Meeting the Makers: Sarah of Sarah's Silks

sarah's silks, meeting the makers

Editor’s note: Last year Sarah of Sarah’s Silks entered our New Biz New Year giveaway to help grow the business that has been supporting her family for almost 2o years! I invited Sarah to come share what has been happening for her business since January and get your thoughts on how she can continue to grow Sarah’s Silks (+ some giveaway fun for you!). 

Sarah’s Silks just finished its first year in retail! We have been around for a while but selling retail is a new experience for us. For the past 18 years our wholesale business has been growing and shrinking with the economy. We have been designing products, manufacturing them, and distributing to Waldorf schools and shops all over the world. This has been supporting our family for many years, unfortunately as the price of silk has been rising, our wholesale prices also have been going up.

sarah's silks, meeting the makers

We realized that the market could not absorb more price increases in these difficult economic times so we decided to add a retail arm of our business to help us stay afloat as our profit margin is higher with retail sales. It was tricky to start because we did not want to discourage customers from shopping at their local brick and mortar shops for Sarah’s Silks; or to anger and upset our wholesale customers.

We decided to be very honest and send out a letter explaining how we are keeping our wholesale prices down by supplementing with some retail sales. We also explained our belief that having our own web site and blog helps with branding for us and for other shops. One of the things that our web site has done is to have a Go Local page where we list retail shops who carry our things. We also enforce MAP pricing and follow it ourselves. We have not had any negative feedback from our customers!

sarah's silks, meeting the makers

We created our online web shop last July. With the help of my sister who is a graphic designer, Suzy Spence and a local Drupal web developer got our site going. I also began to blog at A Silk and Wood Childhood and share ideas for imaginative play and DIY crafts.  Tracey from  www.traceyselingo.com helped by getting me on track blogging! We found that giveaways on the blog and on Facebook are a nice way to interact with customers, get feedback, and grow our “tribe”.

Placing ads on Waldorf mom blogs such as Soulemama has been very helpful driving traffic to our website.  Google analytics helps us to weed out the ads that weren’t working so well from those that are. Writing the blog and getting customer’s feedback has been valuable in many ways. I get new product ideas, size/fit feedback, positive comments about play and more.

Thanks Jessika for this opportunity to share our business progress! I would like to offer Oh My! readers a coupon code Ohmy! good for 10% off of your next order with us.

sarah's silks, meeting the makers

WEBSITE // BLOG // FACEBOOK//  TWITTER // PINTEREST

Please leave a comment here on what you think would help Sarah’s Silks grow and how we can improve our brand, website, and blog in the comments. I will choose one comment for a $50 gift certificate to our shop on September 20th with the winner announced at the bottom of this post on the 21st. All feedback welcome!

This giveaway is now closed! Congratulations to April Heather Davulcu with comment #3!

13 comments

  1. Gina Lewis says:

    My child loves to get things in the mail. How about a monthly silk subscription? Maybe a barrette, a finger puppet, a silkworm cocoon… Sarah’s Silks could even send something from a sister company if they don’t have 12 little mail-ready items.

  2. I love the map of how play silks are made! Smart! A friend of my husband’s once brought us a beautiful piece of silk from India-pretty long-and I let my girls play with it. They strung it over the laundry line and made a tent, hung it in the tree and made swings for their dolls, and wrapped it around their bodies and crazy creative ways. I loved watching them play–and at 10 & 13 they still have it strung up in our backyard, using it for all sorts of games, making films, imagining and dreaming. My suggestion is based on all that–show more pics of all the creative uses for your beautiful product-the more ways you show the more people will understand its importance. Also – how about some customer testimonials, teacher testimonials-do you have those (did I miss them?) Even grown-ups who used to play with your silks when they were little would be fun! Maybe a spot where people can send in pics of their kids playing with the silks? On flickr or Facebook perhaps? Good luck with your beautiful growing biz!

  3. My granddaughters love your silks and use them in oh so many creative ways.

    I really love what I see and think it’s visually beautiful, interesting and informative.

    I don’t know what the demographics are of who buys your silks. However, I would strongly encourage you to add more diversity to the images of kids and if the information is out there, do other cultures do/have used something similar. I think this might bring in/make other markets available that you might not be reaching now.

  4. Jzin says:

    I have admired Sarah’s Silks for a long time, I think I saw it in Rosie Hippos or Chinaberry long ago. It is very interesting for a newbie like me to read your article and Sarah’s journey to where her business is today. I like the idea of community building. Perhaps a few choice handmade businesses promoting each other and sharing their target bases. A gift registry of handmade products (vs big corporate products) is an idea. In short, a positive community of sisterhood, goodwill, promoting a good cause (natural wholesome childhood products, for instance) these makes the business process all the more joyful.

  5. Hello! first of all I must say that megan and terry ideas seem great, thank you also for homeschoolers and a map of the silk will be very useful this school.
    I am very pleased to partner with a small idea, wholeheartedly wish that business grow
    I think that newsletters are a great idea, facebook also helps. But a key piece would make known on line Twitter
    For example I have a Hispanic hashtag # tribuclub where every Thursday we met with experts and talk about issues that concern us as mothers
    So some moms can be made aconocer multitasking, you could do the same and create a tribe on twitter to support each other and your holiday you would with twitteras promotion where you give something to the purchase of the product or give a discount or something raffles among all who purchase

  6. I kept thinking a little more and I have another idea:
    I imagine that most customers have in their mothers or teachers who are delighted with the product line and gladly recommend
    You can offer a special gift or a gift voucher sales according to recommendations, something like a demonstration
    I make a party of Sarah’s Silks at home and invite some friends, I show what I have at home of Sarah’s Silks
    They choose to purchase and pay for it or do I (I’m inviting people whom I trust)
    Of the total purchase Sarah’s Silks that gives me a percentage to choose product on the website, I can upload photos to facebook for my party or I comprobarque twitter hashtag with some special help you market yourself well. well as more people to watch the festivities and gifts that could get dare to recommend the same way.
    Your sister can help with the design of invitations and brochures

    Been thinking of adding mixed with wood products such as silk and also provide work for artisans in your country
    I sincerely hope this review will be useful

    Me quede pensando un poco mas y tengo otra idea:
    imagino que tienes en su mayoria clientes madres o maestras que estamos encantadas con la linea de productos y con mucho gusto la recomendamos
    Puedes ofrecer un regalo especial o un bono de regalo segun la venta de recomendaciones, algo asi como una demostracion
    Yo hago una fiesta de Sarah’s Silks en mi casa e invito algunas amigas, muestro lo que tengo en casa de Sarah’s Silks
    Ellas eligen su compra y pagan por ella o lo hago yo ( yo estoy invitando personas en las que yo confio)
    Del total de esa compra Sarah’s Silks me da un porcentaje para elegir producto en la pagina web , puedo subir fotografias a facebook para comprobarque hice mi fiesta o a twitter con algun hastag especial que te ayude a promocionarte tambien. pues asi mas personas al ver las fiestas y los regalos que podrian obtener se animan a recomendarte de la misma forma.
    Tu hermana puede ayudarte con el diseño de invitaciones y folletos

    Has pensando en agregar productos mezclados con madera por ejemplo y seda y asi dar trabajo a artesanos de tu pais
    Espero de todo corazon te sea útil este comentario

  7. Sarah Lee says:

    Gracias Desiree! Yo pienso que es un muy buen idea de tener “fiestas de seda”. La mama puede invitar a sus amigas, ensanarlas como usar las sedas, toma ordenes y ganar un porcentaje de la venta! Si usted quiere probar me avisa! espero que entiende mi español!! Sarah

  8. Sarah Lee says:

    we do have a playsilk of the month subscription program. each moth we send out a new, custom hand dyed color. We offer it only once in the fall/holiday season. Sign up and people get the first playsilk in time for holiday, along with a card saying none a month will be coming. My kids always like getting mail too!

  9. Es perfecto gracias por responder en mi idioma es mas facil para mi comprenderlo al 100% porque mi ingles esta algo oxidado.
    Aunque tengo que practicar pues las niñas estudian casi todas las materias en ingles 😀
    Me encanta la idea, de hecho ya envié un mail el día que hice mi primer compra
    Puedes estar segura que tendrás noticias nuestras.

  10. It is still the simple toys that allow our imagination to wonder that are the most remembered by children and by parents. I imagine the
    children love the feel of the silk running through their fingers.

    I also love that you were really honest with the accounts that support your family.

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