Is a Fab Sale Worth It for Makers?

The flash-sale site with a focus on design, Fab, has attracted a lot of handmade artists as sellers. Because it involves wholesale and a specific window for the sale, planning one can be trickier than prepping for a typical craft show. We chatted with two Fab veterans, Jeanette Champion-Fanning owner of Sweet Perversion and Jane Ragasa owner of Janie XY (make sure to check out their stuff!), to see what their experiences have been for anyone considering doing a Fab sale. Both have unique perspectives. We hope to get a few more Fab sellers who can also share their advice in future posts. 

Thank you for the knowledge ladies! 

How did you get involved with Fab?

JEANETTE: Jen Murse of *plastique had been working with Fab for a few months and had suggested I get in touch with them. I applied via their "partners" link and I received a reply within 24 hours.

JANE: I was selling at Renegade LA's summer show last year and a very nice lady who happened to be the food buyer for Fab stopped by our booth. She introduced herself and said she was interested in carrying our toys for a future sale through Fab. A week later, she emailed me with a PO (purchase order) and it all took off from there.

Drumstick rattle by Janie XY. (photo credit: Janie XY)

Drumstick rattle by Janie XY. (photo credit: Janie XY)

Can you describe your first sale and the lessons you’ve learned from it?

JEANETTE: My first sale was much bigger than I thought it would be. I really didn't think I would sell as much as I did and therefore, I didn't prepare very well. I now make sure much of my product is ready the 1st day of a sale. Also, when I did my first sale, Fab was still going through some growing pains and the process wasn't very user friendly.

JANE: The biggest lesson I learned through the sale is to not get caught up in all the success stories. When the initial PO came through, we were so excited because we only heard amazing success stories that involved Fab and we expected to sell out of everything they ordered. We only ended up selling about 40% of the inventory they asked to consign with us and I really would have been happy with that if I didn't set my hopes so high.

What’s been your relationship with Fab since then? What’s the process for getting future sales? 

JEANETTE: I have a great relationship with Fab, they're a rad company to work with. As for getting future sales, they get in touch with me or I get in touch with them. Last year, we set up four sales through the year in one meeting. After the final sale of the year, I contacted them to set up one more before the height of the holiday season.

JANE: I did one more sale since then and it went by much smoother--mostly because I didn't set my expectations so high. I would like to try to do a sale again in the future, but I think that I would like to deal with the kid's buyer since we sell toys. We've only been paired with other food items so far, so I can't help but wonder what our numbers would have been if we were put in a category better suited for us.

Do you think it's worth it?

JEANETTE: Abso-fucking-lutely!    

JANE: Luckily, I make a product that doesn't have an expiration date on it, so in the end, everything we didn't sell got us a huge head start on holiday production.

What’s the advantage of Fab over Etsy or selling on your own site or at a show?

JEANETTE: The biggest advantage is the amount of exposure Fab can bring you.  

JANE: The biggest advantage of selling with Fab is that as long as you're still profiting at wholesale prices (which you should be) then there really is nothing to lose. Especially if your product has a long shelf life. Selling with Fab doesn't cost you anything but time and it's a great way to get a good chunk of sales without ever having to leave your house.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about doing a sale?

JEANETTE: Be prepared.  

JANE: Be prepared to sell a lot, but don't be disappointed if you don't sell. It can feel discouraging if your sales are a fraction of what your expectations were, but these flash sales are really a crapshoot, so you never know if you're going to get lucky or not.  Either way, if you have  the space to keep lots of inventory until your next show incase you don't sell out, then you really have nothing to lose.

What’s been your most popular seller? Is that different from other outlets?

JEANETTE: My best seller (through every venue) is I Love You Like a Back-Alley Hooker Loves Crack.  

JANE: The drumstick rattle and crispy bacon were our most popular through Fab, but that's also true at shows. I think that Fab shoppers are real foodies so anything fun and food related seem to do really well. 

What increases to your website/facebook traffic and Etsy have you noticed? 

JEANETTE: I get some FB traffic and my Etsy shop gets pretty busy on the first day of a Fab sale.

JANE: I didn't notice much of a difference in traffic because of the sale. A lot of people shopping through Fab are looking for a good product at a good price, not necessarily the next small business they're going to follow every step of the way.  

Has your audience expanded through this?

Sweet Perversion's popular "Back Alley Hooker" cards. (photo credit: Sweet Perversion)

Sweet Perversion's popular "Back Alley Hooker" cards. (photo credit: Sweet Perversion)

JEANNETTE: I'm guessing I've reached buyers that I may not have normally reached via Etsy or my own website.  

JANE: I think I got like five more fans on my Facebook page and a couple of sales through my Etsy from people that missed the sale, but it wasn't a very big spike in numbers.

Are there any “rules” this kind of sale that can make it tricky?  

JEANNETTE: Just make sure that it is worth it for you and your business.  

JANE: I've heard some people talk about having a minimum inventory that is worth $10,000-$15,000. This wasn't true for me and it never even got brought up during the process. The trickiest part for me was understanding all of their shipping guidelines.  It's about 15 pages of instructions of how to set up shipments. Luckily, they have a really nice staff that's always ready to answer any questions you might have.

Were there a lot of overhead/startup costs you had to float before you got paid?

JEANNETTE: Sure. You are making a ton of product and hoping it sells, which for some vendors isn't that big of a deal. If I print 700 of the same card and only 200 sell, meh, it's cool-- I'll sell that card through the year and maybe have some on hand for my next Fab sale. On the one hand, it sucks that I spent all that time, money & supplies printing that one card, but on the other hand, I'm stocked for a while and I don't need to worry about it.   

JANE: Purchasing all the materials I needed to fulfill the order cost a little more than I was used to, but it wasn't enough to make me reconsider ever doing it again. I think if I couldn't afford the materials to complete the order, then I probably wouldn't have done it because the sales aren't guaranteed to match their initial order.