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Reclaimed Threads’ Tote Bags and a quick product update!

Now that Christmas and the post Christmas sales are officially over, all of the holiday items have been taken down from the Reclaimed Threads’ shop. Customers can now enjoy getting back to basics with a nice variety of tote bags and pins. There are a variety of finished clutches that are scheduled to be photographed and uploaded to the store within the week. Trust me, you will want to see these clutches, they are adorable! Make sure to follow Reclaimed Threads’ on Twitter (RECLAIMEDTHREAD) for announcements as to when they are all online!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday season and is settling into the new year happily!

Here are a few photos of what is in the shop and what can be expected soon! (forgive some of the poor photography!!!)

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December 2009 Reclaimed Threads’ Business Update; Current Events, Lessons Learned and Looking Forward

Hello world!

I hope that by reading through what I have been going through the last few weeks. running my small business, that it will help anyone going through the same ordeals! If you have any suggestions, helpful links or words of encouragement never hesitate to leave a comment or email me! I love hearing from people and frankly have a few things I am struggling with and would appreciate all the help I can get!

Well, there has been a lot happening with Reclaimed Threads over the last month or so. While I was still in Pittsburgh (3 months total), I worked my butt off building up a holiday inventory that exceeded my expectations in terms of the amount I was able to produce while maintaining the high quality I demand of myself.  Now the challenge lies in my being able to continue being as productive at home (MA) where there are many more opportunities to socialize. I maintain optimistic though, now that I see what I am capable of!

Currently In The Reclaimed Threads’ Etsy Shop:

So about this holiday inventory I mentioned before… I have lots of Christmas products currently up in my shop (www.reclaimedthreads.ets.com)! I had such a great time creating unique ornaments, gift bags and accessories! Make sure to have a look, grab what you like and let me know what you think!

What Is Coming Soon To The Reclaimed Threads’ Etsy Shop:

I have about 20 bags of all shapes, sizes and colors as well as many (MANY!) more accessories finished a ready to be photographed for my Etsy shop. I was originally holding onto them because I had a few shows lined up and thought I would sell them there. This did not end up being the case (story to be shared under the “Reclaimed Threads Out and About” Section) and I am really looking forward to sharing them with a larger group of like-minded people through my shop! Make sure to stop by while you are finishing up your holiday shopping, you won’t be disappointed! My goal is to have all of these items in my shop by next Tuesday, December 15th.

TIP: I have become such a firm believer in setting deadlines for myself lately! It truly does help and when you tell your friends and family (and Facebook and Twitter followers) about your deadline then you are forced to follow through! If you don’t follow through then there is bound to be at least one person who says, I thought you said that you were going to have “X” done by today? I hate disappointing people and looking like a bad business person so this keeps me in line! I will say, though, that despite all of my planning I am missing a total of THREE Etsy Shopper Features that I had planned for the past two weeks and this week. But Thanksgiving, travel and settling back home really messed things up. I had only set loose deadlines in this case so now I am all about full disclosure and am going to put up some sort of schedule of upcoming posts in this blog so that I am locked in!

Material World:

I am soooooo happy that I found a great fabric supplier! Two actually and they have been right under my nose this whole time and I wasn’t even aware of them! There is a home consignment store in my town called Still Life (http://www.stilllifeconsignmentshop.com/) and they have a lot of fabric samples from stores as well as vintage fabric and yardage that people simply didn’t want. I want it though!! I am so happy that people are bringing these items here instead of just throwing them away!

Upstairs in the same building is a designer fabric store called Zimmans (http://zimmans.com/). NOTE: When you go to this website there is music that I can’t figure out how to turn off so be careful if you are reading this at work! haha but back to what I was saying, I was almost overwhelmed with the bins of remnants and bolt ends available here! I am a huge fan of when products, literally no matter what it is, are color coordinated. I got weak at the knees when I saw the rainbow of colors as I walked through the back of this store!

I am definitely going to become a VERY good customer of both of these businesses!

A family member also stumbled across an estate sale recently and found boxes FULL of vintage buttons!  So I have about 9 or 10 Ball glass jars full of buttons, I’m in heaven!

Reclaimed Threads Out and About:

Okay now to my big blunder of 2009. I had a  few shows the last couple of weeks but none were very fruitful. One was a holiday shopping boutique which was a lot of fun and I met many great people but traffic into the boutique show wasn’t very high so there weren’t a lot of sales. I also was at a flea market for two Sundays in a row but I had a sharp gut feeling when I agree to sign up for this (which is a long story in itself including my brother and his friend and all of us splitting a booth, which didn’t happen, etc) that a fleas market might be the most inappropriate place to try and sell handmade, one of a kind, high-end sustainable products. My gut feeling was right and I did not generate many sales but, again, met some nice people. One thing that I gained from both experiences, which I find indispensable, is face to face feedback on my products. I am thrilled to report that people’s reactions and comments were overwhelmingly positive! It makes me very happy and proud to have people, unsolicited, tell me how impressed they are especially when they are seamstresses and other handmade craftsmen which a few were!

TIP Through The Lesson I Learned From This Experience: From now on I am going to be photographing products and uploading them to my shop every week. This is no matter what events I have lined up because by hoarding my inventory for these shows instead of uploading them to my Etsy shop as well, resulted in my missing out on all the post-Thanksgiving exposure. This was poor planning, and in my opinion, plain laziness on my part because I was too naive in thinking that everything I made would sell at these three events. I have learned that you can never assume anything when it comes to how your product will do at a show or event.  It is alright to think positive but always utilize every tool you have available! I should have uploaded all of my inventory to my Etsy shop so that they would be there for people looking specifically for high quality, eco-chic handbags AND for people who left the show with my card and could have decided to check out the shop later that night and see if the bag they liked was still available, possibly even buying it then. Even though feedback was very positive, the flea market was not the place to sell my products, so I would have to advise everyone to be very careful as to what sort of places you try to sell your products. If it is obviously the wrong venue then don’t waste your time and money because both are valuable!! Woops! Lesson learned!

Katherine, What Else Have You Learned So Far About Selling Your Kind of Products (handmade, sustainable bags and accessories):

Over the last few months I have learned a few things about selling my products:

-Customers tell me that my Etsy listing photos do not do my products justice! When they receive their bag they are surprised by how nice it really is! I am still working on taking crisper photos that also give the views that replicate how people look at bags in a store: front and back, inside, over their shoulder, etc.

-Even though I am working on my photos in my Etsy shop, there is still nothing better then having people see my products in person. I sell more bags when people ask me to come to their house while they have company over than anything else that I have done. This has sparked two initiatives that I will be working towards in the next few weeks: I want to get my products into handmade and eco-conscious stores in my area and I want to make a game plan for how I would launch a series of Home Trunk Shows (or home bag parties) to decide if it would be “do-able”.

-People are very much into one of a kind bags but they really like to pick out their own fabric and design elements. I played around with the idea of doing custom bags but with my production crew being made up of me, myself and I, I just do not have the capacity to venture into something like this yet. I am considering making this an exclusive offer at house trunk shows as well as these parties acting as a chance to have first dibs on a selection of new products.

-I need to get more Press Coverage for Reclaimed Threads! I would definitely appreciate any suggestions when it comes to this topic! I love seeing my products reviewed by people and would like to continue with this as well as have features written about the company as a whole! Up to this point, I’ve relied on networking with people and them offering to feature me here and there. I appreciate all of this and am now aiming to be featured more often and by a broader range of media (blogs, magazines, newspapers and TV)! Who isn’t aiming for this?!

FUN FACT: I was going to be featured in the Unofficial Etsy Business Blog as a “green business” recently. This turned into Justine (the editor) asking me to become a contributor to the blog instead. So I will be taking the driver’s seat for a “green stories” series on her blog, this is coming soon and will be a monthly feature. I am working on the questions and finding people to feature at the moment. I will be sure to update everyone once the first feature is ready! I am excited for this, it will be a fun to be a part of what I think is a wonderful blog!

Well, this pretty much sums up my last month or so! I’d love to hear your feedback about my products, the progress that I am making and definitely any suggestions that you have about things that I should be doing that I am not! Thanks for sticking with me through this long update! Remember that you can subscribe to my blog and get updates without even having to think about it!

Best Wishes,

Katherine

About Reclaimed Threads: Reclaimed Threads is a sustainable bag company launched by Katherine DeSantis. Katherine is  a 20-something entrepreneur who combined her love of being creative and sustainably conscious to form Reclaimed Threads.  Every item is handmade by Katherine from reclaimed/repurposed, vintage and organic/sustainable materials. There are a variety of bags and products in her shop: www.reclaimedthreads.etsy.com.

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Reclaimed Threads Business Update! October 2009

Back To Work After A Death In The Family

Hello, Hello.

This is my Nanny 1919- 2009

This is my Nanny 1919- 2009

Unfortunately my grandmother, aka Nanny, passed away a couple of weeks ago. All of the chaos that unfolded after, family flying in from everywhere, etc,  has kept me away from the computer. I have, however, been doing some sewing, buying and planning during this time. That being said, I AM BACK! I have all sorts of great new tote bags coming out soon that I am really excited about.

New Equipment and Materials!

My birthday was a few weeks ago and I got the mother of all sewing machines! It’s the new Singer Professional 2010. It is a great machine but with my luck one of the prongs in the power outlet, within the machine, broke off into the power cord?! Figures, so now I am down one machine and up lots of eager customers! Things could be worse though of course.

I have stocked up on all sort of materials over the last few weeks; I blew through my original fabric stock quickly. We have been going through my grandmother’s huge home and  have found a whole bunch a fabric from all over the world! From fabric samples straight out of 1950’s  NYC to silk from Asia. We’ve really found an amazing mix of high quality textiles. I obviously got my knack for nice fabric from my Nanny! I also bought some great vintage fabric off of Etsy.com and was given a whole box full of relatively new fabric that someone decided they weren’t going to be able to use the way they had planned. So I am all stocked up with great fabric and notions!!

Interfacing Dilemma Solved!

quick pic of one of my new bags, made from a fabric sample, cotton interfacing and blue cotton interior

quick pic of one of my new bags, made from a fabric sample, cotton interfacing and blue cotton interior

I have been struggling to find some sort of alternative to synthetic interfacing so commonly used today. I came across some organic cotton interfacing (they only have a limited supply though) and regular 100% cotton interfacing. Both only come in the fusible variety of interfacing and I do not know what is in the glue, but, I figure it is still better than the synthetic interfacing. Using the interfacing is making the quality of my bags increase so much more than I thought it would. Higher quality bags means that they will last you longer so overall this is the most sustainable option for the company and I hope that you all agree! I also came across some cotton and bamboo batting, I’ll play around with that too once I build up some more inventory!

Getting Out There!

The idea that I need to get my products out into boutiques and into markets has been reinforced repetitively over the month that I have been selling my tote bags online. Tote bags are definitely a product that people need to see and touch before they buy from you for the first time. Once people have bought a tote bag from me in person then I am confident that they will feel comfortable buying another from my online shop and recommending Reclaimed Threads Sustainable Bags to their friends.

So now they key lies in getting out into the brick and mortar market place! I am looking forward to this and if anyone has any advice about where to start looking for stores that might want to carry my sustainable tote bags, how to price products for wholesale or how to market yourself then drop me a line! I love hearing from all of you and find that I get some of the best advice this way!

I’m also starting an online picture account so that I can share more pictures of fabrics that I come across, finished products and Reclaimed Threads in action (sewing, buying, at fairs, etc). So I will be sure to reference to that on Twitter as I update it with pictures!

To Wrap Up

I am excited that the company is already evolving and improving! I cannot wait to get all of the new bags finished and up for sale because they are turning out so nicely and I am really proud of them! I love that life has worked out so that I can be a 25 year old with my own company that reflects my  passions for being creative and living sustainably. I am learning so much and enjoying every minute of work. Creating sustainable tote bags for everyone to enjoy is so much fun and watching someone love a bag that you made with your own hands is extremely rewarding! So things are looking bright and I can’t wait to give everyone another update next month!

‘Til then, remember to stop back and catch the Etsy Shopper weekly feature (picking up again next Thursday, October 22, spotlight on Earrings) and other miscellaneous features promoting sustainable living every Tuesday (starting up again next Tuesday, October 20 with “Halloween Goodies”). Thanks for all of your support and spread the word!

Best Wishes,

Katherine

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September 2009 Flyer

I have decided that, as an inexpensive means of promoting my business, I would make some of those tab flyer to put in cafe’s, college campus and community centers, etc. I think I will go for a road trip today and spread them around so if you live in MA keep a look out for them. Hey,even feel free to print some out yourself and spread them around! I’d send you the file, why not!?

Picture

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RECLAIMED THREADS IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!

I am happy to announce that Reclaimed Threads at www.reclaimedthreads.etsy.com/ is now open for business!

GRAND OPENING SPECIAL! Free handmade Reclaimed Threads coffee/tea cozy, a $10, value, with purchase while supplies last! These cozies are wonderful, I use mine all the time. This is my way of saying thank you for supporting me and I hope you come back soon!

So stop by the store, www.reclaimedthreads.etsy.com/, browse through, tell your friends and let me know what you think!

I am looking forward to providing sustainable bags to you and your family and friends for birthdays, holidays and guilt free shopping stops! Please don’t hesitate to email me with any question or comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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So tomorrow is the big Grand Opening…

I have everything ready to go for tomorrow’s  Reclaimed Threads Grand Opening! The only thing that is giving me a hard time is finalizing the pricing  for shipping and handling. I am looking all over for the best price for you! I am leaning towards using the US Postal service but am now going back and forth between flat rate boxes or my own packaging. We will have an answer by the morning and I promise the result will be the best price I can manage as a small business! I hope everyone is out there telling their friends and family about the opening being tomorrow and to stop by and browse through the shop!! I am working on the Reclaimed Threads Facebook Page now and will update about that later here.

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Clutches

These two clutches were little side projects while I was putting together the tote bags. They were fun to make and I hope that they bring someone lots of joy and compliments. The white and pink clutch is made from reclaimed table napkins, The dimensions are H: 6”; W: 12”. Price $32. The floral clutch was started years ago and I found it recently. I completed it by sewing in a liner and adding on the leather roping taken from an old broken bag. The dimensions are 12” diagonally from corner to corner and the opening is 7”. Price $35


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