If you are not familiar with handmade consignment, rest assured, you are not alone. There are many shops in Michigan, the Midwest, and across the United States that use this model to run wildly successful businesses that help you to sell your products! I personally consign my items at a number of shops in Ohio including Urban Emporium, Wholly Craft, and Pure Roots Boutique just to name a few. This isn't just a crazy idea I have that I hope will be successful, I know it will be successful, especially with your help!
Everything discussed here is from my personal experience. These are things that I have found helpful in my journey as a creative small business owner and I hope that they will help you too! I want to be up front and let you know that these are not guaranteed ways to sell more items, make more money, or absolute rules you must follow to have a successful business. I'm only offering information that I hope will help you decide if consigning is a good option for your business and hopefully address some of the questions you have if this is something you've never heard of or thought about before.
There are many positives to consigning!
- Low risk. To start consigning all you have to do is submit photos of your work, be approved, pay the $25 start-up fee, and then bring or ship your products to the store! We take care of the rest. If at any point it just isn't working for you, all you have to do is let us know. We hope you love consigning with Half Mile Handmade so much that you never leave, but no hard feelings if you try it and find out it's not for you.
- Gain extra income. By placing your items on consignment, you will make money that gets direct deposited or mailed to you by check once per month - easy as that! You will want to be sure that your items are priced for retail, which I will get into in detail a bit later.
- Save money and time. Whether you use Etsy, Shopify, or have your own e-commerce site you've got fees to pay and packages to ship. At Half Mile Handmade, we will cover all transaction fees and you will not have to worry about packaging and shipping products. Think of the time you'll save in line and checking out at the post office, and your customers will have their item in hand right away!
- More exposure. Having your items in a store is a great way to get your brand out there! Someone who may not have known you existed on the internet can find your items in our store. We will also be doing a lot of marketing at craft shows and via social media that will direct customers to find and/or follow you. Although we will be using barcode labels to ticket items, you are welcome to brand your products with your own permanent or detachable tag with the name of your business. If a customer loves what they purchase at Half Mile Handmade, they may seek you out to buy more products in the future.
- Opportunity for custom work. If you're anything like me, you actually get excited about doing custom pieces. I absolutely love working with people to make their ideas realities. Someone may come in and like a piece of string art you made, for example, but wished that it was in red string instead of blue. We will get details about what the customer is looking for and relay them to you to execute. (Understandably, not all requests will be able to be met, we are realistic). Maybe the request that the customer had was something you had never thought of before and it becomes a permanent item in your product line because you like it so much, or it gets popular! Creative block, solved!
- Meet other makers. Through consignment you will become familiar with the work of other creators like you. This means potential for collaborations, gaining new skills, or simply having a friend to "talk shop" with. We hope to create an amazing handmade community with all of the vendors in the shop where sharing is encouraged!
The other topic that I feel it is important to discuss is pricing. You will be splitting your sales with the store, so having your items appropriately priced is essential, and it's totally a valid concern to have. Again, there is no right or wrong way to price your items, in the end you've got to do what is comfortable and sustainable for you and your business. The photo below illustrates a 'standard' for pricing your handmade goods and is as good a place as any to start if you're not sure what you're doing.
At first, I didn't have a clue how to price my items. I based most of my strategy on emotion, what would I pay for this baby outfit? Two major things changed my mind when it came to pricing my goods. The first was this article from Sew Can She, which focuses on the time spent making a dress (hopefully you can see how it might apply to your craft if you aren't a sewist). Reading this made me consider all that goes into making a single item. The second was this podcast episode from Elise Gets Crafty. The episode focuses on pricing handmade products to create a sustainable business. Hearing it gave me the confidence I needed to increase my prices when I knew I needed to but was resisting going for it.
There's no sense in reinventing the wheel when it comes to pricing your handmade goods, so here are some more articles to reference if you're still wanting to learn more. Most of them boil down to the formula in the photo above, but are all explained a little differently.
The last bit of information I'll leave you with is an article from Indie Made that talks a little bit about consignment etiquette.
I hope you will keep in mind that I am a maker just like you! I'm learning new things everyday, and it makes me happy when I can share my useful discoveries and realizations with others. If you have additional questions about the topics covered here (or anything else), please let me know! I may not have all of the answers, but I will do my best to assist you in any way that I can.