Clutch-Me.Com

Learn. Make. Sell. All about clutches.

Of Interest: Pinterest

I have just started a new page for WhileBabyNaps at Pinterest.  This will work in concert with the promotions that I’ve been currently doing for Sellers to promote their clutches on the Facebook fanpage and Twitter.  The more eyeballs to your shops, the better the chances of you selling your clutches and getting your name out there.  If you are interested in being included in my marketing and promotions, you will first need to become listed as a Seller.  I choose clutches that meet the themes that I am coming up with (for example: red clutches for Valentine’s Day) from amongst the current bags from the shops on the Sellers page.  I only choose clutches that I know are made using my fine frames.

For all current shops on the Sellers page, please remember to note my trademarks for customers looking for clutches made from my frames.  As I’ve only made clutches for samples, kits, or for family, I do not make or sell clutches with my frames.  I always refer them to find a clutch maker on the Sellers page.  Customers will look at the list and the links contained the pics and names will take them directly to the Seller’s shop.

I just started this Pinterest page.  It takes a lot of time for me since my internet connection here is spotty.  Wah-wah.  😦  If you are not already on Pinterest and would like to join and create your own page, convo me for an invite.  I will need an email address to send invites to.  This is the email address that you will be using for your Pinterest account.  It’s in the beginning stages so I am just starting and learning as I go myself.  If you are already on Pinterest, convo me so I can check your boards and Follow you!  But here are a few things you should know:

1.  Pinterest is about pinning things you really love. So it’s not the same as say, Talbots or Ann Taylor putting their coupon codes and sales on their respective facebook fanpage or Twitter feeds.  But you, as an Etsy shop owner, for example, can pin up clutches that you’ve made so others can see and (hopefully) like and repin.  Then the people who see their pins might like and repin, and so on ….  Don’t just pin about your clutches or shop.  Remember to pin other things in your life that you really love!  This is a fun place that you can mix your work and your personal favorites!

For me, I love clutches.  So I’m going to pin clutches that I love.

I love my dog, Pax, a goldendoodle.  So you will see pins about Pax, like you’ve seen on my blog posts!  🙂

I dream of peace and quiet and white interiors are a favorite of mine.  Check out my pins of Katherine Hepburn’s house.  Its interiors are to die for.  It’s my forever home … as in it’ll be forever until I can own a home like that … LOL.  And when I do, it’ll be much smaller, not on a waterfront (cha-ching), and old and will need years of toil to refurbish it.  But I digress…

*Swoon*

2.  It’s a highly visual medium and it’s awesome for visual learners, like me.  (You can also experience a huge time warp when you’re on it, so mind your time!)  Where Twitter is great for 140-characters on your iPhones and for when you are mobile and not on your laptop/desktop, Pinterest really allows me to showcase your clutches well.

3.  Follow others and repin others.  The more you interact, the more exposure you will get, and hopefully your pins will be re-pinned by others.

I'm working on these!

4.  Pinterest is about giving credit to where you found it.  So when I pin your clutches, guess what?  The credit goes to your shop where I found it!  Users who see your clutch and like will click on the “from” and it leads them to your shop.  Note that all have been truncated to “etsy.com” by Pinterest, but go to my Pinterest page and try clicking on several clutches and you will see that it leads to the individual clutch maker’s shop.

Several clutches have had "likes" and "repins" 🙂

How to pin and how to create boards are easy.  One thing that really helps is getting the “pin it button” by clicking on the About menu.  When you come across something that you like, click on that on your toolbar and it automatically adds the link to the site.

Makes for easy work!

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!  I got the loveliest bouquet from the hubby.

Love the bright punches of color!

Talk soon!

~Winn

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February 14, 2012 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Selling your handmade clutches, wallet clutch, and reversible bag

Guess what I just read?  This just confirmed what I wrote last year in January!

So we all know about social media and many of you participate in several platforms such as Facebook fanpages, Twitter feeds, or your own blog.   Some of you have heeded my encouragement through many posts and have been selling your clutches at arts and crafts fairs.

So take a look at this:

Did you get that? It will explode!

Some things (e.g. your own app for your online shop) are neither cost effective for you nor will allow you to get your investment back given the small nature of your business.  However, Square via Squareup.com has a fast setup and offers you a free reader and a free app.  I do not get paid to promote this, by the way.  So what’s the catch?  As with any banking system, they get a percentage of what you get.  They get 2.75% of each transaction.  As you know, systems such as Paypal also take a transaction fee.  But the good news is Squareup.com has lifted the $500/month limit on the amount of money you can swipe and accept.  So this makes it worth your time to get this.  Those of you who will offer this at the craft/art booth will be ahead of those only accepting checks or cash.  Research has also shown that people spend more when using a credit card than they do when using cash.  In fact, one way that is recommended to cut back on spending is by using cash to pay instead of credit cards!  But with Square, you will give your customers much needed convenience.

Read this post I wrote last March about Business Tips for Clutch Makers talking about Jack Dorsey, founder of both Squareup and Twitter.

I’ve already gotten good feedback last year from those who used Square.  If you try it out at Spring craft shows, please let me know how it goes.  Be sure to put up the sign at your booth noting the acceptance of “Credit Cards”.

Have a great weekend!

~Winn

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Helpful Tips | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If you are near, check these craft shops out!

Just read a quick article in USA Today’s Travel section.  Thought you might like to check these excellent craft shops out.

As you can see, these craft shops are trending up so if you are near, go take a look!  See what crafts are displayed.  If the store’s aesthetics fit, inquire about having them display several of your handmade, one-of-a-kind clutches!  It would be a great coup!

Check out the list of the top 10 places to shop for crafts by clicking on the pic below:

10-great-places-to-shop-at-crafts-galleries

Have a great weekend everybody!

~Winn

December 9, 2011 Posted by | WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Twitter promotions and 20% OFF Joann’s!

Hey guys!

Another promotion on Twitter featuring some amazing clutches for sale by various sellers who use my fine purse frames.

Check these out before they are sold out!  Of course, the sellers will be happy to custom-make one for you!

Another group of amazing clutches!

Also, if you haven’t already signed up at Joann.com, you should really do it because:

*It’s free.

*You get coupons sent to your inbox.

*You can print the coupons out from your desktop printer.

There is currently a 20% OFF TOTAL PURCHASE (!).  I save these to stock up on supplies and materials.

Email subscription for coupons!

Go get yours!

September 16, 2011 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS | , , , , | Leave a comment

2nd week new Twitter promotion

Just up on Twitter:  the next group of clutches made by clutch makers on the Sellers page.

I’m getting great comments on this exposure.  Will endeavor to keep promoting your work!

All are directed to the Facebook fanpage where they can go directly to your shops!

September 6, 2011 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Twitter promotions

Hey guys!

Check out the Twitter wallpaper that I have up!  I will be rotating these with another set in a week.  All to promote my clutch handbag makers who use my fine metal purse frames in their craft.

I tweet about clutches.  Please follow to get the latest tweets!

All will be directed to the Facebook album that I created, which contains a direct link from the clutch to the clutch-maker’s shop.

If you are interested in becoming listed as a seller and get included in my marketing and promotions, please read this post.

Thanks and have a great week!

~Winn

August 28, 2011 Posted by | SALES and PROMOTIONS | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fabric shopping for fall!

With fall around the corner in the US, you might want to get ahead of the curve and get your Fall Collection planned out.  I see that many of you have already started your fall lines by ordering Gutermann glue and purse frames.  Next is the fabric!

As I’ve mentioned in my many previous posts, I will be looking for fabrics while residing here in Viet Nam for my short 2.5 years!  And good news guys … I’ve hit the mother-load!  Let me explain.

The traffic here consists of pedestrian, bicycles, automobiles, motorcycles, and about 50% of the entire traffic is motorbikes or motor-scooters.  They are not as powerful as the motorcycle, and are similar to the branded Vespas that you would see in Europe, for example.  This picture captures it all beautifully:

You've got it all in here. Loose rules that can leave you wondering just how everyone manages to make it from one side to the other!

That said, my husband’s employer provides our family with a rental car and driver.  There’s no way expats can take the test and drive over here (especially when we are only here for a short period of time).  In addition, vehicles are prohibitively expensive.  Whatever you would pay for in the US for your vehicle, double that price for here!

And to get to my original point of this post – the fabric – it turns out that our driver used to fix sewing machines and knows ALL the fabric mills in the city!!!  🙂

When the kids are attending school in August, I will be able to shop in earnest.  I’m so excited to see the silks, cottons, and hand-embroidered fabrics.  This place is Etsy come to real life:  all are handmade by artisans!

Here’s a pic I snapped of one fabric shop.  Look at the variety!

Every inch is covered with all kinds of fabric imaginable!

Like you going through the bolts at Joanne’s, I will have to dig through to find the designs and styles that are really magnificent and remarkable!  I generally hate shopping but I can spend all day looking at fabric.

Here’s how shopping can look like over here — barely enough room through maneuver through but it’s worth the hunt!

The bazaar! Shoppers are very gracious but the sellers are quite pushy! All Westerners and expats have virtual targets on their face$!

So head out and start your journey for fabrics for your clutches.  With new offerings for fall, this is a great way to freshen up your shop to prevent it from being too stale:  give your customers a reason to take another look!

1.  Plan out your Fall collection and colors.  Read Vogue, Marie Claire, Lucky, InStyle … any of the national magazines and find the trends that are being reported.  What clutches can you sell that will compliment your buyers’ fall palettes? Last I heard, lace is in for this fall.

2. Start your fabric search and look for the colors and fabric designs that you want for your Fall Collection.   Remember to save fabrics with big, bold designs for your bigger clutches and bags.  The fabrics with smaller motifs can be used for the smaller clutches, wallets and coin purses.

3.  Go back to your stock of fabric and pull from those any remnants that can compliment as well.  I only throw the smallest of my fabric away.   I keep it all!  I use the smallest pieces that I can no longer find for use in the Snappy(TM) Wallet Clutch:  the ID pocket needs only a tiny rectangle of beloved fabric!  I also use slightly bigger pieces as lining for my coin purse clutches!

4.  Lay out your frames and mix and match inner and outer fabrics with the different frames.  This allows you to visually see what your boutique or online shop will look like when you’re done.  You will see where you may be short on one size purse frame or short on a certain fabric, and you will have time to buy as needed.

Shops that have a cohesive and strong aesthetic really do well.  Shops that offer willy-nilly don’t do as well, because the customers get confused.  Brand identity is so important and critical to shops.  Shops that stick to what they are good at and that exhibit great craftsmanship do really well.

And remember to take good pics!  If it takes you 3 minutes to take a good picture of each clutch, remember that 2 minutes of 45 seconds of that should be spent setting up the shot: lighting, positioning, focusing …. and then snap!  I see lots of clutches that are shot poorly.  Why spend all your time and effort in making the clutch only to ruin the chances of selling it by having a bad photo?

For those of you who own your own boutique or sell in your local boutique, spend the time to have it displayed in a nice case with good lighting.  Have the display ones be the ones that customers can touch and feel and open, but be sure to sell them the unopened and tissue-wrapped one.  After the display sample has been handled, remember to wipe off fingerprints and lightly dust the fabric.

Hope your summer is going well!  Oh …. one last thing!  Pax is here!  He’s been here for a week and has adjusted splendidly.  Just like in NJ, Pax hops in the van when we go shopping!  (Pax gets to stay in the van with the AC on with our driver while the kids and I run in to get groceries.)  Everywhere we go, every day and every time that I walk him, he gets attention!  He’s a superstar here.  His breed (goldendoodle) is non-existent here.  I don’t even think anyone has even seen a poodle, much less a golden doodle.  So they ask:

*Is he a goat?

*Do you perm his hair?

*Where is he from?

The van is usually surrounded by 4-6 people looking at Pax!  I feel like I’ve got Lindsey Lohan or some other starlet in there!  🙂  LOL.  And everyone who comes in contact with him just loves him to pieces.  Everything just seemed to fall into place upon Pax’s arrival.  That loud sound of exhaling?  That’s me!  Here’s a pic of Hayley with Pax.

Pax petered out after our morning walk. It's cooler here than the current heatwave in the US! He loves lounging on Hayley and on the cold tile floor.

That’s all for now.  I’ll be back soon!

~Winn

July 24, 2011 Posted by | Helpful Tips, WhileBabyNaps General Updates | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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 SquareUp.com 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.

http://www.craftsfaironline.com/region.html Great for viewing shows by geographical location.

http://festivalnet.com/ You can view directly by state with detailed listings that has direct links to the shows.

http://www.artfaircalendar.com/ Another good source for the ARTS fairs.

http://www.onewed.com/bridalshows/ LOVE this one for the bridal clutch market!  Who knew there’s 34 bridal shows in NJ alone?

http://www.greatbridalexpo.com/TourSchedule.aspx 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

   

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