Wholesale Materials – Profitability vs. Cost
Q. When I’m purchasing wholesale materials to create my artworks, I’m constantly torn between buying higher end quality materials that cost more and eat into my bottom line or going the cheaper route and ensuring profitability. How do I go about making decisions regarding quality versus cost?
A. You’ve raised an issue that’s important to anyone seeking quality, whether at wholesale or retail. As you point out, the conundrum is how to maintain quality and a healthy bottom line. Your goal must be to maintain the quality of your brand, including the quality of the materials, as well as the design and workmanship. So this is going to be all about savvy shopping. You didn’t say what your make so we need to stay general about this. I assume you’re using the Internet to research prices for the items you need. Using this information, you may purchase online or source materials elsewhere
Purchasing larger quantities is a great way to keep the costs down. If you can do this on your own, you’ll want to carefully schedule your production so you can use the materials in a timely manner, sell the items, and purchase more goods. If you’re not a big consumer, perhaps you can find other makers who need the same materials and put together a buying group. Your group could then place orders for materials in bulk.
In addition, you might look at the designs you’re developing. Are there parts of your pieces that are not seen? Perhaps there are ways to design pieces that allow the use of less expensive materials in conjunction with the higher quality materials. Use the higher quality materials in places where they’ll give your work the biggest bang for the buck.
On the other hand, is there a way to reduce the time it takes to make each piece? This could include hiring an assistant, allowing you to increase production, or can you outsource some of the work and get it done at a lower cost? This isn’t about materials but will help with the bottom line, allowing you to maintain the quality of the materials in your work.
Try to use the same creativity in the office that you use in the studio. It’s important to purchase materials that will enhance your well-designed and well-made items and give your work the cache that will keep your customers coming back for more.
Donald Clark is the author of Making a Living in Crafts and was a partner in Ferrin Gallery for 25 years. In addition to writing, he is currently a consultant to artists, a personal property appraiser, and a collection manager. He also continues to create his constructions that have been shown extensively and collected internationally.