Business tips for clutch makers
As I spend 2-3 hours a day answering convos and emails, it’s time to post some of the Q&As. These are my own opinions based on what I’ve researched and seen what works. There are always exceptions, especially for those clutch makers who are just exceptional in their craftsmanship, materials used, unique style and such … but these tip will be applicable for most people. I hope you will find it helpful for your business.
Q: How much inventory would you suggest to get started?
A: “Go big or go home” – minimum 30, but 60 is really ideal. The tips in this blog post https://clutchme.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/selling-your-clutches-at-arts-and-crafts-fairs/ will really help you regardless of your selling venue, be it on Etsy or at a Spring craft show. The top 2 tips are especially relevant:
1. Have plenty in stock to sell. Go into the show knowing that you will not sell out everything (and you shouldn’t): you should have plenty for customers to pick and choose from. Make it look like a real shop! The saddest thing to see is an emaciated booth! This is also true of an online shop: unless your work is exceptional, customers perceive a lowly stocked store as more of a “hobby”.
2. Have differently sized clutches and price points. If all your clutches are cotton in the $65 range, that leaves opportunity on the table for someone who only wants to spend $40 on a gift to her mother-in-law. If you sell only silk clutches that require a higher price point due to the materials cost, you will take longer to get established.
Q: How do I accept payment?
A: I only recommend credit cards for online shops. For in-person transactions, you can accept checks and cash (of course!) as well. You can accept up to $500 using squareup.com. This post shows the device that you can plug into your mobile phone to accept credit cards! https://clutchme.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/selling-your-clutches-at-arts-and-crafts-fairs/. And one of my favorite articles written on the founder of squareup is here. Did you know he also founded Twitter?? Amazing guy! Worth your reading. http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2011/03/jack-dorsey.html
Q: What sort of fee does paypal charge?
*2.9% +$.30 per transaction. There’s a reason Paypal is the worldwide leader for small business owners. So easy and you don’t need any of the hardware to accept payments.
Q: How much $$ out of pocket does it take to get started?
A: $500 is a good investment but you can do it for $250 if you are only online. I highly recommend saving up for months and go big. Shops that are wimpy and anemic out of the starting gate usually do not do well.
Q: Is etsy over populated with this type of item?
A: Hard to say, but I don’t think so. Are black shoes over populated? Blue jeans? You can do so many things within the category. Women will always buy handbags.
Q: How do I determine my profit?
A: You’ve got to do your own cost analysis. It depends on your production costs and what you sell your goods for. The difference is profit and that differs with everybody. Figure out how much your material costs in each clutch is roughly. Subtract that from your sales price and that’s your profit. So if it took you 1 hour to make a clutch that cost you $8 in materials, and you sold it for $40. Then your profit is $32. You essentially made $32/hr. BUT you have to subtract out your Etsy and Paypal fees as well as packaging costs (tissues, boxes, ribbon).
Q: How do you know what is a fair price?
A: It’s what the customer will pay for. Clutches run the gamut on style and craftsmanship. So depending on what your clutches will be made of and the style it is, do a search to clutches similar to yours and see what those are priced at. Those clutches are essentially what you are competing with. BUT I always tell my handbag makers: 1) be original and 2) do not compete on price. These are not mass-produced products so sell and market your style.
Q: What fabrics would be considered “high end”?
A: Silk, embroidered fabrics, satins … anything that costs $$$/yd! 🙂
Q: How often should I relist?
A: I recommend re-listing your clutches every day. Budget in $1/day for re-listing. That gets you 5 clutches to re-list per day. If you’ve sold a clutch, when you renew the listing, that renewal counts towards that. The key is to get your goods in the top 4-5 pages of the most recently listed items. Many people view by “most recently listed”. The front page of Etsy also shows the most recently listed items, so you’ll get more exposure.
My overall feel on the clutch handbag market are as follows:
*Etsy is not the only venue to sell these. But it is a great venue and provides great exposure. At $0.20 per listing, it is also a low-cost way to get your products out there. The Etsy community of hand-made goods is very unique and customers want to buy from you. Great relationships can be established and it’s very rewarding.
*Arts and crafts fairs as a venue for handmade clutches are in its infancy. I have yet to hear from one handbag maker who had any competition with another clutch maker. In fact, I keep getting comments about how she was the only one at the crafts fair and sold the majority of the clutches. Make sure you have enough on hand so that the Sunday of the fair does not leave you with less than 10 to sell. I cannot stress how a well-stocked booth/table is. Appearance counts! It forms the shopper’s mind.
*Local boutiques are another venue for your clutches that many have not pursued. Why not? Talk to the shop owner. Many shop owners go to tradeshows to look for goods to carry in their shops. Why not approach them to display your bags to see how it sells? A lot of local boutiques love showcasing a local artist. It brings people in and fills their shelves. No complicated contracts needed: work with the owner to see how much of a “cut” she would get if your bag sells. This helps the shop owner as well since she’ll have new merchandise that she would not have had to pay for that inventory. And if it sells, she’ll get a cut of it for her time of ringing up the sale, packaging it, and promoting it. I’ve gotten several boutique owners making clutches to sell at their shops, but then finding out that they don’t have the time to do it on top of doing everything else at the store. Bridal shop owners are finding out the same thing. So those in the bridal clutch market, I urge you to go to your local bridal shops with your sample stock of bridal clutches to show them.
*Have a clear and distinct style for your clutches and “voice” for your shop. This is especially important when selling on Etsy. How is your shop different from others? Why would someone want to buy your clutches? Look at the most successful shops and you will see their distinct style and voice immediately.
*Price it right. If you only have access to Joann Fabrics to make clutches, then do not expect to price and sell any clutches at $60+. Won’t happen. But if your clutches are made with vintage Lily Pulitzer reclaimed fabric that no one else has and that is no longer produced en masse, why yes, you can price your cotton clutches made from this in that higher price range.
*Higher priced clutches will have a smaller pool of customers. This is true in every market so it holds true to clutches as well. For example, a $150,000 home will have a bigger pool of buyers than a $750,000 home. There’s a lot fewer people with that kind of cash. Clutches in the $35 range sell every day of the week…
*Silk clutches and other special occasions clutches will have a smaller pool of customers. They are also priced higher so it makes sense! I’m not using my silk clutches when at the grocery store (With 3 kids, I swear I’m always running out for milk!).
So those are my tips for you on this rainy Sunday. I know many of you are working on your clutches for the Spring craft shows. I want to wish you all the best of luck! May the sun shine on the both of us! 🙂