Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Do Customers Want To Buy?

It has rained all week until yesterday afternoon.  The sky is blue and the sun is out this morning.  It is a beautiful day.

Cajun Stitchery has been busy this week.  I've been thinking about a lot of lace stock designs that we have and I've wanted to stitch them out for a long time.  This week those designs are coming to life with several new techniques on the embroidery machine.  I read that you take FSL (free standing lace) designs for corners and stitch them out on WSS (water soluble stabilizer), then rinse off the stabilizer and attach the new lace to whatever you want to attach.  I have some beautiful lace designs but they are not held out to be FSL.  I embroidered the lace design onto a light weight cloth, then carefully trimmed around the design and then attached the corner design to a handkerchief.  They turned out beautiful.  I made 2 handkerchiefs in this fashion on the black polka dot fabric and put them up for sale on Etsy.  Then I did the same thing on a 3rd handkerchief but this time included a lace design of 2 birds and the word "amour" (translated "love" in french).  That made a beautiful handkerchief.  Then I made the 4th handkerchief with just the birds and no lace corner.  Again, very beautiful.  By that time I was over black and white and wanted some color. 

I was also thinking about a new way of doing the handkerchiefs by applying the lace first, onto the fabric before making the handkerchief.  My eyes caught sight of a beautiful piece of pink fabric in our fabric drawer and the experiment began.  The fabric was hooped.  A design was digitized of little circles and then stitched out.  That worked fine.  Then I found a nice corner lace design and stitched that out.  Then I found a lace dove and stitched that out.  After looking at the design created in the hoop, I felt that was enough.  The fabric was unhooped and I measured 11" square using the edge of the corner design to begin my measurements.  I trimmed around the corner design very carefully and hand rolled the hem around the rest of the handkerchief.  I am very pleased at the result.

As these handkerchiefs were being produced, I was listing them on Etsy.  A lady convo'ed me and said she really liked the way I used some modern ideas and fabric in an heirloom handkerchief.  The visitors and hearts applied to the handkerchiefs and our store on Etsy has been pretty high, at least compared to normal.  Friends have commended on how much they like these new handkerchiefs. 

I did some searches on Etsy to see what other handkerchiefs were being made and only a few are being hand made.  Most are store bought hankies with embroidered personalization on them.  What really stood out is how much less I am charging for these handkerchiefs.  I know what they cost me wholesale, and what the store bought/wholesale hankies are selling retail locally.  That's how I based my hanky prices, but on Etsy they are much more expensive because rather than purchasing the plain hanky, the one's on Etsy have the personalization and embroidery on them.  I realized that mine are completely handmade and at least need to be in the ballpark of the others, if not higher.  I'm not going to go back and change the prices of the one's already listed, but from here out, the prices will be more than the $6 I was charging.  In fact, the pink handkerchief is being sold on Etsy for $10, which is really a steal.

I ordered some bags that should arrive today to fill some orders that we have.  One bag in particular, I'm curious to see.  We are going to use it as a diaper bag and the info on the internet and the pictures makes it look intriguing.  We ordered the bag in purple.  It says that there is a velcro water bottle compartment.  That should work out for baby bottles.  We'll see.

We have some more pillowcase orders to fill.  Customers are starting to give me some real general ideas and letting me create designs.  You know I love that.

I still need to get to my fabric store and get some special fabric.  We are going to start making scarves and I have so many ideas. 

I still don't understand why the kloth koozies were not a real hit.  I love those things and they are so pretty.  But they didn't sell and that's the whole purpose.  I may just make some drink can sleeves and sell for about $5 because they are easy to make.

Right now I'm thinking that aside from the odds and ends that I make, my five main categories are going to be cell phone/droid holders, napkins, handkerchiefs, scarves, and I need to figure out a fifth category.  The plan is to try lots of different things and keep throwing them out until I find 5 solid categories of items that customers buy. I know that I'm over the totes thing completely.  It may be that I can do some table runners, placemats, pot holders, or dish towels.  Those waffle weave dish towels that we purchased earlier this year were a real hit.  I'm not sure if we have any of them left over.  I have not put any pillowcases on Etsy.  I might try doing that.  What I have learned is that in retail everything evolves.

Gotta go embroider. Gosh!  I love doing this stuff.
C'est toute, mes amis.

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