From Drawings To Products
A customer asked me the other day why there’s not a lot of artists doing what I do. And my answer is - if I can turn back time I won’t be doing what I do either 🤣
When we first started the business, we were based on a very simple business model. We’ve bought a sublimation machine, and we print my artwork on some cups and cushions, we sell out and we print again, and that’s pretty much the cycle. But once our shop gets busier, we realized people want more than just cups and cushions. We've noticed a lot of our customers are getting our products to give them to kids, so we started to expand into baby products.
I have no idea where to start but luckily I love google, so I just taught myself to find some manufacturers around the world to see who accepts small orders. That was the time that I realsied what I want to do is something very crazy. Most of the manufacturers have a minimum order of a thousand per design (of course I didn’t know that) and as a start up, I have no money, no space and no confidence. So I just keep on looking for manufacturers until I find someone who can do 500 or less.
When we finally found some manufacturers who accept small orders, the “fun” only just began! I remembered we had tried about 4 tea towels manufacturers initially, and none of them worked. Who would have thought making tea towels can be this hard? It is because every manufacturer has their own printing machine, so the colours may be different than what you expected; they all have different materials; they all have different sewers! It took us 5 years to find someone that we can trust.
With the plate sets and the dining sets, that’s even harder because again, it’s the same issues with tea towels, it’s the materials, the colours, etc, you’re also working with templates. So for example, if you’re only ordering 500 plate sets, your manufacturer probably won’t customize the shape of the plate for you, if you want to make a particular shape or size of the plate, the manufacturer will need to custom made a mold for you and with small orders like ours, no one will make the mold for you, or it will costs you like $10 before you start. So we have to work with whatever the manufacturers can produce and design the products that way.
From drawing to production to products on the shelves, it probably takes me about 9 months, there are even more details like logistics, storage, insurance, tax etc that I won’t get into details today.
It is very rewarding to see my products in retailers around the country but it’s a lot of hard work behind. If you are a creative person who wants to have a product based business, start off with a small collection with one manufacturer, or if you can, try with print on demand products. The profit margin with print on demand is relatively lower but you pretty much have no risk and very low costs to start.
Comment below or share this blog post if you like this article and let me know what changes you are facing with your creative business!