How do I start a handbag business?
I’ve heard that question asked a thousands times. The answer is simple: start the business. There’s no set formula. You just make some bags and see if anyone wants to buy them. It’s sort of symbiotic -you just kinda become a business. You design, you make, you sell. That’s the business.
People start that process in many different ways but the idea is the same no matter what level you start out at.
What’s the first thing I need?
To make samples or have your samples made. This is your first test. In most cases the designer makes the first samples, especially when starting out. Samples, if not made by the designer can be very expensive. A promising young designer can get the backing of a manufacturer who would then produce the samples for the rights to manufacture, but In most cases this is unlikely, so be prepared to do your own.
Do my samples have to be perfect?
They have to be pretty good! You need to bring a quality item to the table every time you show your designs. Weakness in design and workmanship will be pointed out by buyers. Buyers want style, quality and a good price point. Your samples are the first thing they see about you and what you bring to the table. Your samples should be as good as you are.
What’s the next thing I need, now that I have my samples?
They let you know you can sell your work! They are your first indication that you have a business. They are your confidence builder! Plus they provide you with with revenue.
As an accessory designer, orders are your validation, Let me say reorders are your validation. I think anyone can get their first order. You just go to your local boutiques and show the buyer, who’s usually the owner. Boutiques are the first source for innovative design. With validation comes confidence and that translates into more sales. When you don’t have orders you cease to be a business and you lose confidence in your designs. So go get some orders!
A young designer walks into local boutiques and speaks with the buyers of each boutique. Shows the samples that they made and makes a sale. Each boutique orders 6 to 12 bags. They want delivery in 30 days. Realizing that you’re just starting out and can’t afford to carry the usual 30 day net. Plus the fact that they haven’t established a credit worthy relationship with you and these first orders are test orders. They agree to pay you when you COD.
Reorders are where the money is! It’s relatively easy to get first orders, the trick is the reorders. Reorders let you know the public likes your work!
I got orders! Now What?
You sold, say, 75 bags your first week. Not quite enough to get manufactured, but you know- you feel that this is just the beginning. More orders are on the way. You’re passionate, so you decide to setup your own shop to get the orders out. You don’t have a big budget.
Let’s say your budget is $12.000, you’ve scraped this up by borrowing , montary gifts from family and friends.
What will you need? Here’s your wishlist!
600- 800 sq ft of space
2-Juki sewing machines/ walking foot
2- Cylinder machine
2-Cutting tables 8 to 10 feet
1-Glue area /Good ventilation or wear a gas mask. Glue is really toxic.
Your are including a table ,glue gun and or machine.
2-Stud setters and spot setters.
Lets start with a space we need at least 600 sq feet, it’s going to be tight but, it’s the beginning of something, not the final result. It’s a work space.
600sqft @ $1.25 sqft =750.00 a month two months $1500
Got to have two great machines none better then having two used Juki’s $2500.00.
Two used cylinder machines for 1500.00 is about right.
If you are going to do leather get a skiver : $350.00
Clicker or Die cut press. Clicks out the pattern pieces from the die cuts that were made from the patterns . Allows you to cut out 100’s of patterns a day.
Brand new around $1600 used as little as $500.00+. Lets say $750.00 because you’re on the cheap.
Cutting table 6-8 ft long 200.00. Worst case you can make one!
2 Catch bins $45.00
Gluing area, You got to have this. Some of the glues I recommend you use for extra strength and quality are very toxic to breathe. You must use a well ventilate area. Wear a mask at all times.
$250.00 to setup the area.
2 stud setters or spot setters. Makes putting on ornaments a lot easier.
Can get them for $150.00 -200 a piece if you search. Maybe less!
So lets see we have:
So your budget was $12.000, now maybe you got $2000 for salaries.
Then you will need your materials, fabric and leather.
You’re now ready to produce 200-250 bags a week, depending on the bag.