Top 5 tools for professional craft shops

March 23, 2022 by Nikki Ray


In the summer of 2021, our military family packed up and moved from the East Coast to the West Coast. We embarked on an 8-day road trip full of new adventures and lasting memories. I made the decision to keep my business going throughout that move. My social media presence was growing, and I was seeing an increase in my customer base and production. I did not want to lose that momentum, so I packed up top tools for professional craft business making that would allow me to keep servicing my customers.

Before the moving truck pulled away, I made sure I had my Top 5 tools with me to keep my small business operating on the road:

  1. A Cricut cutting machine
  2. Any device that runs Cricut Design Space
  3. Quality & durable materials to work with
  4. A heat press.
  5. A desktop printer.

Come explore with me why I chose these items to be in my “starting line-up.”

Cricut Explore 3

In an emergency, if I was told I could grab only two things out of my house and my husband is grabbing the kids, I would grabbing our fire box with important documents and my Cricut Explore 3. That machine is seriously a vital piece to my business right now. This latest version of the Explore series is packed with benefits.

For one, I can cut vinyl without a mat! This was a GAME CHANGER because instead of being limited to 24 inches (the max a cutting mat currently limits you to), I can cut as many shirts that I need, all at once, limited only by how much vinyl I have on hand. Cricut Explore 3 is lighting fast as well. I can admit that at first I was skeptical. How could it get any faster? The first time I had to switch back to my older model, I realized how much the new machine improved its cutting speed.

Most of my orders start with Cricut Explore 3. Shirts are my bread and butter, and the precision with which Cricut Explore 3 cuts the vinyl is unmatched, which is why it’s my first in my top tools for professional craft businesses.

Any device that runs Cricut Design Space

Cricut Explore 3 connects to Cricut Design Space to run. That’s where your computer, tablet, or mobile device comes in. Once you’ve downloaded the software, let your creative juices roll. I upgraded my computer shortly after starting working with my Cricut, and even cleaned out my iPad to start using it exclusively for business. Cricut Design Spac runs best when it is on a device that has the storage and memory to handle it. On a busy day, I could also be printing an invoice from my iPad, while my desktop computer is running multiple machines at once. As a mom of two, who works part-time, volunteers, and is in school, I want to work as efficiently as I can when I’m working on my own business. Having reliable devices allows me to do just that.

“You buy cheap, you buy twice!”

My wise father likes to tell me, “Nikki, You buy cheap, you buy twice.” He taught me that it is okay to spend a little more to ensure you get top quality, and to get a product that will last. That way, you won’t have to buy it again. That nugget has stayed with me when I buy materials for my business.

I wear a lot of hats day-to-day so I am usually looking for time-saving hacks, but I do not want to cut corners. I want my customers to wear their shirts more than once. When I ship the item out, I am confident that the material will hold up and it will feel great on their skin. In order to do this, I do my research on what materials are top quality and what will be durable. Research comes with trial and error, but here are my honest reviews on top materials:

  • Cricut brand shirts look beautiful with Cricut Infusible Ink and sublimation ink. They have a high polyester count that will allow for quick and full image absorption. The sizing can be off, so be sure you try out a few first.
  • Cricut mugs are sturdy and can be beautifully printed on for a lasting design.
  • In every area of my workspace, there is a Cricut weeding tool. The tips last the longest on them, and I am sure to snag them up when they have a sale. Bless my rotary cutter. That paired with the self-healing mat allows me to cut a sheet of vinyl straight out of the machine with ease!

Heat it up!

Once I have created a design in Design Space, cut it at lightning speed on my Cricut machine, and successfully weeded it, the only thing left to do is HEAT IT UP! This is where the Cricut heat presses come into play.

On the go, or when limited for space, these powerful heat presses allow your items to be placed on a variety of materials. You can start with Cricut EasyPress Mini and a cute pair of canvas shoes. Cricut Hat Press lets you customize nearly any type of hat. Maybe you are making onesies as a gift — then the 9’x9’ is perfect for you. Have a full shirt that you are wanting to make for an occasion? The 12’x10’ will be your friend. Cricut EasyPress does not take long to heat up; once at the desired temp, it will be ready to crank out multiple items.

At a certain point in business, it was time for me to scale up. The new Cricut Autopress uses automatic pressure and timing based on your project to help you make more efficiently and less manually. It makes a perfect addition to my tools for professional craft businesses.

There are specific uses and benefits for both, depending on how often you make with them. If you make with a heat press often and repeatedly, Cricut Autopress works wonders. But if you can have both, Cricut EasyPress is more mobile. I was able to take it on my trip and make a beautiful Juneteenth shirt, all from the hotel.

Desktop printer

My go-to, day-to-day printer prints with vibrant colors and has minimal maintenance issues, which makes it easy to make my own labels and stickers. Printing stickers on the printer and using the Print-then-Cut feature on the Cricut expands my toolbox of being able to be a full-scale business owner. Staying organized with the day-to-day paperwork is important, and having a reliable printer allows you to run your business without interruptions, which is a key to success.

I hope this list gets you started. I could go on and on about my must-haves. But, remember, this list is what I have found to be helpful at The Brownie Boutique. There are many other things you’ll need when it comes to tools for professional craft businesses. Do your research, and don’t be afraid to test out a few things first. Even if that means you mess up a shirt or some material here and there. You will appreciate the R&D phase, and the journey it takes to get to the perfect flow.

Are you thinking about selling what you make, or do you sell them today? Share what you sell by tagging @cricut and #cricutbusiness on social.

Happy Crafting, Business Owner!


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