Of course, we all try to be original and unique, but lets face it, when something is on trend, we really want to jump on it! Whether its a color, a stitch, a texture, or a product, our customers ask for it and it seems stupid to say no. Here are some tips for staying current without feeling like a copycat.
- When a customer sends you a photo or link and wants one JUST LIKE IT, do the honorable thing and send them back to the source.Its what you'd want another seller to do for you! If the source says they're too busy or no longer making that item, you can do it as a custom job, but try to convince your customer to give you a little creative freedom.Make sure you've researched the going price for the handmade item requested. If your customer is just fishing for a better price, quote them the fair going price. Remember, if YOU don't pay yourself fairly NO ONE WILL. The customer may come back for more, but you'll resent working for pennies.
- Put your own spin on the trend!I'll use something currently on trend for my customers as an example - the handspun prop layer. Ways to make it your own include; using only Fine Lime yarn (heh, I like that one. Let's all do that! LOL!), using a different stitch than everyone else, having your spinner add something special to your thick and thin yarn like curls, lace, ribbon, a thread ply, coils, stripes, etc, specializing in a color palette (pastels, neutrals, bold, a color with grey, hand dyed, factory dyed, etc), trying a new shape like ROUND, adding a wicked cool border, trying a bulky yarn instead of TnT, or making an economy option by making the center of the layer in a millspun yarn and just using mini skeins for the border.
- Stay ahead of the game.See if you can take the current idea and imagine what would come next! What would be something logical to accompany the current trend or give YOUR customer something unique? If you had the hot item, what would you want to go with it? What would you want to improve your set up/collection?
- Get your inspiration from trends outside of the yarn world.Some places I like to look are runway fashion, furniture catalogs, popular baby accessories, sports, nature, stationary, and vintage books/magazines.
- Create a variety of items.So, your cool cat butt prop layer didn't sell. No big deal, you're trying a lot of different ideas. Something is bound to catch on! My Signature Thick and Thin merino is my best selling yarn, but that doesn't mean that I don't keep spinning singles and trying out new art yarns and new fibers. Sometimes they catch on like my CURLS line, sometimes they don't like the coarser wools.
- Resist the urge to do EXACTLY what is working for someone else.Here's the deal. When you just do what someone else does, you don't actually do as well as you will if you come up with your own thing. Think of it this way, when two crafters make the same stuff, they split the crowd that wants it. When you have your own thing, you can actually have the SAME customers as everyone else. Why sell MORE pie when you can sell chocolate cake? Some of us want pie AND cake.