trunk shows

How to sell your custom, handmade crafts when Etsy and a website aren’t enough.

Recently I received emails from two different readers asking for suggestions on additional ways to sell their personalized craft. Both make monogramed household items and said that Etsy shops and websites weren’t producing the results they wanted. One said she didn’t think trunk shows would be the right way to sell her craft.  The other read some of my tips about doing home parties and wondered if she could sell more items that way.  I’m guessing that many of have the same questions about bespoke work so I’m going to share my recommendations.


Consider approaching some upscale bed-and-breakfasts that are too small to purchase through hotel suppliers. They would probably love to have custom guest towels or tea towels that are hand made and unique to them. They might even offer them for sale to their guests as a memento of their stay.

I do believe trunk shows can be a good option. If you make household items, particularly personalized gifts,  I suggest you network with everyone you can find in the wedding and baby industries.  Bridal shows would be a great venue to show something like monogramed or hand embroidered linens. So would wedding boutiques and independent maternity and baby shops. Of course, investigate putting your crafts on upscale registries as well.

Don’t overlook gift shops. Remember that many shops that you may think of as chains are independently owned franchises and often the owner/buyer has some flexibility in the selection she carries. Especially if your work is custom, you can just supply some samples and the shop keeper can take orders. She’ll be more open to carrying your work since she doesn’t have the risk of investing in inventory.

One last tip/reminder: don’t keep your work a secret. Tell everyone you know what you do and give away some away. Who do you know who has bridge club, mahjong or other luncheon and dinner guests frequently?  Your generosity will pay back many times over if you “gift” friends whose guests will see your work and place orders.  As always, make sure they have a little tag or card with your contact info.

Do you also create custom or one-of-a kind household gift items? If so, I invite you to share your experience with all of us below.

Why are Your Crafts Not Selling?

While the majority of my clients are now reporting excellent sales, I am getting inquiries from other crafters saying they are getting hits on their sites but that their  work isn’t selling as well as they would like.  Normally I would first evaluate their marketing.  If a site is getting lots of hits but no sales, it’s possible that there is something weak about the site itself, not the aesthetics, necessarily, but likely, the marketing funnel. However, a comprehensive marketing analyses is very time consuming and while I am generous, I am so busy with my paying clients, I can no longer  spend hours with an individual who isn’t a client. Still, being curious, I couldn’t help checking out their sites.

We all know that you can make the most gorgeous product but if it isn’t marketed correctly, it won’t sell. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how great your marketing is if you don’t have something people want to buy.  I know, this is common sense, but there is much more to having a marketable product than its’ being beautiful or functional.  I decided it was time to take a look at what these crafters are making.  Maybe there was a common product factor among those who were not making money with their craft.  Bingo! Those who were reporting slow or no sales mostly had lovely crafts but their products all had one thing in common. Continue reading