6 Tips to Start and Sell an Ethical Brand
By the team at Ad Hoc Atelier
Crafting a new handmade brand is anything but easy. There are lots of challenges to face, overnight workloads, headaches, and the emotional threat of failure. But, hey, this journey might also be full of creativity, fun, and love.
From starting a project from scratch to looking for the right places to sell it, here are 6 tips on how to build an ethical brand.
6 Simple Tips to Create an Ethical Brand
Go Local and Believe in your Territory
To name a brand “ethical”, there’s definitely a few things to consider: a transparent production, a handmade process, sustainable materials – from eco-friendly materials to green packaging – and a local workshop. If you do a bit of research, you might find some local artisans near you who respect these ethical values.
Specifically, your product should be made by hand in a small workshop, fully respecting the zero kilometer way. People are always in the heart of production, as the main characters of every step – from designing to packaging.
This way, during the whole process, your emissions stay low, and you’re supporting your territory and the workers who are living there. You value development aimed at improving people’s lives.
Craftsmanship Stands for Tradition
First off, craftsmanship is art, creativity, and a long-lasting tradition passed by hand through the years. It’s hard work and attention to details. And, so far, everything sounds pretty exciting.
There’s two ways to proceed: either you’re a master artisan and you’re good at crafting yourself or you look for the many talented artisans and let them do the hard work for you. For instance, the Milan-based swimwear Ripa Ripa brand collaborates with Southern Italy traditional tailors to create their products.
“Looking for the perfect match is a full-time job,” says Anna Laura Hoefer, Co-founder at Ripa Ripa. “After months of research, we found Portici, a small town in the south of Naples, known for its historical railway line along the coast. The production is hidden in the basement of an unassuming, red residential block where the garments are sewn together by a team of seamstresses.”
Uniqueness is Very Much Key
How are handmade products created? Inspiration can come at any time: you need to take pen and paper, and draw a draft as soon as the stroke of genius comes. In fact, artisans are always at work, inside and outside the workshop walls. They’re very creative minds, constantly thinking about how to create a new model.
But you know that inspiration is like love: it comes when you least expect it. If you have an idea while you’re sleeping, get up right now and jot it down. Seize the moment. The wonder of handcrafted bags lies in their uniqueness, a characteristic that does not belong to the ready-to-wear garments.
No handmade item can be the same as another, even if the initial design is identical, as well as the materials used. The small defects, if any, become a distinctive sign, making the bag unique and exclusive. Those who choose to wear it recognize its value and wouldn’t trade it for any other ones in the world.
And what about prices? You can’t generalize: each craftsman uses different materials, as well as different hours to make unique pieces and craftsmanship. In any case, if a product is handmade, work requires lots of time and patience.
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How to Sell Your Handmade Products
If you’re interested in this chapter, it means that you’ve either already created wonderful handmade clothing and/or accessories, or you already know who can create them for you. Here’s the crucial step though: figuring out how to sell a product.
The first key step is to figure out what your target niche is. What is the style of your designs? What audience are they designed for? Can you imagine the typical person who can buy your handmade bags? Try to answer all these questions, trying to write down all the characteristics of your ideal consumer.
Try to find two or three typical customers: write down the basic characteristics, such as age, interests, tastes and spending power. When you have identified your ideal target, and only then, you can think about how to sell your handmade bags.
Then develop consistent communication with your target audience. For instance, if your audience is mature, avoid too juvenile a language – it wouldn’t be consistent. Instead, you could tell them the story behind the bag, to bring them into your world by telling unique anecdotes.
Offline is One Option
Have you figured out your ideal audience? Now what to do, where to display your artwork? The first thing we recommend is to find people in your network of acquaintances who fit with your ideal consumers. Show them your masterpieces, and collect their first feedback. Try to see if there’s anything that needs to be made better, or if, once they’ve seen them, they’re immediately going crazy about it.
Once your product has been perfected in detail, you can start with distribution, by contacting stores that sell similar products, asking if they could also display your bag designs, in exchange for a commission on sales.
Okay, Good. What About Selling Online?
If you’ve got little budget, as a start there’s no particular need to create an ecommerce from scratch. It would cost you lots of money and effort, without considering paid and promoting activities. So, here’s the advice: look for a targeted online marketplace to get easily to a wider audience.
As you may know, the ocean is pretty open. There’s lots of quality marketplaces out there, offering different exposure and services. The most famous is definitely Etsy – the number one marketplace for handmade goods – followed by Wolf & Badger. Well, we suggest you go smaller.
We recommend that you search for small niche marketplaces, where you may initially have greater visibility. For instance, Ad Hoc Atelier is a marketplace that sells ethical, high quality, and made in Italy products, promoting Italian slow fashion worldwide.
If you’ve got to this point of this page now – we hope you did –, there’s probably two scenarios in front of your eyes: (i) it’s too complicated to make it work; (ii) or you’ve got all the key info to turn your dreams into a real occupation. If you never try, you’ll never know.
About the Authors
Ad Hoc Atelier hosts slow fashion designers, offering ethical, transparent, high quality, and made in Italy clothing, bags, jewelry and accessories.