Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Need Your Opinion...

I think I might take the plunge into selling some of my handmade items. However, I have a dilemma...well, not really a dilemma, but more of a business question.

When I walk into a fabric store or a quilt shop, I LOVE it ALL. I really do love all fabrics, but I'm drawn to certain ones more than others and continually buy the same type.

I love Moda's 3 Sisters (absolutely everything they've ever made)...






I swoon over all Moda's French General...








and so many others.







Then there are the trendier fabrics like Amy Butler that I love, but never buy...not sure why.



April Cornell...beautiful, but still never buy.


Other modern fabrics are Joel Dewberry and Kaffe Fassett. I think they're great, but for some reason they never end up in my stash. Maybe because they are out of my comfort zone or they're not the style of my home...not sure why.
So here's the question for you (whether you sell your own creations or not)...
  • Do I make things to sell with fabrics that I love and I'm drawn to?

  • or do I make things with trendy modern fabrics to please more people?

  • or make things with both?
My thinking is a certain look for my whole shop...color, style, etc. Do I stay with a "look" or mix it up to fit a broader group of people.
Does this make any sense or am I rambling...ok that's another question LOL. I'll stop now!
Thanks for your input. I can always depend on my blogging friends.
~Karen~

58 comments:

  1. I say you must make what you like because the process must be fun for you too!! If you don't like what your doing then no one else will and you will eventually hate what you are doing. You will find that many people have the same likes as you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I say you make them with both, all of the fabrics you like are in the "warmer color palette" which is great (and thats the fabric I am drawn too as well) but I think you would reach a bigger "market base" doing both. I am drawn to the warmer palette for my home, however things like my diaper bag, my wallet, and what I make for my girls (ages 3 mos and 7 yrs) are trendy and bright colored.
    Hope that helps good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I do both, Karen. I make things with fabrics that I love (3 Sisters is also my absolute favorite!) but I also make items with fabrics that don't really speak to me. I ADORE batiks but they would not be appropriate in my decor. Lots of other people do like them so I have sold a lot of things that were made from batik fabric. Last year I made several things with Joel Dewberry fabric and Amy Butler fabric. Again, nothing that I would choose personally but both sold really well. I do know that letting people choose their fabrics is really popular. I show them what I have available and then they choose the basic fabric and generally let me choose whatever I think "goes" with that choice.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Do what you like! You should enjoy the process. I think it would be hard to sell what you don't really like.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I agree with Jackie, make it fun. Sometimes that will mean the fabrics you love, then sometimes to venture out a bit. But be comfortable with what you are doing.

    Wanda
    http://wandas-quilts-crafts.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  6. My mom had a retail custom children's clothing store for years. She said the hardest thing to do was to stay focused on what her style is. I think that you should do what YOU love and it will show. You could always offer custom things too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I would start with what I like and feel comfortable with. If it sells well your future decisions will be easy, you won´t be forced to do something you don´t like. You always have time to add other stuff and target a bigger piece of market. Good luck and let us know how it goes!!!

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you make things that others will like, they will sell.
    If you make something you like, you will enjoy it more and may or may not sell, but at least if you don't you will have things you like;)

    Debbie

    ReplyDelete
  9. I would say as far as business goes, appealing to a wide variety of tastes is better as it means more chances of a sale, however it also means more supplies and making more product in general rather than just doing your own thing (if that makes sense to you). I make beaded jewelry as my business but am an all-round crafter, I learnt early that while I had much interest in the products i made, it didn't always result in a sale, it could have been something as simple as colour or style, but once i started making many variations of an item my sales increased dramatically. It comes down to what you want out of your venture :).

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wish I could help, but I don't feel I have expertise to advise on the "selling" aspect. I do love Moda and "your" tastes. But I also know some very new quilters that have been making quilts & items and being very successful selling them using modern fabrics. I guess, it might be a test the waters and see how it goes. But be sure what ever you make you like it to keep or give as a gift. Still, I think "you" will be successful.

    SewCalGal
    www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Karen, I have been selling my handbags for 6 years now and find that most people will be drawn to the style more than the fabric. I usually buy fabrics that I like and make the bags, then people will say to me, "I really like this bag...could you make it in X fabrics? If you are willing to take custom orders, people will let you know what they want. Of course, there will be those that like the same fabrics that you do and you will sell your items just for the fabrics, too!

    Good luck and I hope that whichever way you choose to go, you have fun!

    XOXO,

    Cyndi

    ReplyDelete
  12. I am agreeing with Jackie. For example look at Joanna from Fig Tree Quilts, her fabrics are pretty much in certain colors and maybe not everyone's thing, but she is very successful and loves what she is doing. I love all the 3 Sisters lines too and I doubt I am alone so you will still appeal to a lot of people.

    It is time for me to put out the heart runner you pieced and I finished it last year. You do such good work!

    ReplyDelete
  13. From a business perspective, I think you should mix it up. If people come to your "store " and arent drawn to your fabrics or wares the first time they wont repeat visit. Fabric choices can completely change my idea about whether I love or dont love something.

    That being said I find it difficult to make things out of fabric I am not completely in love with so I understand that dilemma.

    Maybe you could make some smaller items out of fabric you are less drawn to , so that you can showcase your versatility and get those repeat visits to start off. I'd also state items are available in different colourways and you're happy to do custom orders in modern or different fabrics. Just my two cents.

    Whatever you decide to do - best of luck with your new venture.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I think you should stick to what you like. If you don't feel comfortable with it, it will show in your work. That's not to say you shouldn't ever experiment!

    ReplyDelete
  15. A few years ago my sister-in-law gave me the best advice ever when I mentioned that although I loved many types of fabrics there were some I never bought because they didn't "match my decor." She suggested I buy what I love, not worrying about what it matched. Her advice totally changed my quilting world...it opened up so many new fabrics/styles to me. So my advice is to sew what you love...and never be afraid to try out a new fabric designer!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Isn't that a great way to actually buy and use those fabrics that you like but don't seem to buy? They might not fit into your home or closet, but you still like them, so use them in another way.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think you should start with your own style, because this is probably the best way to make items you will be comfortable to offer for sale, and then you can add different fabrics if there is a demand or if you feel ready to explore new territories. Best of luck with this new project!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I think you should make what you love. However you can be open for spedial requests that are out of your comfort zone.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think if you buy what you love then you can't go wrong. Maybe try some of the trendier fabric once or twice. You may find you love some of it too!

    ReplyDelete
  20. One of the fun things about having your own shop is that you get to make what YOU like. But you might find that selling your items stretches your fabric comfort zone a little without even trying. When we sew for ourselves we're always thinking about what will "go" with our decor, and that limits our choices. But sewing for other (unknown) people-- well, who knows what their decor is? So you might choose fabrics and colors that you usually wouldn't use, because they will probably look good in someone's house, whoever that might be.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm not a business person, I don't have an etsy shop, but my opinion, and you asked for it, is this: work with the stuff you like.
    And advertise that you will do special orders.
    I wish you the best in your endeavors.
    xoxoxo
    ~a

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have a (sadly neglected) Etsy shop, but I sell a ton of stuff at craft sales and through local online advertising. I usually start with fabrics I love (and already have on hand) and then add others for variety. I also allow custom orders, and that's a popular option for a lot of buyers.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I think you should do both - start with your comfort zone with fabrics that you enjoy, but then repeat the same project with a different range of fabrics that is more out of your comfort zone - it is fun to see the difference that different fabrics can make but also doing things for others is a great excuse for experimenting and trying different things, particularly what you wouldn't put in your own house but will still be very nice. You never know, stepping out and challenging yourself may send you off in a different direction in the craft world. It has for me.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I think everyone else has said it, but start with what you love until you get yourself settled and then consider other fabrics. You never know what you might find (enjoy)! Good luck in your endeavours!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hola Karen !!
    Yo creo que para poder estar satisfecha con un trabajo todo debe ser de tu gusto, las telas, los hilo, el diseƱo, sino cuando lo termines nunca lo vas a ver bien. Al menos eso es lo que me sucede a mi. Yosoy una fan recnocida en irremdiable de la casa Moda, he hecho todo lo que compro es de esa marca.
    Besicos

    ReplyDelete
  26. Maybe it could be helpful to make both for the first time because then you can see what people (more) like! And when you say that you like for example Amy Butler too, try it! First I also don't bought these fabrics because... I had also no idea :) Maybe I thougt they are too beautiful for me (sounds strange, I know!). But the are so great... So try a little bit and maybe these fabrics are your style too.
    Maybe first with small parts of these fabrics. For example I made a Handbag for the beach with a small part of these fabrics (you can see it here www.hexenmamas.de it's a german blog).

    ReplyDelete
  27. Do what you enjoy working on.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I'm shocked you've never sold any items you made before. I kinda assumed. Anyhoo...congrats on taking the great big step. For me, when I first started, I wanted it to be fun for me so I only made what I LOVE. Then I started selling at more markets, and that meant investment in the rent and supplies so I had to be more realistic because I need the items to be sold fast to get cash flow. So my strategy was to make 80% what buyers wanted and 20% what I LOVE. Btw, I love amy butler but it's so much pricier than moda fabric.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I make things with what I like mostly, though I do have some prints that I just bought to buy and figured someone would like them.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I say both too, it seems like the items using the modern fabrics seem to be very popular.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Well... I'd say go with what you love, and maybe throw in some of the different stuff now and then. If that sells well, then you could keep it on....

    ReplyDelete
  32. i would say go with the fabrics you love, as your inspiration will come through in your iems that way. there so are many other people who produce items in the 'trendy' fabrics, that to use them would perhaps be same old, same old.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I make what I like, so I enjoy the process. Of course, sometimes I hope something won't sell so I can keep it. I've made quilts that I don't like and it's not enjoyable. Trying to figure out what people will like and buy will make you crazy. And really, bottom line, you want to enjoy what you're making.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I have the same dilema. I, too, want to start selling my crafts and not sure how to go about it. But I think going mostly with fabric you love, whether it's 'right' for your home or not. That way you get both traditional and contemporary fabric in there. If you really like some Amy Butler, but it wont fit in your home. That's ok, make something out of it to sell. Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  35. I work at a wonderful fabric store in Michigan. I love Moda also, but the more I see of the contemporary fabrics, the more they are growing on me (except Kaffe Fassett ;) Do what you like, experiment a little, but most of all have fun! There is a lot of mixing of old and new. You'll find your niche.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi

    I would mix it up to go for the broader audience but try and group them by type so the eyes don't get overwhelmed

    Lynne

    ReplyDelete
  37. Make what you love with the materials you love. I think that's the only way to end up with something fabulous. I really think people can tell if something is made without that love.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Thanks Karen,
    Really nice of you to stop by, as you can see I am new to quilty blogs. I was in Rhode Island last April for the quilt show, Did you go, are you going this year?

    I have changed my status to show email now -- thanks for the tip

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi there!

    One of the things we have to learn in a business setting is that we have to think outside the box of our own personal tastes. That's frequently hard to do, because our knowledge of ourself is so strong--but if we want to really make money pleasing other people, we have to take their personal preferences into account, as well.

    As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true..." Make designs you love, with craftsmanship that you can be proud of, and certainly make the majority in fabrics that you would choose if you like. Never work with ugly fabric. Just realize that if we want this to be a legitimate business, we need to try to reach as many potential buyers as possible, not just those that agree with our color and pattern choices.

    Anyway, that's my two cents' worth, and these days, that won't even buy you two pieces of penny candy!!

    Best of luck!
    Dot
    dminshall67@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  40. I would go for what you like/love if you enjoy what you make it will be beautiful..!
    Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
  41. On one hand, if you make something and it doesn't sell, you don't want to be 'stuck' with something you don't really like. However, making something with a particular pattern (or design) that you do like with fabrics that are a little out of your comfort zone could be a nice compromise. It's so hard to anticipate what someone else might like! And, sometimes, when we start doing something we love to do for money, it can take all the joy out of it. If you don't 'have to' do it, just make sure you do it in a way that won't rob you of that joy!

    I'm sure you'll make the right choice! :o]

    Doris

    ReplyDelete
  42. My type of sewing and business is different from yours, but some of the same principles apply. At one time, I tried to please everyone -- going outside my own preferences. For me, it ended up being an expensive mistake, and one that I am still paying for.
    My love is in heirloom and classic clothing for children. It appears you love the classic and traditional fabric designs. While I do sometimes fall for a trendy popular fabric, I find it quickly becomes more dated in a store. At least for me, they have a much shorter shelf life and appeal. The more classic designs never seem to go out of style, and the colors usually continue to coordinate over time with newer fabrics. That is not always true of the trendy designs. I say go for what you love, and love what you do.
    I live only a few miles from the Moda warehouse. It is an amazing and inspirational place!

    ReplyDelete
  43. I didn't take time to read all the other comments, but just from browsing quickly I can see that you're getting lots of answers. I honestly think you can go either way....make only what you like, or make what you like and what sells...BOTH will work!! I do both and have no trouble selling anything! Above all, have fun!!

    ReplyDelete
  44. Love your blog! I would make things that appeal to you. I have made and sold beaded jewelry but I found that it took the fun out of it when I made jewelry that appealed to others rather than myself. Plus, I think it makes your products more unique because it reflects your individual style.

    ReplyDelete
  45. I'm not a buyer of already made craft projects, nor a seller, so my advice isn't worth much, but I would simply use my favorites - and do things I love. As I start selling things, I will get a better feel for what people like, and then tweak that along the way. Whatever doesn't sell, you can use yourself (or use to drive traffic by giving away). You don't want to get into moving so far out of your comfort zone that you do not enjoy making your products.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I say that you make them with both..that way you are liking it and making it appealing to a lot of people too.
    Micki

    ReplyDelete
  47. I would say make things you enjoy making or you might get tired and bored very soon. If you enjoy your process and projects it will show through.

    ReplyDelete
  48. I tend to make what I like and when I have a custom order I buy a little extra material/yarn for whatever project I'm doing and use it along the way.Sometimes you are pleasantly surprised when you actually have the fabric in hand as to how well it compliments something you already have in your stash and then you have a whole new look.Good luck,and don't wear yourself out.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I must say, I love everything you showed us so I would say yes to what you like and might like too..

    ReplyDelete
  50. I would suggest starting with the fabrics you love but also add in some that attract you that you don't normally work with. I find that when I am making shop models, even if I don't think I will like the fabric, it expands my horizons. I often end up liking the fabric. I think it is good to step out of our comfort zone. You will quickly find out what your target audience will be.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I understand your dilemma for you have to make what people will buy, but I have to tell you that I think you are in luck! As far as I am concerned, the fabrics you listed above as those you love are trendy! If they aren't, then there are a whole lot of frumpy French General lovers out there! I see that stuff everywhere!

    ReplyDelete
  52. i just read a great article on this. what i got out of it was to target an audience with your product. make what your audience wants....

    on a side note. you could always place a note on all your items you post saying that they are customizable. so if someone sees something they love but don't care for the pattern/color.. they can email you asking if you could make it in such and such pattern/color scheme =)

    ReplyDelete
  53. I think if you buy what you love the sewing will go much faster! I think they will be plenty of people that will like it too! Or buy on sale then maybe you will love to make some profit on it, but you probably still have to like it! I love modern fabrics as well, but it's harder working with them since they are usually very busy and large prints.

    Happy sewing!

    ReplyDelete
  54. I have been making & selling my hand crafted items for more years than you can imagine! Here is my rule of thumb.
    #1- NEVER make anything that you can not give away when it does not sell
    #2- NEVER follow a trend...IE: those Geese of the 80's! See rule #1!
    #3- NEVER try to GUESS what might sell. Do your homework. It easier today than ever simply go to Etsy and see things that selling!
    Attend shows in your area and in surrounding areas...see what others are doing that is selling.
    #4- NEVER expect to make money at this! You will never be paid for your time and supplies, so price it to sell....

    I have found over the years that the items that will always sell are Heirloom quality baby items and EVERYTHING Christmas! The rest is a gamble...aprons, tote, hair bows..are all over played as is cheap gaudy jewelry and SCentsy pots!
    Selling your stuff takes a skill. Both in making the items and knowing your market to sell them in. If you live in a rural farm community with a large Mennonite influence, then you probably are not going to be selling A ton of Amy Butler or Kaffe Fassett fabrics made into pinafores, aprons, totes, etc....
    If you live in an upscale Denver community, you probably are not going to sell many hand crochet pot scrubbers and kitchen towels...

    ReplyDelete
  55. Do what you love otherwise you will hate what you do.

    I tried to appease the market and ended up hating the things I was making. I craft now more for sanity (I have two kids with one being autistic) and I love what I make. If someone wants to buy something then so be it. If not, I know I made something that brought me great satisfaction.

    ReplyDelete
  56. I have the same issue and I've found that, for something to be a successful creation, it has to be something that I love.

    I do, once in a while, try new things and find that I do like it and count that as my "growth spurt."

    I enjoy special orders because they force me to try to get inside the customers head to make sure we're on the same page about results. For me, pricing is the biggest challenge.

    Love your room. My DH and I just finished my sewing room. He's a carpenter and made all my furniture. I have a cutting center, and ironing center, a hooping center, an office center and three sewing centers. It's beautiful and I love having my own space.

    ReplyDelete
  57. I really think it boils down to why you are selling the items? Do you consider this a business? or Are you selling items to pay for your passion? There are years of experience in the above comments, please take mine with a grain of salt, but if I want lots of sales, I'd try appealing to more customers. If I'm paying for my passion I'd be myself!

    ReplyDelete
  58. I make thing with fabrics I like... I'm so sorry but fr me is impossible work with some thing if I don't love it...

    I need to love the work I do! And I need to love the things I use to do this work :-D

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment...I just love hearing from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails