Making Money Sewing and Selling Catnip Toys

Young entreprenuer Lupin Tapert shares her experience running a successful business sewing and selling catnip toys.

| March/April 1988

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    When you're making mice to sell, you should use bright-colored calicos.
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    Homemade catnip mice can make your feline happy—and can make you a profit.

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MOTHER knows that many youths undertake interesting, original projects and start their own small businesses. To support these endeavors, we buy and publish well-written articles from children and teenagers concerning their efforts. However, we recommend that all young authors query (that is, send us a letter telling about the story they'd like to do) before writing a full article. Send your queries to MOTHER's Children, MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Hendersonville, NC. 

MOTHER'S CHILDREN: Lupin Tapert starts a successful home business sewing and selling catnip toys. 

Making Money Sewing and Selling Catnip Toys

I raise my own catnip and stuff it inside home-sewn fabric mice. The little catnip toys are a hit with cats—and their owners. There's no mistaking the fact that cats love the scent of catnip's aromatic oils. My tabby will smell, toss, chew and fondle her herb-stuffed mouse until she's in a state of euphoria.

You can sew up a few catnip mice just to keep your own pet happy, or you can think in bigger terms. I started making and selling the mice seven years ago, when I was nine years old, as a way of earning some money at home. I didn't need any expensive machinery or a lot of capital to start the business and could grow the main ingredient in my own herb garden. My mouse business has worked out well. In fact, it's turned out so well that, after I was selling 300 or 400 mice a year, I let my father take over running the business. My whole family, including my three brothers and sisters, now helps make the catnip toys. They're sold all over the country; in fact, in the past year, we marketed almost 7,000 mice!

Growing Catnip Plants

One of my favorite parts of the business is growing Nepeta cataria. Catnip is a member of the mint family and, like most mints, is easy to grow. Once established, the hardy perennial should thrive for years. The seeds are sold in just about any hardware or gardening store, as well as by mail. Sow them indoors in early spring, then set the young plants out (harden them off first) about six weeks later. You can also sow seed directly outdoors in the fall.

Catnip likes full sun but will tolerate some shade. It tends to be most aromatic if grown in a sandy soil, but will do well in most any ground but heavy clay. It's a very low-maintenance plant, except for one thing: You need to protect a new stand from cats! Otherwise, they may roll and play in it and the young plants may not survive.

6/7/2015 4:04:03 PM

I make my own catmint toys and everyone wants to buy them but I don't know how much to sell them for. I need some help. please tell me what you think that I should sell them for if you were me. I also make my own cards and I don't know what to sell them for. my seller name is 316 designs IK.

2/17/2014 9:09:59 AM

Hi, I am disabled and have just started a small craft business. I will be setting up at 5 or 6 craft shows this year. I also have many of my items up on craigslist, but because I recently decided to start this business, I haven't made some of these items yet but I have been crocheting all my life. I did sew quite a bit when my kids were young but I am sure it is like riding a bike. I will find out today. I currently make crocheted bowls, baskets, bookmarks, scarves for any season including infinity scarves, hats, crocheted catnip toys, many many different types of Christmas ornaments, garlands and wash cloths. I also make homemade potpourri in 5 scents. What I wanted to know if you could give me directions to make a sewn catnip toy. I would appreciate of of your patterns. Thanks Nina

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