Learn. Make. Sell. All about clutches.

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 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 This post shows the device that you can plug into your mobile phone to accept credit cards!  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.

Founder to Twitter and Square

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!  🙂


March 6, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The importance of the bottom seam!

Do it right the first time:  make your clutch with a bottom seam.

I am following up on my previous post about squaring off your corners.

For non-directional fabric, it’s easy enough to make your clutch without a seam on the bottom.  How?  Trace your pattern as normal.  Then double up the pattern (the 2 trapezoids) with the bottom edge abutting each other.  (*”Hey Beavis, she said “aBUTTing”  – hehe*”)  🙂

Your new pattern will look like a hexagon.  I’ll make a quick drawing of what I mean:

You are essentially making one big piece of fabric that is hexagonal in shape and revising step #7 and not sewing the bottom seam.

You would then square off your corners just the same as before.
This is a nice shortcut if you have non-directional fabric – those patterns that do not have an upright direction.  Please refer to my previous post to see examples.

However, and it’s a big however, I am a believer in doing things right the first time.  All my clutches are made as per the PDF tutorial:  they are all made with a bottom seam.


1. structural stability:  it will not roll over and flop over.  The bottom seam anchors the clutch.

2. structural integrity is not compromised by having a bottom seam.  Every handbag makers double stitches or even triple stitches the seams.  These are handbags that you use daily to get your goodies in and out all day.  You sit your clutch on the table while eating lunch, in the passenger seat as you drive, on your closet shelf in a dustbag… you are not using these as punching bags so having a seam does not and will not degrade its structure over time.

You all know I am a believer in taking shortcuts when you can, but I cannot stress enough about the structural function that the bottom seam plays in clutches.

Look at all the top sellers on Etsy.

Janine King Designs is the #1 seller in the Bags & Purses category.  I have one of her bags and her work is top notch.  Even her bags that carry heavy items have a bottom seam.

These sturdy cross-body bags made in cotton are wonderful for leaving you hands-free!

Let’s look at a well-known and well-respected clutch handbag maker, one who is known for her peacock clutches and one-of-a-kind silk clutches.  Red Ruby Rose commands top price for her clutches and you can tell in the craftsmanship, the original silk fabrics, and the loyalty that she has with her customers.

All directional fabrics are made with a bottom seam! These clutches will stand the test of time.

All her clutches are handmade using a wide variety of finishes such as sumptuous cotton velvets!

So, make your shortcuts where needed.  You can now do my shortcut with no seam, but please do not worry about the bottom seam for the integrity of your clutch!

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , | 3 Comments

Save time: Shortcut for inserting your fabric into your purse frame!

Though my PDF tutorial shows you the tried-and-true way to finish your purse and making a clutch, I have a shortcut that has worked very well for me.  It saves me time from having to pre-press the clutch prior to inserting it into the purse frame.

Now, I have to admit that I’m not a big ironing person.  In fact, I am quite embarrassed to say that 8 or 9 years ago, I had to ask my husband “Papi, how do you turn the iron on?”  🙂

Yes, for someone who can whip up a Homecoming dress in high school without a pattern, I didn’t always know how to use the iron.  A pre-requisite when shopping for my clothes is:  will it need to be ironed?  Oh, Stacy London and Clinton Kelly would have a field day with me, I’m sure!

So here’s the shortcut.  (BTW, this coordinates with step #13 of my tutorial).

For step #13, I only sew about 1 inch from point E and then stop.  I do not go to the middle of the clutch.

The rest is left unfinished.

See how the 1st inch is nicely sewn as per step #13?  I’ll save the rest unfinished and after I turn it right-side out, I then finish it with a zig-zag stitch.

This helps me in 2 ways:

1) Skips the dreaded ironing step, but more importantly …

2) By sewing it shut in this way, it actually does a better job of compressing the layers thereby allowing the fabric to be inserted into the purse frame really easily.

You will notice that the 1st inch is required because that hinge area is so crucial.  However, the areas above that and around that is hidden when you insert and glue it into the frame.

I am able to make upholstery weight fabric + 4 layers of heavy fusible interface fit into the frame without any problem.  For me, it also saves me time as it’s quicker to sew then it is to fire up the iron and press.

The second tip is the top edge.  Since I only sew 1 inch from point E and S (or the starting points of the hinge area), I leave the rest of the clutch unfinished.

This makes it easier to invert and pull both layers the right-side out.  To finish the top, I use a straight stitch straight across.  You can use zig-zag stitch as well.

The benefit here is the same as the ones above:  it saves me time and it makes inserting bulky fabrics into the purse frame a breeze.

Don't sew too low below the edge or it will be seen.

When I insert this into the frame, you will not see the stitches as I’ve kept it close to the edge.

And by using Gutermann glue for the fabric and frame, you can be assured of its adhesive integrity.

Enjoy your sewing!

February 16, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , | 1 Comment

Quick tip for “squaring off” the bottom corners of your clutch

To improve my time and hone my skills, I make my clutches in batches.  I never make just one from start to finish.

This tip is for all handbag makers, but especially for those who bought my PDF tutorial.

The essential bottom seam allows your clutch to work for both non-directional and directional patterns.

This is an example of a non-directional pattern:

Any which way is up!

This is an example of a directional pattern.  We wouldn’t want an upside bird on the other side!

Cute birdie! Using my 6x3 nickel-free frame(TM) with loops.

But for it to have stability, you need to “square off” the corners.  Since I do it in batches, I save time by pre-marking my sewing machine.

Pre-measured and pre-marked!

Instead of getting out the measuring tape and measuring every corner, I pre-measured and marked those measurements on my sewing machine with a Sharpie.

(This coincides with Step #9, pg. 11 of the PDF main tutorial.)

Start from the needle and measure out in 1/4″ increments.  And use as needed for the size clutch that you are making.  Voila!

Those various measurements above cover me from the small coin purses that uses my 3×1.5 nickel-free frames(TM), the 4.5×3 wallets, the 6×3 mid-size, the popular 8×3 and the biggest of 10×3.

Enjoy your sewing!

February 2, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , | 2 Comments

Quality Control procedures for my fine metal purse frames

I take great pride in making the highest quality metal purse frames on the market, along with the best customer service you will receive.

Here are my quality control procedure:

1.  A machine laser eye inspects each frame and rejects the ones that are defective.

2. An inspector at the manufacturer hand inspects the batches.  If the visual defective rate is higher than my contract states, the entire production is rejected.  (Not to worry, it’s all stripped, melted and re-used for a new production.  Nothing is wasted.)

3.  My sister, Y, and I hand-inspect each frame before it is sent out to you.

From orders of 1 frame to 500 frames … every frame goes through this Quality Control process.

Because I stand behind my frames 100% with a 30-day full refund no hassle guarantee, only the best frames go out.  Returns and exchanges due to defects could become costly.  And my defect rate is less than 0.01%.  Yup.  It pays to do it right the first time!

It takes about 2-3 hours to fully inspect 50 frames.  That’s why orders of 50 or more frames require a 48-hour processing time.   With all other smaller orders to do, when I get several of those 50-frame orders and I can get backed up pretty quickly.  It’s never taken me that long to send it out as 95% of all my orders are shipped out the same day or within 24 hours, but it gives us a cushion not to rush.

But after inspecting tens of thousands+ frames, I can tell you that mistakes do happen, though rare.  And it’s all about the lighting.  Too bright of natural light and you cannot see the “feathers” in the finish from the glare.  Too dim and the same thing will be missed due to poor illumination.  Holding it at certain angles will miss a pock or mark that is not readily apparent.  We can take up to a full 2 minutes to inspect each frame!

It is through these quality control measures that allows us to have the highest-end, best quality frames on the market.

January 31, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | 3 Comments

Over 2900 Facebook Fan page post views.

Take a look guys!

These are the stats for Day #2 of my Facebook fan page:

Stats for day #2

With over 500 million worldwide Facebook users, I expect this number to go up much higher.
THANK YOU for becoming fans and passing it to your friends.  Thanks for the clutch handbag makers who have quickly and pro-actively posted their clutches (made from my fine metal purse frames)!  Whenever you have a new clutch, please feel free to post it on the wall.  The more eyes to see your clutches, the higher the profile of your shops, and the bigger chance of selling your handmade creations!
Take a look at the wall:

Some clutches available for Valentine's Day gift-giving!

Please continue to post your clutches that you think would make great gifts for Valentine’s Day.  Sell it!  Give those guys and gals a nudge!

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips, WhileBabyNaps General Updates | Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day clutches … do you have yours made?

For my Etsy shop owners, one of the key ways to get your products noticed is via the Treasury.  I highly recommend spending the time to create a Treasury.  As per the guidelines of Etsy, you can only feature one of your own items.  But it’s really worth it.

I’ve had a couple of Treasuries in which I featured other Etsy artisans and they’ve even made it to the front page of Etsy and sold that item!  I am a big believer in supporting other women and their work!

Several of the Treasuries that have made it to the front page within the last week have had Valentine’s Day as a theme.

Theme: LOVE

Theme: shades of pink

Theme: peach

Theme: red and gray

Theme: heart

So as you can see, Etsy is really pushing products that are geared for Valentine’s Day.

There are 3 things that you can do to take advantage of this marketing push by Etsy:

1.  Create clutches to sell for Valentine’s Day. Stick with what you know and what you are good at.  Some ideas include:  find a wonderful fabric with a splash of red, or embroider it with “LOVE” “dearest” or other like sentiments, or a red silk clutch embellished with Swarovski crystals.  Keep in mind that although you want to incorporate this Valentine’s Day theme, make a clutch that can be used for other times of the year and occasions such as a dinner date, brunch with the girls, or a night on the town.

2. Create a Treasury list featuring this clutch. Spend time to find other unique items on Etsy to round out your treasury.  Convo all the featured sellers to let them know and ask them to tweet it or share it with others.

3. Use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Digg …), email, blogs or any other means to tell all your friends about your clutches available for Valentine’s Day gift giving.  Plant an idea in those guys’ heads!

I know it’s only the 2nd week in January, but you would be amazed at the number of items that sellers have already made and listed for sale for Valentine’s Day.  Get your shop ready!

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | | Leave a comment

Selling your clutches at Arts and Crafts Fairs

Nothing is better for selling your handmade clutches than selling them yourself in person.  Customers are really buying your work from you:  it becomes a personal transaction!  One venue that I highly recommend is Arts & Crafts fairs.

Since posting this in my previous post on where to sell your clutches months ago, many of you have had great success at these arts and crafts shows.

With that in mind, here are my recommendations:

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!

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.

3.  Have all your wrapping/packaging ready to make that transaction happen: tissues, bags, business cards, ribbon …

4.  Decide how you will accept payment and have that ready. Will you take cash?  Then have singles and fives and coins to make change.  Local checks?  Credit cards?  With merchant fees, credit card processing can be costly.  Look into alternatives such as Square at where you can accept credit card payments using your mobile device.   (There are limits to this, so do check them out fully before the free installation.)

A small square device that you attach to your mobile device to accept credit card payments.

5.  Bring a friend to help and gift her a clutch or dinner as a thanks.  Your friend can help “man the booth” for potty breaks, snack breaks, coffee breaks … not to mention, you need someone greeting customers, answering questions, selling the clutches while you may be busy ringing up a sale and packaging it.

6.  Plan now for the shows by registering early for early-bird discounts. This will also benefit you in knowing who your audience is so you make the clutches to sell at the show!  Start getting your fabrics, frames, interface and all that you need to make your clutches.  Plan out the sizes, the fabric colors, the pricing … and buy in bulk so you get a volume discount.  As per my previous post, Joann’s has an amazing 50% any one cut of fabric sale until the end of January!

With this in mind, check your local city and community listings to see the local shows.  If you’ve never been a seller at a show, start locally.  You can also check any directories to see where the shows are near you. Great for viewing shows by geographical location. You can view directly by state with detailed listings that has direct links to the shows. Another good source for the ARTS fairs. LOVE this one for the bridal clutch market!  Who knew there’s 34 bridal shows in NJ alone? This is only for the Great Bridal Expo but they may be coming into your area.  It’s all encompassing for today’s bride.

This is not an exhaustive list, by any means.  Check your local Chamber of Commerce and the University of Google to find out!

Remember, choose well. Choose the right show for your clutches.  If you don’t do bridal clutches, it doesn’t make sense to pay for a table at a bridal show.

Lastly, on pricing:  everyone loves a good sale.   Have a sale on those days at the show for 10 – 20% off.  So price your clutches 10-20% above what you would sell it (prior to the discount).

Be flexible to offers.  If a clutch is listed at $45 and someone offers you $35 … what would you do?  I would counter with $40 and a smile!  🙂  That customer will feel like she got a good deal and you will have a sale.

Good luck to all!  ~Winn

January 8, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , | 9 Comments

Why nickel-free?

One of the top questions that people ask me is “why nickel-free”?  As the originator and creator (ie. the first to manufacturer nickel-free)  of the nickel-free coating for metal purse frames, I’m proud that my work results in a fine finish to show off your clutches.  You don’t have to have a nickel-free allergy to enjoy the 2-coat finish that allows fingerprints to wipe with ease.

“Is it better?”

The short answer is “Yes”.  I believe that it is.  That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time and research in coming up with a trademarked nickel-free finish for my purse frames.

The long answer is:

1.  I have an allergy to nickel and cannot wear nickel earrings, for example.  (swollen, red, itchiness that eventually develops into a lot of grossness)  Yes, that’s my medical description.  🙂

2.  I am sensitive to the topic of allergies, in general, because one of my sons has a severe food allergy.  (Yes, hospitalizations and Epi-Pens galore!)

3. When I did research into nickel-free, I found that this allergy is a rising allergy, just like peanut allergy, gluten allergy, egg allergy, milk allergy, and soy allergy have all risen dramatically for my kids’ generation.

4.  I like the sheen of .925 sterling silver but do not like the tarnish.  So with my fine nickel-free metal purse frames(TM), I have achieved the white-silver look that I want without the tarnish.

Here’s a snippet from a very recent article on the rise of nickel allergy.  You can read the entire article here:

The rise of nickel allergy.

My process used for my trademarked nickel-free purse frame is similar to the process used in jewelry.   (Beyond having the lobster clasp closures on my chains, again, this is where my knowledge and work as a jeweler helps!)  I have to use a plating company that has the nickel-free process and you will not find this in industrial uses … only jewelry.  So despite what you might have heard, nickel-free is NOT cheaper.  Not by a long shot.  Call any plating company here in America.

Now that I have competitors selling knock-off, cheap, imitators of my nickel-free purse frames(TM), I don’t take this imitation as flattery.  Are they even tested for lead?

Ask that seller, why do you offer nickel-free?  How did you get the idea?

So handbag makers can list that their clutches made from my nickel-free frames(TM) are tested for lead and has a fine 2-coat finish extending the life of the clutch.  It will wear well!   Handbag makers should also note that it is “Trademarked to and Khuong LLC.”

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Helpful Tips | 3 Comments

Shoulder length 45.5″ chain will be listed soon … I promise

Sorry guys … I’m behind in listing the chain for sale because I’ve been filling out your orders (holiday rush) and listing sellers on my SELLERS page.

Have you checked it out?  Go on, click on the SELLERS page and see!  Here’s a ridiculously small screen grab of what’s up so far…

I now have over 10,000 hits on my blog.  My rank on Google continues to move up and I’m capturing a lot of the search terms such as “fine clutches” and “handmade handbags”.

And the SELLERS page is now the #1 ranked page – beating the HOME page!  What????

It’s the season ladies!

Thank you all for letting my referrals know where they can get clutches made from my fine metal frames!  I’m getting a lot of great feedback.  I know a lot of you are low on your stock, so here are some tips:

1.  Go big or go home: have plenty of selection and price points for shoppers.  Have a variety of items for browsing.

2.  Think holiday gift-giving:  ‘Tis the season, and clutches in the $34-45 range will sell better than those in the $60-70 range.  That’s a good rule regardless of the time of year, but think of the shopper’s budget for Christmas gifts.  Think of the intended recipients.  The bridal market is slowing down right now so aim for cottons and durable fabrics that fit the wintry season.

As always, your comments are welcome.  And I will get the shoulder length listed when I have an hour or two to spare…  🙂

December 6, 2010 Posted by | Helpful Tips | Leave a comment

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