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Craft Ideas, How To’s and New Product Introductions from The Ribbon Shoppe!

Posts Tagged ‘how to guide’

Fundraisers: A Great Way To Promote Your Business Without Hassle

Posted by Kimberly on November 1, 2007

If there is one great thing about having a craft business, is that it is fairly easy to promote without hassle.   After all, who doesn’t like crafts?  While there are exceptions to every rule, the vast majority do enjoy handmade, quality crafts. 

Through craft fairs and bazaars, crafters have the ability to easily promote themselves with booths.  The customer approaches your booth, no need to seek them out.   Online craft malls and websites such as Etsy bring craft lovers to your virtual door.

But, with the exception of craft fairs and bazaars which, as a general rule, are seaonsal means of sales, how does a crafter continue to promote themselves without a great deal of money and headache?

There are simple ideas that are very often overlooked.   This idea costs nothing more a desire to earn through a willingness to give.   If this interest you, then promotion through fundraising is an excellent way to get your craft business name out there.

Promotion Through Fundraising Option 1:

When I was selling candles, I had a lucrative business online.  Selling wax tarts was easy to sell online because they were easy to package and ship; but candles could, at times, be a hassle.  Therefore, I wanted to focus more of my online business on wax tarts and concentrate on selling candles locally, or “real time” if you will.

At the same time I was operating my candle business, I was also volunteering to oversee the local little league football teams’ cheerleading squads.   One of the things that was necessary in order to purchase uniforms and poms that was needed was annual fundraisers.   Since it was my job to find fundraisers, I saw this as an opportunity to get my name out locally offering this program special fundraising deals.

It was the best thing I ever did for my craft business!  In offering participants a large variety of scented candles at $5.00 each, with $2.00 of each candle being given back to the program, everyone was happy.  In just a short time, I had sold over 400 candles locally and the program had earned almost $1,000! 

Even after leaving the league as the program coordinator, I still had customers who continued to contact me via telephone to place their orders.  And I continued to contribute to the program and promote myself by allowing the program to continue with the fundraiser.

Promotion Through Fundraising Option 2:

This option actually compliments the first, however I wanted to list it separately because of the vast amount of information attached to it.   If you craft an item that would make an excellent fundraiser item and you have a willingness and have ability to take on large quantity orders, you may also want to consider advertising your fundraising option online.

There are numerous sites on the internet that will allow you to submit information about your fundraiser for free.   Here is a listing of some of those sites:

Of course, there are also many paid fundraiser directories on the web too.  However, before paying to submit your site to any of these, I would recommend that you thoroughly investigate the success rate of using these services.

Also, when browsing the links above, you may notice that many of the sites require you to have a website.  If you currently do not have a website, GET ONE! 🙂   In the meantime, however, I would recommend using free services such as eCrater or Flying Cart to set up a temporary web shop.   Sites such as these also allow you to have one or two “blank” pages; so be sure to include fundraising information on one of those pages.

Promotion Through Fundraising Option 3:

When my youngest was born a 31 week preemie in 2004, I had to sell my candle business.   Once he really began thriving, I started seeking out my next business endeavor.  And that is how I came into ribbon sales with speciality in korker ribbon.

Unlike candles, korker ribbon is easily saleable anywhere because of the low shipping cost and easy packaging, but I love local sales; so it was time to begin my self-promotion techniques again.Using korker ribbon or korker bows doesn’t really work well as a fundraiser itself because the market is limited to females.  However, korker bows do work as an excellent contribution to fundraiser ideas such as raffles or silent auctions.

When I began the ribbon business, my son was in elementary school.  Each year his school held a Fall Festival in October.  Each classroom was assigned a theme for a gift basket that would be sold at silent auction during the evening of the event.  There was always one classroom that had a “girly girl,” “health & beauty” or “UT Vols” theme; with any one of those being a perfect opportunity to contribute a korker bow to be included.  If my son’s classroom did not fall into one of these themes, I would still take one of my bows, complete with label bearing my business name, phone number, and address, to the teachers with these themes.   Needless to say, the teachers were more than willing to accept my contribution.  At the same time, there was three bows out there just waiting to be purchased by three new potential customers!

Never pass up the opportunity to donate to fundraising programs such as these.   It doesn’t have the same potential as discussed in the first option, but it is still a great opportunity nonetheless.  And organizors will greatly appreciate your willingness to donate without their having to ask.

* There are so many opportunities to promote yourself through fundraising.   The rewards are well worth the effort! *

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Posted in Managing Your Craft Business | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Girly Things: All In One Resource for How to Make Hairbows & More

Posted by Kimberly on October 29, 2007

gtscreen1.GIFThe first line of the home page says it all: “Why pay for what should be free?”

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to sell their know how (as long as it is THEIR know how and not copied directly from sites like this!); but, let’s face it, in the Internet age, some things just are not going to be marketable because there are plenty of folks out there willing to share the information for free.

That is exactly what is available at Girly Things: Making Ribbons & Bows & Other Pretties. Visitors to this site will find more than 20 hair accessory ideas and detailed instructions on how to make them. The best part…they are complete with photographs!

The creator of this site doesn’t stop with just bow instructions. She also offers a complete listing of other crafts such as the Bow Board, Pacifier Clips, Ribbon Roses, Tutus and so much more!

And just when you’re thinking there isn’t possibly one more thing that could be added to make this site a one stop resource….surprise! There is also instructions on starting your own website for selling your hair bows and other crafts!

I absolutely love this site! This is a well organized place for bow beginners. Go ahead, check it out! I bet you have it bookmarked before you leave! 🙂

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How To Successfully Sell Your Product At Craft Shows

Posted by Kimberly on October 24, 2007

Anyone who has any crafting skills can have a successful craft show.  All it takes is a little know how.

Before I became a full time on-line retailer, I participated in a number of craft shows.  Even then I operated my business from my home and the majority of “real time” interaction was with my children and husband.  As a result, I found that I enjoyed the camaraderie that exists among craft peddlers and the interesting conversations with customers.  It’s a great way to get out and make money doing something you enjoy!

Of course, the first rule of thumb is that you have a craft.  A craft doesn’t have to be just candles, woodworking signs, or floral arrangements; a craft can be something you do regularly as just a hobby and never thought about turning into a cash-producing business.

For example, there are many of you out there that are talented in creating beautiful scrapbooking pages.   People like myself, who aren’t so gifted in that art and/or simply don’t have the time to create those gorgeous keepsakes, are willing to pay a pretty penny for a pre-made page that requires only the insertion of photos and a couple of handwritten notations. 

Everyone has the ability to create a craft project.  And most of them are going to be pieces of work that many are willing to pay for.  Looking for a craft idea or maybe something new to compliment an existing project?  Try YouCanMakeThis.com for some really neat, simple ideas!

Now that you have your craft, it’s time to market it!

One must first realize that there are two types of shows:  juried and non-juried.  If you are a new crafter, I would recommend that you begin with non-juried as the juried shows require submissions of the product (via photo or other methods) to be judged whether your item should be accepted for a space.  However, if you have been crafting your product for some time and feel confident that you could easily pass inspection, feel free to choose either type show to enter.

Once you’ve made the decision for juried or non-juried, you must next locate craft fairs in your area.  Arts & Crafts Business at About.com offers great suggestions and links to finding upcoming shows in your area.

Since most craft shows offer 8′ x 10′ or 10′ x 10′ spaces, it’s a good idea to practice setting up in roped or tape area the size of your space in your garage, basement, or any area large enough to accommodate.  If your show is being hosted outdoors, make sure that your canopy will also fit into this space.  (The most popular craft show canopy is E-Z UP from Van Raalte & Co., Inc.

In arranging your display, one very helpful hint to remember is the use of levels is very eye-catching to potential customers.  Simply laying your items out on a flat table surface is just plain boring.  Use milk crates, small ladders, hanging hooks, etc.  Four really great examples can be found at ArtFestivals.com.

Choose a theme for your space.  Many craft fairs designate a theme such as Fall or Christmas.  Whatever the theme, use an assortment of fabrics to drape across your tables.  For example, for a Christmas theme you may choose to use a solid green fabric as your table cover then use white lace dollies to drape atop the green.  Continuing with this theme, strategically place red tulle to create a swag to the front of your table.  And don’t hesitate to use decorations amid your products for sale.  (Decorations should be clearly defined so as not to create confusion among buyers.)  Just bear in mind that your coverings should be attractive, not overbearing; nor should they overpower your product.  Simple, solid colors are best.

Next, you should organize.  An easy example of this idea is candles.  Arrange your candles by size.  Pillar candles should not be mixed in with container candles.  Floral scents should not be surrounded by bakery scents.  In addition, if possible, use your product to decorate.  Again, candles is an excellent example, in that you can take three varying height pillars (same scent is suggested), arrange them in a triangle atop a clear platter, and light (if permitted by show hosts) for a beautiful, eye-catching display.

Bottom line:  think of your items as being placed in a grocery aisle.  If there is no organization, your shoppers will wonder aimlessly and could possibly just walk away.  In addition, include a nice assortment of products from the lowest price range to the highest for the best selling potential.  With this methods, you catch most every budget! Complimentary products are also a great addition too (ie, candle lighters).

Now you need to create a sign displaying your business name.  If there is information about your product (ie, soy wax vs. paraffin wax), this should be made onto a separate sign.  If using more than one sign, be sure that the one with your business name is the largest.   Pick up inexpensive, plastic sign holders at office supply stores such as Staples or OfficeMax.   If you have a website or eBay store where you also sell your products, be sure to place business cards in holders in a couple of visible places for easy retrieval by customers.

Count on sticky kiddie fingers!  Every show that I ever participated in was overrun with children.  Since most craft show shoppers are mothers, this is to be expected.  A great way to get mom’s attention and keep grubby little paws off your delicate merchandise is to offer a cheap goodies basket.   A great idea for a Christmas themed show is to purchase approximately 50 of the miniature stockings found at dollar stores.  Along with the stockings, purchase several bags of candy.  Fill each stocking with four to five pieces of candy and sell them for a dollar each.  It’s absolutely amazing how many sales can be created from such a simple idea.   Even at the smallest shows, you’ll be sold out of these “idle hand detractors.”

Another good idea is to invest in a shirt bearing your logo and business name.  Vista Print offers low cost screening printing for such an occasion.   Many embroiderers can stitch your name onto a nice polo for a relatively low price.   If you will be enlisting help for your show, be sure to fit them with a “company” shirt too for a professional,  uniformed appearance.

The last idea is one that is purely optional.  In an effort to gain contact with customers after the show, offer a raffle for one of your products.  Provide slips of paper with preprinted information such as:  name, address, telephone number, email address, and the question of whether they would like to be contacted (via standard mail or email) about promotions, upcoming shows, and new products.   Everyone loves a chance to win something and you will be surprised at how many people will feel obligated to mark “yes” in regards to contact; several will even become great customers!  Just be sure to follow through with the raffle.  If you have a website, be sure to post the winner’s name to instill trust in your customers.

Now that you have all the technicalities out of the way….you’re ready for show day! 

Arrive at least one hour before scheduled opening time.  This gives you the time needed to add finishing touches.  You’ll also catch those early birds who will undoubtedly arrive and anxiously began browsing booths.

If business comes in sprints, use the time in between to rearrange and/or restock.   You can also take this opportunity to discreetly eat a quick lunch or snack.

Most importantly, have fun.  Smile.  Be friendly.  Your craft show is sure to be a success!

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