Note: Mythical Makers Podcast is produced for the ear and intended to be heard, not read. If possible, we encourage you to listen to the audio, which includes emotion and emphasis that’s not on the page. Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
Babs: Hi there, and welcome to the Mythical Makers Podcast! These are weekly ramblings from myself, Babs Rudlin, Fiery Phoenix, and…
Karen: I’m Karen Moffett, Mama Dragon.
~ Short musical interlude ~
Karen: Welcome to Episode 11 of the Mythical Maker’s Podcast. Today we’re discussing some of the different ways that yarnie entrepreneurs can sell their wares to the world.
Babs: Karen, what is on your needles, this week?
Karen: Well, today, I’m gonna be casting on a pair of socks, for Babs.
Babs: Yay! Which ones, the Twenty-twos or Fifty-twos?
Karen: Uh, the Fifty-twos.
Babs: The Fifty-twos, excellent.
Karen: Yeah, I have um, quite a bit of the light-blue left over from my Sunset Stole. So I’m gonna be using that ’cause it’s a semi-solid as a light blue with just a little bit of kind of variegation in it, but it’s relatively low key color changes, so it should really, really help the stitches to pop out, and it’s got great stitch definition.
Babs: That is actually really, really necessary. So, a woolly, fuzzy yarn that will just sort of collapse in on itself is not gonna work for these socks, because the stitch definition is what makes them it really does.
Babs: And also I’ve now got a little notification that tells me I need to go and pay yet more customs import taxes for more yarn that’s been sent over, which I believe will be the beautiful speckly blue…
Karen: (gasps) The sparkles!
Babs: The sparkles. So I can’t wait to share that when the sparkles arrive. So I will be getting in…
Karen: That sounds fantastic!
Babs: …and trying to pick those up this afternoon, so that will be very exciting, and then I shall just be running amok and not focusing on anything I need to do, because I will just be looking at the sparkles, going “it’s so pretty, look at it!”
Karen: (laughs) “I want to do this now!”
Babs: “I want to do this now!” And I do have to, I do actually have to knit up the socks in the correct size… on the correct size needles for um, for the arch pattern. Because I’ve only got one sock, and it’s slightly too small, and I know that I need to fix that and I need to get that done before I can then get the testing out, so I can get…
Karen: Does that have a name?
Babs: Um, I was calling at Fan Favorite, because it’s, the arches are filled with fans, or they’re created by fans…
Karen: Oh, oh yeah, uh huh!
Babs: But it does sound a bit, a bit big-headed to say that it’s a fan favorite.
Karen: Oh, well…
Babs: So, now I’m still thinking about it. I might change it to Under the Arches. I don’t know, that might have been taken. It sounds like it’s been taken.
Karen: It’s cool, ’cause it looks like cathedral.
Babs: It does doesn’t it? It is really pretty.
Karen: It is very pretty.
Babs: So, I might, I might take Under the Arches we’ll see. I’ll have a look and do a bit more of a search…
Karen: …see what’s available out there.
Babs: Yes. So I should be casting that on, as soon as the yarn, if the yarn was here already, it would be on the needles now. (Karen laughs) That would be the thing that I was knitting which is still reusing raised stitches, but it’s much more lace, than the stripey texture…
Karen: Than the other two.
Babs: …of 22 and 52 so…so we shall see how that goes, but this time around, we’re actually gonna be talking about ways that you can sell your finished things, whether they be a pattern that you’ve finished, or your, your items, your actual finished hats and gloves and scarves and cute little rabbit hats to go on eggs that I was talking about the last time (both laugh) And all those other cute things that people create when they make finished objects. Um, so there’s, there’s a whole host of stuff. And I think when we were just sort of having a general chat, we realized that there are some very different ways that we do it in the UK to…to ways that you do it in the States. So that’s quite interesting… and so, if I just talk about some of the sort of bigger, more obvious things first and then we can move on to some of the…the more unusual…
Karen: The more obscure things.
Babs: Exactly. Because I mean, it really is that if you have something that you want to sell, there are lots of ways to get that out into the world and it really is just a matter of trying to find which of these are gonna work the best for you and you don’t actually have to be there in person for all of them. Some of them you do, but not all of them.
Babs: So I’m the first thing I was gonna say is, retreats. If somebody is running a retreat, then they may often have a day where you can sell stuff in or you can actually speak with somebody who is organizing the retreat, and they will purchase a stock of your stuff, whether be notions, or yarn, or designs so that they can fill out goody bags for people who are coming to attend their retreat. So whether that’s a training retreat for yarn, or literally we’re just going to sit down and make stuff with yarn for the next three days, in a relaxed happy atmosphere or however the retreat is gonna be managed. There are opportunities to be able to do that, so it could be that you simply reach out to people who are running a retreat and say, “Would you be interested in anything for a goody bag? Are you looking to give your guests some extra bonus items and if so, is there something we can discuss to talk around that?
Because that is really a very easy way for you to get your name out there and look at doing some marketing type stuff…
Karen: Yeah! And that might be a good place for kits as well.
Babs: Kits are brilliant because you can have a dyer and a designer coming together, both selling kits and then talking to the local yarn shop about selling kits and it’s just, you know, someone could come for the yarn and they buy the pattern, someone comes for the pattern, they buy the yarn, and you can…you can then sort of double up…
Karen: Everyone wins.
Babs: So everyone wins. You can double up on the service that you’re providing. So there’s those…
Karen: And it doubles up your outreach as well.
Karen: Because you’re both promoting one another.
Babs: You’ve got audiences that are hopefully doubling in size. And we’ve also then got the online shops, so you’ve got Etsy, Ravelry, your own website, Folksy…there’s, there’s all sorts of different craft type retail outlets. I did, I did a blog post around that. Actually, “Ravelry versus Etsy versus your own store.” And you can even sell on Facebook. There are a whole host of a sell on-line groups, selling on-line groups. And so you can sell through that. It’s not as safe because a lot of people complain that they’ve paid someone to do something and then that someone never did anything, and Facebook says it has nothing to do with me, mate. And then, yeah, there’s no protection that is seriously buyer beware, or seller beware, because a lot of people have gone out of their way to create bespoke items, but then they’re never paid for them and they got a completely bespoke item, and what are they gonna do with this because, you know, how many do you know with that name?
Karen: Because it’s a custom order.
Babs: It’s a custom order, so that’s not so easy to do. So you’ve got those options.
Karen: Yeah, and that’s something you think about too is whether or not you want to have a load of items kind of already knitted or crocheted or prepared, or if you want to work primarily on commission. I know that’s, Kit prefers to do that for the most part because they’ve had a lot of really unusual things requested. One of the things they just recently did was a Cessna. Just crocheted a little Cessna.
Babs: As you do.
Karen: Yeah, as you do, somebody ordered a slice of pizza and a taco. What is…Just a little stuffed, stuffed, food?
Karen: So Kit has worked almost exclusively on commissions.
Babs: Yeah. You know, you do need to think about storage. Not just physically, where are you gonna put all the stuff that you’re making, that you can take to market or sell but also how are you going to keep it in such a way that it still retains its quality, you’re not crushing it, and you’re not gonna miss-shape it, it’s not gonna get stretched or, get moldy, or any of those other things.
So you know, there’s quite a bit to think about if you’re actually going to be making and keeping in your house or garden somewhere, all this stock and just calling it stock scares some people. I don’t wanna have stock, I’m not a real shop. I don’t do that.
Babs: There are of course, ads in Facebook and ads in magazines to which you can use to promote specific items, whether that be an actual pattern or whether that be a thing that you’ve made. Some pizza, or a taco. You could have these… and then you just link those adverts straight through to your sales page and people can just go and buy them from there, if that’s something that you fancy doing.
And also in hard copy magazines, or in e-zines, or ‘e-zynes’ as I’ve heard them called by Americans, even though you don’t call the ‘magazynes’, you still call the magazines…but for some reason an e-zine becomes an ‘e-zyne’
Karen: I don’t think I’ve ever heard that.
Babs: Oh, I have, I have… There are opportunities to spend wisely and carefully, and by putting thought into it, you can advertise on Facebook, in magazines, in online magazines on other people’s websites and just link straight back to a particular pattern or a particular product that people can just buy off your own website immediately, so that is an option. And most of those actually mean, you don’t have to be there in person.
The other thing you can do is actually write editorials in magazines so you can sort of do editorial advertising, where you are talking about how you’ve created your crocheted pizza or how you created the little rabbit hats for your eggs for Easter, or whatever it is, you can actually in your local paper, write a little piece up, or talk to the papers about doing something that doesn’t have to be in a yarn magazine. It could be in any kind of publication and you can get a little bit of a PR that way and then drive people back to your website or your shop or wherever you’re physically going to be to buy some stuff. So it’s really just raising awareness in a whole, whole host of different ways and so that’s kind of like the…the ‘you don’t need to be there’ type options and then there are some other real world options. This is where it starts to get very different between the States, and, and us. And because we’ve just in the last couple of years started having craft shops where you can rent a shelf. So you can buy multiple shelves or you can just buy a little cubby hole, and then stick in a load of whatever it is that you’re selling, and then the store will take care of looking after the customers, they’ll sell it and then they take a proportion or you pay a rental fee, for the storage space and then you just get a hundred percent of what you sell, so you need to provide the packaging, the marketing, the little leaflets, any business cards that you want to do, or signs and you set it all up and then literally renting the space on a shelf.
Babs: And from what we were saying earlier it sounds like you have that but on a much larger scale. (both laugh)
Karen: We do sometimes, there are smaller ones too, but something that’s very popular at least in my area, is either antique malls or craft malls because usually they end up being a combination of both. Oh, but you can rent an area just a little portion of the inside of a big building or even like a strip mall style thing. And you don’t necessarily have to be on-site, you just come and you set up your booth…
Karen: …and lay things out and people come along and then there’s the owner of the building takes care of the purchases and all of that sort of thing. Like you were talking about.
Karen: But there are places where you can go, that you would sit, the person who created the items, would sit there in the booth and they would be responsible for the sales from their own booth. So there’s kind of a little of both.
Babs: Yeah, we have… what we started to do now in our shopping centers, which you guys would call ‘malls’ is that you get a cart, you get a stand-alone cart in the aisle where everybody walks in between all the stores, to the left and right, and then you get, you get ah, carts that are very artsy-crafty and they’re supplied by the, by the shopping center, or by the mall and you just rent one of those, but you would have to then be with that cart all day long, selling whatever people want to buy. Or not selling, or just wasting time, standing there for eight hours a day or however long the opening hours are.
Babs: So that is a lot more time consuming and unless you actually able to sit there and continue to knit or crochet whilst you’re standing in mall, then that’s not necessarily going to be a brilliant option.
Karen: Sometimes we’ll have temporary kiosks a pop-up. So similar, similar what you’re talking about and just a little pop-up thing right in the center of the big open walkway.
Babs: Yeah, yeah, that’s it. Then we also have craft markets which are not there permanently, they just sort of turn up. Somebody will organize a craft day and it could be that it is raising money for charity, it could be that it’s raising money for school, it could be that it is a business proposition, and they just do them in winter for Christmas market or there’ll be one in the spring, for an Easter, Easter craft market.
Now these are good but I would be very wary that one, you know how well they’re going to be advertised by the organizer.
Karen: Yeah, mmhmm.
Babs: Two, find out how many people are gonna have the same stock as you. Do you have an exclusive pitch, as the designer of bags or knit items or crochet things? Do you have the exclusive for that craft market, or will there be another five people there all selling same thing?
Karen: Yeah, yeah.
Babs: So this is something that you need to find out… because whilst there are certain occasions and I’ll come to those next when everybody is selling something to do with yarn, so they are going to be multiple yarn dyers there, there are gonna be multiple designers there, they’re gonna be multiple finished item places there… that’s to be expected because it’s kind of a wool festival or something of that nature. And so yeah, of course, you don’t expect see anything but that there. Now that’s very different to a church hall or a school where you’ve got 28 stalls and ten of them all have the same stuff, and it’s only for the local area, and it’s only the people from the local town and really how many…
Karen: It’s too much competition.
Babs: It’s just the competition is just off the charts. So you need to, you need to seriously check those things out. If you are looking, doing a craft market it is…
Karen: Because otherwise, it is just eight hours wasted sitting there going… twiddling your thumbs to sell…two hats.
Babs: Exactly. But when I used to face paint, I would see it happening time and time again, and I always used to have an exclusivity agreement that there would be no more than one face painter, unless it was an enormous event.
Babs: In which case, we would either be directly next to each other or we would be at opposite sides, totally opposite sides of the…
Babs: …of the location. But I would always prefer if there was just one face painter, I could always supply multiple people so we could always up…
Karen: So you could keep up.
Babs: …so I could keep up, but it just starts to get nasty, and then you’ve got someone under cutting somebody else.
But this, I would see time and time again, I’d go along to a, to a craft market I would be the only face painter, ’cause I did my due diligence up front, everything was good, for me, but then I’d see five stalls by one next, the other next to the other, they all had jewelry, it all had bead work, you know, they were all exactly the same, it wasn’t even like there was one that was silver filigree there was one that wooden beads, there was one that was a…
Babs: …crystals or gems, or special stones or… You know, there was no differentiation whatsoever, it was just five of the same store, and five people frustrated, sitting next to each other. And then the organizer would say, “Well I put you all together, so that you can all have something to chat about. It’s like, they’re not here to chat, they’re here to sell!
Babs: You know? And it’s just, it’s not right! So if you are gonna be doing a craft market please, do your due diligence, make sure that you’re very well…
Karen: Think about that ahead of time.
Babs: Think about it and make sure that the craft market organizer is going to be promoting it properly. Are they gonna be having banners out and about are they putting stuff into the papers, are they’re gonna be on fliers, that’re going out to…somewhere sensible locally, whether that goes out to kids at schools or whether that goes out to churches or just in all of the local shops, there’s a flier out or a poster in the window. Just are they doing their job to promote it properly, or are they just taking money from renting the hall and doing nothing else?
Babs: And that’s just so depressing, because as you say, Karen, you just sit there for eight hours and you have to travel, you got to set up and you sell two hats, and then go home again, feeling utterly depressed.
Karen: Yeah, so I did, I did the same thing, a similar thing when I was selling Avon, many years ago I went to one of those pop-up Christmas craft bazaar type things, and I think it was maybe $20 (US) to rent a table.
Karen: And I got a few contacts, I got a few sales, but it was not remotely worth the amount of time of prepping for the event and getting over there and unpacking and packing back up and it just was not worth it at all.
Babs: Yeah, it’s true, I mean if we’re gonna be doing something like that is seriously worth considering going to a yarn festival or a wool festival, you know, there were plenty of these events around the globe. And it may be if you don’t have one in your locality it might be worth considering setting one up, because they are insanely popular.
Babs: If you do it properly, but that means you have to make sure you organize it properly, you can manage it properly and you put some effort into it. If you want to organize one, you can make very good money doing it because you sell tickets for people to come in, but you have to have organization around it to be able to make sure people are getting what they want out of the day.
But once you’ve started doing one, and getting that process under, under control and tweaking it, then you can make incredibly popular festivals and people love to get involved with a wool festival, or yarn fest or Edinburgh wool show and just all sorts, there’s so many that happen, all over the place and they are fabulously fun. And people just chat and spend huge amounts of money on tickets and products and all sorts… but the…the stalls cost a fortune it’s not 25 quid for a stall, we’re talking hundreds and hundreds if not thousands of pounds for a stall, once they are up and running and well-attended.
So, absolutely, you need to very carefully consider doing one of those. But they can be amazing, they can really make or break somebody. We don’t want the breaking part, we want the making part, obviously.
Karen: Right, sure.
Babs: But they can be amazing. And the networking at those events is fabulous. Now, the other thing we were talking about was garage sales, versus boot sales.
Karen: Yeah, yeah, those people generally want to pay as little as possible, for an item, so you don’t, it’s just it’s not worth it for the most part. Now, the going to the covered bridge festival that I was talking about, that’s different.
I came from, the city that I came from, is part of Parke County, which is the Covered Bridge Capital of the World, and so every fall, we have a Covered Bridge Festival and it’s, it’s got a little bit of everything, like any kind of maker any kind of artisan craft, maker, anything you can possibly imagine.
Karen: And people have garage sale type stuff, there as well, but, but for the most part it’s for artisan type things, that you can’t often get other places and so that is a very lucrative place. There are people in this area who do their knitting, crocheting, whatever, all year round just to make things for the Covered Bridge Festival, and that is the only place that they sell, so it’s a big deal, it is a huge deal, but selling at yard sales people always want to pay, you know, you’re not even gonna recoup the amount for your yarn. (chuckles)
Babs: No, no, I…The point I was gonna make, was one that they’re too very different things, but they’re…our version of a garage sale is a boot sale. And what they have in common is that everybody wants everything for nothing.
Babs: And whilst you might think that that’s a great way to maybe start to get known in your local area, just don’t do it, it’s really not worth it. It is just a place to get rid of unwanted tut. It is not place to grow a business, it’s not a place to make a name for yourself. People aren’t gonna suddenly come along, and say, “Oh this is in the stunning shawl I’ve ever seen, I’ve never seen a lace shawl so beautiful! Here, have 50 pounds for it.” And 50 pounds doesn’t even cover the yarn that you’ve put into the shawl in the first place, let alone, and they never would give you that sort of money at a boot sale anyway, they’d be more likely to say, “Can I have it for two pound fifty.
Babs: Unless you’re ready to just be totally heart broken, and sobbing to your coffee. They’re certainly not gonna go away and say, “I just found this amazing maker at the local boot sale but you’d never believe that she’s there, her skill is fabulous. They just go, yeah, look what I got for two pound 50 and they throw it over their shoulder. They would never love it and never think about it again.
Babs: So really, no matter what you think in terms of it may be a good way to network or get your name out in the local area, it just isn’t.
Karen: Don’t do anything for exposure right?
Babs: Don’t do that! If you’ve not learned anything recently, don’t do it for exposure! Just don’t do that. If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, I’ll link a play-list to all of those, I shall link the play list below for the exposure. Don’t do it for exposure, interviews, um, yes.
So even if it’s your suggestion to do something or exposure, just don’t, it really will just be demoralizing, it will be bad for your confidence, it will be bad for your mental health. It will not benefit your business in any way. It will just make you question yourself. Why am I doing this? Clearly nobody thinks this is valued or worthwhile or of value to society and it’s just… so it’s a really negative experience. So just don’t do it. You might think it’s an option, something might suggest it in a helpful, moment when they are not really thinking it through, just steer clear, don’t do those, but all the others I think are worth thinking about, for what works for your availability if you like, to be outdoors versus indoors or you prefer to be indoors versus outdoors, if you want to sell without being there. Or indeed if you just want to have complete control over everything, and then do it through your own website and then just post it all up. If you rubbish at posting things, either get somebody else to post things out for you or rent a shelf in somebody else’s store, so that they can look after that part of it for you. You know, there’s pros and cons to all of these options, but there are a lot of options out there. It doesn’t have to be that you can only sell in one way. And this day and age, there are many, many ways that you can actually sell either patterns or yarn or finished items, your notions. There are so many ways that you can, can get stuff out into the world. And there’s a heck of a lot of people who want them. So, it’s just find the right conduit for you, I’m just trying to think of difficult words for Karen to spell in the uh…(both laugh heartily)
Karen: I always won the spelling bees, so I’m good.
Babs: Oh you see, now you’re challenging me. In the transcripts, just the case people were wondering. I didn’t finish that sentence.
Karen: Every, every once in a while I have to, I have to look up a piece of British slang, but other than that, we’re good.
Babs: So you’ve raised the stakes, and I’m now gonna try and throw in as many weird words as possible, sorry listeners!
Karen: I still don’t, I’m not sure I’m ever going to assimilate ‘pants’ into my vocabulary. The way that you… ’cause I knew ‘pants’ was underwear. I knew that already, but I just, I had never heard ‘pants’ used as a bad thing before.
Babs: Yes, selling your beautifully created items at a boot sale, or at a garage sale is a pants idea, guys.
Babs: It’s just totally pants. (both laugh)
Hopefully, this will have given you some options, hopefully, it will have sparked something in you as another way that you could potentially make money from your craft and your love of yarn. And if it has, please drop us a note in the comments, let us know which you have worked with successfully, which have been an absolute nightmare for you, and you would highly recommend people avoid them if you’ve had that kind of experience.
We’re not into the whole naming and shaming we’re just talking about generally if you’ve had a bad time, or a bad experience doing something…
Karen: Or if you thought of or something that we didn’t mention.
Babs: Exactly exactly, if there’s something among this list that we just left a glaring hole and you know that others will benefit from… from that, please, pop it in the comments and like and share subscribe to the podcast. You don’t, then they come out weekly, with a whole host of different topics and all sorts of interviews, and we’ll be talking about the importance of systems for your business with Dana Gervais next time around. So that will be an exciting one. I think I’m really looking forward to that because I love systems and you know, if that makes me a sad muppet, then so be it. But I love a system. So hopefully you have enjoyed this and our rambings and gigglings, and talking about the differences in words, between the UK and the US, that inevitably comes up. So um, maybe we’ll see you next week or hear you next week or hear from you next week, ah, either way, until then, we’ll say bye. Bye!
Please leave your feedback and comments so more yarn enthusiasts will be able to find the podcast!
Bye for now,
Babs & Karen
Links mentioned in the episode:
Kit Moffett’s (aka Baby Dragon’s) Cessna 172, created without a pattern