fair homescreen on computer screen

LaTanya Pattillo opened a brick-and-mortar shop in Raeford, North Carolina, Parliament Quilts and Crafts, earlier this year. She opened accounts with several craft distributors, stocking the store with bolts of quilting cotton, but she also wanted to experiment with selling other sorts of craft supplies. That’s when she turned to Faire, an online wholesale marketplace. “I wanted to test the market with different types of craft kits,” she says. “Bringing in a whole rack of embroidery floss and embroidery supplies, for example, was too much. Faire allowed me to dip my toe into embroidery.” She found an assortment of designers selling kits with low minimums and placed a few orders.

Pattillo’s use of Faire is not uncommon in the crafts industry. Many craft retailers now shop on Faire and craft brands sell their products wholesale on Faire. Now that the site has been around for several years, we checked in to see how Faire is working for craft businesses today.

The Vendor Experience

Faire was founded in 2017 by former employees of Square. It’s a B2B wholesale marketplace where small businesses can connect with retail buyers. The company has taken $1.7 billion in venture capital funding.

Joining Faire as a buyer and as a seller is free. When a buyer finds your shop through Faire and makes a purchase, you pay a 15% commission plus $10. If you have an existing relationship with the buyer and they use your Faire Direct link, you pay 0% commission. Product categories include apparel, paper, jewelry, kid’s products, home décor, pet supplies, beauty, and more. Faire is currently available in the US, Canada, the UK, and most countries in the EU.

Vendors set their own minimum order amounts, but Faire suggest a low minimum at $100-150 to encourage first-time buyers to make a purchase. Twice a year, Faire hosts special virtual “markets,” promotional events where the platform offers discount matching for vendors. At the upcoming July market, for example, Faire will match discounts of up to 5% off all orders.

Faire offers buyers 60-day terms. Pattillo says this was tremendously helpful for her as a new and small shop. Offering terms can be challenging for small vendors on their own, but on Faire, sellers can choose to get paid right away even though buyers don’t need to pay for two full months. Selling on Faire has other advantages. Faire gives busy retailers a single destination to shop for and discover new products, eliminating the hassle of Google searches and setting up accounts on the wholesale sites for each maker they find. Minimums and shipping costs are listed up front and reordering from multiple vendors is centralized and simple.

Melissa Galbraith uses Faire to wholesale embroidery kits for her brand MCreativeJ. She has a line sheet, but not a wholesale site of her own.

“Faire is convenient and it’s easier,” she says. “I don’t want to build a whole other website for wholesale.”

She likes that she can create invoices through Faire and that the inventory syncs with her Shopify site.

Relationships and Documentation

For sellers, getting retailers they have existing relationships with to shop via their Faire Direct link, which leads to 0% commission, is an ongoing challenge.

Galbraith’s main piece of advice for Faire sellers is to make sure you get documentation of your relationships and keep it. “If you go to a show, photograph people’s badges. Collect business cards. Take photos of their information. If the show has an app, scan badges and download all of your contacts to a spreadsheet. I’ve become a digital hoarder.”

She’s developed these habits after learning the hard way. The week before we spoke, Galbraith spent an entire workday trying to prove a pre-existing relationship to a Faire representative, showing emails and text messages as evidence until finally her case was passed along to a different representative who believed her. “It’s so frustrating sometimes,” she says.

Often, buyers are simply unaware of the importance of using a Faire Direct link. Faire doesn’t do outreach to educate them about how vendor commissions work. The onus of education about the commission structure and the Faire Direct link falls to the vendors alone.

Anne Weil has had her fiber arts kit brand, Flax & Twine, on Faire for about a year now after making the decision to expand her business into wholesale. She says she was pleasantly surprised after getting orders right away.

Weil also began doing trade shows and it was at one of these shows just a few months ago that she began to be really concerned about the impact Faire was having, not only on her own business but on the entire ecosystems of independent brands and retailers.

“It used to be that it was fairly easy to prove to Faire that you had brought in a new customer,” Weil said. “There was a checkbox and a place to describe the existing relationship you had. You could attach a screenshot of an email from them and that would count.” In recent months, though, Faire has made that proof process increasingly difficult for vendors. “Now, you have to provide your Faire Direct link to everyone and collect proof like a photo of their badge from the show to send to Faire. You need an email or text from the person plus a response and it has to have been within the last three months. They’re not honoring and respecting a handshake anymore.”

For Weil, this burden of proof feels onerous, and it’s leading her to question her investment in trade shows. “It doesn’t make sense for me to go to a show because I’m trapped by Faire anyway.” She says it feels like the only way to prove a pre-existing relationship is to continually market the Faire platform to her buyers. “Faire is undermining the potential of trade shows,” she says.

Galbraith points to a newly released Faire feature, a QR code vendors can show potential customers leading to their Faire Direct link. “I’ve tried this at shows with varying success,” Galbraith says. “Some buyers are all for scanning it. Other times, the person you’re talking to isn’t the one who uses Faire or they can’t log into the app.” As soon as the show is over, both Weil and Galbraith send emails to all of their new contacts encouraging them to use the Faire Direct link. Still, some don’t and they end up paying a commission to Faire for relationships they built outside the platform.


“I find Faire to be really good for discovering brands I hadn’t heard of,” says Lisa Chamoff who puts together gift bags for the retreats she hosts through her indie yarn marketplace, Indie Untangled. Recently, she was shopping for items made local to Mount Rainier, for example, for an event there. For Chamoff, vendors with low minimums are more appealing. “A $250 minimum order is too high for me, for what I need. At $100, I can do it,” she says.

“It makes sense to me that Faire charges a fee for discovery. It’s like you’re paying rent in a shopping mall. If someone comes in and shops, the person who maintains the property deserves to be paid.”

Setting up and maintaining your own wholesale ecommerce shop is also a lot of work, says Chamoff. Faire makes it easy. She recommends that vendors do a cost-benefit analysis, taking all of the work and fees into account.

Recently, Chamoff attended Shoppe Object, a trade show in New York City. She found an earring maker who explained the importance of using her Faire Direct link to place orders. Chamoff used the link to place an earring order while on the show floor. She likened the Faire Direct link to Etsy’s Share and Save program where when a customer makes a purchase using a seller’s special link the seller saves 4% on Etsy fees.

embroidery kit packaging
embroidery kit packaging
Krista West of Avlea Folk Embroidery redesigned her packaging to hold up better in a retail setting and had professional photos taken to make her products stand out on Faire.

Limitations and Workarounds

Sellers on Faire are limited in the way they are allowed to interact with buyers. Like on Etsy, they can only contact buyers through Faire’s internal messaging service. This inhibits vendors from being able to grow their own email list of wholesale buyers. Galbraith gets around this by working with a virtual assistant. “I have a VA that does retailer research. After a buyer places an order, she looks up their website, finds their contact information, and sends them an outreach email inviting them to join my email list.”

Returns are handled by Faire without vendors being involved. If a buyer wants to return an item, they send it to Faire directly. Faire, in-turn, sells the returned merchandise at a discount under its Sales Collections category. Although Faire states that its warehouse team inspects every item to ensure that it is “a true representation of your brand” before reselling it, Weil discovered one of her kits for sale without a sticker. “I would never sell a kit like that,” she says. Seeing that listing really bothered her. “If the buyer had contacted me, I would have sent her a new sticker.”

Amelia Freeman has an established brick-and-mortar quilt and yarn shop, Freeman’s Creative, that’s been open in Durham, North Carolina since 2017. Like Pattillo, she mostly shops through distributors, turning to Faire for what she terms “the frosting” which includes small items found near the register, kits, and items for special events from vendors with low minimum orders

Freeman’s mission is to support small makers and, over the years, she’s wondered about the vendor experience on Faire. “It makes me skeptical,” she says. “Big companies always seem to take advantage of makers and those are the people we especially want to support. We want everyone to stay in business.”

Making It Work

Krista West began wholesaling embroidery and cross stitch kits for her brand, Avlea Folk Embroidery, on Faire in December 2020 after a local shop recommended it to her. After a while, though, she says she got frustrated and took most of her products off of Faire. “I needed to think it through,” she says, describing Faire fees as “hefty.” West began evaluating if she should hire a sales rep to reach out to shops or just deal with the Faire fees. In the end, she decided to get back on Faire, but only after making some fundamental changes to her business. She reworked all of her pricing to build in a 15% sales rep or Faire fee.

“They’ve created a system that’s very difficult to work around,” West says, referring to the fees. “So I’ve just raised my prices.”

She also redesigned her packaging to hold up better in a retail setting and got professional photos taken of her packaging. “Faire is a big place. To stand out you need great package photos so retailers can determine if your product would be good in their shop.”

West currently has 26 SKUs on Faire. Faire encourages vendors to have at least 10 items listed “to ensure your page is compelling to retailers.” The fact that Faire strongly encourages vendors to offer a lot of SKUs makes sense from the perspective of potential buyers. Marlo Miyashiro buys products on Faire to stock her specialty shop in Seattle, Washington, The Handmade Showroom. “A few listings is really not enough,” she says. “I need to buy a collection. A wider variety to choose from means I can display an artist’s work in my store.”

Miyashiro agrees that photos are really important for building trust with new buyers. “Pictures of packaging are really important for me. How will this look on display? Will it get ruined on the shelf? Are there labels on the item itself so customers can learn more? I hesitate to buy if I don’t know what the packaging will look like.”

Since being back on Faire, West has felt pressure from the platform to become a Faire “top shop.” To qualify, sellers need to upload their entire wholesale catalog, run promotions, and set low minimums. She’s set a $100 minimum order, as Faire suggests, but cross stitch kits take a long time to complete, and West says this makes the reorder rate low (lower than candles, or another product that quickly gets used up.

West sees exhibiting at a trade show as having a somewhat different, and more nuanced, return on investment than selling on Faire. “A trade show is about more than just getting customers,” she says. “It’s about being part of a community.” And she’s made peace with Faire. “Who has the time to cold call?” she says. “Time is money. Faire is like my virtual assistant. It brings me customers and I pay the fees.

Abby Glassenberg

Abby Glassenberg


Abby co-founded Craft Industry Alliance and now serves as its president. She’s a sewing pattern designer, teacher, and journalist. She’s dedicated to creating an outstanding trade association for the crafts industry. Abby lives in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This