Unique, one-of-a-kind crafts are wonderful to make and to own, but if you are selling your crafts for profit then production pieces are critical. Although they may not be as exciting to make, having a good back stock of your top sellers will help you be prepared for the future. This goes for all types of crafters from the jewelry artist to the seamstresses, wood workers and painters. The most successful professional crafters are well aware of this fact and maintain large inventories of their best sellers.
As the owner of an online craft mall and handmade jewelry mall, I know our buyers consistently request large quantities of the same items for parties, as bridesmaid’s gifts, baby and bridal shower favors and for events like proms and weddings. During the holidays we see these requests explode. Many people make gift giving easier by sending each relative or friend the same item. Business owners often choose to give all their employees the same gift and will order dozens of one particular item. Handmade gifts are gaining popularity as corporate give-a-ways too and you should be prepared to fill these types of orders.
Production pieces are also a necessity for any craft fairs or shows you do. In addition to your one-of-a-kind creations, be sure to bring along plenty of completed production pieces. If possible, bring your craft supplies to the show and work on building your inventory while you are there during the slow periods. Shoppers love to watch as you create; it not only proves that the item is truly handmade, it gives you a chance to show how much detail and attention actually go into your crafts.
How you decide which items should be stockpiled depends greatly on previous sales. When you have an item that sells regularly, you can be fairly certain that this item should be created in large quantities. If you create items that can be personalized, prepare them to the point that all is left is the personalization. Take your easy to create, less expensive items and turn them into production pieces as well.
Another benefit of making and keeping a healthy reserve of your best sellers is that you can save on supplies by buying in bulk. Just knowing what it takes to make several pieces of one style allows you to buy supplies in bigger quantities. If you can afford it and have storage room, buy several months worth of raw materials so that you never run out. Then set aside a couple days each week or month just to work on your production pieces.
Rushing to fill a large order is often frustrating. When you are in a hurry, you might encounter difficulty in finding the right materials quickly, you may become fatigued and the quality of your work might suffer. Having enough stock on hand will eliminate these pitfalls and create a better, more enjoyable craft business.
Keep on making those one of kind items that we all treasure, just don't forget there might be a large quantity order for one single style of your items right around the corner.
Pam Wylie, professional crafter and website owner