When you are first starting your stationery business, finding the right suppliers or manufacturers can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I remember when I first started (almost 8 years ago!) I had no idea whatsoever where to find envelopes, cello bags, paper — any of it! I was fortunate in that I worked at a paper boutique, and the people I worked with pointed out a couple of great suppliers that I use to this day. But I still had to figure out a lot of it on my own.
And we still do! If we’re adding new types of products, or become unhappy with a material or manufacturer we’ve been using, we have to start searching again. But where there’s a will, there’s a way!
HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR FINDING PAPER GOODS SUPPLIERS & MANUFACTURERS:
- Ask your friends & family. If you know someone who might know of a good source, go ahead and politely ask them! But remember what I talked about in the etiquette section: don’t be offended if they aren’t able to share, don’t ask someone you haven’t already established a relationship with, and be prepared to return the favor.
- Ask your social media followers. Throw it out there on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram that you’re looking for a certain kind of envelope, for example. Nothing may turn up, but sometimes you’d be surprised at what people will share! The benefits of asking on social media are that no one feels pressured to answer you if they don’t want to and you get your question out there in front of quite a few people.
- Ask other suppliers & manufacturers. If you have some existing suppliers and/or manufacturers, but are looking for more in other areas, try asking the existing ones for recommendations. For example, if you’ve been using a local offset printer to do your printing, and now you want to do foil stamping but they don’t offer it, ask them if they can recommend someone.
- Google. Most makers I know spend lots of time researching suppliers and manufacturers by doing countless Google searches. Don’t be afraid to do the same.
- Be On the Lookout. Sometimes if you stay alert, a source will just fall into your lap. Maybe you’re at the theatre and the program has a name of a printer listed on the back cover, for example.
- Attend the Supply Side at the National Stationery Show. During the National Stationery Show, there is a simultaneous show going on in the same building called The Supply Side. And you guessed it, it’s full of envelope converters, printers, portfolio makers, and other suppliers and manufacturers.
- Go Local When Possible. Of course, it’s great to support the local economy and keep shipping between you and them to a minimum for both eco and financial reasons. And for manufacturers, it’s so helpful to be able to drop by for press checks and such. It makes quality control so much easier.
With these tips, you should be able to get off to a great start with finding some really solid stationery suppliers & manufacturers. Learn more on my Stationery Business classes on atly.com. Best of luck! – Eva
Due to popular demand, we’re working on a brand new class called Shop Biz 100: Online, Pop-Ups + Bricks and Mortar. To stay in the loop, sign up for our Creative Business newsletter here.