Each time I mention I make hair accessories for a local boutique I receive a few emails asking me how I go about it. Do I sell them wholesale or sell on a commission basis? How did I approach the stores? How did I get started? Do I really make any money? After answering these emails, I realized I wasn’t really helping anyone with a small explanation. So I am making an effort to give a detailed outline of how I went about it, and how you can too. I am making my extra income making hair accessories for a boutique, but really you could apply my model to most hobbies. I was able to do this with very little overhead, minimal time (about 15 hours a month), and started earning fairly quickly.
I am going to make this a three part series, as I tried to fit it all in one post and it seemed too vague to be useful. You know I like details :). I will try to be as transparent as possible, share the pros and cons, and hopefully in the end you will have a detailed outline of how you can pull in a little (or a lot of!) extra money by Christmas.
Let’s get started! Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Part 1 – How, Where, and What to Sell. My personal experience on how I decided on all three of those factors.
- Part 2 – Make A Plan. What’s your time worth? How do you approach a store owner? What kind of incentives can you have? How do make sure you make money?
- Part 3 – The Nitty Gritty. A few things to keep in mind when turning a hobby into a job, even if it’s a little one. Some what-to-do and what-not-to-do tips.
Catch me after the jump for Part 1…
How, Where, And What To Sell
My family was getting ready to go to California for a wedding in the mountains and then extend it to a family vacation on the coast. We had already spent heaps on the trip between airplane tickets and hotels, and I knew that my husband was feeling a tad stressed by it all. We were planning on taking our kids to Disneyland and to do some other fun things. I really wanted to have a spot of cash we could spend knowing it wouldn’t effect our (already blown) monthly budget. I had one month to do it, I just had to decide how. I love to make things, and I stay home with my kids. So the natural choice was to make things from home I could sell. I generally am making things for my kids, so making things along those lines made sense. Now, where do I sell them?
How Best To Sell My Product?
I have always kicked around the idea of opening an etsy shop or something, but they take a lot of time if you want it to be successful. You have set up the store, think of a name, get a banner, take great pictures of your product, post those pictures, and advertise, advertise, advertise. Then there is the shipping and time spent with convos, emails and overall working with the customers – and of course competition. Lots and lots of it. Also, with TMH I already spend enough time on the internet. I just didn’t have the time to commit to an online shop.
So I decided to see if I could find somewhere local to sell my things. I first looked into some different consignment shops that I could sell at. Most of them took a 50% cut and one charged for the space you used on a month-to-month basis. I could make money, but only as the items sold. That wouldn’t work for me.
Then I thought about selling wholesale. I know from my days of hairdressing how it could work. I make a bulk amount of items, sale to a local business at a wholesale price, and then they sell them at retail prices. At first I thought I would lose half my earning potential, but when I looked at the details, I knew I could come out ahead better than any other approach given my circumstance. Here’s how:
- I would only have one customer to work with
- I would have no shop to keep up – no worrying about taking pictures and posting products
- I would have no advertising to pay for
- I would have no packaging materials to pay for
- I wouldn’t have to worry about shipping – getting it out in time, items getting lost
- I would make the money on the spot, vs. over time
So I had found my answer. Wholesale was best for me and my situation. Now what to sell?
What would my product be?
At first I kicked around the idea of sewing childrens boutique clothing. I had visited a few boutiques around town and knew that I could offer them something fun and different. But when I looked at it realistically it would take much more time than I had, and I just didn’t feel like I could sell the clothing at a price that would be worth my time. Also, I really think it would take the fun out of sewing for me, it would just stress me out.
So what to do?
Well, I went scoping out a high end boutique one day and found something I could make for them that they didn’t have – boutique hair accessories. They had a ton of bows, but that was it. No cute rosettes, no ruffles, and no fascinators. I could offer them something they didn’t have, and something they could easily sell. I knew I could make them quickly and inexpensively making for a short turnaround on my time and money invested.
I let my mind wander into thinking all the little things I could make for them, but if I spent the money I would need to for all the inventory I wouldn’t make any money! Really I can list a bunch of things right here that would sell well in their store, but if I wanted it to be worth my time and money, I needed to keep to one product.
So the takeaway for part 1 is:
- What’s Your Niche? Do you sew? Make home goods? Cook? Choose a hobby that you enjoy, keeping in mind the time it takes and if you can make it worth it.
- Identify the best approach for selling your product. I was looking for minimal overhead on time and money, and a quick return on my investment of that time and money spent. That made wholesale my answer.
- Decide on a specific product. Then keep it simple. You can’t do it all, and do it well. You won’t make any money if you are buying materials to make 20 different products.
- Fill A Need – Present a product a shop owner knows they can sell. It needs to be unique, original, and in trend. Look for something they don’t have that will get them excited.
In part 2 we will cover how I approached the shop owner and with what incentives. How I priced my product and made it worth my time, and overall workflow.
If you have any questions pertaining to what we covered today, leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!
And if you have any tips on the matter, please share!