Saturday, February 25, 2012

Plushka's Craft - The Next Big Step

Plushka's Craft

One of the reasons why I initially chose Katia to write a blog for us was because I thought that she had her branding bang on. From her products, photography and name, all the way through to her blog, online shop and FB page posts. Her branding of products which are handmade, fantastically WELL made, earthy, warm and loved, it just screams (rather gently) what Plushka's Craft is all about. When I sat down to put this blog together, I was once again bowled over at Katia's photography. In my eyes, it could not be more perfect for what she is trying to say about her product and her brand.

Katia has put her heart and soul into this really helpful and informative blog. It includes information on branding, photography, wholesale, online shops and getting your finances organised. It's brilliant, and I want to thank Katia from the bottom of my heart (once again) for putting this blog together for us. Prepare to be inspired ladies!!!

Introduction to Plushka's Craft.......................

Founded in 2009, Plushka's Craft became a label for handmade toys, gifts and homewares. Katia creates original and very unique felt toys that have been designed from her own drawings. Katia stitches each and every toy with love and she tries to give each one it's very own unique character. 


over to Katia..............

Let me start from the beginning, when  Plushka’s brand was created...


After a hard decision on the name for my business that took a long time to come up with, comes an even harder one - the image.  The main question I asked myself - what do I want my customers to feel when they see my logo/banner/business card?..... I was lucky to meet my designer - Anna of “Design With Style” who helped me so much with the colours, the feel and the look of my brand.

I found the first email I send to her where I said:  The feeling I want my logo to exude - inspired and creative. I wanted to have stitches on the logo as all my creations require hand-stitching. Also, my friend told me once “oh, your stitches are tiny!” and that is why I thought, why not make that my “thing,” something that adds Plushka’s touch!

I wanted my logo to have a warm Russian feel to it (being originally Russian myself) but not overly, so a hint of red colour was added. Red heart is a little symbol that tied it all together for me. Plushka  means  "a sweet and savoury pastry" which has a pretty heart shape. That's why I chose this name for my craft business, as a symbol of my love for everything made by hand. That’s why there is a little heart in the bird’s beak as well as on some of my creations and pictures.

As you can see, it’s all connected:) Pick three key words that define your business and go from there! Think what makes YOU different and don’t be shy to show your personality though the image of your brand!

photo editing........keep it simple!

I use Picnic, but as it’s closing down, I will have to find an alternative. I try to keep my pictures simple and stick to one style. It keeps the shop looking tidy and professional. When you see the shop with all the different pictures, heavily decorated with lots of different colours, you get overwhelmed, don’t you? So keep it simple, pick one spot in your studio/home and always use it. Of course, there is no harm in experimenting and slightly changing the style of the pictures! This way you might discover a better way, like I did, when I bought a white wooden chair from the market. Then I thought the owl will look better siting higher and now I am using it for all my toys.

To sum up, get your style showing through everything, keep it unique and recognizable.

the next big step...........

Plushka has been creating for 2 years now and after the busy Christmas time, I took a deep breath and thought “What’s next?” What do I want to reach in 2012? Do I want to keep going like that, or what can I improve to make my life a bit less stressful and more creative!

I once read “start thinking how to take your handmade business to the next level when you cannot cope with the demand...” I am not quite there yet, but very close. Last Christmas was so busy and overwhelming for me!  I had too many wholesale orders, too close to December and pressure was too much! I know that this year I will have a clear deadline for the orders submission and will have to say no, which is so hard to do..... For me, setting the  rules for orders is super important.

Decide how far you want to go with accommodating requests so you are ready. That means if you are asked to make a doll that you need to design from scratch, what extra would you charge? How long does it take you to make an item? Allow yourself time for unplanned things like sudden activity in the shop when you need to pack orders or email enquiries. It takes me about half of the day, mostly nonstop, to make a large toy but I allow a week for the order to be processed. I often get an idea in the middle of stitching and I love being able to draw it, so i don’t forget and keep my creativity going.


That brings us to the wholesale or not to wholesale question. I know that shops want a big discount like 50% when buying wholesale from the maker and I totally understand that as they have huge expenses! However, when you hand-stitch your butt off in any conditions, trying to build a stock, I cannot bring myself to lower the price that much. I also know I set the pricing for my creations too low, so don’t repeat my mistake. It’s very hard to put it up once you stated selling it at a certain price. Charge what is fair and will keep your business profitable. I know that all handmade makers feel uncomfortable to charge and trust me I constantly fight with what I have to charge and what I feel comfortable with! The truth is, if we are all setting them too low, we will never be able to earn a living. That is what we are trying to do here, right!?

Instead, I offer a limited range of my creations for wholesale. You don’t have to offer everything! Why not pick the best sellers and items that are not that labour intensive? Give as big a discount as you can, but don’t go over what you spend yourself! I’ve been working my first year for nothing! Investing all money back as well as my wage from another job!! At some point, I had enough and had to cut back on my stockist and start again.

I don’t do “rent a space” system anymore. It’s not because it’s bad, but mainly because it’s not for me and what I make. However, I know plenty of makers who are happy with that and it works for them. I guess, try it and see. For me, the stress of supplying enough stock to cover the rent was enormous and my online shop was getting neglected.

I have 16 items maximum wholesale order now as I worked out what I can physically make. This way shops can try my creations out, without having to buy heaps and see how they sell.

I’ve been lucky so far that shops usually contact me for wholesale information. Some come back, some don’t, but there are different reasons why they might not contact you again. It might not be your product, they might change what they purchase for personal reasons. 

Don’t get upset, keep going, keep offering new and seasonal items. If a certain shop is very successful with one item, consider offering exclusive collections when you make certain items for only one shop. In this case, have a minimum purchase a month or two months, depending on the demand, to insure you get constant business.

Work with the shop owner and see what sells best! If one item doesn’t sell there, it doesn’t mean it won’t sell in the other shop. They might have a different target audience.

working out your wholesale price........

Wholesale price, according to some of the price calculations, should be your costs multiplied by 2. For example, if it costs you $5 to make an item x 2 = Wholesale Price (WP) will be $10. When retail price (RP) is $10 x 2 = $20. Obviously, look around and try to make your price competitive. I should use this formula, but when I started, I priced my items too low. Now I have a dilemma on my hands as I need to increase the price but I feel that I still want my toys to be affordable.... Pricing will always stay a tricky thing for me!

Pluska in magazines, My Child Australia and Cosmo Pregnancy

other ideas.........

Coming back to the “next level” topic though. This is a point when you need to outsource some stages of your production.  I recently saw on Facebook that some companies offer Sewing Services and this might be a great way to get the “preparation” stages of the creating away from you to free some time for new product development.  Also, I see more and more shops online turning from 100% handmade by the owner of the business to stocking someone else's creations. It’s a great way to add more variety to your shop.

online shops................

One of the new things I brought in this year was a Big Cartel shop. I know that some businesses have been doing it since the start as the fees are lower. However, I love Madeit as it’s local, the team is super helpful and friendly and they advertise to promote the website. There are so many affordable opportunities to get your shop noticed on Madeit that I can't think of the better way to sell your handmade products. 

Ok, I can hear you asking, why another shop then? Well, the main reason was, with more and more likers on  Facebook, I like that it connects to the page and gives easy and straightforward access to the shop. Its very convenient and although I have links to my Madeit shop EVERYWHERE, customers still kept asking where could they buy my creations. Some people use their phone to browse and looking for the link is tricky. Now the problem is solved with one click :)

number punching....................

My business is registered under my husband’s ABN, so we share the same MYOB. My case is very different so it’s not a very good example. Basically, I just keep my paypal payments print outs and clip them together, when posted on the same day, with the receipt attached. I’ve got business account that I try to use all the time but as I have to pay with my credit card sometimes, I just reimburse myself as soon as I come home, keep all the receipts tidy and write on them the date of the reimbursement so our accountant can easily see what happened and when.

After re-reading what I wrote, I just want to add that all the mistakes I’ve made with pricing and other things, taught me a LOT and they didn’t take away any of the fun I had since this amazing creative journey started. I wish somebody had given me advice of what I should do at the beginning, but I am sure I would do other things wrong anyway... We are all new here! As far as I know, the handmade movement just started a few years ago. I feel that people are becoming more and more aware of the fact that we make and sell, not because we have nothing to do at home, but because we feel a need for creative expression and enjoy making things by hand.  Most importantly, buying handmade is cool and brings a warm vibe and happiness to their homes:)

That’s basically my thoughts on the topic. Hope you found some helpful information. Please do not hesitate to leave a comment with your questions.

You may also be interested in reading Katia's blog post on Time Management - Well worth a nosey!

thank you SO much Katia

Oh my goodness, what an amazing amount of information from one very creative lady!!

To view ALL the Cheeky Blogs - click here

Cheeky dates to remember:

Cheeky BLOG
Sunday 11th March 
with the most amazing Giddy Kipper It's going to be a real hot one, all about how to get into magazines. If you haven't seen Miss Giddy Kippers page before, you really, really MUST.

I hope to have a blog on the 4th too, but I am just waiting on my guest bloggers. 



  1. Great post Katia! Loved how you reiterated that it's okay to make mistakes along the way - it helps you choose the right path that will SUIT YOU! From a long time admirer, Mariane :)

    Ali another great guest, well done!

  2. Thank you Katia for sharing your knowledge with us. Its really made me think more about my "Brand" and how I want my business to be seen by everyone! I'm currently drawing up logo ideas and improving my photos so this has really helped me.

    Thank you Ali for all the Cheeky Blog posts :D Big admirer!

    Lucy xx

  3. Thank you Katia for a great read. Has made me think more about outlining my goals for Little Ladybird and creating a clear path for 2012 :)

    Thanks once again Ali, for providing us with platform to read such great blog posts!!


  4. Gret blog, Ali, absolutely inspiring, Katia, thank you so much for the useful info! I need to reread it, I love it!

  5. Brilliant. I am just starting and I have agonized over pricing - I do cover my materials, it's my time that is difficult. I suppose it is because I started by making for PTA fairs, when any "profit" was donated to the school, who were grateful for any amount.

    Cheesy Pickle - thanks for finding such a great feature

  6. I've finally found the time to sit down and read this all the way through. Thank you so much for sharing your experience Katia. And, as always, thank you Ali. Helen

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