Hi I’m Cinti, an Australian crafter, blogger and online store owner. Before my daughter Emma was born I had a small handmade baby accessory label which I sold mainly at craft fairs and also to children’s boutiques. Later I opened my own children’s boutique called My Poppet (pictured above). I loved having My Poppet and made a lot of my own product as well as stocking local labels, but unfortunately it was all too hard to manage once I had my baby so I had to close the storefront.
When I read about Jessica’s experiences with an unsuccessful craft fair and nervousness about approaching her local boutiques with her products, I thought I was in a unique position to offer some practical advice. I have been on both sides of the counter, and I want to share a few of my small gems of wisdom with you all.
Advice from a store owner/buyer perspective:
-Be friendly and introduce yourself, we hate stalkers that skulk around, it makes you look like a shoplifter. Tell us about yourself and what you do, but be concise especially if other customers are around, our time is precious. Ask if the buyer/owner would prefer to make an appointment with you, that way you will have their full attention.
-Be realistic about your pricing. Most stores will need to mark stock up 100% to cover things like wages, rent, insurance and the rest. As a wholesaler I thought this was excessive, until I became a retailer! When creating a product start with the retail price in mind then work your way back. Is it viable to make for the price you are wholesaling it at? Can you modify it to make it more economical?
-Create a product that fills a need for the store. A good store owner knows their customers and what sells the best for them, so ask. Each boutique is different, my store barely had any pink clothing for girls as my customers came to me because I offered an alternative to what was on offer in the mass market. Sellers that approached me with pink fru-fru sparkly dresses were wasting their time and mine.
-Think about buying cycles. Stores may have set budgets or buying periods, especially for fashion, so keep this in mind when presenting product ranges. There is no point in showing summer clothing in July (unless you are in Australia) as retailers are probably already marking down their summer clothing to make room for the winter stock they already ordered at the end of last winter.
-Have some marketing material you can leave behind. Sometimes the person you need to speak to is unavailable, the minimum you should do is leave a business card. Make sure you have a price list with contact details, terms, and forms of ordering to leave with the buyer, they may keep it on file and order when they are ready.
-Don’t confuse buyers with a mish mash of products. When I had may my baby accessory range I was known as the ‘bib girl’ because I sold just bibs and baby wraps. I made them in a multitude of beautiful vintage fabrics, but the range consisted of only 3 products. I was the ‘go to girl’ for bibs!
Stick to one or two things and do them really well. Don’t be tempted to totally change your styles and ranges every season, it takes a while to build a customer following.
Advice from a sellers perspective:
-Wholesale is better than consignment. I always preferred to get my money up front. There is more incentive for a store to sell a product that they have paid for, than one they can return at the end of the season. Make sure you clearly state you payment terms up front, pre payment for goods is the norm, especially for first few orders until a relationship is formed.
-Be careful what you wish for. It’s a great feeling to get a huge order but be realistic in which direction you what your business to go. Do you have enough hours in the day to make your order and deliver on your contract? Will you get sick of making the same thing over and over again? I’m not saying you need to have a super fancy business plan, just an idea of what you realistically want to achieve.
I could go on and on…I feel an e-book in the works (what do you think?). I hope I have given you something to think about. Please feel free to leave your questions here in the comments (I’ll pop back to check), over on my facebook page or even on twitter @mypoppetshop
Thank you Jessica for having me as a guest blogger and trusting me with your readers.
How fantastic was that?! I now know I definitely made some mistakes my first time round (which would explain why I haven’t heard back from the boutique yet after sending my prices – doh!)
Seriously amazing. She is one all around talented Momma, with so much to share. And beware of her Shop, you will get stuck there…trust me. Lol.