I've been rolling around an idea now for about a year of an adventure I'd like to take. It will involve selling handmade items. It will involve fabric. It will involve felt.
I've been researching like mad. Reading books. Blogs. Talking with entrepreneurs. Designers. Asking questions. Formulating a plan.
And now I'm at the manufacturing stage. Let's face it: I already know just about all there is to know about fabric. My stash is big enough to open my own fabric shop, I reckon!! But felt? Felt I know nothing about.
I asked a friend who works with felt on the daily about where she buys quite a long time ago, and drudged up that old email from back when my idea was more of a tiny inkling than a full fledged wish. It got me started on a path down the Etsy, Ebay, local shop lane, seeking out shops with wool felts. The kind I'm looking for.
The first place I came across offered a free color card and a couple samples for me to play with. They want my business. They want me to know what they have is the best. I agreed excitedly! But I fear my excitement was short lived.
As I searched, I found Etsy sellers are asking for big bucks for their color cards, some as much as $30, I saw! Really felt shops?? $30??
I can't afford to pay that kind of money (plus shipping) for pieces of paper with felt glued to them. As much as I want to, I just don't have that kind of cash. And without offering a sample to touch, pull, sew, destroy, I'll never know if their product is right for what I have planned.
I could just ask if they would send me a color card and a couple swatches (even of last year's colors!) but would that be rude of me? They do have to make a living, after all. But by not having those samples, I can't even add them to my "potential supplier" list. Without seeing the colors, I won't know if theirs is the right fit for my new adventure. Without knowing how it washes, shrinks, bleeds, I won't be able to confidently use their product to create something special for all of you.
So now I'm stuck. Do I risk offending potential suppliers by asking for free goods up front? Or do I cross them off my list completely, potentially crossing off a product that will be a good fit for my venture?
What would you do?