Describe your Folksy shop?
Crabtree Lane offers a range of fun and functional textile accessories for the home and handbag. Using a mix of both vintage and designer fabrics, each item is handmade to order. I’m a complete fabric addict and love sourcing old and new materials to turn into limited edition pieces for people who like to have something a little bit different. Best sellers include my funky kindle covers, traditional style sausage dog draught excluders and vintage-style wedding party bunting in a range of colour-ways.
As I make everything to order, I’m able to offer a customised and bespoke service to create products that are just right for my customers and their specific requirements.
How do you manage your Folksy shop?
Crabtree Lane started as a hobby but as I began listing my products through online sites such as Folksy I found there was a market for what I was making. I went full time with the business in April 2011 and haven’t looked back since! This means I now have the time to dedicate to both the making and selling side of things. I make time at the beginning and end of each working day to respond to enquiries, check orders, list items and see what’s new in the Folksy community.
How do you price your products?
This is such a tricky area and something I suspect most of us struggle with! I try and keep things as simple, fair and consistent as possible but it is a fine balancing act. I break down what each product costs me to make in terms of materials and I also time how long it takes me to make it. I have a percentage return that I try and achieve and this is what informs the price I charge for each product. I also check to see what similar products are selling for on Folksy and other sites to see whether I’ve got the ballpark figure about right. When it comes to postage – I’ve learned (the hard way!) that it’s important to accurately calculate the cost and to remember to include a realistic amount for the packaging I use too.
How do you decide what to make for your collection?
One of the greatest joys I have is when a customer approaches me with a request for something they’d like me to make because they can’t find what they want anywhere else. A good example of this is the purple and lilac wedding bunting – I originally made this to order for a local couple who were getting married –it’s now one of my best sellers. Those are golden opportunities because they usually indicate a little gap in the market for me. Most times the fabric comes before the product! I find myself buying gorgeous prints and then asking my Facebook fans what they would like to see made with them. I also make things that I’d like for my own home such as my wipe clean oilcloth door stops – really practical but pretty at the same time.
Then there are occasions and holidays that present great opportunities to develop new pieces – such as the Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympics – both of which inspired my Sew British range.
Do you have any online selling tips?
You don’t know until you try! There are plenty of people who have a fabulous talent and who dream of making a living doing what they love. The only way you will find out if that is possible is by getting out there and giving it a go. Sites like Folksy offer a no-risk and very accessible way of starting the process of selling online. The key elements that I try to get right are good product photos, clear descriptions, attractive pricing and a consistent, branded look and feel to what I’m offering.
Communication is also really important – you need to be prepared to listen and respond to enquiries and feedback promptly, politely and with a sense of humour when required!
Claire’s full collection can be seen in her Folksy shop Crabtree Lane. And rather yummy it is too.