Vendor Tips with Skue
In this segment made in collaboration with Renegade Craft Fair, we catch up with Lily Chau, owner of Acacia, on designing new collections around customer expectations.
Watch as Lily reviews the gorgeous steel Geo-Bowl by ElektraSteel, and talks about extending the line, pricing, and figuring out the right demographic.
How do you apply this process to your own product? We break it down into three simple steps:
Step 1: What market do you have in mind?
Even when we make our own products, we start narrow. Say, “North Marin couples who are into sustainable living” is a focused audience. This makes it easy to divide up the collections into high end and lower priced lines.
ElektraSteel efficiently straddles the line between high and lower priced collections with high end frames at over $2000 and lower end home decor pieces selling for under $200.
Step 2: What you do you need to do to get there?
Retailers find it easier to sell an identifiable collection and a style unique to the designer. If you make a ceramic bolo necklace or a mug, it should instantly map back to your design aesthetic. Too many different styles will confuse the audience. What’s pulling it all together?
Lily mentions Facture Goods as a great example of an designer who can create a consistent collection at the right price point.
You may need to tweak the palette, material, or size of product to fit the audience you want to cater to.
Below you can see versions of the gorgeous lambskin bangles by Jen Cogliantry. It is possible to widen the appeal with a simple product tweak. Both Michael Levy of Paxton Gate and Katie Gaertner of Inner Sunset store Whistle agree that these should be available in neutral tones.
“Offering some neutral tones would allow for customers to choose from a dressier version or everyday bangle,” says Katie.
“Also love that these won’t make noise and clatter around!” says Angela Tsay of Oakland Supply Co.
The final consideration is packaging and should be adjusted based on whether you’re creating a high or low priced line. For example, high end soaps can be packaged in high quality paper, the lower price could be in a manufactured box.
Step 3 How do you apply feedback?
Once you make the collection, you can test your hypothesis. Is the customer buying at the price you had in mind? Do you need to make any product improvements?
Testing can happen in many different ways: Craft fairs, pre-orders, or even a limited run at stores.
We encourage makers on SKUE to add their products in a section called “awaiting feedback” and invite retailers to weigh in.
As an example of some of the feedback, take this Franchesi Tote by Oxgut, made with repurposed fire hoses. While it’s in high demand on the West Coast, it can work for the New York market with a few simple tweaks according to Allison McGowan of West Village boutique Teich.
“I’ve learned that NYC customers want pockets in their totes, especially if the are open at the top as this one is. People want to be able to securely store valuables,” says Allison.
If you are an emerging designer thinking about producing different lines that appeal to new markets, we’re starting a “Design for Retail” initiative with Acacia. Follow us on for updates on IG here and Acacia here
Vinit is co-founder of SKUE, a wholesale marketplace for premium handmade goods co-created with retail experts.