In a light-filled studio and retail space in the Brookland Arts Walk in Washington, D.C., Ahmad, of Handmade Habitat sets up for a temporary pop-up of her candles and beauty products. Her candles, made of soy, are smooth and creamy looking. Some are contained in tall, slim, clear glass and carry names such as Clear Mind and Make Lovely, and offer scents of mint and rose. These are her meditation candles, and there is a Yogi collection that is fuller and shorter. These are named after yoga poses and smell of lotus, lavender, and eucalyptus.
All of Ahmad's current products are light, airy and modern. ''My brand is moving in a new direction,'' she explained. ''I'm getting more into this mindfulness with scent and candles and aromatherapy.'' Past iterations of her products have had a vintage feel, most notably her literary candles. These candles are contained in small metal tins decorated with the pages of a favorite book, such as Jane Eyre and The Feminine Mystique. Ahmad has made this product line since she started making and selling candles, but knows it is time to move on. ''Everything that I keep adding [to my product line] has this new look, and the last of the old things are these literary candles,'' she said.
Jennifer Wilfong creates simple polymer clay jewelry with floral designs under the name Yummy and Company in Baltimore, Md., and understands this problem. ''When you have old stock lying around it can actually be kind of depressing,'' she said. ''It's easy to start questioning your business and wonder why items aren't selling.''
So what should you do with your inventory that isn't representative of a current product line or items that just won't budge? From sales to donations, to trade to reuse, there are several ways to unload products to clear the way for new ones.
While her creations are mostly one-of-a-kind, Wilfong has needed to unload stock that wasn't selling, and flash sales are one of her favorite ways to go about it. ''Usually, I will do an Instagram flash sale, and I'll either promote it on Facebook and Instagram, or in my newsletter beforehand,'' she explained. Alerting an audience to the upcoming sale is important, as well as already having an established customer base. ''You need to have at least a group of people who know your work,'' Ahmad agreed. Making sure a flash sale is conducted where a business's community already is will also help it succeed.
|Break it down
In this way, working with materials that don't have a high cost, Wilfong is able to repurpose some of her back stock if it's not selling. ''If I make a pendant and it doesn't sell, I can take it off the silver chain that it is on and use the chain for something else,'' she said. For Ahmad, it's a little different. Now that she has discontinued her literary candles, she still has unused candle tins and scents. To not lose money on her investment, she needs to be a little creative. ''I'm trying to think of new ways to incorporate those into new products,'' she said. Ahmad is looking into adding a line of bath salts and is contemplating using the tins that were originally used for the literary candles.
Another way to unload back stock is via trade at craft fairs, and a good network of craft-related businesses makes this a ripe possibility. ''I rarely ever actually buy Christmas presents anymore,'' Wilfong said. This is because she'll trade some of her work for pieces made by other artisans. While she'll trade anything from new to back stock, items that haven't been selling often get swept up in the heady experience of trading with other vendors during a craft fair.
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