Paint by number kits from Elle Crée
Faire is changing the way retailers shop for their stores. As trade shows face a wave of cancellations, over 9,000 makers from 60 countries are now selling their products in Faire’s online wholesale marketplace.
Rachel Austen, maker of paint-by-number craft kits for Elle Crée, joined Faire after hearing positive reviews from other craft business owners. “I felt pretty daunted by the prospect of having to travel to various trade shows all over the country,” Austen said. For her, Faire represented an opportunity to expose her brand to retailers, without needing to travel.
After securing $150 million in new Series D funding, and a $1 billion valuation, Faire is positioned to transform the way that retail store buyers source merchandise. While craft supplies are not yet a major product category on Faire, the site’s rapid expansion could bode well for craft supply manufacturers, and makers of DIY craft kits.
An Online Wholesale Marketplace
Faire calls their sellers “makers,” regardless of whether their products are handcrafted. Makers pay Faire a 25% commission on opening orders and 15% on reorders from a retailer. The commission is reduced to 0% if a retailer uses a maker’s unique referral link. In the wake of Etsy Wholesale’s 3.5% commission, Faire’s terms appear steep, but that’s not deterring some makers.
“Paying Faire [what amounts to] a sales rep fee doesn’t bother me, because I’m not spending hours each month researching and emailing new shops.” – Megan Eckman, PopLush Embroidery
Before joining Faire, Ashley Owens of Black Sheep Goods was doing her own wholesale outreach, in between creating her DIY weaving kits. “It took up so much valuable time,” Owens said, “especially being a one woman shop.” She appreciates that Faire has a large base of shops — more than 70,000 retailers in the US and Canada — who are looking for new products. “A lot of these shops I never would have found on my own,” said Owens.
Ashley Silfies, co-owner of Pink Picasso Kits, uses Faire to connect with buyers who want to shop during off-hours, without having to contact a sales rep. “Faire is a great way to meet buyers that don’t attend markets or are looking to restock or find new things between markets,” Silfies said.
Emile Stewart experienced a deluge of wholesale inquiries after her Wildflower Art Studio calligraphy kits became bestsellers on Amazon. “The response to our wholesale program became overwhelming,” Stewart said. “Faire has helped us streamline the process and keep everything organized with all of our retail partners.”
An Alternative to Trade Shows
Faire could become a lower-effort alternative to trade shows for buyers and sellers alike. “Cold emails were no longer working for me as a way to grow my wholesale business,” said Megan Eckman. “Trade shows are scarce on the West Coast, where I live, and I had heard from so many of my maker friends that attendance was dropping at the larger ones due to more shops using Instagram to scout out new merchandise.” After reading Lucky Break’s coverage of Faire’s platform, Eckman decided to join Faire to grow her wholesale business.
Embroidery kits from Penguin & Fish
Selling to Yarn Stores and Gift Shops
Retail buyers on Faire operate all types of stores: gift shops, local yarn shops, craft stores, bookshops, creative workshop studios, and more. Ashley Owens reports that she’s had a few Faire orders from craft shops. “I have been seeing a big upturn in more crafty business orders which is so great,” Owens said.
“Most of my Faire buyers are independent gift stores,” says Natalie Naito, “but a handful are craft and yarn shops. It may be hard for craft stores to find products on Faire since Faire doesn’t have a designated section for craft supplies,” Naito said. Her DIY cross stitch kits are categorized as home decor on Faire.
“I have a couple of Faire buyers who own craft stores, but they’re more like ‘craft event’ stores, where they do a lot of classes,” said Alyssa Thomas, owner of embroidery company Penguin & Fish. “Actually, through Faire, I sell more products outside of the craft industry. I sell to a few independent bookstores, museums, and even a kitty cafe,” said Thomas.
For independent shop owners, Faire can streamline the ordering process. Having a centralized wholesale platform can help keep orders organized for busy retail buyers.
“Faire helps formalize the ordering process and offers a digital paper trail, which is a boon to me as a buyer. I don’t have to hunt down disparate order forms when I need to reorder.” – Kelly Rand, owner of Handheld Handmade.
Embroidery kits from The Stranded Stitch
Packaging and display elements
One downside of selling online is that buyers cannot touch or test a product before buying. Photography can help educate buyers. Ashley Owens suggests that makers of DIY kits can add in some pictures of the process and final product. “Shops love seeing the product in real life settings and not just in a flat lay,” Owens says.
Selling products for resale means increased attention on product packaging. Reviews left by shop owners on Faire often reference packaging quality or the way items look on display. Some makers offer product display fixtures and sample projects for sale alongside their craft kits.
“Packaging must be beautiful. Appearance is everything because crafts are typically bought for oneself, but why not widen the experience to gifting?” – Ashley Silfies
Faire’s robust referral program offers a $300 credit to retailers for every maker they recruit. Likewise, makers are encouraged to invite their existing retail partners and leads to shop their line on Faire. Maker referred retailers gain access to Net 60 terms and one year of free freight on the referring maker’s products.
“I would suggest inviting your current retailers to order through Faire,” says Natalie Naito. “You can keep track of all of your wholesale orders in one place. I wouldn’t count on new retailers finding you on Faire at first, I would continue to reach out to retailers on your own and invite them to order through Faire. Bringing in orders to Faire will help your conversion rate and your visibility on the site.”
To encourage reorders, Megan Eckman suggests using Faire’s built-in marketing tools. Their automated system can email shops 60 days after a sale, or if they haven’t re-ordered in 90 days.
“Because Faire handles all of the logistics involved with order placement, it’s easy to feel disconnected from your buyers,” says Rachel Austen. She suggests using “Faire’s message feature to communicate with your buyers directly to see how sales are going and to offer any information you can that may help them understand how best to use and sell your product.”
Going the extra mile to help retailers sell your product makes all the difference. “I offer buyers class host instructions and promotional photos,” says Austen, facilitating a better product experience for retail buyers and retail customers alike.
Erin is the textile designer and artist behind the home décor company, Cotton & Flax. She licenses her surface designs for fabric, home décor, stationery, and other clients. She’s also a teacher, writer, and enthusiastic advocate for small creative business owners. She lives in San Diego, California.