It started with make-your-own-wine stores in the '90s, flourished through the '00s with the "maker" movement of tinkerers and artisans, and today, the DIY industry is still hand-blazing a skyward path. The Maker Faire in San Francisco has quintupled attendance since launching in 2006. Last year, Etsy.com, the beating felt heart of craft culture, recorded $500 million in sales within eight months.
But truly doing it yourself—whatever it may be—is out of reach for many in a world strapped for time, space and resources. And that gap between desire and ability is an opening for businesses that can deliver the bragging rights and authenticity of DIY without requiring you to, well, actually do all the work.
"It's about being able to make stuff personal, even if it's only a tweak," says Chris Kreinczes, senior editor of U.K.-based trend-hunter Springwise.com. Kreinczes' spotters are seeing simplified takes on DIY everywhere from gardens-in-a-box to quirky twists on packaging, such as a CD release by musician Kid Koala that came with a functioning cardboard turntable.
Kreinczes says a DIY flair is best suited for products that become personal statements, such as makeup or customizable fashions. There's particularly ripe soil in gourmet food, where people want to know how something is made. Firms like Calgary's Makecheese.ca, which offers simplified mozzarella- and brie- making kits, and Vancouver's Patch, which home-delivers pre-sprouted desktop herb farms, offer buyers a hands-on experience and a sense of control over what they put in their bodies.
Kreinczes says the key to success with facilitated DIY is to make sure consumers' experience is enjoyable—and the end product doesn't mimic something they could have bought in a shop. It's about the process as much as the product.