Ads

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Unsure On my Next Steps

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Unsure On my Next Steps

    Hey there

    I'm fairly new to the world of business, and dont have a plan or anything like that! I set up my store 2 months ago, and I have a steady customer base, although not enough to be able to keep me in rent and bills!
    I dont know what my next steps should be. At the moment I sell on my site, and a little on ebay, and am working on building up my fabric supplies. In order to generate a good income, I need to sell roughly 3X what I am currently.

    I live with my partner, who fully supports me financially, although he could do with some contributions soon! I graduated university ths year, and he has just started his PHD.
    An increase in sales would be good, as no-one will hire a Chemistry Masters graduate (I've been looking for a part time job for months)!

    My craft is a small niche market, handmade supplies for all pets smaller than cats! I'm all over the pet forums, have various sales threads, and a lot of support from the community. But I dont know if I should be moving into larger pets as well, or just starting a new store to do alongside my current one, in a different area.

    Basically, I'm only good at the sewing and designing, my partner does all my numbers, and I have no idea what I'm meant to be doing!

    Any help or advise please?

  • #2
    I would certainly look at larger animals and in particular dogs. Doggy clothing is really taken off and I must say in the last couple of weeks I have seen quite a few dogs in clothes. Also have you thought of bigger dogs. I am going to sound really sad now but I used to get my labrador jumpers and coats and used to really struggle to find anything big enough and all the fun things were for tiny dogs.

    Also have you thought of looking at something slightly different to complement. Things such as poop bag holders for owners to carry somthing that goes over the wrist, perhaps matching the animal lines. Perhaps things to carry treats and balls. Also what about animal carriers, seeing as many people see small dogs as a fashion accessory many use handbag style carriers etc. Also my cat will not get in here carry box so if it was something not so scary she may not be to bothered. I have seen some holdall style carriers with mesh panels.

    I shall now stop waffling.
    www.babybearcreations.co.uk - handmade stationery and cards

    www.buggable.weebly.com - personalised t-shirts and clothing, work wear and hen and stag t-shirts.

    Comment


    • #3
      I would seriously think about getting yourself out and about at some craft fairs so that people can actually see your work and you can speak to them directly.


      It serves some major purposes:
      1. Actually being able to pick up items and see your range works much better than just seeing photos on a computer screen
      2. You can get some direct feedback on potential new items that peoplar are looking for, fabric choices, range, etc.
      3. You can promote your online store to anyone showing an interest, even if they don't buy there and then - anyone is a potential future customer!!
      Start small to begin with so that you are not spending too much money on stalls but I find that the majority of my sales come at fairs when you can 'sell' your products (and yourself). My designs have changed a lot since doing the fairs as you really do learn a lot from just speaking and listening to the public.

      A lot of handcrafted items are bought by people who may still not have access to forums and websites or simply don't know that your product exists so therefore don't know they really, really want one!

      Good luck in the future - please let us know what you decide to do and how you are getting on...

      Ali x

      PS - And I agree that you should perhaps expand into the larger animals - your potential customer base will expand dramatically!!
      Last edited by AliCat; 29-10-2009, 12:41 PM.
      Ali x

      Etsy Shop: aliscraftstudio.etsy.com
      Facebook: AlisCraftStudio
      Follow me on Twitter:
      @AlisCraftStudio

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the feedback. I've been holding off on the larger pets due to the increase in fabric requirements, and the fact that having small pets means I know exactly what they want!
        I will look into some fayres, the only problem being that I dont drive, so would have to carry everything with me! I'm also looking into going to some semi-local pet shows and setting up stalls there.

        Bigger dogs would be quite easy for me to work with, as my parents own irish wolfhounds I am looking into styles and designs for dog clothes, as well as carry bags and whatnot. The poop bag holders and such are a great idea!

        The only issue I'm having with new designs is that I'm so unorganised, I'm losing so much time treking to Fabric Land to restock twice a week (super cheap, plus I get a discount as I spend so much), as well as keeping up with current custom orders (most of my sales are for custom designs) and updating the site and such.

        The dog and cat area is a little daunting in terms of advertisement - at the moment I'm in a very spe******ed field, so I rank highly in the search engines. I wouldnt know how to get common items, such as cat and dog beds, noticed.

        I think I just need to get more organised about it all. I'm very happy that I've managed profits since my second month of opening though (the first month I spent making stock, and buying supplies etc).

        To be honest, the idea of a craft fayre is scary. I would worry about people looking down on me as my craft is so different to most others, as well as people complaining about prices, and possibly wondering why I'm at a craft Fayre, when I do animal products. Are people friendly?
        Last edited by Cavy Couture; 29-10-2009, 01:21 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Your product sounds great, and because it's niche, you're already doing well online, which is fab. Increasing your range will definitely give you more scope, and shouldn't be too difficult to compete - have you got a blog yet? If not, you should have. I can recommend it totally - it gets picked up in searches much quicker than a website. And you can talk all about your products, specially new ones, and put in links to your website, where hopefully they will buy. I also now put a contact page on my blog, as sometimes customers get confused (usually older ones) and don't realise they are on a blog and want to buy. I've had a few phonecalls and emails like that.

          Have you thought about approaching dog grooming shops to see if they'd take your range on a sale or return basis? Or just link from their website to yours? Most are one-man bands and may be happy for some extra income. If you do sale or return, make sure you have a contract, google or search on here for more info. (My daughter is a dog groomer and I know some of her customers would like something different in animal clothes!!)

          You can only try fairs to see if they'd work for you. Other stallholders are usually very friendly, and will probably like that you are different. Most customers are friendly too!!!

          I would imagine though that the best fairs for you are the country shows that go on up and down the country in late spring/early summer.

          Good luck. You can put a link to your website in your signature so we can see your stuff.
          digital stamps for cardmakers: http://www.handmadeharbour.co.uk
          blog: http://handmadeharbour.blogspot.com
          hand painted personalised plaques, clocks, canvases, etc: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk
          blog: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk/blog

          Comment


          • #6
            I know that fairs are a scary prospect but you really do get a huge benefit of speaking directly to the public (it can be as useful to know why someone HASN'T bought something as why they have).

            People are usually very friendly and I am sure that you will hear lots of comments about your products being 'a great idea', 'beautifully made', 'lovely as gifts', etc. which also gives you a great confidence boost! Not everyone will want to buy but I have yet to find a product that EVERYONE buys (if I do, I will post my retirement message on the forum!!) it is true that you can't please all the people all the time but you may pick up some good ideas that you haven't thought of yet.

            Approaching dog grooming parlours is a great idea as you have a ready made audience (assuming you can make up some larger sizes). What about a local vet? Some have items for sale in their reception area - maybe they would take some products on a sale or return basis.

            Getting organised is a good idea (this from one of the untidiest people ever born - LOL!!) as it helps you to keep track of what you have in stock and where you can best use your time.

            I don't drive either but fortunately my wonderful husband helps me at fairs but I have done a few where other stallholders have come along by public transport with their stock in wheel-along suitcases (just make sure that your table is provided by the fair organiser!).

            I have seen other people who make items for animals and they do seem to be busy (don't know how much is browsing and how much is sales) so I don't think you would look out of place - most people are animal lovers of some kind and will probably welcome a stall offering something a little different.

            Ali x
            Ali x

            Etsy Shop: aliscraftstudio.etsy.com
            Facebook: AlisCraftStudio
            Follow me on Twitter:
            @AlisCraftStudio

            Comment


            • #7
              Hey there

              I do have a blog, but it's on my website, is that wrong?
              I have already been making some larger sizes to request, for cats, and am expecting some photos to post on my site shortly!

              Business just seems like such a daunting prospect, and even though I'm registered as self employed, and have the NI things sorted, Im terrified there's something I've missed!

              Are people at fayre's polite? I'm 22, but I do look very young, and I would worry people wouldnt take me seriously.

              I think I have a link in my sig now?

              Parlours and vets are great - I have approached a pet shop over the phone, but they never got back to me. I'd never heard of sale or return before I started nosing through here!

              Comment


              • #8
                People are the fairs are really friendly - both other stallholders and visitors (mostly!). When someone comes to look at your products, smile, say hello and if you can let them know that you make everything yourself - some will want to chat and some won't but you will start to pick up the signs really quickly.

                The main thing is try to have fun - do yourself some signs explaining what you make (and can make), prices, etc and really important - that everything is HANDMADE.

                If you can have a friend come along with you for the first couple of fairs, this will help with your nerves and give you some cover for toilet breaks, etc.

                Hope this helps.

                Ali x
                Ali x

                Etsy Shop: aliscraftstudio.etsy.com
                Facebook: AlisCraftStudio
                Follow me on Twitter:
                @AlisCraftStudio

                Comment


                • #9
                  Found your sig link now!! It all looks really good!!

                  Apparently (I'm no expert, it's only what I've read) a blog on your website is absolutely the way to go. It comes across as professional to google, who in turn will rank it higher.

                  Please don't worry about fairs - you will be taken seriously whether you are 22 or 72. Your products look fab - and that kind of speaks for itself!

                  AliCat is right, most people are animal lovers. The good thing about your product is that people's pets can be a conversation-starter, so customers have somehting to talk to you about.

                  I've also met people at fairs who come along on the bus with a wheely suitcase. You'd have to see how much you could transport that way (including display materials), and if it would be worth it for you.

                  I find the vast majority of people are very polite and very pleasant. The one or two who aren't are not worth worrying about. I also find fairs are well worth doing just for the customer feedback. What they say has sparked ideas to increase my range, I know now what's most popular, what people like, and what doesn't sell so well.
                  digital stamps for cardmakers: http://www.handmadeharbour.co.uk
                  blog: http://handmadeharbour.blogspot.com
                  hand painted personalised plaques, clocks, canvases, etc: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk
                  blog: http://www.1stuniquegifts.co.uk/blog

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    just had a nosey at your website - not that I have any small pets ~ and it looks really good. One (possibly dumb) question, what is a sugar glider?
                    www.littlebead.blogspot.com
                    www.twitter.com/littlebead

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hey there

                      A sugar glider is a fairly new exotic to the market, a little like a tiny monkey! I've not had any myself, they're very hard to keep and very expensive!

                      I've looked online, and there are a couple of fairs I'm considering, in December, both in Brighton with me. One is for handmade items only, and the other is a Christmas special one.
                      What kind of display materials are we talking about? I dont need jewelry stands or any of that. Do you mean like signs and such? I suppose business cards and bags would also be needed.
                      How much do stalls usually cost? One says it's £23, and the other doesnt say!

                      Sorry for all the questions, I really need to do my research!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Have you thought about going to pet shows and having a stall? or in the summer there are country fairs etc which often have small animal shows. Also how about approaching the smaller independant pet shops. Have you got a local resque center that you could link with, possibly helping put together a starter packs for new pet owners.

                        Sorry going the ideas are floowing for other people to night putting off having to do things for myself..

                        Good luck with the expansion, your products and web site look great. I daren't show my daughter 'cause she'll want a rat if she see's these....

                        Jo

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hey there

                          Pet shows are excatly what I'm looking into!
                          I am linked to one private rescue, who is handing out cards for me, who I am donating items to. There is another that I have yet to contact as well, it's all a matter of finding the time at the moment.

                          At the moment I'm setting up some Christmas gift pack type things, basically ready made Christmas stockings, filled with some of my products, for sale. The stockings double up as a bed
                          And I've got a few requests in for more spe******ed items, like an indestructable hammock for degus, and bottomless houses for infection-prone guinea pigs! It's hard trying to split my time lol.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            next steps

                            Have you thought about putting a few of your things in your local vets surgery?
                            Let the vet have say 20% commission on every sale he makes.

                            Comment

                            Working...
                            X