Monday, March 19, 2007

Selling Your Hand-Dyes

To get started with selling your handdyes, you could go the eBay or ETSY route. Lots of my customers do that and it is easy to set up. The other route is to find an owner of a local knit shop who is looking to stock some different yarns than everyone else has. They are definitely out there, especially as the popularity of handdyed yarns begins to penetrate the general knitting public's consciousness. New shops are a good place to make that connection, or shop owners who are innovative themselves. You need to come up with a set of samples, a list of your prices, and an agreed upon policy about color matching. That is so hard, but being a scientist, perhaps you have solved that problem.

Try to compete with a best seller in your area. I have two personal examples, one of which I followed through with, but will not repeat because it would be like starting a new business for me and I just cannot take on any more work just now. We have a shop owner in a small town nearby who is a master knitter, has been to the conventions for years and knows all the designers, takes the big classes, etc. When she opened her shop, her vision was to carry yarns that you don't see everywhere. We talked about me supplying my handdyes to compete with a popular light sport weight yarn (which starts with a "K"). That's her best seller, but hard to reorder without an extended wait. Also, even though they use the same numbers for their colors, the dye lots cannot be counted on to match. The other was a new shop, opened by a former yarn rep, and he, too, wanted lines that are not all over the place. He was targeting the beginning knitter folk and giving lessons for small projects to reel them into his new shop. Sock yarn was his thing, so I dyed up 3 dozen skeins and he loved them and they sold very well. I didn't follow up quickly enough with the first shop, and also didn't present myself well, I now know. My presentation was more polished with the second shop I described -- samples of dyed and undyed yarns to show fiber choices and colorways. Price lists. Discount policies. Suggested retail pricing. That sort of thing.

The other way to go is to dye up as much yarn and spinning fiber as you can manage, and to attend a local fair, a fiber festival, a small business expo, etc. There are always fiber folk in every crowd, and you will sell yarn at events which are not related to our field at all. Better, of course, if it is at least on the artsy side of life. Sometimes there are events open to the public for privately owned historic properties, and they might be open to the idea of a quaintly dressed fiber artist selling baskets full of colorful yarn. You will never know unless you ask. AND, you'll meet some interesting people along the way.

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