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A Crafter's Guide to Starting a Subscription Business

Lesson 21 of 21

Interview with Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World

Mei Pak

A Crafter's Guide to Starting a Subscription Business

Mei Pak

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Lesson Info

21. Interview with Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World

Lesson Info

Interview with Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World

All right, so let's actually bring on our our next guest interview interviewee wendy gratz of shiny happy world and really excited talked her because and all these people that I'm bringing into you, I think they all have a different story to tell. They all have different experiences that we can learn from, so you can find wendy at shiny happy world. So she makes sewing colt ing and embroidery patterns. I know I sit meeting at first, and I'm sorry it's not getting its quoting patterns so she's like the queen of crafts, she does like all sorts of different things on her website, and she just launched her new shopify website too, so you should definitely should check it out and she what I find really interesting with her experiences, she runs multiple clubs and she's pretty much done everything she's done digital she's done on physical kids, so let's pick her brain in just a little bit, but she also has an interesting hybrid subscription model that I think we didn't get really a chance to...

talk about it all today, but maybe that will open the doors or get you thinking about other possible ways for us to, for you to really build your product around um so it is wendy there? Yes hey there, wendy, hi, how are you? It's a great to have you here so, you know, I do this with all of my guests interviewers can you tell us more about you? Tell us more about shiny happy world? Sure, so shiny happy world is like he said all its needle and thread and sewing machine patterns so it's so in quilting, embroidery and all of my patterns are designed for beginners, so one thing that I do that a little bit different is I don't release a pattern until I have video tutorials that demonstrate how to do every step of the project. So if somebody has never sewn before, they can pick up one of my patterns and it's like a little mini workshop because they can, if they get to a part of the pattern that they are unfamiliar with or some step that they've never done before, they could just click on the link to the video and I'll show them how to do you know how to turn a ham, how to sew a dart, how to put in safety eyes, whatever that step is, I've got a video showing how to do it. Okay, that's really cool. So can you tell us about when you started your very first club and I'm not even sure what that is? I never asked you when you started and how you started your very first club you know, I'm not sure what my very first club wass I know that it was digital, I think it was a quilt block of the month club that didn't really run very smoothly, so I'm going to do a new one of those that's launching just in january and it's going to run a lot better this year this time, but the first really, what I consider a really subscription where there were ongoing recurring payments was that the beginning of twenty fourteen, I started to clubs I launched do it once, so I had the cuddle club, which was these cuddly, soft stuffed animals that shift every other month, so there was a kid, they didn't get the finished animal, they got the kid and a digital pattern, and I also did the party animals, which were smaller little felt stuffed animals that they stand on their own, and they're all wearing like party hats, and they all have little accessories that they're bringing to the party, so it might be, you know, one of them might have a little garland and another one has a gift and another one has a ukulele because he's playing music at the party so they're all like they could be a centerpiece if you've got a table out for a birthday party or something like that, so those were the two kids that I started with which was my first try at a recurring payments and using paypal for that and and all of that that you've been talking about okay, so I know we talked in our initial phone call that you did do some physical clubs at at one point, right? But now you're mostly doing them digital can you maybe talk about why you mean that transition? And if it affected your customers at all? What were their thoughts on that church? So I actually I'm just I'm just closing out those first two clubs and I'm going to launch two new clubs that air starting next year, but at the beginning of this year I launched my first digital club with recurring payments and the response has been incredible. It has way more subscribers and the then the kid clubs have partly because I think it's less expensive. So the digital cloud that I have is for dolls that addressable have ah collection of ragdoll patterns that have different hair styles and different faces with their bodies are all the same so that they can all wear the same outfits they can share them. And so for this club it's the dress up bunch club they subscribers get sent out a dull pattern in january so a new doll friends joined all the other dress up bunch friends and then every month after that they get a digital pattern for a new kind of outfit collection previously I had just done outfit patterns, but now I'm doing for the club I'm doing a whole collection so for example, there was a which trigger treat collection that I did last month for halloween and it's, a little witch costume and a which hat? And she also has a little jack o'lantern pale to take trick or treating with her so all of that is the pattern bundle that goes out and that's entirely digital. I do all the fulfillment through male chimp and it's so easy to send out its there's no packing time I don't have to worry about the cost of the materials or the weight of my packages suddenly having something that's heavy in there s so it works really, really well it's super easy for me and the price is lower, so my customers really like it and it's a natural fit we were talking about wanting choosing a press, choosing something for your subscription that makes sense for people to collect more and more of and if you've got a rag doll that stress herbal, there is no limit to how many outfits people want for that doll american girl has built a huge empire based on this and that's really what I was thinking about as I chose that that pattern for it the other thing is that the's doll clothes don't really use much in the way of specialty materials where my other two, the physical kid clubs they were getting things that you can't find at a regular fabric store, a big box fabric store and so the donald close, though you can use any fabric to make these, you know, quoting fabric that you can find just about anywhere there's a few specialty supplies that you can if you want to you, but they don't have teo, and when people join the club, I send them welcome a message that says, hey, here's, a few things you might want to get, like some super thin, skinny velcro that I sell in my shop with that the scale is better suited for doll clothes than what you can get in joan's, and some, like bright colored snaps and things like that, so people will still buy some materials for it that they don't need ongoing materials to be able to make what they want to make. Okay, that's really cool. So I know I know a lot of us secretly, like numbers, even if we don't want to admit it. And I want to give you that opportunity to talk about your numbers, so I know you spent a lot of time thinking and designing your clubs because you've done so many of them, right? Eso, what would you say would what? What is can you share some numbers and how many subscribers you've gotten and maybe like in terms of the revenue split between your income in general like how big over percentage of subscriptions actually are a part of your whole business? Sure. So the the kettle club of the two kit clubs that kind of club was the most successful one and I have a student posted note up here that one had just over fifty, subscribers for and that's the cloud that the last one is actually going out next week and then the party animals was a little bit less popular they're slower hand sewing projects that one had just under forty subscribers. When I finished that out last month and then the dress that bunch dolls I just passed the hundred subscriber mark so that when you could definitely say that's that's, bigger numbers and an interesting thing to think about though is your planning what kind of things you want tohave and looking at those numbers the cuddle club and the party animals both of them depending on which one it was. It got me anywhere from eight hundred to one thousand dollars per cycle per shipment was the revenue I had for those but that is entirely only about half of that is profit because you have to remember that you've got to buy materials and it takes a lot of time to pack and ship them with the dress that punch, that one, I'm getting about seven hundred fifty dollars a month for it's, a monthly subscription instead of every other month. But there are no physical costs and there's no, the only time involved is developing the pattern, you know, designing that thing and then writing up the pattern, but then I'm done, and I can I can expand this, however much is, you know, I think there's no limit to how many people can subscribe to it. I don't have the physical requirements like stays he has, of how many bucks says she can actually fit in her car. So so, that's a really nice thing to think about is that this can go as big as it possibly forget, and the dollars are are almost all profit. And as far as how much of my business that is thes three clubs, and now I'm only talking about the subscriptions for them, not any additional materials that people will buy, or people buying those same patterns later, when I put them in my shop, it's, about twenty eight percent of my revenue that's a that's, a really big chunk? Well, it's a significant chunk, yeah, and special, considering that a lot of that is also pretty hands off, where it's just kind of once you make it that's it you don't have to deal with the shipping in the packaging and all of that it's definitely the direction I'm moving. Yeah, yeah. Wow. Okay, so that's, really inspirational. So we also talked and you had some really great tips on you have a really, really good thought process or design process for how you decide on what your next club is going to be. S o in terms of your club creation, can you talk a little bit more about that? And maybe if you have some practical tips that we can take away, that would be great. Sure. So the number one thing I do is listen to my customers. When I when I launched the very first clubs, I have had a lot of people asking for kids I was selling some of these made some of the materials, like the wool felt in the embroideries, red and things. I was selling some of those materials online in my shop that people had to buy them sheet by heat, and I might have a project that used twelve different colors of felt and so they would have to buy twelve full sheets, but, you know, they might only use a little, you know, a little piece of each color, so they asked if I could put together kids teo so that they were really just buying what they needed for that project and they also like the ease of, you know, one click and they've got everything they need with the cuddle club also, I found this amazing please that is so cuddly and so soft it's a really high quality fabric that you can't I've never seen it in a brick and mortar store, but it feels like the kind of stuff that like a gun during manhattan toy a stuffed animal that you see in the store would be made out of and so the kid I thought about bringing it into the shop and you have to order the six bolts and each bolt is ten yards and that is a huge, huge quantity of fabric for a small business to bring in and the only way that I could do that that I could make that product available to my customers was to have a subscription where I could pretty much count on a certain level of sales. So I'm thinking about finding materials for them that are difficult to source on dh those I know that because I get questions saying, where can I buy this? And I'm say know where? You know, I found them at quote market so and the other thing is really thinking about about the collectibility of it there is, I guess, unsubs tribes from the cuddle club and evil are super super nice, they're like, I love these, they're so cute, they're wonderful, but I've been doing it now for almost two years, and there is no room for my child in their bed anymore. They're just that there is too full of these stuffed animals and there's so there's a natural limit of just how many stuffed animals you want to make? And so as I'm moving forward, I'm really thinking about clubs to be more in the model of the dress, that bunch club where there is no limit to the number of things that they're going to want to make with this, they're not there's not going to be kind of a natural max out, they will stop doing this when their child outgrows addressable rag dolls. So those are all things that are going into that that thought process those are really great tips, and I know I'm definitely on learning from this too, so in our in this segment that we're in right now, we also did just talk about how to keep your unsubscribe and your cancellations rate rates low. Do you have any specific tips or anything that you do in particular, that you feel helps with lowering that unsubscribe rate? The one thing that I really do, I feel such a sense of responsibility. Two people who have bought one of my products without knowing what it is, you know, they have no idea what they're going to get, and I just I'm always so worried, I think like this, you know what? If they what if they don't like pigs? And I'm doing a pig this month or I just I'm really thinking very, very much about the fact that I owe these people something really, really, really terrific, the best work that I can possibly dio the other thing, he is like the for the dress that bunch because it's digital I can add in extras again without having to worry about materials, costs or shipping costs. So, like, I just did a baking day and so she's got a little dress and she's got a little apron, and I decided I can throw in a little embroidery pattern to put on the apron and and she's got a little tray of cookie sheet and she's got some little cookies, and I just as I was kind of finishing everything I was like, oh, she needs a spatula because you know anything that you can put in a doll's hand to make them do stuff is even more fun to play with, so it was really easy for me to make the decision. Okay, I already know how I'm going to make this special. I have a really clear vision in my mind, I'm not even going to have to prototype it. I can design this spatula in an hour and do all the the step you step by step photos and all of that it's really easy for me to add that in and really make it a great, great collection that people are going to be excited to get, and I've been really lucky so far, I haven't had anything that people have when I kind of like a mass of unsubscribe after it. There's always a trickle, you know, you're always going to get some months it's drives, but I haven't had anything where I got like, ten on subscribes right after sending it out, I was worried I did a beaver and I was like, oh, who likes you know, beavers is a very obscure kind of animal for a stuffed animal, and I thought people were going to be a little weirded out by the beaver, but everybody loved the beaver and it's actually been one of my best selling ones since I released it as a stand alone, so who knows yeah isn't it funny how that happens when we think we can anticipate how your customers will react to something and then were totally wrong e kind of love it when that happens so we will you also talked about this really interesting subscription model that you have with your christmas quilt club, right? Can you talk about like logistically just you know just explain the whole thing but also get into the how you haven't set up with male chimp I think was what you said, right? Yeah so it's actually not a quote club it's an ornament club so we're making little felt christmas ornaments again it's a natural you want lots of them you can put him as gift toppers there's a lot of ways to use it and you can never have enough of them. So this one I do it's kind of a hybrid between the two models that you described now you called them and potential heard it down so it's like a little bit in between these two things it is it's they're making a one time payment so this is not a recurring payments thing and this is a system I use when I'm going to release something where it is a finite number of things they're going to be twelve ornaments in this collection in the block of the month club that I do next year they're going to be twelve applicator patterns released over the course of the year so it's gotta start and a stop it's not something where I want to just keep going and keep going so they pay at the beginning it's a one time payment and as soon as they as soon as I get the notification in my shop I can put it in a regular shop listing it doesn't have to have a special papal button or anything like that. As soon as I get the notification, I add them to a group in male gym in my newsletter mailing and s o then they're signed out for christmas club twenty fifteen and then they get a welcome email issues they signed up it's also an instant downloads so they get both of these things and that has a list of the materials that they're going to need to make all of the all of the ornaments and it also has a link tio kit that I've put together that is that all of those materials that they're going to need if they want to buy it just with one click so this could be end up being a really big purchase in my shop because the ornament collection just the patterns are thirty dollars which is still a good deal for twelve patterns and then you can buy a felt kit and a thread kit and those air available separately just because they felt always sells better than the threat so they buy those and then every monday for a certain period of time. So for these we start in august and the idea is that will finish all of the ornaments just before thanksgiving so they get to relax and just do one a week and not be like christmas crazy. I have to get all the things done and make all the things so it's supposed to be like a really relaxing, fun approach to holiday crafting. So every monday, during the window of the of the subscription, I sent out a new ornament pattern. It is delivered by email, so it's super easy. I've got the group, I just compose one email, send it to that group and we're good. And the thing that I that I found that works a lot better than my initial quote book of the month club is I want to be able to sell people on this after the club starts. And so this is really great because I actually have a wonderful marketing opportunity every monday when I sent out a new ornament, I put a picture of that ornament, all my blogging on social media, and I say, hey here's, the tournament that just went out to the members of the christmas club it's not too late to join in the fine, you know, click here and if you if you join later as soon as you sign up, you'll get an instant download of ah document that has links to all the ornaments that have been released so far and in every email that goes out with the new one has a link to all the previous e mails that went out so people can get caught up right where everybody else is the other thing I do you've been talking a lot about pictures and like stays he was talking about how do you advertise a mystery a mystery subscription without any picture when you can't show pictures of the product? So I have an image that is is this christmas club twenty fourteen at the top and then it's a grid and it's twelve question marks and that's a nice visual way of showing people how many patterns they're going to get that a lot of question marks on that grid and then as I release a new pattern, I replaced one of those question marks with the the thing that with the pattern that was just released and so we're seeing that grid slowly fill up over the course of the subscription and for the people who were kind of nervous to sign up at the beginning because they don't know what they're going to get, they start to see the style of the ornaments and so every week when I sent out a new ornament getting new subscribers to the club so on dh then at the end I'll repackage the whole thing as um as the twenty fifteen christmas club and it'll be all twelve patterns and the kit and you know everything that they need to make it and the kid will be like super on steroids because it's also going to have all of the the pattern pieces already printed on the specialty papers that are great for transfer so it'll be on freezer paper or self key sticky fabbre solvay and it's just a super easy package they unroll it and everything is there so that's so that's how I do anything that's got a a set number of pieces you're going to start here and stop here and then it's done I love that yeah, because we didn't really get a chance to talk about subscription models where there's like a finite as you mentioned set of designs so I love that you shared that example with us and I think I think that's just really it really means like we can really get really creative with this process like everything I've talked about here they're really just guidelines for you you can definitely see how you can work with this for your own business on really just get creative because the way that wendy's done this is like I've never heard of this done before but she's making it work on guys working really well for her so I think you can definitely do you know, something different for your own business as well? Are you able to stay on for a few questions here that we might again, the audience do, and I would add to all to what you just said, I would add think about the product that you're putting together and think about. There are so many different ways that you deliver thes items, whether their digital or physical really think about what works best for that product because it's going to be different for different things. All right, wendy awesome, thank you so much. You've covered everything in such great detail. Do you have any parting advice? Not just general stuff that you want has to know about on dh tell us where we can find you. Sure I do. You already mentioned the incentive to switch from one system to another. I'm getting ready to switch to shopify and imagine my new shop is open everything except the subscriptions we're still working that out because, it turns out, is really difficult for any of those aps to handle more than one subscription possibility. But one thing I did want to say is you talked a lot about exclusivity early on, and I just kind of wanted to throw out there that I do release. When my patterns go out, anything that's in one of my clubs it's a brand new items, so it's, always something that my customers have never seen before in my shop, but after it goes out to club members, I do put it in my shop and I put it at a slightly higher price, so club members are always getting a discount off of what the pattern would normally sell for in my shop, and I found that I don't get a lot of sales, of course, when you first put it out there in this in the shop because everybody who's really interested is in the club. So for the dress, that bunch club, I'll release a new pattern in the shop and it's like crickets, and you would think that this is is a total dud, and the people probably hated it who got it in the subscription, but that's not really what it is is really, is that the most interesting people already got it, but what I find is that the people who joined the club later want to go back and get some of those earlier patterns. Wendy, if you're watching us thank you for coming on way really appreciate it, so I guess that wraps up. This entire course. I hope that by the end of watching all of this, you feel empowered, you feel like you can do this. I think this is a great way for you to build that consistent stream of income, and I know all of you create is out there. You're all great with creating all those ideas in your head. So, you know, taking this papal button thing and doing the dia y manuals, spreadsheets, it's really easy for you to get set up, and if you're an at sea, you know, just set up a regular product, this thing, and you can start collecting lump sum payments as well. So, you know, just put it out there, you know, don't wait on it. You can start today, you can start on monday, you can start right away. This is that whole consistent income here and just getting consistent sales. I think that's the main goal, and I want for you, and you can definitely get started on that right away.

Class Description

Not sure where your next sale will come from? A subscription product or business eliminates the guess work and is a great way to secure a steady paycheck. Find out how it is done in A Crafter's Guide to Starting a Subscription Business with Mei Pak.

Mei is a veteran jewelry-maker who earns her living by selling online. In this class, she’ll teach you everything you need to launch and run a successful subscription business. 

You’ll learn how to:

  • Create the ideal product for your subscribers
  • Package your product to move
  • Add more subscribers every month
  • Establish and maintain organizational systems
  • Engineer an amazing customer experience and keep customers happy

You’ll learn all of the logistics for running a subscription product business. Mei will show you how to manage your tasks including how to; collect payments, get existing customers to buy a subscription, print bulk shipping labels, and much more.

If you have a product your customers love and want to earn a consistent income by selling more of it every month, A Crafter's Guide to Starting a Subscription Business with Mei Pak is the perfect class for you.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Email Pitch Template and Checklist.docx

Email Pitch Template and Checklist.pdf

Subscription Management and Shipping Tools.docx

Subscription Management and Shipping Tools.pdf

Your System For Selling Subscriptions.docx

Your System For Selling Subscriptions.pdf

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

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a Creativelive Student

Great course, especially the interview with Stacey (part 6).


Mei gives lots of practical information and resources in this course.