The Business of Making

10 Things I Learned From My First Wholesale Order, Part 2

10 Tips For Your First Wholesale Order, Part 2  --  for makers, from Westervin

Hey, you! If you haven’t read tips 1 through 5, go to “10 Things I Learned From My First Wholesale Order, Part 1,” then come back. Don’t skip ahead!

6. Prioritize Your Photography

This is a very basic yet crucial point, so I’ll keep it short: Great photos are crucial. If you’re trying to reach retailers online, your pictures will do most of the talking. It may seem obvious, but you can’t avoid investing (whether time, money, or both) in high-quality photographs of your products. If you’ve got an online store where you sell directly to consumers, you probably already know this. The same is true for retailers. For the photos you use in your linesheet, you’ll want crisp, clean, and professional images that show your products in the best possible light. That might be in a styled setting or on a model. Often, white backgrounds make the most versatile product shots. You can also offer to let retailers use your photos on their websites or in their own promotional materials, which provides an additional incentive for buyers (see Tip #4).

7. Be Proactive

Don’t wait for retailers to find you. That’s asking the retailer to do all the work! And you might be waiting a long time. I learned this the hard way.

When I first opened my shop last winter, I received some interest from an Etsy admin who placed an order for a couple of hats and gave me some wonderful feedback. “I expect you will have success with them,” she said. “I’ll bet you’ll even have interest from retailers eventually!”

How nice is that? You can bet I was thrilled. I just had to wait for the retailer inquires to start rolling in!

I waited 10 months. And, judging from my Etsy stats pieced together with what I know of my new stockist, I believe she found my shop by chance while searching for something else. Now that’s some luck, right! But why wait for luck? The best way for a retailer to find your work is for you to show it to them.

And another thing: don’t feel “icky” about reaching out to buyers. When I was sending out my first round of emails to potential buyers, Brian said he couldn’t be in the same room because it made him too nervous. HE was nervous about MY “cold emails.” Why? Because I was putting myself out their, risking rejection and possibly annoying people I didn’t know. But selling your work doesn’t have to be “icky,” and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’re going to annoy anyone. Just remember to write sincere, personalized emails to each buyer. Find out their names, if possible. If you truly believe that your products will fit in a particular shop, there’s no harm in asking the buyer if they might agree. No icks, ands, or buts.

Fort Smith Regional Art Museum #Arkansas

{ The Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, where you will soon be able to find Westervin hats and headbands for sale. }

8. Have a “Little Black Book”

A Little Black Business Book, that is. If you’re going to be proactive in sending out your linesheet, you’ll need a list of people to send it to. The first step is research — targeting specific stores with the most potential for interest in your wares. I ended up targeting specific cities and regions I had a connection to, asking locals I knew in each area for recommendations, and hunting for boutiques with a demonstrated appreciation for handmade wares. I spent a few days and several total hours on this step, because having a targeted outreach plan is actually more efficient and productive in the long run.

Keep track of all your contacts in a spreadsheet (or other tool you prefer), including:

  • Store name
  • Physical address
  • Website
  • Name of the owner, buyer, or most relevant contact person
  • Email address or link to their preferred contact form. (Pro tip: If you’re having trouble finding an email address, check the “About” section on the shop’s official Facebook page.)
  • Notes about what the shop typically carries, best times and methods to contact them, and even something personal to share with them (e.g. how you discovered them, something you love that you bought there, or why you really want your work in their store)

9. Create a Communication Plan

Also in your Little Black Book, you’ll want to keep track of how & when you contacted each retailer, if & when they replied, and when to follow-up. For example, I have the following columns for each contact:

  • Postcard
  • Email
  • Email followup
  • Call
  • Visit
  • Incentive offered

My communication plan involves some or all of these methods of communication for each retailer in my book. For many contacts, its not enough to send one email and forget about it. Don’t be afraid to follow up, politely and respectively of course, with additional information and/or incentives. It may take several touchpoints before a buyer shows interest.

Just Keep Swimming  (Westervin)

10. Just Keep Swimming

Full disclosure, I am not an expert on selling wholesale. I haven’t even had that many sales yet! I’m not confident in everything I make, and I don’t know for sure that my business will last.

But I do know that I’m learning something new every day, I’m receiving positive feedback that sustains me through the failures, and I LOVE nearly every bit of every day. This venture allows me to be creative AND strategic. It lets me exercise my design skills AND use my business training. I have found something that I’m passionate about, that I believe I can be good at, and that I think I can make money doing. I don’t know everything, but I know I’m on the right track.

These are the steps I believe will work for me as I build my wholesale offerings and my small business. Before you get started on your wholesale tools, think critically about your specific needs and do a little research of your own. I found Etsy’s Wholesale Guide to be one of the best references (no surprises there). Their “Wholesale Policies and Linesheets” document, for example, included some great sample linesheets.

Bonus! Join our mailing list for even more info.

Sign up to receive the Westervin newsletter and get 4 bonus tips for selling wholesale! I’ll put all this info — tips 1 through 10 plus the 4 bonus tips — together in a handy PDF guide and send it out to my newsletter subscribers for easy reference.

The Business of Making

10 Things I Learned From My First Wholesale Order, Part 1

10 Tips For Your First Wholesale Order -- For Makers, From Westervin

Last month, I received my first request for a wholesale order. Thrilled, I immediately replied saying something to the effect of, “WHAAAAT ERMERGOD OK YESPLZ SURE LET’S DO THIS!!!!!” Or something slightly more professional. It wasn’t until after I hit “Send,” that I realized I had some things to figure out. Namely, how to sell wholesale, exactly. I understood that the basic wholesale arrangement involved selling a larger quantity of goods to a retailer at a reduced price, and it seemed like I’d seen somewhere that a 50% discount from the retail price was the standard. But was 50% a hard-and-fast rule, especially for small producers of handmade wares, like myself? If so, would that be profitable for me? And how much was a “larger quantity” exactly? My blinding excitement quickly diluted to a mixture of hope and hesitation. So I set about uncovering the mysteries of wholesale with help from the internet, a calculator, and some very smart people I know. Here’s what I learned.

1. Pricing Is Everything

An initial search of “how to price for wholesale” left me a little overwhelmed. It seemed the industry standard was indeed to offer wholesale items at half the retail price, but I worried that wouldn’t work for me. Then I decided to ask an actual person. Two actual persons, to be exact — two lovely women I knew with experience as a buyer. Jess Mott Wickstrom is the former Gallery Director of Lillstreet Art Center and co-founder of DesignEgg, and Claire Hurwitz Staszak is the current Manager & Buyer at Neighborly. Boy, am I glad I asked these two! I found this piece of advice from Claire particularly empowering:

“You should remember that you have the control.”

Right! My business, my prices. I determine what works for me.

“We don’t make 50% on everything,” she continued, “and sometimes we carry an item just because we really like it. The margin isn’t always a priority, especially if it sells well.” Retailers may understand that small producers can’t always accommodate the traditional 50% markdown.

Jess agreed with Claire. “When dealing with Etsy sellers,” she said, “I was never surprised if they wanted to sell me items at prices a bit higher than the typical 50% wholesale. I think 60/40 is fair. If a retailer wants a bigger discount, ask for a higher minimum order.”

Yes. I think can work with that.

Next, I wanted to be sure a wholesale discount, even one slightly less than the standard 50%, still allowed me enough profit for my time and materials. According to Etsy, it all starts with your costs: “A solid understanding of how much it costs to make each of your products will allow you to adapt your supplies, workflows and minimum order quantities in order to strategically price for wholesale and ensure that you’re still making a profit.” Etsy shares this helpful formula for determining your prices:

  • Break-Even Price = Supplies + Overhead + Labor
  • Wholesale Price = Break-Even Price X 2 or More
  • Retail Price = Wholesale Price X 2 or More

You can read the full Wholesale Pricing Guide from Etsy.

Finally, I was ready to whip out my tiny calculator and crunch some numbers. With my trusty data in hand and my advice from Claire and Jess in mind, I followed up on my first wholesale order request with some solid pricepoints. Through this process, I realized I was undervaluing my work. I decided to adjust the prices on a few of my current designs, and the results have been pretty positive. It was scary, but I feel more confident about my line now. I’ve also started plans for new designs and production techniques that allow for greater profitability.

Westervin Packaging (From 10 Tips For Your First Wholesale Order)

2. Pay Yourself

This is an extension of #1 but an equally important and separate point to make. This wisdom comes from Tim West, Associate Professor of Accounting at Northern Illinois University and World’s Greatest Father-in-Law.

“One thing I always tell people,” he mentioned to me over the phone, “it’s easy to give away a good living. I suspect this can be a problem in the craft world, because people are so passionate about what they do.”

So true, Tim, so true. I see this all the time. It’s like an epidemic in the craft world; so many makers aren’t paying themselves enough. Not only do we not know how to price our work so we make enough to live, but we must compete with the impossibly low price-points of mass produced merchandise. Tim suggests starting by calculating how much you need to make in order to pay your bills, eat, and have a place to live.

“For example, if you need $4,000 each month, you will need $48,000 for the year. Remember, that’s after tax so multiply $48,000 x 1.4 to approximate your before tax ‘salary.’ In this example, you need a ‘profit’ on your orders of $67,200. How many hours do you want to work during the year? If this is a full-time gig, you might consider 2,000 hours (50 weeks x 40 hours per week). The result, for every hour you work, you should should charge $24.00 per hour ($48,000/2,000 hours) in addition to your material cost.” So, that’s how you can calculate your labor costs for use in the pricing formula above.

But as Tim cautioned, this is just a starting point. Just because you need to earn X dollars for every scarf you make doesn’t mean someone will pay X dollars for your scarf. “Don’t forget the opportunity cost,” Tim continued. “If you take on too many intro priced jobs, you won’t have the time you need for better projects.”

3. Consider Consignment

If you aren’t getting as much interest from retailers as you’d like, or if there’s a particular store you REALLY want to get your items into, consider offering a consignment arrangement. This reduces the risk for a store.

“We do it occasionally,” Claire explained, “when we aren’t sure how well something will do, or if it’s a high-priced item. It makes it much easier to say ‘yes’ to someone.”

Offering consignment can supplement your wholesale revenue and help to generate more interest in your goods and brand. Just make sure you have a solid system for keeping track of what you send out, when you get paid, and if unsold items are sent back to you. Be clear about shipping costs and who is expected to cover them. Remember, also, that a consignment experience can be a great opportunity for market research. Keep an eye on what does or doesn’t sell and where. You could find that you’re targeting the wrong stores.

4. Incentivize Sales

Give a retailer more reason to order from you. Clare Yuille, founder of Indie Retail Academy, explains that, “there are probably a couple of extra things you can do to tip the scales in the shop-keeper’s favour, without it affecting you too badly.” Some examples include:

  • RISK FREE TRIAL. Let retailers carry your products for a specified period of time (e.g. 45-90 days) at no charge, but keep a valid credit card on file. At the end of the trial, they can decide to keep the products and be charged the wholesale price or return the items in like-new condition.
  • PRODUCT SWAPS. Like a risk-free trial, you can give retailers the option to swap a product that isn’t selling well for something else more promising, after a specified period of time.
  • SAMPLES. Offer to send a free sample of your items to retailers you really want to work with. This will get your figurative foot in their door and show them the quality of your creations. Just make sure it’s financially feasible for you to do so.
  • EXCLUSIVITY. Create an exclusive line for a favorite retailer or agree not to sell similar items to a retailer’s direct competitors.
  • DISCOUNTS. Calculate appropriate discounts (in addition to the 50% wholesale discount) for placing holiday orders early or making a sale at a particular trade show.

Westervin's Sample Linesheet Page -- 10 Tips For Your First Wholesale Order

{ sample page from my wholesale linesheet for the Westervin shop }

5. Make a Linesheet

This was completely new to me. A linesheet, I discovered, is basically like a catalogue containing all the products you offer that are available for wholesale. It contains basic information about your business, your available products, and ordering policies that a retailer needs to know and, ideally, allows them to quickly and easily place an order. In general, this information should include:

  • product name, number (if applicable), and description (e.g. sizes, colors, materials, etc.)
  • the MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price) for each product
  • the wholesale price for each product
  • contact and ordering information
  • payment methods and terms
  • shipping methods and costs
  • order minimums (per item or per order)
  • lead time

“Okay, got it,” you’re probably thinking, “where do I get started?” Well, unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all template for creating a linesheet, and I’ve seen oodles and gobs of variation in all the samples I’ve found. I did not let this stop me. In fact, I found it liberating to design my very own linesheet, something unique to Westervin. I used my basic photoshop skills and some photos I’d already taken for my online shop. In the end (because once I get started, it’s hard for me to stop), I created three different documents:

  • A multi-page CATALOGUE with full-page images, a mini bio about myself and business, and detailed ordering information. This will serve more as a marketing tool than strictly a tool for placing a wholesale order.
  • A one-page CHEAT SHEET, including thumbnails of all available products (shown previously in the catalogue) with the basic ordering information. This offers a quick reference for buyers when they’re ready to place their orders. This idea came from Claire after I sent her a proof of my catalogue. “I personally like looking through well-done multiple page catalogues,” she assured me, “but it can get annoying if you have to flip back and forth a lot to figure out your order.”
  • A branded ORDER FORM. This will be optional, as I understand some retailers may want to use their own forms. Either way, make sure every wholesale order has an order form — for safety and clarity.

For tips 6-10, read “10 Things I Learned From My First Wholesale Order, Part 2!”

Click here to finish reading.

A Fine Design, Blog News, The Business of Making

Free Graphic Design Services from DesignEgg

DesignEgg scamp trailer

{ Design Egg: Good Design for Great Ideas }

I’m excited to announce the launch of an innovative new initiative, for which I am extremely honored to play a small part. Crowdfunded through one of Kickstarter’s most popular design campaigns, DesignEgg is a one-year, traveling program offering free graphic design services to worthy artists, small businesses, and not-for-profit organizations in need across the US. Over the next year, $25,000 worth of DesignEgg credits will be awarded! Yeah, $25,000 worth of free graphic design!

the DesignEgg team: Pickle, Andy Wickstrom, and Jess Mott Wickstrom

 { Andy, Jess, and Pickle in their new home for the next 11 months }

This amazing project is the brainchild of Andy Wickstrom and Jess Mott Wickstrom (with help from Pickle, I’m sure). This dream team’s many talents include studio art & photography, curating, arts management, rock-climbing, being all-around amazing individuals, and, of course, expert graphic design skills. Since 2003, Jess and Andy have been working with artists, arts organizations, small businesses, and record labels, including The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, DePaul University, and The Ravi Shankar Foundation/East Meets West Music, to name but a few, and developing a notable portfolio through their graphic design business, Wickstrom Design.

inside the DesignEgg scamp trailer

{ inside the freshly renovated DesignEgg trailer }

I was thrilled when Jess and Andy asked me to be part of the DesignEgg selection committee and quickly humbled when I saw the intimidatingly impressive group of arts, education, and business professionals I would be joining. Luckily, I managed to overcome a brief bout of impostor syndrome and told them that OF COURSE I would join their committee. Who wouldn’t?

interior redesign of the DesignEgg scamp trailer

{ Pickle approves of the scamp re-design }

So my friends, family, and kind readers, if, after learning about DesignEgg, you thought to yourself, “Hey, I could really use some free graphic design services,” then don’t hesitate. Apply now! The application process is pretty simple (just answer a few questions and explain your graphic design needs), and the DEADLINE IS NOVEMBER 1.

mountain view from the DesignEgg travels

{ DesignEgg travels through Colorado }

You just can’t help but be inspired by these fine folks! Follow the scamp as Andy, Jess, and Pickle traverse the US in their beautifully renovated trailer — climbing mountains, meeting talented individuals, exploring admirable organizations, and taking breathtaking photos of this great country! Join the DesignEgg newsletter to stay up to date (e.g. application reminders), follow the duo on Instagram/Twitter/their Blog, and help spread the word!

DesignEgg visits Anderson Ranch with Pickle, their pit-bull mix mascot

{ a visit to Anderson Ranch }

beautiful adventures by DesignEgg

{ DesignEgg journeys to Utah }

DesignEgg adventures

{ DesignEgg, 100% cage-free since 2014 }

Blog News, The Business of Making, Westervin Shop

Some Thoughts on Crafting a Business and a Westervin Shop Update

Boy howdy have I been busy lately! You’ve probably heard the news by now: I’ve decided to start a career as a maker. In case, you haven’t noticed, however, I’ve opened the Westervin shop, with a yacht-load of help from Brian. I’m in love, ya’ll. I’m in love with being a maker.

Until now, I haven’t shared much insight into my recent leap into self-employment. If you’re interested, I’m ready to share a little about my motivations, aspirations, and expectations, as well as an update on how the shop has been progressing over the last two months.

New Gold Scissors!

{ My new scissors! Sarah West Ervin on Instagram }

Many of our readers might think of me as a blogger first and foremost. Brian and I have been writing here for over four years now, during which time I’ve mainly focused on finishing graduate school while working full-time in a couple different administrative-type jobs. This left little time for crafting, so instead, I filled this blog with the art- and craft-works of others, which is fun but requires less of an investment.

For many years before Westervin (the blog), however, I would have considered myself mainly a craftsperson. In high school, I didn’t have a regular job. Instead, I made extra cash making clothing, jewelry, and purses and selling them to my classmates. Then in college, I started an online shop—again, with tons-o-help from Brian—selling vintage clothing as well as fine art and crafts, made by myself and other students and local craftspeople. It was pretty successful, too! I even placed 2nd in our school’s business plan competition and got a little interview in the school newspaper (thanks to Rosemary!). But then Brian and I moved to Chicago after graduation, and our little shop fizzled out. It was too difficult to maintain here in the city, without all the free resources we had on campus (free models!) and the lower costs of doing business in Arkansas (MUCH cheaper vintage there). So we put the business aside and decided to focus on getting “real jobs.” Sadly, I also slowly stopped all the creative activities that I felt defined me: sewing, knitting, drawing, photography, making jewelry.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover's Red

{ Crocheted Quartz Crystal Necklace in Lover’s Red }

And then one day, not but a few months ago, I had something of an epiphany while sitting quietly by myself at the hair salon, waiting for my color to set, with no phone or magazine to distract me. That epiphany, as you’ve probably guess by now, was realizing what I really want out of my professional life. I need to make things. I need to be creative, I prefer to work for myself, and I have a particular set of skills and experiences—in both art and business—that will help me become a successful full-time maker. It seems obvious now, but it took a few years to accept this idea as a truly viable career path and let go of the stability and comfortable routine of regular, full-time employment. Finally accepting it has been so freeing! I no longer feel like I’m on the outside looking in when blogging about the handmade works of others. I’m also looking forward to handmade exchanges with other makers!

So within a month of my epiphany, I was working at home, refining my crochet skills, and crafting up a line of hats for my debut launch of the Westervin shop.

My first month after opening the Westervin shop was a whirlwind. The timing—just a few weeks before Christmas—couldn’t have been better. I celebrated my first order within a few days, and the sales kept steadily rolling in over the next few weeks. Some customers bought more than one hat, because they seem to make great gifts! And all the amazing press & promotions I received that first month was just a dream! I was featured in the Dallas morning news, and my hats were liked, purchased, and shared by several Etsy admin. And more than a few hats were featured on the Etsy trending pages. Oh my lucky stars! I had to pinch myself.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloth Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Raspberry, Bubblegum, and Cream }

But then Christmas came and went and business slowed down. My inventory depleted more quickly than I had anticipated, more quickly than I could recover from, so my shop looked a little dismal for a while. Then I was quickly met with the challenges of the creative process. I struggled for weeks, trying to make new and different pieces, but nothing seemed good enough. The highs of my early success were later balanced by blinding frustration when my creative skills kept falling short of my aesthetic standards. This is something I’m sure many people can relate to.

I also struggled with the inevitable uncertainty and risk that comes from starting any business, let alone a creative one. I know my current business model lacks the potential for long-term sustainability. Different ideas for diversifying my revenue streams (business school, much?) have been percolating in the back of my mind, but I keep searching for a unifying thread to make all my ventures consistent.

All of this is made even more complicated by the sudden life change. It’s not just my daily routine that’s completely shifted but also my identity and goals for the future. I’ve gone from full-time employee and part-time graduate student to maker/business owner/housewife/grad student/blogger. And then there’s the guilt! The guilt of making a huge personal decision that has huge effects on someone else’s life—my husband’s—is a difficult thing to rectify, regardless of how completely supportive and encouraging he is. Actually, his selflessness only makes me feel worse! Geez. I’m terrible at juggling. I still haven’t found the right balance.

Oh, and one other thing. A note to all you hard working, organized, perfectionists out there. You may think that you could maintain your internal motivation and detailed scheduling system if you were to suddenly find yourself working from home or for yourself. I certainly did. But trust me—when you no longer have an office outside your house to go to, when you don’t have a boss near you, when you don’t absolutely NEED to wear pants… You will find yourself tested to your limits. And you might be unpleasantly surprised by the results.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Mustard, Blue, and Hot Pink }

In the last few days, however, I’ve started to find a little more peace, a little more structure amid the madness. I’ve added a few new items, which you see here, to the shop. My skills are improving, and I’m enjoying the variety in my work. I think my inventory is a little more well-rounded, but I’m still focusing only on crochet for now. I still have a few hats for sale, though I’ve sold almost all the ones from my first batch!

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Stone Necklace in Teal

{ Crocheted Charcoal Gray Stone Necklace in Teal }

Though I still struggle with all the uncertainty and frustration of starting something new, I know that I’ve made the right decision for both myself and my family. If I never tried, than I’d always regret it. And boy am I so much happier now! I feel like myself again–optimistic, creative, independent. I’ve got a big, beautiful vision for the future, so I hope you’ll stick around to watch or even be a part of the journey! In the short-term, Brian and I will be making some updates to the blog, making it and the shop more cohesive in look and content. I think you’ll appreciate the coming changes…

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam

{ Striped Crochet Pom-Pom Hat in Slate, Chartreuse, and Seafoam }

Oh, and one final note. I’ve received a bit of feedback lately that’s been incredibly reinforcing. The positive reception from my friends, family, readers, and new customers has been overwhelming. Thank you to the moon and back! It’s an addictive high when someone else loves what you create.

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Dishcloths in Oyster, Cream, and Navy

{ Crocheted Dishcloth / Potholder Set in Oyster, Cream, and Navy }

I’m so grateful that I’m able to make things with my hands, but the creative process is made a thousand times more rewarding when my creations are loved by others. Here’s a message from a recent satisfied customer:

“Sarah, the hat arrived today, and I wanted to tell you that, “YOU MADE MY HEAD SO HAPPY’.” 99% of the time I love what I buy on Etsy, and 1% of the time I am OUT OF MY MIND WILDLY IN LOVE WITH WHAT SOMEONE MADE FOR ME ON ETSY. The hat is in that 1% spot. I knew it would look nice–I never imagined the texture and colors would surprise and please all my senses in such a big, beautiful way. Thank you so much. You may now consider me a regular customer. Perfectly sweet in the way a woman of any age can feel fun all over!!!” — Carol

Westervin Shop: Handmade Crochet Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom

{ Crocheted Amazonite Stone Necklace in Mushroom }

Wow. Can we talk about that quote for a minute? So many things! Joyful and sweet and genuine and a little quirky! Now, I know I have a few Westervin readers of the creative variety—craftsters and makers and Etsy shop owners… maybe even a few who are hoping to start selling their work. Tell me what you’re up to! I’d love to know where your creative adventures have taken you, and any advice you can offer this newby maker would be much appreciated.

Crafty News, Featured, The Business of Making

Who Buys Handmade?

If you’ve been with us for more than a few months, you may remember when I asked you to take a little survey about your Etsy shopping habits. Well, many of you did, and I was forever grateful, because I was able to gather some really interesting information! Though the data was a little skewed–it wasn’t a completely random sampling of Etsy shoppers–I think it still provides a bit of insight about the average craft consumer, their motivations, and their interests in the handmade movement. Taken with a grain of salt, this information could be particularly useful if you sell your own handmade goods on Etsy.

embroidered postcard saying "Buy Handmade"

These results created a profile of the average Etsy consumer. She’s an adult woman, between 25 and 34 years old, and considered a member of the working or middle class. She makes a few Etsy purchases a year, usually jewelry or accessories costing between $21 and $40, and often purchases them as gifts for others. Though she doesn’t sell her own craft, she values handmade goods, enjoying the occasional craft fair, and appreciates the variety that Etsy offers. She’s more likely than her male counterparts to value the eco-friendly goods that Etsy offers, but she finds Etsy’s check-out process less appealing than younger consumers.

The graphs below provide more detail about a few key results.

The majority of respondents were female (84.3%).

All respondents were between 18 and 34 years of age, while the majority (70.6%) were 25-34.

Most respondents made less than $50,000 a year.

Jewelry and accessories are popular selling items on Etsy.

Respondents were more likely to purchase gifts for others than items for themselves.

Respondents were more like to purchase items costing $21 to $40, but items in the $11-20 and $41-60 ranges were also fairly common.

Over half of respondents (51%) attended one or two craft fairs in the last year.

Most respondents (58.8%) do not sell their own handmade goods.

So what can a crafter learn from this data? It’s always important to keep your customer in mind when designing, pricing, and promoting your goods. If you feel that this profile is consistent with your typical customer, below are some tips that might help attract more buyers. These pointers are based on the above information, as well as some more complex statistical analysis I performed in the original case study, but which I omitted from this post for brevity.

  • Utilize social cause marketing messages to leverage the target audience’s appreciation for handmade and eco-friendly product offerings.
  • Feature moderately priced products ($21-$40 range), as products below $5 may not be valuable enough to outweigh shipping costs or other intangible costs (e.g. time, effort, etc), and products above $40 may be too high considering the average consumer’s income bracket.
  • Promote products as “gifts”.
  • Sell products at local craft fairs and markets if possible.
  • Market to possible secondary targets: 18-24 year old women or those who sell their own handmade goods. The latter could be reached through marketing messages that appeal to their sense of community (e.g. through social media or support networks like Etsy groups).