In January I wrote about my new venture into selling handmade cotton bags on Etsy. Eight months on I thought you might be interested in an update.
First of all, what or who is Etsy? I was surprised as to how many people have not heard of Etsy. It is an e-commerce website which provides a marketplace for people around the world to sell and buy handmade and vintage goods. They charge a small listing fee and transaction fee for every item sold. It is USA based and a similar UK company is Folksy, I’ve not had any success selling through them.
I have found that it is not just a case of listing goods and hoping someone comes along and buys them. There is a lot of competition out there and my only hope of selling my cotton bags is to make them unique and ensure that the shop always looks good. It takes time and hard work. I have to keep up dating the shop so that items show up on Etsy searches by checking tags are sufficient to draw in prospective buyers and second guessing what people will put in a search tool so that my bags will pop up.
I gave the shop a name – AarTee Designs and called my cotton drawstring bags ‘Thingummy Bags’. I bought pretty tissue paper to wrap them in when posting off to buyers. There is nothing nicer than receiving a present, and from the reviews it is clearly appreciated. Also I always respond within a few hours to a buyer by email to thank them for their order and I endeavor to post a Thingummy Bag within a day of receiving payment. Customer satisfaction and a good purchasing experience is all important.
Getting the price right has been an absolute headache, because of the competition. How people can sell bags at such a low price and make a profit beats me. Even now I don’t sell them at a decent profit. I use expensive 100% quilting cotton material and it is recommended that pricing should be the cost of materials x 3, this would mean a bag I sell at £12 really should be £15. I don’t buy lengths of material, which would reduce costs, I buy fat quarters so no two Thingummy Bags are identical. At the moment I am reticent at increasing my prices because I am competing against similar bags at £7. It could be they are not as well made and I have heard it said that when prices go up so do sales – something to think about.
Thingummy Bags are various sizes and can be used as knitting bags, lingerie bags, they are ideal for keeping your smalls in one place when traveling, they also make great shoe bags. One of my main sales pitches is that a Thingummy Bag can be used for anything that you might store in an unattractive non-Eco friendly plastic carrier bag. After discovering PUL, a waterproof material, the Thingummy Bag range now includes wash bags and nappy bags. I have made large swimming bags to order from a customers choice of fabric pattern. Customers have also bought Thingummy Bags to fill with goodies and give as presents, making two gifts in one.
The first few months I was astounded as to how well Thingummy Bags sold, to such an extent in April I was beginning to panic that I couldn’t make enough bags. Then in May and June sales completely slumped, which was very depressing. At this point I thought it was time to look around to find other ways of selling. One lovely lady in the local wool shop agreed to take a few bags on trial, but within a few weeks she moved into a larger shop as a joint venture with another lady who didn’t want to have my bags, so I took them back. Then I tried another shop which had just opened up, selling local craft goods and renting out shelves at £20 a month with 20% commission on a sale. May was quite a good month but then there were no sales in June or July, but she said sales in whole shop were very low. I have not renewed renting a shelf, it is cheaper to leave my goods on Etsy.
I was due to foray into the craft stall world at the end of August and made lots of bags but because of a hospital appointment on the same day I have had to cancel. I hope to sell a lot more Thingummy Bags within the next couple of months as I have some fabulous Christmas fabrics to make into gift bags of different sizes.
Please spread the word and pay my shop a visit at http://www.aarteedesigns.etsy.com. There is a 10% blog readers welcome discount quote code WELCOME15