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Episode 73

Girl Gang Craft Podcast Episode #73 “The Myth of Handmade + other product based queries”

Solo episode with Phoebe Sherman

Phoebe Sherman:
Are you on Faire? Faire is a marketplace to connect product based businesses with retailers. Think of it as like an Etsy, but for stores. This is a great way to get your product in front of retailers and expand your revenue. Please make sure your products are priced accordingly for those margins. Wholesale is 50% off people and fair takes 15% off the first order and 10% off all return orders. Apply now at so that's F A I R E .com slash apply slash girl gang craft.

Welcome to the Girl Gang Craft Podcast where we dive in deep to all things business, wellness, creativity, and activism for artists and entrepreneurs. We talk with impactful female driven companies and founders for an inside look at the entrepreneurial experience where you'll come away with tangible steps to elevate your business. Are you ready? I'm your host, Phoebe Sherman, founder of Girl Gang Craft artist and designer, and marketing obsessed. We're here to learn together how to expand our revenue, implement new organizational techniques, and cultivate best business practices as we work towards creating a life doing what we love. Let's get started.

Hello Hello. Hey Creatives, Phoebe here. If you're watching on video, we're in a new little corner of my office trying this out. We’ll See, I think it's a little plain over here. Yeah, we'll have to judje it up a little bit. We wanted something different. Also, like my curtains are backlit. I don't know. Maybe you don't care about all this. I think we'll probably keep our interviews in the same place at my desk. But we're going to try this little cozy corner for my solo episodes.
Today when this episode goes live. By this point, our apps are open for all of our events for California. Both Oakland and Sacramento, and of course, Providence, Rhode Island and Salem, Massachusetts, as well. You can also opt in to our Mother's Day gift guide. So if your product or business is good for a mother figure, that's a great way to get your business in front of those folks who want to support small businesses while they shop for Mother's Day, so check that out. All the links are in the show notes, but you can apply. and Mother's Day is So it's something like that. If that's wrong, you can go right from and there's a button straight there.

We are talking about product based businesses today. So if you're not a product business owner, maybe this episode isn't for you. Maybe it's still helpful. Maybe you're thinking about diving into products, a little merch activation, or maybe you get some other things out of this episode thinking about, you know, how to diversify your revenue stream, some of these things that we've talked about. But I want to talk today about decisions that you have to make as a product based business owner and this episode might really push your buttons because there are some difficult decisions that you have to make. Number one decision that you have to make as a product based business owner is why are you doing this? Do you like making this thing?
Do you like running a business? Is this business viable? Should this craft or making thing be a hobby? These are difficult decisions that you have to make. So I want to start with pricing because that is one of the main determinants that will fail your business or help it succeed if you are not pricing your products correctly. If your profit margins aren't there, it's not a viable business, especially if you're product based business. It wants to dive into wholesale, which I think it should. I think that's a great way to expand your revenue and to make your business viable. If your profit margins aren't there for wholesale, you've lost that whole revenue stream. So there's a couple of ways to do this, and it varies a little bit different between if you've manufactured an item or made it by hand. Typically, if you're manufacturing an item, let's say you've designed a shirt and you're getting the blanks, you want to take that cost of the blank and the screen printing and double it, and that's your wholesale price. And then you can double that and that's your retail price. Now, I've made a few videos about this even like a while ago, and they get pushback. You all don't charge enough for your products, period, period, period. You need to make sure that you are utilizing this formula. If you are hand making sure item, it is materials plus whatever you want to pay yourself, doubling that for wholesale price and doubling that for retail and that might make your item expensive. So thinking about like who your audience is with that pricing, it might change it entirely. All of you, all who are charging like $20 for your jewelry, like you need to not like, please raise your prices. And here's the thing. You're going to get pushback about that pricing no matter if your items $5 or 100 period, you're going to get pushback about your pricing period. Is your item for everyone? No. Are those customers that push back against your pricing? Are they your customers? Are they your ideal customer? Absolutely not. So right away, thinking about where that cost bracket puts you in, who can afford that pricing? So if you're pricing your products incorrectly, then your business isn't viable. Your profit margins aren't there. You can't do wholesale, you can't pay yourself. These are important things. These are how you make a business succeed. This is how you start to scale. Wholesale is a great way to scale. If these margins aren't there, you have to redo your pricing. And there's a couple of ways that some of the product based community like looks at raising their prices. Some people tell their customers, some people maybe have one last sale, like we're going to change our prices next month. And this is the last time we're offering this item at this price. And some people say, just raise your prices. No one's going to notice. There's so much inflation and so much costs are rising. Did your restaurant tell you that they're raising the prices? Probably not. I have seen some restaurants tell folks that they are. Does gas ever tell you before that they're going to raise their prices? No. So thinking about I mean, all you also raise your prices all the time, maybe once a year, you're looking at your prices. If your costs go up like you need to raise your prices. Everyone is raising their prices. If your Etsy fees are going up or your credit card processing fees are going up, which they all just said, you need to raise your prices.
You need to account for that. I've seen so many folks lowball their products and it's a bad vibe all the way around. It's a bad vibe for them. The person who has low prices because again, they don't set themselves up for wholesale. They aren't paying themselves enough and it's a bad vibe for everyone else who is trying to pay themselves a living wage, who are, you know, competing with those prices on places like Etsy and you want to you need to be paying yourself if you're if this is a viable business, period.

So I want to talk about the myth of the handmade. This is a hot topic. I've seen a lot of markets that say, you know, we need handmade items. And that's that's a hard one. Everything is handmade. If anyone's hands touch something, they're handmade. People who are ordering things from different countries, they're made by somebody. Maybe it's a combination of machines and hands, but so are we right? Are we using a sewing machine? Are we using, I don't know, a printer stapler? Like those are machines, right? So a lot of folks, when they're starting out, they want to make all their items themselves handmade maker. And that is great. And I think that works for some niches at some point. Well, we'll say this first. When you make items yourself, all of them, you are trading time for money, right? Let's take a ceramics artist. You can only make a certain amount in the time that you exist each week, right? There's only so much that you can do. Maybe there is, you know, some machinery issues, maybe there are some time management issues, whatever. But ultimately you are trading time, You are trading the time. You use your hands for the money you can get for those items. There is limited scalability with that. So you have to make some decisions. You can hire someone else to help make those products and that's what a lot of people do, right? They hire a ceramics assistant or someone who does glazes or they like me. One of the first things that I outsource was a screen printer. I am not screen printing in my clothes anymore. That's not something I have time to do. I'm paying someone else to do it. Actually, I think even before I hired a screen printer, I hired a seamstress to sew my little uterus pouches back in the day. I have a love hate relationship with sewing, so that's something else to think about. What part of the process do you not like doing and who can do it for you? And that's going to help you scale, right? It's going to make more time for you to make other parts of the product so you can hire someone, you can get more machinery, you can outsource your item completely. So for me, I am buying my blanks for my clothing. I'm getting someone else to screenprint them and designing everything in-house.
That's the thing that I do. That's the thing that only I can do. You could also, you know, there's no rule against also hiring other designers, things like that. So getting blanks, hiring screenprint stars, you know, for jewelry. I'm finding a lot of the community does like casting. I'm not a jewelry expert, but, you know, they make wax casts and then they outsource that so that can help them scale as well. Obviously, materials are expensive, so that's a limiting factor to thinking about some of these materials versus scaling. Well, maybe hop into that later, but outsourcing parts of your production to other folks, you know, you can hire someone to help ship for you. You can, you know, maybe you find a part of your product already out there, like maybe you're not hand making your class or something or your, you know, your rings, your O-rings, what are they called dump rings, maybe buy those already, you know, already made. So thinking about how you can make it easier for you to make the product. The other option, right, is manufacturing things completely, manufacturing items here or overseas. There's a website called Alibaba, which you may have heard of, and you can get anything made. It connects factories mostly in China to, you know, designers here. So one of the things that we at Girl Gang craft get manufactured are enamel pins. I can't physically make that. I don't have a pin factory. That is something I've always gotten made overseas. You can also get things made in the U.S. Obviously, this is a decision that you have to think about. If I know a lot of markets also like want only USA made or, you know, like Etsy highlights that or Faire, Bulletin. Thinking about where you want your item made, you know. There's sort of the stigma about getting things made in China folks like Chunks shop is really trying to push back against that stigma. What's wrong with things getting made in China? Coming into thinking about that a little bit deeper, right. Can you audit your factory? Can you think about fair wages if that's important to you? Does that ruin your handmade thing?
What does that mean to be handmade? What are the values and metrics and what is important to you and your business? What is important to your customers? Who is your customer? What makes you feel good about your product? So manufacturing overseas versus U.S. and then thinking about materials, right? It's all part of this equation as well. What is the sustainability factor with these items? Is your product made of plastic? How how does that tie in to your own ethics and your business ethics and your business ethos? This is something I have really been thinking about for myself. Sustainability in terms of materials, sustainability in terms of inventory, not only for amount of items but like cost, right? When you are purchasing things upfront, that's expensive, that costs money. How fast are you going through that inventory? What if you have inventory sticking around? How do you know which items are going to sell well and which ones are going to stick around? In what way are we contributing to the community? In what way are we harming the community? Again, from material standpoint, from a future trash standpoint, from, you know, paying fair wages to our team here or team abroad, These are serious decisions that you have to make. And of course, sustainable materials are more expensive. Getting something made in the U.S. is more expensive. I am a big thrifter and so I see tons and tons of waste. Right. And I'm also an avid product fan, if you will. I like things, I like products, and I don't want products I buy or products I produce to end up in landfill. And I mean, they all do eventually, right, Like you wear through your products. So these are just things to take into consideration and things that I've been thinking about as well. Like what are my ethos moving forward in terms of sustainability and in terms of fair labor practices, in terms of where I'm getting items manufactured. And an option as well is this idea of print on demand. Print on demand and or made to order a situation. Yes, right. So there's a lot of small, slow fashion labels who are making products on demand. You send in your measurements, you get the item tailored specifically for your own measurements, which is super cool. That can't work for everyone. I'm not selling my clothes right. I'm not making made to order. I'm not screen printing things in my house anymore. But there are companies that can support you like, you know, print. If I print for some of these print on demand products and we are looking into that as well, and we have some print on demand products already up on our Etsy to a plane with some designs. I think that can be a really cool way to see what resonates with your audience, right?
Which designs are viable? Which designs do you want to like? Go and manufacture yourself, obviously. Drawback of print on demand is like you don't have a bunch to sell at markets, for instance, which is a bummer if you are doing so many in-person events right? The margins aren't there for you to like. Just buy a bunch through print on demand because the margins are much higher or the cost to make each item is much higher than if you were to manufacture it yourself. Like get the blanks, get the item screen printed. Obviously volume makes things more affordable. The more you order upfront, the more affordable your item is per piece. So print on demand is another option to think into. And then I want us to think a little bit bigger as well. How can we tap into major retailers, whether that's a wholesale option, getting your item in a big retailer like Target or Urban Outfitters or I don't know, even like paper stores like one of these like stationery companies. I was also targeting a lot of like boxes, subscription boxes. During the pandemic. I made a design for a flat box during the pandemic, and that was really cool. And so I didn't have to produce that item instead, I got paid like a small amount per how many items they produced. They took that design and then produce set and sent them out in their subscription boxes. So thinking about bigger retailers, thinking about licensing, thinking about commissions, how can we think a little bit bigger, Have other folks produce things for us with our designs and have to do less legwork to have to do less producing ourself? I, I don't come to the table with answers here. This episode is really meant to spark questions about your own business, your own ethos, your own mission, what kind of products you want to move forward with, how you're going to produce them, what is in line with your with your ethos, with your beliefs, What is aligned with your customers beliefs and how to think bigger? Because at some point trading time for money, you can only go so far. We want to think about how we can start to scale and make more money for less time. And some of these ways, right? Our manufacturing, our licensing, our wholesale, our commissions. So I think I will end there. Please let us know if you have any questions. I'm always open for you to send me a DM about the podcast. If you like this episode, please leave a review, give us a big old five star review and write something about how it was helpful for you. And I would love to hear about how you're also making these decisions. are you weighing the consequences about manufacturing overseas versus U.S.? How are you thinking about sustainability in your business? Let's continue this conversation. Okay. Thanks for listening.

Thank you so much for listening to the Girl Gang Craft Podcast. Head to for shownotes and more. See you next time.

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