
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