Monday, April 20, 2009

Trinkets - Doodads - Charms - Miniatures - Novelties

When I first started making I Spy Bags, I (of course) researched all my competitors heavily and really strove to make mine different. One of the things that made mine unique from the start was that I really paid attention to what I put inside the bags. Most makers put ordinary household items in their bags: pennies, rubber bands, paper clips, pieces of ribbon, foamies, confetti, etc. Besides being boring, some of these items are risky (pennies are toxic if swallowed, and a paper clip can easily be bent to poke right through the plastic window). I'll admit that my first $50 spent on trinkets included mostly beads, buttons, and baby shower and wedding favors that I purchased in the craft store. I had no idea that it was so incredibly hard to find those little doodads. Everything I found was either too sharp, too big, or not durable.

A few weeks into selling I realized that I had a product that people wanted, and to make money, I had to bite the bullet and start buying in bulk - admit to myself that I actually might go through 144 of an item. It just wasn't feasible to be paying a quarter for a single charm. I found some lovely vintage charms on Ebay, some fun beads and things on Etsy, and checked some local holes-in-the-wall for goodies.

Eventually, these just weren't cheap enough for me and I started looking to the big cats. Most really big manufacturing companies wanted nothing to do with little old me. Buying 3000 butterflies wasn't enough of a quantity for them to take me on as a client. With diligent research (hours and hours and hours and hours), lots of emails, and a few phone calls, I secured a handful of wholesale accounts and placed my first minimum orders. That was about a year ago.

Today my stock of vintage charms is nearly depleted and I am sad. All of those original items bought at the craft stores are long gone, and I am getting bored with my 3000 butterflies and plastic babies by the case.

I'm still confident that you will not find better items inside another I Spy Bag - mine are truly the most unique. To try and get that point across, I decided to put a picture of the possible contents on each of my listings. That picture was taken about a year ago, and I realized today that I should really take a new one. For one thing, there is a plastic gun in the photo that was part of a dozen or so random charms I got in an order, and I've never even put a gun in a single I Spy Bag except by special request. I can't tell you how many emails I get requesting that I specifically NOT put a gun in their child's bag. I get it.

Last night I found myself browsing the old haunts looking for new arrivals and milling over whether or not to reorder a few of my favorites. Realistically, I do not need any items right now. But I love having the variety, and while I used to have over 300 different items, technically I've sold many of those varieties and now I'm down to about 200 or so. Yes, I know I only need about 50, but what fun is that? I guess I need to be certain that I will be making I Spy Bags before I go and order a million more trinkets!

Here are a few on my wish list:


  1. I just love your I Spy Bags, I was really bowled over by them when I came across them. I really want to buy one but this year I'm handmaking all gifts (not very consistently mind you...!) Next year maybe! Can't help much with suppliers, but aren't those guitars gorgeous, and the teapots!?!
    x x x

  2. i want a lot of thats bags please contact me!!!


  3. I was just in your Etsy shop looking at these trinkets as I want to make bags for the grand kids so it was nice to come across you blog and here the story behind them! I am very glad you did the leg work because I really don't want a "million" of the charms but I am sure grateful to be able to order a variety pack from you! Thanks!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!