Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Panda Bag Design

After the rush of finishing and sending off bags for the holiday season, I'm finally finding a few moments to work on stitching my new designs. I'm starting off the year with a Panda Bag. How fitting for The Crafty Panda!

I love the way it's turning out. I'm going to make a series of Panda Bags and each one will have unique features and design elements.

Here is the first one on the drafting board....

There's more work to be completed on the Panda and on the bamboo. Once I have the design completed, then I'll stitch the bag, add the zipper and interior pocket. The handle design is a new one and I'm still making modifications to ensure that it is super comfortable to carry and multi-functional. Look for it on Etsy in the next week or two!

I sold a bag today to a customer in Taiwan. I'm fortunate to be shipping bags around the world and excited that we have now reached Taiwan. My little Crafty Panda Cubs love tracking our shipments on the globe (which is a great way for them to learn geography!). This will be a new one for them!

Glad you're sharing in our excitement as The Crafty Panda grows. Have a warm day!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Market Your Handcrafted Business

Happy New Year! Is one of your New Year's resolutions to start your own handcrafted business or grow the one you currently have?

Marketing is a necessary component of any business. In order to be successful, you need to ensure that buyers are familiar with your company name and products.

Marketing does not need to be overwhelming. Some crafters are hesitant in marketing their business because they do not want to feel pushy or too aggressive. Use this easy two-point plan and give yourself a jump start!

My two-point plan consists of what I refer to as "mega" and "micro" portions. Each point, or portion, is cost effective and works for either a start-up business or an early stager looking to grow. The first point is "mega" - reaching as many potential customers as possible with a broad sweep.

You can reach many potential customers with free social networking sites such as Twitter or Facebook. With a little research for tips in setting up your free accounts and a daily investment in your time for maintenance, contacts are easily made. Also use Flickr (online photo management) to upload photos of your products. You'll be amazed at the different people you meet. Some may just be online to socialize, but others are editors and writers for publications and blogs that may be interested in showcasing you and your work or buyers for boutiques on the lookout for new and unique items.

The second point in the plan is what I consider "micro" marketing. Marketing to your friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances. For those that are shy, this can seem difficult but I have a few tips to make it painless and profitable :)

First, if at all possible, have samples of your handcrafted items with you at all times. Since I design bags, I only carry my own. That way when someone tells me they "love" my bag, it's the perfect conversation starter to talk about The Crafty Panda. I change my bag often and it's a great way to test new designs. If I carry a bag to several different places and receive no comments, I know it's back to the drawing board. My big sellers always receive comments wherever I go :)

I have a friend that designs jewelry. She was wearing one of her bracelets when she went into a boutique that specializes in handmade paper. The owner loved the bracelet, bought one for herself and referred her to an owner of an upscale jewelry store. The owner is now purchasing wholesale from my friend. Not bad for a day that started with shopping for a few handmade cards!

When a gift giving occasion arises, I like to give a gift from The Crafty Panda. I design and handcraft something special for the recipient. The teachers at my children's school received bags from The Crafty Panda for Christmas. Inside the bags I tucked my business card and received several custom orders for additional bags from teachers and parents.

Three of the six bags that were delivered to the teachers for Christmas!

Need marketing ideas? Want to share a tip that has worked for you? Let me know. Marketing can be stress-free, economical and profitable!