GC Home | Register | Shop | Learn | Business | Around Town | Info

Professional Crafters
By Karen L. Maslowski, Sewstorm Publishing


Though the demand for hand-crafted goods has increased, raw materials manufacturers and retailers still often give the craft producer a difficult time. To help make a better profit , craft producers need to buy raw materials at wholesale cost. (The more minimal packaging of volume necessities is also desirable - a gallon of paint, for instance, as opposed to many two-ounce bottles, or 30-yard put-ups of ribbons or laces, vs. small packages of lace). Suppliers, both retail and wholesale often feel the craft producer is not a serious businessperson, and/or that they are competing for the same consumers' dollars. Craft producers have a reputation as part-time hobbyists who either give away their output as gifts, make them for themselves, or, if they actually sell the finished goods, sell such a small amount that it doesn't qualify as a business. Traditionally, retail stores have been reluctant to offer discounts to craft producers, and manufacturers have made it difficult for crafters to buy directly. Since an average craft business profit margin is in the 20-30% range, the cost of raw materials can mean the difference between success and failure of the enterprise.

A March 1993 article in Craft & Needlework Age magazine, a trade publication for craft store owners, devoted six pages to the tensions between the retail supplier and craft makers. The article offered several suggestions to the retailers for getting the crafter's business without antagonizing her. Retailers were urged to offer sliding scale discounts to the pros, based on their dollar volume of purchases, increasing as the purchases increased.

Manufacturers sometimes present a host of new hurdles for craft producers. They usually require large minimum orders (especially initial orders), proof of ordering from another manufacturer of a minimum dollar amount within a previous time frame, letterheads and payroll checks. Ironically, the craft producer must, for all intents and purposes, "audition" to buy from the source! Some suppliers go as far as asking to see the producer's Schedule C from their most recent personal income tax return.

Some solutions...

An alternative to this scrutiny is to join a craftsperson buying cooperative . This may or may not work for you. Be sure that others in the co-op are dealing with manufacturers whose products you can use, and that the administration is equitably compensated. Be sure there are provisions made to deal with members who are slow or non-payers. A convenient distribution location might also be important, especially if you order frequently.

In recent years larger chain stores have either bought up the small, independent stores, or merely price warred them out of business. In a sign of a reversal of this direction, merchandise distributors are looking to the independents for more of their business. The March 1993 issue of PCM Magazine quoted the president of Sullivan's, US, an Australia-based crafts and pattern supplier, as preferring the small, independent craft retailers. "Small fish are sweet, and we would rather have 4,000 or 5,000 independent accounts buying from us than one big chain with 2,000 or 3,000 stores." The April 1993 issue of the same magazine expressed firm belief that smaller stores will dominate the craft picture in the near term.

What does this mean to craft producers? It should mean that manufacturers will be more amenable to selling raw materials to you for your business, since they are already dealing with many more small accounts than in the past. Also, retailers will gradually come to realize that you are not a threat to their business. One professional crafter says the store where she originally bought her goods and received a fair discount still gets her business when she is testing new products and requires small amounts of products. She also recommends them to home crafters, or those testing the waters for a business. This kind of loyalty is necessary for the smaller stores who rely heavily on repeat business.

If all else fails...

While buying at wholesale is usually desirable, it is not always possible, especially if the producer is only using a small amount of product. Manufacturers need to sell large volumes at wholesale prices and often don't want to bother with orders below a certain dollar minimum, often $100 or more. In this case, craft producers can control costs simply by watching for sales at local stores.

Excerpted from

Sew Up A Storm: All the Way to the Bank! by Karen Maslowski.

If you're just starting out, or thinking of starting a sewing business, you must have this book! If you already have a sewing business, Sew Up A Storm: All the Way to the Bank! will help you make more money. Author Karen Maslowski interviewed more than 130 sewing professionals in 70 different specialties. More than 100 of their inspirational stories are in the book-learn how they started their businesses, and how they succeeded.

A 20-page reference section offers possible income ranges by specialty-this is the first book to ever include this information. Discover the "Success Keys" for each category of specialty. Pick from the largest compilation of professional associations in the sewing field. Need resources and reference? They're here, too.

213 pages. $19.95 plus shipping


Get Creative! Subscribers -- you could win a copy of this book! If you have a sewing or craft related business and have some tips to share with our readers, please send them to phamel@getcreativeshow.com

We'll enter your name into a draw to win a copy of Sew Up a Storm: All the Way to the Bank. Drawing will be made September 5th, 1999!!

SewStorm Publishing   1999

More information on Sewstorm Publishing

Back to CRAFTLINK Taking Care of Business

Back to CRAFTLINK Professional Panel

Back to Meet the Get Creative! Experts

GC Home | Register | Shop | Learn | Business | Around Town | Info
Advertising and Web Design Inquiries

GetCreativeShow.com | info@getcreativeshow.com
Online show for Crafts, Sewing, Needlework, Quilting, Home Decorating & Seminars. 
Resource Center for Professional Craft & Sewing Businesses Fine Arts and Crafts show
Copyright 1997-2009 
Virtual Advantage New Media & Marketing Inc. 
Virtual Quilt Shops Network Member, quilt shops and quilt shop product networkMember of the Virtual Quilt Shops NetworkQuitropolis, Website hosting, quilt shops and quilt shop product networkQuitropolis, Website hosting, quilt shops and quilt shop product network

www.GetCreativeShow.com Advertisers & Virtual Advantage Web Design Clients

A Stitch in Time Quilting
Blossom Quiltworks
Buggy Barn Quilts
Carriage Country Quilts
Charlotte's Sew Natural
Deborah Gayle Sales
Flamingo Island Designs LLC
Fat Quarter Quilters

Grandmas Attic Quilting
Judy's Barlup's Unique Techniques
Karen's Kreations
Liberty Quilt Shop
LS Boudreau Quilt Fabric Store
Muggin's Designer Hats
My Quilt Shoppe

Norton House - A Quilters Paradise
Oakes & Acorns
Patchwork Sampler Quilting Supplies
Professional Assn of Custom Clothiers

Quilters Paradise
Quilters Mercantile
Quilting Search
Quilts by the Bay


Sew Bee It
Sew Many Options Tours
Silhouette Patterns

Stacey's Quilty Conscience

Sundrop Textiles
Sunflower Quilts
Suzanne's Quilt Shop
The Country Spool
Texas Quiltworks

The Quilting Circle
The Quilted Crow
Tiny Stitches
Weather or Not Fabrics
VA Quilt Shops
Virtual Advantage Quilt Shop Resource
VonZensenburg Quilts

Hugo's Amazing Tape

Ewe & Me Pattern Company

Sunflower Barn
Keeling's Krafts Easy Punch
Marie Browning Creates
Sue Warden Visualmedia Inc.

Cedarland Forest Products
Clearbrook Brewing

Davit Systems Demo
Silencer Products Int.
Kodiak Ranch
Lake Tahoe House Rental

Salmon Sports BC Fishing
Cabo Sportfishing

Mary's Gunns
Riverside Golf


Highland Powder Skiing
Blackfish Marine
Fairview Electrolysis

Silva Panel

S'more Camping Please

Lighting Store.ca
Coast Spas