Clutch-Me.Com

Learn. Make. Sell. All about clutches.

4 things that can help your clutch handbag business …

ONE:

Ever noticed how car dealerships are always placed next door to each other?  In each of your towns, car dealerships can often be found on a strip right next to one another. What about clothing stores like The Limited, The Gap, Ann Taylor, and all others all in the same shopping mall or shopping center?

Doesn’t this hurt their business … to be next to their competitor?  Isn’t it counter-intuitive?

Do they know something that you don’t?

There’s actual research that explains the reasons why car dealerships and retail stores have benefited from having their businesses right next door to their direct competitors.  You can read the research in its entirety by clicking wp447, or I can sum up a great advantage that you and all handbag makers can take advantage of.

The gist of it is “taste uncertainty” by the consumer, where the buyer is not really sure of her tastes.  So when a few businesses selling similar items are concentrated in a geographical area, the buyer has a higher probability of finding what she likes.  That also increases the sellers chance of selling something.  With this concentration of stores, the buyers also perceives that there is “price cutting” due to competition so they are more likely to shop there.

Now this is true of brick-and-mortar stores, but what about online shops?

This is the same reason why aggregators like Amazon.com and Overstock.com and Buy.com have continued to experience major growth on the net:  they provide that concentration — a one-stop shop — for buyers.

How does this apply to you?

So to those of you selling your clutches on venues such as arts and crafts shows, Saturday markets, and Etsy, take note:  your fellow handbag makers are not necessarily your competitors.  In fact, they may even help you and your business grow.

You are really competing for the eyes of the ones who go on Etsy (as I do) not knowing what they’re looking for but stumbling upon something that catches their eye through a recent listing, a treasury find, or through the time machine.  You are really competing against other sellers selling products to your potential customer such as jewelry, home goods, and other accessories.  I have gone on Etsy looking for a pillow or some other household good and ended up with a bird ring — something that didn’t even enter my mind.  I have been on Amazon looking for a book and ended up with a Backyardigans DVD.  How does that happen?  Taste uncertainty wins out again!  I will always spend my money at an Etsy store or with an Amazon seller.  So those sellers have increased their probability of getting a sale by being with other sellers rather than going it alone.

BUT your products are hand-made goods, and buyers have come to expect high quality, uniqueness, and personal customer service.  You don’t have to compete on price, because what you’re selling are not commodities.  They are one-of-a-kind creations and Etsy buyers are looking for that.  What you do is entirely unique and cannot be found anywhere else.  And there is a certain cache to that.

So some tips for those who sell at venues with other handmade artisans whether at a craft show or Etsy:

*Don’t compete on price. Offer a fair price for your work and sell, sell, sell on the craftsmanship and creativity that your two hands created!

*Offer something unique that stands out from others. Conversely, please honor and respect copyrights, designs, and trademarks by not making the same things that other sellers have.  No, the market is not flooded with clutches though you may think it is.  It’s still in its infancy.  But DON’T worry:  how many pairs of black shoes, jeans, or handbags do you have in your closet?  There are still untold creative ways to design your clutch to fulfill someone’s wish.  I’ve yet to find a black dress to suit me but I know it’s out there!

*Have your table next to, or near, other handbag sellers. At a crafts show where there are rows upon rows of tables and booths of goods, take advantage of this consumer phenomena and be near others in your category.  I often know right where the concentration of jewelers are and head right to them.  The one outlier that’s in the opposite side lost down a row will not be visited again.

TWO:

And to tie this altogether, one of the frequent questions I am asked is “Where can I buy your clutches?” “Who sells clutches made from your frames?”  or “Where can I buy clutches made from your frames?”

My seemingly esoteric blog about clutch-making has had over 8200 hits and continues to increase daily as my search engine ranking has gone up.  I would like to start offering a page that has links to websites and Etsy shops whose sellers make their clutches from my metal purse frames.  (As you all know, I have an Etsy shop for finished clutches that has been mainly for show since I sell mainly off of Etsy, though my sister has recently listed her clutches in my shop as well.)  I simply do not have the time to make enough clutches to sell on Etsy since what I do make, I sell locally and regionally.  I only have enough time for private orders.  Brag time, I just made clutches for a bridal party of 6.  Check them out!

Bridesmaid clutches using my antique brass with loops and matching purse chains!

So I would like to offer any of you the opportunity, to be linked to my blog and vice versa.  People can go directly from my blog to your store to find clutches that are for sale made using my metal purse frames.  This will take some time as I will need to set up a new page but this will be a “Sellers” page.   This will be another place of concentration of sellers where you can increase your probability of getting a clutch sold by being with others who sell similar things.  And it’s free for you to be listed and linked on my blog.  My blog gets hits and I spend about 3 hours daily answering inquiries.  I need to direct them to where they can buy them, so why not list your shop?

And I know several of you who keep it on the “down low” between your buying and selling accounts, but I want to dispel that myththat your buyers are better off not knowing where you buy your supplies from and how much the materials cost.  Any quick look on Etsy, Amazon, or Google will reveal how much metal purse frames cost, especially those imported from China.  In fact, I’ve gone on Etsy Forums to defend the pricing of clutches charged by handbag makers because the argument was essentially “who in their right mind can charge $100 for a clutch when we know full well a frame doesn’t cost that much”!  My counter-argument is that buyers are not paying for the frame, the glue, and the fabric:  they are paying for the value of handbag maker’s creativity, artwork, and labor.

On top of that, as loyal buyers, I know you are paying more for my metal purse frames.  I know you see the value in buying the highest quality purse frames that you know are tested for lead, that passes the US Environmental Protection Guidelines, that is backed by a 30-day full refund guarantee, and that are trademarked with a special coating that render them beautiful, bright and shiny.  These are NOT the cheap metal purse frames sold elsewhere by others.  So why not emphasize that?  Your clutches are not made using cheap, knock-off, generic “silver” purse frames!  Point that out to your buyers and inform them of the quality that you spend on your fabrics, frames, packaging, and craftsmanship.

THREE:

To that end, I have been asked by several handbag makers about what they can say about the frames that they have bought that would not violate my trademarks and copyrights.  Here’s what you all can say but you may only state the following for clutches made with my purse frames.  I do NOT want to see this with a clutch made with a certain “tear-drop” shaped closure.  Honors system please or legal action will indeed commence!  🙂  *muah*

You can use any of the following for nickel-free purse frames (TM) but you must include the last *** item:

*The metal purse frame is made of iron with a nickel-free finish.
*It is good for people with nickel sensitivity:  it’s hypoallergenic, itch and rash resistant.
*It has a 2-coat protective coating that allows fingerprints to wipe off with ease unlike those with a 1-coat finish.
*It is tested for lead and meets the US’s Environmental Protection guidelines.
*The nickel-free finish is white-silver in appearance and is best described as looking like sterling silver.
***It is trademarked to WhileBabyNaps.Etsy.com and Khuong LLC.

For antique brass:

*It has a 2-coat protective coating that allows fingerprints to wipe off with ease unlike those with a 1-coat finish.
*It is tested for lead and meets the US’s Environmental Protection guidelines.
***It is trademarked to WhileBabyNaps.Etsy.com and Khuong LLC.

For Duskcoat Gunmetal:

*The finish is made with 2 coats that are layered to give a richer texture in color.
*You will see iridescent colors of green, purple and pink under different bulbs/lights (natural, florescent, full-spectrum, etc…) but an eye-level view will reveal a deep gray tone.
*It is tested for lead and meets the US’s Environmental Protection guidelines.
***It is trademarked to WhileBabyNaps.Etsy.com and Khuong LLC.

And for GoldenLock:

*GoldenLock was designed to be warmer than 10K and not as warm as 18K and closely resembles the gold-tone of 14K jewelry.
*It is tested for lead and meets the US’s Environmental Protection guidelines.
***It is trademarked to WhileBabyNaps.Etsy.com and Khuong LLC.

You can also add flourishes to it such as “I use only the best metal purse frames on the market” or “I do not use cheap imitation frames”.

FOUR:

So … big breath … email me directly at inquiries@whilebabynaps.com if you would like a link exchange to my blog to be listed as a seller who makes clutches using my metal purse frames.
What I need:

1. A link to the product listing of your clutch or shop announcement stating any of the above purse frame descriptors above.

2. URL of the shop or blog that you want linked to.

3. Name and short description of your store or goods or target market.

4. A jpg of one of your clutches or a shop banner or logo.  Please keep it under 1 MB.

Any comments and questions??  Please feel free to post them here or email me directly at inquiries@whilebabynaps.com.  Thanks and Happy Halloween!  BOO!

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October 31, 2010 Posted by | Helpful Tips | 20 Comments

New size 6×3 nickel-free purse frame(TM)!

Just a heads-up:  I’ve got the new 6×3 nickel-free purse frame(TM) in kisslock coming out tonight or tomorrow!  (It depends when I will get to it based on my kids’ homework load …)

I should have it listed at both the webstore WhileBabyNaps.com and at my Etsy shop WhileBabyNaps.Etsy.com some time this evening or tomorrow.

It is the same design as the current 6×3 with optional double inside loops as far as the channel width.  I used the same Perfect Fit 6(TM) U-channel design for this.  (The Perfect Fit 6(TM) design has been a complete hit with everyone so I expect this 6×3 size to do well in the bridal market and those gearing up for fall and winter craft shows.)

Here’s a quick look:

Shiny! White-silver in appearance like sterling silver but without the tarnish of sterling silver!

Please remember to plan ahead for the holiday gift crowd.  Plan your purchases and get the volume discounts, combined shipping and save!  The price for these will be similar to the 6×3 with loops, but will be a little less.  (Frames with loops always cost more due to the labor involved with the attachment of the loops.)

As always, thanks for your continued support of my home-based business!

Winn

October 28, 2010 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | 2 Comments

On the current state of US manufacturing

On a subject that is of great interest to me, and one that will affect you, is manufacturing.

As a manufactured product, my metal purse frames, are subjected to the whims of the marketplace:  global and US manufacturing, daily market price fluctuations in metal prices, shipping costs …  Thank goodness I have very long, and good relationships with my various manufacturers.  The Production Managers and Owners work well with me to make my trademarked metal purse frames.

Here’s a sample of the recent headlines:

Slowing growth rate of US manufacturing ... hey, at least it's no longer shrinking!

One of the manufacturers that I work with is in the Midwest.  (For competitive and proprietary reasons,  I will not reveal the location or name.)  Last year, he had a staff of 100 employees working for him.  And this year?  35!

This is typical of what I hear.  So I’ve been working hard with US manufacturers who have existing tooling, people, technology and capabilities to make my metal purse frames.  Unlike China, which subsidizes their manufacturing, the US does not.  So it’s prohibitively expensive to manufacture things here when the retail price can be 3-5 times what foreign imports from China are selling it for.  That’s why I use companies that only need to make minimal investments in order to work with me.

It’s been a classic “Catch-22” in regard to US manufacturing.

*The US can make metal purse frames, but not for the cheap prices that China is selling them for.

*Sellers go to China and import them in.

*US manufacturers do not have the tooling (machines needed to make the purse frames) needed to make it.

*They would have to invest in making the tooling, which they recoup by charging higher for the purse frames.

*The end price is often 3-5 times higher than what China will sell them for.

*Sellers go back to China and import them in.

So how do you as consumers respond?  Are you willing to pay more?

Well, I know I’m preaching to the choir because all of you have paid more for my metal purse frames.  (I am the most expensive when you buy them one at a time, but I compete very well with the importers when you buy in larger quantities of 5 and up.)

Does buying from US-made products matter?  I know full well, and support, global manufacturing.  (What I don’t support is cheaply made, and cheap imports coming in and sold under the US banner, when I know they’re imports.)

And if I hadn’t said it often enough:  THANK YOU for trusting your handiwork, your sewing, your artistry, to my metal purse frames.

While I think my metal purse frames are great (and they are! 🙂 ) , they are simply that — frames. They frame your artwork, and for you to entrust your artwork to my frames, means a great deal to me!

October 23, 2010 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | 3 Comments

PDF Tutorial has been updated!

Etsy customers take note:  if you purchased my PDF tutorials, please use your password to get your updated version.

I made minor changes in 2 steps to better explain what you are seeing.  I also included some tips for gluing.

While the changes are minor, the clarity will help most users.

These changes were made based on the feedback from hundreds of users.

**Please keep your password.  I will endeavor to put up new templates this week, free of charge, to those who have purchased my PDF and Make Your Own Kits.**

 

PDF Tutorial "How to Make a Pretty Clutch"

 

October 12, 2010 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | 2 Comments

How can you get up to 50% OFF?

It has occurred to me that the Etsy buyer may not have fully realized the considerable volume discounts in the wholesale price of my metal purse frames.  Granted it is a different audience than my professionals who buy in bulk.  But nonetheless, based on the small orders that come through my Etsy shop whilebabynaps.etsy.com, I’ve realized that I should do the math and show the savings that is in the volume purchases.

So I’ve just spent many hours on Etsy re-listing my items to show these savings.  Each product listing has the volume discounts for that specific frame.

For example, my most popular frame is my 8×3 nickel-free purse frame(TM) with kisslock closure.

 

8x3 kisslock

 

Here are the savings … the more you buy up front, you more you save!

(1) 8×3 frame = regular price $5.99
Set of 5 = 17% off
Set of 10 = 21% off
Set of 20 = 25 % off
Set of 25 = 27% off
Set of 50 = 29% off

… If you are making clutches to sell, are you taking full advantage of the discount up front?

What this may mean to you is that someone buying a set of 20 frames up front (an amount that is not even enough clutches to set up an Etsy shop, have a booth, or a table at a crafts fair) already has 25% OFF the price instead of buying 1!  Compared to another clutch-maker who bought a set of 5, this clutch-maker who bought a set of 20 has saved an additional 8% and has a lower cost of goods.

Take a look at the savings for the Skinny Bride(TM) EleganceLock(TM) frames, designed with the narrower channel for thinner and finer fabrics like silks and bridal satins.  (And these clutches typically have a higher average retail price than the standard cotton clutches!)

 

8x3 Skinny Bride(TM) with EleganceLock(TM)

 

(1) 8×3 frame = regular price $6.25
Set of 5 = 20% off
Set of 10 = 25% off
Set of 20 = 28 % off
Set of 25 = 30% off
Set of 50 = 36% off

… An order for a bride and her bridal party can be 4-9!  (Ok, my opinion, but 9 is craaazy!)  So a set of 25 frames may only last 3-4 bridal customers yet the clutch-maker who orders this will have gotten 30% OFF up front or is at a 10% advantage over someone who purchased only a set of 5!

Now, in truth, it’s my bulk purchasers at 500 frames or chains who get the lowest volume discounts.  (You can see these volume discounts from 100+ at my webstore whilebabynaps.com.)   FYI, those who order more than 500 still get the price at the 500 level because that is the floor price: it does not get any lower.  So while you may not yet be at that level, you can get 30-40% off on the frames at the set of 50 level.  And I have quite many sales at the 50 level on Etsy.

So check out the listings at my Etsy store whilebabynaps.etsy.com and at my webstore whilebabynaps.com.  And plan your purchases to save!  With my Columbus Day Sale discounts on top of that, I’m really rewarding those who are loyal and those who are stocking up for the holiday gift-giving buying time.  Remember the old saying “Go big or go home!”

October 10, 2010 Posted by | Helpful Tips | 1 Comment

A thank YOU Sale! (Columbus Day Weekend!)

A 2-day SALE!  Columbus Day SALE as my thanks!!

Thanks to all of you who listened and responded to me with your honesty and empathy.  You all really lifted my spirits up.  So moving on the better things … 🙂  These 3 are my reasons:

 

Yippeeee!!! (First day of school!)

 

It’s Columbus Day Weekend!  I used to live in Columbus, Ohio (go Buckeyes!) so I wanted to wish everyone a wonderful holiday weekend!

To take advantage of the weekend when my husband can help take care of the kids and I can work, I am giving an unprecedented 2-day sale.

So place your order this weekend and get the following:

*15% OFF total purchase for your order (excluding shipping) over $200

*20% OFF total purchase for your order (excluding shipping) over $400

*25% OFF total purchase for your order (excluding shipping) over $600

**This is on top of the volume discount pricing that is in the price.  Did you know that handbag makers who stock up and buy in bulk can save up to 67% OFF the original price? Check my webstore for these volume discounts. **

Terms of the offer:

This covers any and all items at whilebabynaps.etsy.com and my webstore whilebabynaps.com.  One time use only.  No additional discounts apply.  Effective midnight Saturday 10/9/10.  Expires midnight Monday EST 10/11/10.

***Important:  For Etsy users, you must convo me at my Etsy store with your order needs to do a Custom Listing.***  Discounts will be taken off immediately in the price …. no need to wait for a refund!

***For webstore customers, please order in bulk at my webstore whilebabynaps.com as normal.***  Your discount will be given to you via a refund back to your Paypal account.)

Plan your inventory and stock on now to make enough clutches for the holiday rush!   It will be an advantage to have clutches available for sale for the holidays by November!

October 10, 2010 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS | 1 Comment

Huge Columbus Day SALE at Joann’s

Just a heads up!!  There’s huge sale at Joann’s this weekend for Columbus Day.

Click on the link to check out their website.

Joann’s

There are web-exclusive sales only, but sign up to receive emails.  I just got a 50% OFF coupon for any item.  Hello a bolt of fusible fleece!!  With this coupon, you will get it below any wholesale price.  It cannot be beat.

Check them out ladies and stock up on your quilting cottons and silks.  You will use it for clutches for holiday gift-giving.

 

Have a wonderful weekend!

Winn

October 8, 2010 Posted by | Helpful Tips | Leave a comment

I believe in Gutermann glue!

I believe in this miracle glue so much in the making of my own line of clutches that I include it as a critical component my complete kits.  But there a lot of things involved to make this happen that I thought you’d might be interested in.

Just Add Fabric(TM)! kit for convenience!

*I am a certified importer with U.S. Customs.

*I have to pay import duties on every shipment of Gutermann glue.

*It has to be packaged by a facility that is certified in Hazardous Materials since all adhesives (even your piddly fabric glue) falls into the ‘hazardous’ category of shipments since it is flammable.  The boxes are duly noted, with special stickers and all the paperwork needed for it to ship as a hazardous cargo.

*It has to be shipped to me by sea vessel.  Under all the rules and regulations, it cannot be shipped by air.  So, to get it to me from Germany has to go by land and by ship.  This takes lots of time and $cha-ching!

*It gets to a port where a ground carrier who is approved to handle Hazardous Materials gets it and sends via land (truck).  This company gets charged so that means I have to pay import fees to this company as well.

-So with all those shipping fees and import duties, I really try to be competitive in price with other sellers out there who sell it on Etsy.  Due to the same Customs Rules and Regulations, I cannot ship small sales to non-US buyers.  I would have to export a large quantity using the same method which I import it.

So how is it that other sellers from abroad able to sell to US customers?  Well, they take a risk knowing that the percentage of shipped goods in small packages that get X-ray’ed and checked by their country’s Customs and US’s Customs are small.  But I feel that those small sales are not worth the risk of getting the package rejected and the customer losing the shipping charge.  In addition, it would then cost me a fee to retrieve the package, and I may face a fine for violating Custom’s Rules and Regulations.

But all is worth it to import and carry it because I love this glue.  It glues fabric to metal like no other.  I sell quite a bit of it to accessories designers as well (think barrettes, belts …).   It’s a staple in my line of products.

October 6, 2010 Posted by | Helpful Tips | 3 Comments

NEW design 8×3 nickel-free purse frame(TM) with EleganceLock(TM) and LOOPS!!

Just newly listed!!

What this means for you:

*My nickel-free purse frame(TM) coating is finished with a 2-coat process that is hardy, long-lasting, and allows you to wipe off fingerprints with ease, unlike other frames that use only 1 coat.

*My trademarked Perfect Fit 6(TM) to fit a variety of fabrics and interface.  It will fit like those hallowed size 6 jeans (that my *ss still cannot get into but then I need to put down the donut…) without the need to squeeze or add a cord (no!).

*The EleganceLock(TM) was redesigned to be smaller and sleeker with better ergonomics = better grip.

Better grip!

“I like the feel of these clasps, easier to open for older folks too.” That’s exactly what I had in mind when I designed it!  Clutches as gifts for mothers-in-law and grandmothers!

*With optional loops, this means that the loops will lay flat on the inside of the clutch on top of the inner fabric.

You can add a chain or the buyer can add a leather cord or ribbon when in use.  The attached cord/ribbon will simply be inside the clutch when the user wants to “clutch” the clutch OR she can carry it with the chain.
My trademarked nickel-free purse frames(TM) are also white silver in appearance unlike other ‘nickel’ or ‘silver’ purse frames which appear, well, like nickel.  Nickel has a more gray tone to it.  My nickel-free frames are white-silver, like sterling silver in color and appearance but will not tarnish like sterling silver.

Lastly, thank you for honoring my trademarks by ordering your nickel-free purse frames from me and not from other sellers who appeared virtually overnight selling knock-offs of my designs.  If they are a new shop suddenly carrying nickel-free frames, they are selling cheap imports.  THANK YOU for trusting your craftsmanship of your sewn fabrics and clutches to my frames, backed by my 30-day full refund.  No other seller offers that.

October 4, 2010 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | 2 Comments

   

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