Are you still buying your supplies at Michaels, Hobby Lobby or JoAnn Fabrics? If you’re just starting out, of course you need to figure out what sells best before you invest in large bolts of fabric, quantities of yarn, gemstones or glass.
If you’re going to make a sustainable living selling crafts, you have to make some items that aren’t one-offs. You need to have a bread and butter line that you can produce with fast turnaround even if your pieces are made-to-order.
Let’s say you make baby onesies, for example. You find five yards of adorable fabric on closeout at JoAnn’s and it’s a hit. You sell a ton of that item and people are favoriting it and coming back to your site to purchase but YOU CAN’T GET ANYMORE of that fabric. Yikes!
We live in an instant gratification world. Customers want everything now. If a customer is searching on Etsy for amethyst earrings and you run out of the beads to make your best-selling amethyst earrings, they are going to go to the shop with a similar product that can ship in a couple of days. And you’ve lost them. Probably for good.
So how do you make sure you can always deliver your best selling products AND put a good profit margin on your handmade crafts? If you’re a professional and you’re going to make a living selling crafts, you find a reliable supplier and purchase your materials in bulk. Now you’re probably thinking, “OK, so I’ll Google ‘fabrics wholesale’.” but that’s definitely not the way to find the best suppliers.
Here’s a tip: trade shows. Google “trade shows” + your industry. Of course, if there’s a trade show near you, by all means go to a trade show. You’ll learn a lot and be inspired but you don’t have to do that anymore to find suppliers. Simply go to your industry’s trade shows websites and study the exhibitor list. Then call the rep or distributor for the products you need and that’s how you’ll get the best price. Also, the rep should let you know if they’ll be closing out a particular item. If you can purchase a large enough quantity to keep you stocked through the season, great. Otherwise, select materials that they will be able to continue supplying.
You can also fnd a huge list of trade shows for the maker industry in the Beyond Etsy E-course.
The most successful Etsy sellers I know have a line of at least a dozen products that they can replicate again and again and ship quickly.
If you plan to make a full-time living selling crafts professionally, it’s time to buy your materials like a professional.