How to... Source Handmade Products

8 tips and tricks for importers

Sep 29, 2011 by Irene Vermeulen

As an importer, you always keep an eye out for new and exciting products and promising suppliers. Finding time between trips and shipments is probably the difficult part. To get you started, craftscurator is sharing 8 tips and tricks for successful product sourcing. And no, Ali Baba is not on the list.

  • 'Can I ask you a question?' The answer is always yes! Talk to colleagues, competitors, suppliers and share information. Perhaps they just might know how to ship a 40 footer from Arequipa.
  • Basement finds. When visiting a showroom, warehouse or workshop of a supplier, be bold and daring and open doors, drawers and boxes. Ask about old stock, old samples, old best sellers.
  • Take the road less traveled. Visit other halls and aisles on trade fairs. Find unexpected products in an odd Pakistani booth at Ambiente for example.
  • When in Rome... go to the market! Take time during every trip abroad to visit the local market. When there are fruit and veggies, there will also be crafts.
  • Leave your booth under any circumstance. When showing on a trade fair, take some time off to explore the products of your colleagues. Techniques used to make artificial flowers might be just what you need to create new basketry.
  • Tourist traps. When abroad, go to where the tour busses stop. Seriously. Nothing will give you more information on best sellers and favorite gifts than tourist trash. Step 2 is not to buy the souvenirs, but to use the craft skills to create new products.
  • Fast track to suppliers are shop keepers. Ask about products, where was it bought. Ask to visit the warehouse, a workshop or factory.
  • Click to connect. Or simply go to craftsconnector.com to find a handpicked selection of suppliers of global crafts and handmade design products, and get in touch with the supplier directly.

Want to learn more about sourcing handmade products and working with crafts exporters? Contact Irene

Ceramics workshop
Fez, Morocco, 2009
Mudcloth drying in the sun
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 2006
Exporter warehouse
Ubud, Indonesia, 2011
Tibetans textile workshop
Delhi, India, 2006
Pottery display on trade fair
Bangkok, Thailand, 2009
Touraeg salesmen at trade fair
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 2006
Leather bags on the market
Seminyak, Indonesia, 2011
Ceramics workshop
Fez, Morocco, 2009
Metalware at the market
Seminyak, Indonesia, 2011