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Forum topic by DTrak posted 02-09-2018 04:00 PM 1430 views 1 time favorited 51 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DTrak

58 posts in 1183 days


02-09-2018 04:00 PM

This question is a little different than the focus of this forum, but this was the closest I could find. I would like to start a business selling my lighting designs. At the start there will be 6-8 models of table lamps but I plan to expand. I have lots of sketches and early prototypes, but this and this are examples that will help you get a sense of my style. I am still an amateur woodworker but my skill level is high enough to create lamps like these.

BUT, after a lot of consideration, I realized that to get the sort of income I need out of this business, I would have to work assembly line style and just churn these out. I really want to focus more on the design. I am a designer by profession and training and see my lamps as unique evolutions of the arts and crafts/mission aesthetic. So I started looking for a manufacturer to build them but am coming up empty handed. Woodworking manufacturers don’t do lamps (mainly cabinets, stairs, furniture, etc.). Lamp manufacturers don’t deal with wood unless it’s cheap. I suppose I could just find an individual with the skills to make them for me, but that puts a lot of faith in one person who could quit at any time and if they used small scale tools it would get expensive.

So I feel stuck. Does anyone have any ideas? thanks
Dan


51 replies so far

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Kilo19

92 posts in 311 days


#1 posted 02-09-2018 04:05 PM

If I had a better shop set up and more confidence in myself, I’d love to help you out with something like this. I’ve always wanted to have working relationship like this. But maybe sometime in the future.

-- Justin

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DTrak

58 posts in 1183 days


#2 posted 02-09-2018 04:18 PM

Thanks Justin, it’s just nice to hear that this would even interest someone. Maybe someday this will be a real company with remote team members and I will look you up again. :)

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Kilo19

92 posts in 311 days


#3 posted 02-09-2018 04:27 PM



Thanks Justin, it s just nice to hear that this would even interest someone. Maybe someday this will be a real company with remote team members and I will look you up again. :)

- DTrak

Dont’ put all your eggs in one basket. Great idea. You come up with test, designs from multiple people (like interviewing for a job) choose a select few that meet your criteria and then you can have your production amount, but with a somewhat “custom” touch. Look forward to that time, (if the stars aline) and will be around here, drop a line anytime.

May fortune be in your favor during this time.

-- Justin

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Loren

10477 posts in 3733 days


#4 posted 02-09-2018 04:32 PM

I wouldn’t mind manufacturing such things
(I like the weight) but if you’re looking at selling
direct via sites like Amazon and Etsy, you’re
probably looking at very competitive pricing
environments… and if you’re getting beat-up
on price by your competitors you may have a
hard time affording artisanal production.

One of the tricks, among many, is to make a
fine product and get it out in front of people
who have lots and lots of money to buy fine
things. That means doing juried shows, courting
interior designers, running ads in chic print
journals.

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PCDub

65 posts in 330 days


#5 posted 02-09-2018 04:42 PM

By the way, beautiful lamps!

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DTrak

58 posts in 1183 days


#6 posted 02-09-2018 04:55 PM

Hi Loren, Hearing you say that makes me think maybe I should be looking for folks like yourself. You would also have to know how to wire it and add the glass (I would supply). Both of those things are pretty easy though.

I do have a plan for selling. I know something about search engine optimization, social media advertising, google adwords, etc. I plan to develop an ecommerce site and sell them directly and maybe through something like Houzz. I also plan to contact bloggers, journals, etc as you suggest. Agreed, these lamps will definitely be expensive (and therefore too high end for Etsy or Amazon) so I need to get my ads in front of rich people. I don’t want to do the craft show circuit because I have a family and don’t want to give up my weekends.

I plan to have a small inventory at launch, so maybe 8 models with 10 each, so that’s an initial purchase of 80lamps. I understand that’s a lot for one person to produce, so I would need to find others like yourself. When I have my prototypes ready I can start looking for other craftsmen. This is all still several months away, I just wanted to know if this is viable and I am already feeling more encouraged.

Speaking very roughly from the models you just saw, if I purchased 10 at the outset, what do you think you would charge? The wood would prob be oak and cherry. I am just trying to get a sense.

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Lazyman

2288 posts in 1473 days


#7 posted 02-09-2018 04:56 PM

I think that you need to start small by finding a couple of talented woodworkers who will make them cheaply enough that you can still make some money on them and offer them as a premium, hand made item—i.e., Art. Produce a few for inventory, create a website for people to order, and find some galleries or shops that are willing to sell them. If you have to dumb them down to make them mass-producible in an assembly line, they have to wind up cheap enough so you’ll only make a few bucks on each one. In other words, make them a rare premium collectable, like Sam Maloof or Seth Rolland, rather than a commodity item.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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CaptainSkully

1601 posts in 3644 days


#8 posted 02-09-2018 05:02 PM

Hey Dan,

I really like your lamp designs and that first one really speaks to my aesthetic. I think you have something there.

I just finished building my woodworking shop and am looking for commissions. I currently have some people interested in having me build wooden boats and teardrop campers, but I’m very interested in picking up some production work like this. I’m a semi-professional woodworker that has sold several pieces over the years (mostly to finance power tool purchases). For example, I’m helping some friends that have a boutique-style business by building some of their more popular designs. They design and sell and I support them with production after they build the prototype/display model.

Your post made me think of the business model that’s being used on another forum I’m active on that has to do with CNC routing. There’s a parent company that recruits individuals that own their own CNC routers. The parent company receives orders to make either one-offs or small batches. They then ask the individuals to bid on the job, award the contract and everybody is happy. I must mention that prior to getting a contract, the individuals are vetted for quality and delivering on time. The individuals were all initially contacted via a general post on the forum looking for people interested in this kind of paying work. Several people used this to pay off their CNC machines. I don’t know if this business model interests you, but I thought I’d share it just in case.

Feel free to PM me if you want to discuss this further.

Chris

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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DTrak

58 posts in 1183 days


#9 posted 02-09-2018 05:06 PM

The only issue I see with galleries or shops is they would need to tack an additional 50% on to the price and they prob wouldnt want me also selling them independently on my website for 50% cheaper. Or I could sell it to them for 50% less than on my website, thereby keeping the price the same on my website and their store/galley, but then I would barely make a profit. Am I right?

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Loren

10477 posts in 3733 days


#10 posted 02-09-2018 05:11 PM

Right. You can’t undercut your own retailers
and expect them to have any enthusiasm for
selling your stuff.

80 lamps with a spread of complexity between
the two examples… perhaps the price could
be got down to around $200 average per unit
to cut, sand and assemble on the whole run.
Finishing I would farm out at additional cost.
Then there’s boxing them properly and all that.
It adds up.

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CaptainSkully

1601 posts in 3644 days


#11 posted 02-09-2018 05:13 PM

The days of brick and mortar stores are numbered. I’d focus on selling via social media that gets propagated via sharing. You could get millions of views if it goes viral. There are several ways to determine pricing, cost of materials and labor multiplied by the markup necessary to make a profit, or starting with a price that sets the perceived value/market you’re looking for and seeing if you can produce the product for that while still making the necessary profit.

This may help you figure out pricing:

https://youtu.be/Uu_qFDanGPY

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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CaptainSkully

1601 posts in 3644 days


#12 posted 02-09-2018 05:15 PM

Making them would necessitate accurate templates and finishing would definitely need to be done via HVLP and a spray booth.

Once you’ve achieved both of those, small batches of 10 would be pretty easy to crank out.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

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Kilo19

92 posts in 311 days


#13 posted 02-09-2018 05:17 PM

You mentioned early several months out. I’m in the design/planning stage of adding on/building my workshop. So if that timeline works, I’d put my name in the hat.

-- Justin

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CharlesNeil

2426 posts in 3956 days


#14 posted 02-09-2018 05:18 PM

Pm me
might be able to help

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JADobson

1133 posts in 2197 days


#15 posted 02-09-2018 05:19 PM

DTrak – The lamps look great. I’ve built a few lamps myself but am very hesitant to sell them as I’m worried about liability. Have you done anything in that regard? Sorry – a bit off topic.

-- No craft is very far from the line beyond which is magic. -- Lord Dunsany — Instagram @grailwoodworks

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