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!