If you’ve ever shown off your handmade crafts or designs at a craft fair, you know how terrifying it can be to have to stand face-to-face with a bunch of impulse buyers when your handiwork is on the line. Often, the whole thing is disappointing to the beginning craft-fair-goer. They don’t earn as much as they’d thought they would, and tend to write the whole thing off as a bad experiment.
Beyond the craft fair, if you want to sell your crafts and designs you have to put some serious time, effort, and a bit of cash into marketing and advertising your store or services. It’s a luxury most of us can’t afford.
There is another option: consignment. This guide will help you understand how consignment works, what to expect, and who to look to as you begin.
How Consignment Works
For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to focus solely on the online consignment world. If you would like to go local, you’ll want to just call the shops in your area that might be willing to work with you on consignment. It’s a whole different bag of chips, and every shop owner will work differently.
Online sources that will allow you to consign crafts and handmade (or indie) designs usually operate in the same manner:
*Locate the shop, and look for their “Contact Us” link or “Consignment” link.
*Fill out a consignment form – usually a separate form for each individual item you want to consign with them.
*Wait for an approval letter. This usually comes via email, and shouldn’t take more than a week or two.
*Mail your approved consignment items to the company. It’s for this reason that you’ll want to be careful about who you consign with – they’ll have possession of your products.
*Wait for your items to sell. You’ll be cut a check usually once a month. Your items will usually remain in the catalog for about 3 months (if they don’t sell out – always a hope!).
In other words, working with a company that allows you to consign with them saves you a boatload of work. You don’t have to market, advertise, or come up with flashy website designs. You just focus on what you like best – your crafting. Develop a few really unique lines, and you’ll be off to a great start.
Consignment Fees and Charges
There is a fee for any type of consignment you do. After all, you’re expecting the company you’re working with to do a successful job of marketing your products. They’re putting in a lot of legwork, and expect to earn something from that.
Standard consignment fees are a 60/40 split. This means that when your product sells, you keep 60% of the price it sold for. The other 40% goes to the consignment company who must deal with shopping cart fees, shipping fees, web hosting fees, marketing fees, etc.
Be very, very wary of any companies that require a registration fee. Most comapnies will only charge you if and when an item sells, and don’t ask for anything else.
Of course, this only applies to typical shops that allow consignment. If you’re looking at a service like eBay or Etsy, for example, the fee structure will vary greatly. Usually, the fee structure is lower but you’re going to be stuck with all the “extras” of shipping and dealing with accepting payments.
Types of Items You Can Consign
If you crafted it from hand, chances are that you can consign it.
There are few exceptions to the rule. Whether your item is one-of-a-kind or available in multiple sizes, quantities, and colors, there’s a market for it as long as the product is well-made and all yours. Pay particular attention to seasons and holidays, and try to offer up items within 3 months of those events. Think ahead, and it will pay off.
Most companies are open to all types of creative, handmade items – regardless of the medium they’re crafted in. Crochet, knit, sew, paint, sculpt, burn … it’s all open to your creative interpretation.
One of the few rules that stands through almost every company is this: the item has to be totally new, and it can’t be offensive. Vintage clothing and accessories, and in many cases “altered” clothing won’t be accepted. It should be – from start to finish – your own work.
Where to Consign
The company you choose to consign your crafts through will depend completely on who you feel most comfortable with. Listen to the reviews other people have given on particular websites – another designer’s experience is invaluable.
This is a short list of companies who are currently open to consigning items. Make sure you do your research before applying with any of them, though.
*Cut + Paste: http://www.cutxpaste.com/
*Boulder Arts & Crafts: http://www.boulderartsandcrafts.com/apply/index.html