{Handmade Business in 31 Days — Day 6, Where to buy materials.}

Day 6// Purchasing materials can be super exciting or super frustrating, depending on the angle you approach it with. If you’ve found the perfect list of affordable vendors it’s easy, fun +inspiring. If you paint, selecting new hues to your basket is like a double dose of inspiration. Same goes for picking out buttons, fabric, markers, yarn, paper… Oh, just typing those words makes me want to visit a craft store.

Craft stores, yep — that’s a term we should discuss. Sometimes craft stores are PERFECT for purchasing basic materials in bulk. But only if you can snag those items when they’re on sale, either 30-40% off, plus you have an extra coupon for 20% off your entire order. Scoring a similar to wholesale deal makes you a smart materials shopper. But working with a 10-25% off coupon at the local craft store just won’t cut it, especially long term. Remember when we talked about pre-made or made-to-order? If you haven’t read it — what are you waiting for, I’ll still be here when you’re done ;) Knowing which production process is best for your biz is so important! And shopping for materials plays into your production process.When you can save 40% or more on your order you’re basically buying materials at wholesale price. And wholesale is a glorious thing for us making large batches of items! ;)

If you’re testing out a new material or technique, shopping at a craft store can help you decide which item to use but at a super low cost to your business. You don’t NEED to buy at wholesale because you’re making a {likely} small purchase. But if you’re having to buy a lot of materials and you just aren’t sure if this new project will work the way you think it will, placing a wholesale order through a larger company will likely cause you some pain in the dollar department ~ because you’ll have taken a risk. And what if your new project doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to? Hmm… See? These are things to think about now.

So let’s talk about wholesale through larger companies. This could mean buying from the designer direct or shopping from a wholesale outlet {use Mr. Google for this} or wholesale distributor, giving you 40-50% off your order. If you have a lot of materials to buy this is a great route to research. If you search hard enough you’ll find a store that allows you to purchase any quantity at a wholesale price. Otherwise you’ll have to purchase a set quantity {often $200+ in materials per item} and there isn’t much give + take.

Another tip I learned is to read through the fine print of your favorite store/website. Some stores/websites offer wholesale pricing if you place a “large enough” order. So make sure you ask about any special discounts they offer.

Lastly — try to be creative with buying materials. Remember you are creating a unique product with your very own unique style. If you’re searching online with Google, include the material type you’re using when you enter your search. Often times we are asked where we order our signature Gussy Sews tags and while we don’t share this information I always encourage shop owners to search on their own, including the type of material + type of tag in their search. I know for myself it’s easy to underestimate the knowledge I have when it comes to buying materials. It’s too easy to think, “Oh I can’t do this, who am I kidding? I don’t know anything about _____.” But if I switch my mindset to something more open I usually find what I’m looking for, and a lot quicker.

Regardless of where you shop for materials, knowing the maximum price you can pay is key. Shopping from a more-exclusive store {one that “insiders” know about} can help you to have a more-exclusive selection of materials for your products. Consider how popular the store you’re considering shopping from is and how many others will also be shopping from this store. {Unless you are designing your own fabric, molding your own jewelry pieces, dying your own yarn, etc.}

Wanna know a secret? We shop from craft stores, Etsy, private sellers + wholesale outlets. We are confident we’re receiving the best price so we can transform these materials into the best product sold for the best price. Don’t feel committed to one type of seller, have fun searching + allow this to be an always-evolving process!

WHEN SHOPPING FOR MATERIALS:

  • be aggressive with your search
  • know your budget
  • commit to only work with quality materials
  • consider a variety of stores to ensure you’re working with the best selection, price + order quantity

Homework// Think about where you currently shop, including the prices you pay and the prices you sell your finished products for. Do you need to re-evaluate where you shop? If so, you know what your homework is :)

What lessons have you learned from buying materials? Have you received superb advice on buying? Have you given superb advice? Let’s discuss below.

read all posts from our “31 Days” series here

Comments

  1. 3

    says

    This is hard for me right now. As of right now I buy my supplies, yarn, from craft stores. I cringe knowing I just spent $5 on a skein of yarn that I probably won’t use all of it. The things I am making are very small. I’d love to have nicer yarn, but for me I like to feel the yarn and look at the texture before buying it. This makes it kind of hard to buy wholesale items. It makes it to where I just go with what I know instead of looking around. I feel like I spend so much time looking for stuff and researching rather than creating products and it makes me feel like I’m getting nowhere. :/ any advice?

    • 4

      says

      @Alys Hejl, If you knew a brand you liked to work with you could order it online or over the phone. Check it out in person first, then re-order online later. Would that work? I totally get wanting to feel the material first :) You’re smart to think that way! As for your question at the end, it’s OK to put some extra time into researching materials now and later when you’re re-ordering you’ll be able to do it quickly. Maybe researching materials is something you do over + above your typical work day. It wouldn’t be wasted time since it’s benefiting your business {and of course a super important step in having a business}. There will be seasons when you need to work harder or longer, don’t think of it as a setback :)

      • 5

        says

        @Gussy Sews, Thank you so much for encouraging me with that :) I’ve been having a hard time balancing my newborn (my son will be 2 mnths old on Wed!) & getting everything ready for my shop to re-open. I went through all of the yarn I have last night and I think I’ve whittled it down to one company that I really enjoy using their yarn, so I will for sure be researching if I can buy in bulk from them. I have one other question for you, I am trying to get a good number of items prepared for the shop to reopen. I first started out making rosettes and as the market was flooded with them & I didn’t really have a talent for those my shop went on vacay in January & I haven’t opened it back up. I prayed a lot about it and realized the Lord has gifted me with yarn weaving & I am now making things like pacifier clips, booties, & hats. I read somewhere that you should have 100 items to open your shop successfully. I know for me 100 is a whole lot and would take about 6 mnths for me to get prepared. (It’s taken 2 mnths just to get to the point to where I’m making stuff) What number do you suggest of items to have made to open your shop with? (Sorry if this is long)

        • 6

          says

          @Alys Hejl, I would put more focus on having a well-stocked shop verses a set # of items. Maybe start with 4 of each product? If you have 5 product categories and say 5 types of fabric/color ways within each product category then that’s 100 items. Give your customers a variety while shopping so you have a better chance at something catching their eye. One way to figure out product quantity is knowing how many items you can get from a set lot of material.

          For example, if you were working with fabric: say you can get 4 items per yard of fabric. It would be beneficial for you to make all 4 items instead of offering an odd number like 3. The more items you make/can get from this yard of fabric the better your prices will be.

          xoxo

          • 7

            says

            @Gussy Sews, Thank you so much for making that make more sense to me. I’ve been having such a hard time thinking about 100 items. It’s been slightly overwhelming. So a headband with a black bow is considered a different item from the same headband with a blue bow? That makes me feel better about it. The thing is with me doing such little items like pacifier clips I could probably get 20-30 out of the same ball of yarn, which is a huge blessing, but also why I asked how many you would make of each. Thank you so much!! I appreciate all your help :)

  2. 9

    Donna says

    Like Hannah above I am loving this series too. I found you at the best possible time for me. When Hubby came home from work this morning I shared lessons 1 thru 5 with him and he is as excited as I am because he knows this is info I need and it is all “can do” for me. Gussie your encouragement and excitement is truly a God send for me. Unfortunately I am going to have to retire at 62 due to arthritus and limited mobility. I have no problems making the jewelry that I love to craft and will do a few craft fairs a year but need to be successful all year so learning all you are teaching us will give me a much better chance to do that. Thank you for taking the time to be helpful and encouraging to all us that need it.

  3. 10

    Donna says

    I think I am right on the mark for buying supplies. Where I live the are 4 large craft stores, 2 of them being super fabric stores. I go on line and read the weekly ads for sales and coupons for each of them. And whenever possible I will print an extra coupon and take hubby or a friend with me to pay for part of my purchases so get double use of the discount. And I found out that each of the craft stores will take coupons from the other 3 stores. I have also signed up for email notices from a couple of online bead conpanies. I get 1 or more notices weekly from them of deep discounts. Hubby said I was born to shop. : )

  4. 11

    says

    Again love this! I find a lot if my hardware items such as zippers, clips, d rings etc r great prices thru etsy or online. I buy fabric with all coupons possible and in clearance sections or online. Still digging for wholesale places in my area.

    Love this series.

  5. 12

    says

    Seriously, I love this series soo much!! This is right where I am at right now. I am going through my existing stash and making things like crazy, so that I can fill up my shop and so that I can start to buy some new delicious fabrics. I have been wondering where I can buy the things that I need at a better price because let’s face it, the coupon thing works for some things, but not for all. I do have one question though….do you have to register your business name to buy wholesale? Thank you:)

  6. 14

    Gweny says

    Very informative series here.. You missy are now just a stones throw away from fabric heaven in L.A. Have you been yet? I use to go about every other month to stack up on my jewelry supplies but now I am doing jewelry and sewing. So I am trying to come up with a name for my etsy store to compliment both those crafts. I so need to get down to L.A. like soon the fabric district is calling my name.. Maple and 8th here I come.. ha ha.. We still need to meet up one day and do coffee.. Decaf for you.. :) Thanks again.. you are such a sweet blessing..

  7. 15

    says

    It took me a while to figure out buying materials. I deal mostly in burlap and I have found that the best thing for me is a craft store because I really have to be able to handle and see the burlap before I buy it because the weave and color can really be different from bolt to bolt. The rest is usually etsy, I have a couple I always deal with. It’s great when you finally get materials figured out and can say, Finally! I am making money!

  8. 21

    Caitlin says

    Gussy, I am loving this series! It comes at a perfect time as my husband and I have been talking a lot about me starting to sell what I make (things take a lot longer to get going when you have 3 kids. ;). I appreciate all that you’re giving me to think about. Thanks so much for taking the time to do this!
    I tried the link for “pre-made vs. made to order” and it didn’t work….??

  9. 23

    says

    Just wanted to say, I am really loving this series. I’ve been in business for almost 8 years (yikes, where did the time go?), but I’m learning some things from you this week. Thank you!

  10. 26

    says

    Thanks so much Gussy for doing this series. I have thrown around the idea of starting a handmade business for so long and this is helping me think I can do it!

    I’m gonna ask, even though I think you may not tell, but what kind of batting is that in the picture above? I’ve never seen that before and I’m curious.

  11. 27

    Joyce says

    I love all this information, thanks. I have sold crafts just to friends and friend of friends and would like to go into business. I will keep watching for all info. Thanks again. ( oh, where is the place where all that fabric isinglass the picture? Looks like my kind of place! )

  12. 28

    says

    Thank you so much for addressing this topic! Right now I feel like I’m comfortable with the amount I spend on supplies, but I’d like more variety. There doesn’t seem to be much variety in colors & styles amongst sellers in my niche so I’d love to find something that sets me apart without negating my profit margin. You’ve given me tons of great ideas and 3 gloriously full pages in my brainstorming notebook. :)

  13. 30

    Sara says

    This series has been AMAZING for me! I’ve just recently decided that I will be starting my own handmade business (it used to always be “I’d really like to do that one day”). So I’m in the beginning stages of trying to figure everything out right now. There is so much to think about and this series (you’re whole blog really) is a HUGE help. Thank you so much!!

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  1. […] in response to the prompts/homework assignments given by Maggie over at Gussy Sews, as part of her Handmade in 31 days series.  I’ll be writing posts a day or two behind the prompts in order to give myself time to write […]

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