Dave Richardson

selling your work

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 Im wanting to sell some of my work to help pay for supplies and hopefully one day suppliment my retirement. Do you folks that sell build an inventory and take it some place to sell like a craft show or concentrate on getting the word out and take orders.

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Well, you're on Facebook, so that is a step ahead of me. Not a big fan of the "social network", as I spend too much time on "learning forums" already. Most of my work is word of mouth, a web site to show examples, and a bit of effort finding opportunities in almost any place I go. I walked into a gunshop while I was out of town this weekend. A fella overheard me talking to the clerk, and ended up asking for a western rig for his newest pistol. I go in to see a doctor, he ends up asking about a holster for his Glock.  Etsy and ebay are other outlets. What is it you are making? How labor intensive is it? Who is your target?

I make holsters, but can be persuaded to give almost anything a go. Most of my stuff is made one off, to order specs. But they all use pretty much the same stuff- leather, dyes, threads, snaps, rivets, buckles. I'm always going through needles too. So this is stuff  you try to keep on hand, the bare basics. If somebody asks for something different, order it and pass the cost on. But for the basics, you always need it to work. Ordering costs time and extra money for shipping. Order extras, on sale, or if you are really lucky, a local store. Just don't rely on local sources though they seem to sell out the last one of what you really need right now.

Tools are another aspect. There is a ton of different tools out there, and you'll likely only need a small fraction to start. When you get a chance pick up a stamp or two, get them. But don't think you need everything at once. I bet a lot of folks have been building their tools over years, and still are.

Space is also an issue. How big are the items you make? Wallets or suitcases, or something in between? Do you need a shoulder to make several of your products, or a side? The more you have on hand, the more you risk losing. I have no room inside the cabin to work, much less store. I know that if I leave a roll of leather on the ground, one of the dogs will be tempted to either chew on it, or pee on it. So, I have a utility/storage shed that is pulling double duty right now By shoving all the stored stuff over, I have almost 144 square feet of storage and workspace. I also live in the woods, and mice, rats, and racoons are a viable threat to my stash of leather. So, instead of getting whole hides, which is a huge expense at one shot, and get a shoulder. Less space, less risk, less up front cost, and I can get a few projects out of it.

In between orders, if I get the time, I'll make a holster for a pistol I have in inventory. I've made friends with a local pawn shop and a gun dealer. I drop off the extras for them to put on consignment. If a customer wants something different, I get a referral and deal with the customer from there. Of course, a little cash goes back to the store fronts, because they have overhead too.

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Beret   

My sales are all done via custom order. Now, I have two tiers of order process-options and a commerce website set up to allow for both. So I have my functionality such that you can "shop" per se, but still go through the entire fully-custom order process.

Very rarely, if I have spare time and a burning desire to make something particular, I will and then I'll place it up for sale at at a bit of a discount. Typically it will sell within an hour or so. But my business is built on the idea of custom design, so that's where my time goes. And also what lets me charge what I do.

I sell solely through e-commerce. I'm fairly involved in various dog show & sport circuits, so that's how I got started and built my brand.  MY business is built and made primarily through word of mouth and targeted social media presences. No shows for me, and if I did, I wouldn't have an inventory to make available. I would likely have to prepare a small run of ready-to-wear items and include a photo display of my portfolio. But as it is, I'm not much interested in making the same thing more than once. So I don't. And my business model is that no piece will ever be duplicated. But again, that's my product and my model within my little niche market. How you decide to run yours is going to depend on YOUR product, YOUR core clientele, YOUR market, and your individual capabilities. 

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Thanks Beret, lots of good thought in your post. I too like the idea of one of a kind, dont care for making something over and over. Thanks for your post

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venator   
On 2016-12-30 at 4:08 PM, Beret said:

My sales are all done via custom order. Now, I have two tiers of order process-options and a commerce website set up to allow for both. So I have my functionality such that you can "shop" per se, but still go through the entire fully-custom order process.

Very rarely, if I have spare time and a burning desire to make something particular, I will and then I'll place it up for sale at at a bit of a discount. Typically it will sell within an hour or so. But my business is built on the idea of custom design, so that's where my time goes. And also what lets me charge what I do.

I sell solely through e-commerce. I'm fairly involved in various dog show & sport circuits, so that's how I got started and built my brand.  MY business is built and made primarily through word of mouth and targeted social media presences. No shows for me, and if I did, I wouldn't have an inventory to make available. I would likely have to prepare a small run of ready-to-wear items and include a photo display of my portfolio. But as it is, I'm not much interested in making the same thing more than once. So I don't. And my business model is that no piece will ever be duplicated. But again, that's my product and my model within my little niche market. How you decide to run yours is going to depend on YOUR product, YOUR core clientele, YOUR market, and your individual capabilities. 

Thanks.  What's your website?

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sojammer   

Hi Dave, I started selling at A  Flea Market. You get next to nothing for your products and everybody tells you what you should have done to make it better. Sounds like A waste but when you have been at it awhile you will have learned what you have that sells and got ideas from the people you want...potential customers. Once you learn the feel of the market start doing small festivals. This way you can keep up with stock and learn more about how to display and talk to the people. Next you hit the craft shows. They cost a lot to be in but your prices per item leap up and if your good so will the sales volume.

 I currently am in  the Charleston City Market in South Carolina where the crowds can be overpowering at times.

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Good ideas sojammer. Thanks

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