Why Doesn't My Leather Work Sell? Introducing the new iHeartCreative Channel on Twitch
It's been far too long since I last blogged. There's just so much going on, I haven't found the time to sit down and write!!!
Where do I begin? I really am just struggling about where to begin here as there's way too much to update. I tried to not allow myself to spend this long away from blogging, but sadly, there's only one of me. I wish I had more of me. I literally spend every waking hour of my time working on leather, website, product photography, leather stream or errands and house work. Even errands and housework have been taking a back seat to everything else and I'm trying to add in some video editing there somewhere because I would love to get some YouTube videos online regularly. So it's just been crazy.
First of all, I'd love for you guys to join me in my new video podcast on Twitch called iHeartCreative at twitch.tv/iheartcreative Myself and my friend, Sp1deyLuvr aka Melody, decided to start up a video podcast all about the creative section on Twitch! We LOVE the creative community. Twitch opened up a creative section in 2016 with the launch of the Bob Ross channel. I've been streaming in creative ever since! I have such a passion for the creative part of Twitch and often find it to be its own separate world of Twitch. Many of us love video games as well, but the news and eSports part of what is widely broadcasted on Twitch just doesn't quite fancy us so much. The idea for iHeartCreative is to provide a great place for us Twitch Creatives to get all the juiciest news that affects only the creative section of Twitch. We highlight the Creative Spotlight, give recognition to those who stand out in the creative community on Twitch, talk about new creative channels that we have found, show off work posted from viewers and streamers in the Creative part of Twitch! We also do interviews and have special guests who help us host! My Affiliate of the Month program has also been adopted by iHeartCreative Please join us every Monday at 2pm PDT on twitch.tv/iheartcreative. This Monday, we will have our Affiliate of the Month Gamer_Dad_NC on the show in an interview!! I will definitely be blogging a bit more about this, but please join our discord to find notes on past broadcasts and to join our community!
So, about all the stuff I've been up to...
For today, let's just talk about what is at the forefront of my mind... my leather working. Selling my leather goods is somewhat of a challenge for me. I can't figure out why my stuff doesn't sell very well, if at all. I am lucky if I get one or two orders a month on both website and Etsy. I do not sell copyrighted works of art and due to the fact that my target audience is in the geek and gaming industry, this severely limits the amount of orders that I will accept. Most people who want to order from me want to order stuff that has very specific drawings and logos that were not created by me and that I am not legally licensed to sell. Because these things are copyrights, I turn the work down. Let me tell you, this is VERY hard for me as all I see is everyone around me picking up the work that I turn down. I want to be big. I want to be known for my own brand and my own style. I know eventually, I will get there, but for now, I struggle with my own brand and style identity. I think I am getting close to where I view myself. My new struggle with that is also in what to sell.
This is the common scenario that plays out in my market booths: Someone walks into my booth and you can tell right away that they found something that they love... They search around for that price tag, see the tag and then walk away. Or someone comes in and loves the stuff and then talks about how they wish they could afford it. This happens about 95% of the time. It is very often the prices that drives sales away. But I can't lower my prices any more! Leather isn't cheap. Neither is my cost of living. If I drop my prices any more than they are, I will not make a profit at all. Trust me, there is nothing wrong with how I sell my stuff. I am very personable with my customers. I talk to them. I compliment things... I'm definitely engaging enough.
One thing that I notice is that my accessories are so easily purchased elsewhere. It's not unique. Anyone can get a wallet anywhere. Yes, I do have my own unique style to it, but it's just a wallet and it's a wallet that will cost you more than your licensed vinyl Wal-Mart wallet with that Punisher logo on it. I can't sell you the Punisher logo. I can't make my leather wallet cost $20. For most people, the choice is simple. Get that Punisher wallet for $20. Who cares if it falls apart in a year or two? It's so cheap, they'll buy another. So when they finally come to me wanting to replace their wallet for good, $60 for a plain wallet with no logos seems pretty expensive. There are more people who find my work expensive than there are who understand the value in the work and actually purchase it. It's extremely disheartening.
And then I get this all the time... you should make this, you should make that and this will totally sell and that will sell more... blah blah blah blah blah... constantly. I understand that a lot of people want certain things and while I CAN make certain things, I'm starting to realize that I just won't anymore. I need to be known for something specific. More specific than accessories for geeks and gamers. I need to be known for "that lady that sells fanny packs" "The girl with the gun holsters" or "the girl that sells the D&D stuff"... so what do I want to be be known for? My goodness guys... I just don't know. I have a friend named Jason aka Diomedes Industries. Jason has been making knife sheaths for ten years. He's so good at it! Jason does sell other things besides knife sheaths, but he is known for making them. Jason has been coaching me and with his guidance, my knife sheaths have been rock solid! I'm so proud of my sheaths and I love them! Without word of mouth, though, selling knife sheaths and being known for doing that is a hard market to break into. It's not impossible though! And I can definitely be known for that and to be honest, I wouldn't mind being known for that. But if I'm going to be known for that, then I need to make that my "thing" "the knife sheath lady"... But that also means modifying my products to meet the needs of my target audience.
So let's talk about the products that I truly enjoy making. I LOVE making knife sheaths, gun holsters, my lady sling bags, hip bags, deck boxes, dice bags, choker necklaces and notebooks. Of this list, I have no idea what I want to be known for making. I've decided to phase out my wallets for sure, so get them while you can! The cassette tape card wallets will definitely stay, but I won't be making any more bi-fold or minimalist wallets for stock or inventory.
Knife sheaths are great, but without several knife guys buying my sheaths on a very regular basis, it is extremely difficult to make a living off of it. I will continue making sheaths for my knife maker, Rogers Kustoms. If any other knife makers out there can send me some regular work, Id be really happy to be your "leather gal". It's a possibility, but unless I get lucky, I can't see it moving quickly.
Gun holsters, on the other hand, aren't specific to the maker. They are specific to the gun! There are blue guns out there that can be purchased. A blue gun is basically an exact replica of the real gun. The problem is that they are $60 per blue gun. I can slowly work my way to having more to work with. I LOVE making holsters and recently made one for a special friend of mine on Stream! It was my first holster for an order and he said that it was perfect! I could be a holster maker. It is definitely something that has been heavily suggested at my booth at the markets. For some reason, people are more than happy to pay $80 for a holster than for a wallet or purse. Can I make gun holsters AND geeky/nerdy stuff... or do I just make gun holsters and target that audience? Gun holsters are great, but will the need for special holsters be phased out as our world leans heavier towards them being unnecessary evils?
Sling bags and hip bags can be of the same genre. I do love making these as well, except that I have been running into the same issue in that people just can't see themselves paying the price that i need to charge to make a profit. Another disheartening fact. I will likely not be known for making these for that reason, though my hip bags could do well in the long run if I just keep selling them. ($70 for a sling bag and $60 for a hip bag)
Deck boxes, Dice bags and choker necklaces fall under the target audience that I have been shooting for. I think this also has potential to be what I'm known for and if I go this route, I will want to be known for my "table top leather". I don'k know exactly how secure the future in this genre of leather is, but I think this definitely has potential. If I chose to do this, I'd want to add specific styles and looks to my leather. I'd probably add in dice cups and table top gaming sets and mats. Perhaps even dice trays with leather mats in there.
One of the things that I am sick and tired of doing is making something because somebody else thought it would sell. I'm all for ideas! But I've done a whole lot of making something or a lot of somethings only to watch it sit on my table for a whole year or two. I want to make things that are unique and can't be bought elsewhere... or make it in a style that is unique and can't be bought elsewhere. I also want to have quantity and options! Not necessarily custom options, but browsing options. If I am known for my table top leather and modern day fanny packs, I want to stock a large selection of them, instead of just making one or two. I was hoping that by now, I would have a good idea of what sells and know what to stock up on, but the problem is that nothing really sells well and I just don't want to waste so much time and money on a product that will not move.
At the markets, I'm finding it REALLY difficult to sell my products. Those few people who come in and just obsess over how AWESOME my stuff is kind of makes it a little worth while. I know those people who are attracted to my stuff. 99% of them know what Twitch is and THAT'S who I want to buy my stuff! But of 100 people who come into my booth, only 3 of them are that person.. so is that the route that I should be going??? Or should I just not bother with the markets and keep targeting that audience?... or... do I make stuff that is all for my target audience AND for the general? Like let's say I make a cool geeky notebook... then I also make a plain Jane notebook for the general population too? UGH! see my dilemma!? What do I do?
I'd LOVE to hear your thoughts on this. Please comment on here and tell me what works for you, what you love about my stuff and anything that you think may improve my sales. Thank you!
If you would rather just respond via email, you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or join in the discussion on my personal discord
Here's all my social media links!
Suchikuchi is a partnered creative Leather Working streamer on Twitch. You can read more about Suchikuchi here