I received the following email from Gail and I’m sure that it’s something a lot of people have thought about so I’m sharing my reply to Gail in this blog and perhaps others would like to add their experiences and advice in the comments below.
‘Now that I am retired, I have been sewing a lot more. I have a 7 year old granddaughter that I have been making doll clothes for. I want to make extra income, is there money in making doll clothes and how and where do I sell them? Is there money in doll quilts? Thank you for your time.’
I started selling my doll clothes at local markets and on Ebay (Etsy wasn’t really big in Australia 14 years ago when I started). I loved going to the markets and meeting all my customers, especially the little ones as it was wonderful watching them excitedly picking out the outfits they wanted. The early mornings and all day tied up at markets on the weekends wasn’t ideal because I couldn’t watch my son play sport, however when my daughter was a little older she enjoyed coming with me and helped set up and man the stall. You may find that your 7 year old granddaughter would love to help you at the markets – what a terrific bonding time that would be.
Different markets worked better than others and different times of the year were better than others e.g. Leading up to Easter and Christmas markets were always a huge success. As to what sells better, well that depends on the customers a great deal. Some weekends I would sell all the stuff that had been sitting around for 6 months or so and other weekends, it would be all the newer things. I do know that parents tend to be season conscious so would select summer things in summer and winter things in winter but the kids, if left to choose their own outfit, would choose whatever they liked. Another tip I have is that pink and purple are by far the most popular colours, I’ve had gorgeous outfits in yellow or green and they have sat on the shelf for ages so make lots of things in pink and purple!
After doing the markets for a while I set up a very basic website as Ebay didn’t have a ‘shop facility’ back then so you couldn’t sell more than one of the same thing in the same listing and loading each product individually was a lot of work, and as I mentioned Etsy wasn’t really around in Australia back then. When starting out online, you would probably be best to try Etsy first as they are set up with everything you need and have Google presence. There is a lot involved in setting up a website and getting it onto the first page of Google so that people can find you. My first year online was really hit and miss, spending money on Google Adwords and listing my website on any free directory that I could find to help get my website to the first page of Google. I continued to do the markets as at least people were able to see my clothes and I always made sales. As my website presence and sales grew I made the decision to invest in a better website and thankfully, my sales have continued to grow each year and I now buy in shoes, accessories and some clothes to compliment what I make. I gradually did less and less markets and for about 7 years now I have been selling online only. This is great in that it gives me more time to work on my doll clothes patterns and I don’t have to load and unpack the car every weekend, but I really miss the personal contact with the customers and other stall holders – markets are a real ‘social event’.
When doing this blog I realised that the only photo of my time at the markets was the shot of my tent above that I took when I first got my sign made with my original logo and I attached it with Velcro tabs so it would hang across the front. So I thought I would get together some of the stuff I used to take with me and took this photo. I started off small but by the end, I used to take 3 fold up tables, a tent, at least four boxes of doll clothes and shoes, dolls, my hanging rack and heaps of hangers, price tags, table cloths, chairs, esky and water bottle to keep me going all day, bags, business cards, etc, etc….. you get the idea.
So to answer my original question, yes I do believe that you can make money selling doll clothes and how successful you become depends on how much time you want to put into it. But if you are thinking about giving it a try, now is the time with Christmas and the holidays just around the corner.
I know that some of my doll clothes patterns customers sell at market stalls or on Etsy so it would be wonderful if some of you would like to share your experiences and advice for Gail in the comments section below.