Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How to Start a Hair Clip or Bow Business - The Best Felt and Hair Clip Supplies

Whether you only make hair clips and bows for your own daughter or you want to sell them online, going to Michaels and Walmart (or JoAnns, or wherever) for your supplies can get old, and EXPENSIVE.

When I first started my online business, I went to Michaels and Walmart for my supplies because I wasn't sure how my business would grow, and I didn't want to invest a bunch of money all at once. However, I would find that the supplies I needed were not constantly available, and I was paying for the "middle-man" mark-up, and all the extra packaging that went along with it.

Maximum savings is always achieved in BULK. Storage is definitely a factor - where will you put all your extra supplies? My office is a bit over-crowded, much to the chagrin of my lovably OCD hubby. So investing in a storage system is a good idea.

The categories of supplies you'll need are as follows:
❀Raw Materials

Assuming you already have the tools you will need for crafting (good sharp scissors, needles, etc.) your next basic materials will be your raw materials and hardware.

What kind of hair clips/bows will you make? Basic craft store felt is easily available (and pretty cheaply) at the craft store, but it is not very durable. Recycled and synthetic vegan felt is also available, but I haven't researched where to purchase that particular type of felt. I find that 100% wool felt is my choice, but there are also some excellent wool blend felts available in many lovely colors.

Some sellers on Etsy have done the bulk purchasing for you, and offer reasonable prices, but you are sometimes limited by quantity. However, it is a good option for someone starting up.

My favorite suppliers of felt are right here in the USA, small businesses with awesome customer service, and very fast turn-around. Weir Dolls has lovely felt, and also low shipping costs.
If you request it, they will send your package via first class mail, and refund you the extra shipping charges. I always go here first to save on shipping. Their color options are not very wide, but they have a decent selection. You can also find thread, wool roving, fabrics and other great supplies here while supporting another small business.

My second choice for felt supplies is another USA small business.
A Child's Dream Come True has a great selection of lovely wool felt, roving, you name it, but the shipping costs are a little high. When I need felt, I make sure I purchase many squares at once to spread the shipping cost out over a larger number of squares. If I need just one square of felt, I would use Weir Dolls.

Hardware choices are many, but I go for simplicity in ordering when I'm looking to purchase my supplies. You also want to make sure you aren't buying some nasty lead-coated metal clips or something.

I went through the expense of having these hair clips XRF tested, and they have been certified lead-free. I sent 3 sizes of snap clips and 3 sizes of French barrettes from Trimweaver and each came back as having NO LEAD at all. They offer bulk discount on hair clips, ribbon, and many other supplies.

After you've made your lovely creations, and are fortunate to have a sale, how are you going to package and ship them? I started out using some little boxes from Oriental Trading, but they were a bit irritating because I had to fold and glue them before I could mail out my packages. I discovered craft boxes from Paper Mart to be the best deal I've seen. You'll need a place to store them because they come in bulk, but the plain brown kraft jewelry boxes are 100% recycled content, and make packaging secure and gift-ready.

Bubble mailers from places like Office Max and Walmart are ok if you want to pay a bit more, but we're talking about something your buyer will potentially throw away - so I wouldn't want to spend too much. There are instructions online for making your own bubble mailers, but who has time for that??

I found Shipping Supply Co. has excellent prices and you get it FAST. The only problem is storing a huge box of bubble mailers. If you can work out where you will store your supplies, this place is a great one-stop for your shipping supplies.

Hopefully my trial and error will be helpful to other mommies wanting to start up a hair clip business, or just make fun clips for your family and friends. Happy crafting!


Renee•Candy Stick Lane said...

How much do you rock right now! This is fabulous - I too, have TONS of trial and error on the shipping end - Im still not satisfied and Im always looking for new ideas - THANKS!

Cameron said...

“Maximum savings is always achieved in BULK.”—It really is the wisest way if you want to save an extra penny. But of course, know your limit. You don’t have to hoard too much as it will affect your budget and you might not have enough for the other materials. Also, it might easily depreciate its value.