This post is for those of you who with etsy shops, or selling in other online venues...
In 2008 I sold a bunch of clutches by bundling them into bridesmaid's gift sets. I haven't done this for a few years, because I'm just not cut out for production sewing.
But for whatever reason the idea crossed my mind the other day, so I took a look around the etsy wedding category to see if there were a bunch of people doing this now. Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be a bunch of listings.
So someone needs to fill this void! If you are good at production sewing and have a small stash of fabric on hand, this is an awesome way to sell bags. It is a bit of work to get it going, but the big orders make it worth it in the end. It also gets easier the more you do it and refine your process.
Here is what you do:
1. Decide what to offer. I sold the Curvy Clutch, but also sold a grouping of 7 of the mini version of the Envelope Clutch once. Clutches are pretty and often used at formal events like weddings, so they are really perfect for this. The Camera Case Wristlet might also work great for this, since weddings are big picture days.
2. Gather your fabrics and figure out a way to display them to the customer.
What I did was take photos of 15-20 fabrics and then put together a pdf document of swatches.
If you don't know how to do that, another less technical option is to post your fabric swatches as a set on flickr. Don't mention anything about them being for items for sale. Flickr is not meant for any commercial promotion and they will shut you down. Just put them in there so you have somewhere to direct people to view them.
Keep a general idea of how much fabric you have so you won't find yourself short. Most people ordered a clutches in different fabric for each bridesmaid, but some wanted all one print, or a few in one particular print. If I had only enough of one print for X amount of clutches, I would let the customer know.
Looking back, it's not that great of a description and doesn't mention a lot of details I'd probably include if I were writing it now. You might want to add a description of how they pick fabrics, how they are shipped, your timeline for completion, etc.
4. What happens next?
Most people contacted me to see fabrics first. I would ask them for their email and send them the swatch document. Because I always had only small amounts of fabric, I asked them to let me know their fabric choices so I could check there was enough for their order.
Once I checked the fabric, I would confirm their selections and send them the link to the listing so they could purchase.
After they paid, I would send them a pdf showing their fabrics with suggested lining fabrics, and get final approval. This document became my reference for the order and was very helpful while I was making them.
5. Other random stuff you might want to know...
A lot of people will want you to coordinate with their wedding colors. I didn't offer this since my fabric selection was fixed. I did once offer to make them from a specific fabric if the person sent it to me. They never did.
People ask for monogramming. If you can offer it, it is a good bonus. I never could and didn't really want to, and it didn't really affect my sales as far as I could tell.
My standard timeline was 10-days to make them. Most people were good with that, but several wanted a rush order. If you can do a rush order, people appreciate it. Sometimes the thank you gifts for the wedding party are a last minute purchase. Make sure to quote overnight shipping if they need it really, really fast.
Send your package Priority Mail, or with a service where you can insure it and track it. People stress about the wedding things arriving on time. Don't try to cut corners with cheap shipping. Make sure it is insured and quick.
Five clutches was the most popular. I charged $150 + $15 shipping in the US. Orders for 3-10 clutches came in and I just pro-rated by each piece.
Try not to fret too much about whether they are getting back to you or not. Not everyone will be interested. About 80% of the people who contacted me ordered. I just sent the swatch document and if I heard back from them, we went forward. If they didn't write back, I didn't sweat it.
Once again it is Friday. This week I finished the Bucket Bag pattern, so I have that liberated feeling that comes after getting a project done (and pretty quickly goes away!).
This brown bag was my final run through of the pattern. The fabric is an organic cotton canvas from Marcus Brothers. It is really soft and a lovely chocolate brown.
I bought it at Cool Cottons a few weeks ago, and was reluctant to cut into it because it frays. It has been awhile since I've sewn with loose weave fabric, and I had to ponder how to handle the seams so they don't unravel!
What I ended up doing is sewing the bag body seams on my regular machine, and then re-sewing them on the serger. On the pocket I didn't serge the seams, since the topstitching holding it to the bag body is reinforcing those seams.
This fabric was fun to sew with, and has a nice hand. It is canvas, but is loosely woven and much softer and easy to sew than utility canvas.
The lining fabric is perfect with the brown canvas. I will be listing some of the lining print in my etsy shop soon.