Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Fiber Business Progress

For the past several years, things have been up and down with my fiber business.  When I first started Etsy was very new, so I got a ton of sales.  Now the competition is fierce, and I'm looking for some ways to make my shop stand out!  I'd love to hear your suggestions!  I'll give out 20% discount coupons to anyone who comes up with a good tip, or will review my current shop and give suggestions!

So first, the past...  Again, Etsy sales started of good, but quickly dropped.  For some reason, I don't get a ton of repeat customers.  I've had fairly good luck with craft fairs, but I just moved so all of the past ones are now out of reach.

My display at a craft fair last fall.

Now, the present...  Etsy sales are picking up a bit from 2012, but it is early.  I've built back up my inventory of woven rugs, and made a few llama/alpaca batts to sell (but none of that has sold yet).  I found a nearby yarn store that *might* be interested in selling my handspun...I'm visiting Friday, and hopefully something positive works out from that!  I've also been having a lot of luck with my new fiber CSA!  I'm already almost sold out of fiber for the 2013 shearing.  I have just started advertising my new custom handspun, handknit llamas, and there seems to be a lot of interest.  Hopefully after shearing season I'll get some orders!

Luscious llama/angora rabbit batt, available in my Etsy shop.

And most importantly, some of my thoughts about things to do for the future.

I'm thinking about entering the world of bulky/artsy handspun yarns.  Unfortunately I have quite the stash of luxury fibers that want to be spun thin (I'm going to aim for fingering weight for most of those), but I'm thinking about investing in a few pounds of neutral wool roving, and a bit less of some dyed roving (in a few colors).  That way I can play around with bulky yarns, as well as art yarns.  I can also break out the drum carder and make some blends of my own (either just mixing the wool rovings, or adding in some silk/bamboo or llama/alpaca).  I should probably get a few colors of silk/bamboo too, as well as some thin thread/weaving yarn for plying.  I don't really want to get into dying, but I think with a few well-chosen natural and dyed colors of roving I could create some good blends on my own.  I probably won't bother trying to sell any more batts though...

Collection of luxury roving I need to spin...merino/silk, silk, silk/sea cell, mohair, and 2 merino/cashmere/silk.

An example of a past art yarn...merino/tencel plied with silk.

I really need to either find a better (probably in person) venue for selling knit items, or give up trying to make/sell them all together.  They just aren't selling on Etsy, and I'm not sure where I can advertise to get more traffic.  Maybe I will look into some new craft fairs for the fall (nothing knit sells in summer!). The few I have done in the past seemed to work out pretty well.  I'm not a huge fan of craft fairs, but I suppose if I limited myself to one or two it wouldn't be too bad.

Thrummed mitts...currently available in my Etsy store.

I already have plans to get more roving made from my llama/alpaca fleeces.  I didn't sell any of my fleeces last year, so I'm going to get 2 batches of roving made.  One batch will be Bluff/Duque, blended with a silver BFL fleece.  The other batch will be Ralph blended with a black Cormo fleece.  I'm planning on trying to sell the roving next year, but even if I don't I can spin it myself!  The sheep fleeces I'm going to buy are local (NY), so I will have a local, eco-friendly product to sell.  I had considered starting to make knit items (to sell) only out of my own (or other local) fibers, as a way to enter a different niche market, but I'll have to see what sorts of venues I can find for selling knit items in general.

Some of Ralph's roving...now all sold.

I also need to work on advertising...  I am not a huge fan of social media, but I've tried to be active on Facebook in attempt to get traffic.  Not sure it is working though...  I'm going to try and be better about posting here on my blog too, but I need help figuring out how to draw more people in to actually read what I post!

I had a few other ideas about things to try, but now I think I'd rather focus on yarn.  I was thinking about making my own patterns for bulky weight knit items (hats, scarves, mittens, fingerless gloves, cowls, etc.) that I could make to order and sell on Etsy as custom items, but that's not really the direction I want to go anymore.  I think I'll be better off focusing on just knitting for myself (and for gifts), and getting more serious about spinning to sell.

Some of the handspun yarn available in my shop.
So...my request for help...  If you'd like to take the time to review my current Etsy shop, or give suggestions about things I might try in the future, I would really appreciate the help!  I'll even tempt you with a coupon for 20% off anything in my Etsy store!  I'd really like 2013 to be a big year for me, but I'm going to need help, and the best tips come from customers!  Thanks in advance!

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