When you’re thinking of starting an Etsy business, the question of where to get supplies is definitely going to come up. Etsy sellers get their supplies from a multitude of different places, and it’s unlikely that most of them will tell you where they get them from.
Etsy sellers who are full-time in business generally buy their supplies from wholesalers or directly from the manufacturer. Most have sources that they’ve found over time and through a lot of trial and error, and those sources are going to vary from country to country. They may also purchase some supplies from retailers, but that can cut into their profit margins.
Most sellers keep their supply sources private because they’ve put time and effort into finding sources that they trust, and they treat that information as a trade secret.
Table of Contents
- Can I ask Etsy sellers where they get their products from?
- How do I find my own wholesalers and suppliers?
- How to ask about someone’s sources.
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Can I ask Etsy sellers where they get their products from?
You can ask Etsy sellers anything about their products and supplies that you want to, but you shouldn’t expect an answer. It’s generally not a welcome question, and most sellers are pretty irritated when people send them questions about their business processes.
This isn’t the same for everyone, though, and some people aren’t worried about sharing the information.
When I asked the members of my public Facebook group for Etsy sellers if they would share their sources, it was about a 50/50 split with whether they would or not.
For the people who will share the info, it’s usually because they know that even if someone buys the same supplies, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to be able to make the same products from them.
In my case, I’ll tell you where I get the silicone that I make my molds from, because that’s not a big deal. (It’s Alumilite, you can look at their website here.)
HOWEVER…If someone asks HOW I make some of my molds that took me a long time to figure out, that would be a “no comment.”
This is also a common theme with a lot of sellers when I asked people. Some said that they wouldn’t mind sharing the information, but others said that there were some things they would share and some things they wouldn’t.
Most sellers have limits!
How do I find my own wholesalers and suppliers?
It’s pretty simple to find wholesalers by using Google to find different options then investigating whether they’ll sell to you or not. You can also do something as simple as looking on the packaging of the supplies that you use already to see if they have a phone number, then calling them to ask if they do wholesale.
Most companies do some type of wholesale or discounts for buying in bulk. If you ask the company directly, they might have systems in place that they don’t advertise.
Remember, though, that when you’re buying directly from a supplier, they might require you to have a sales tax ID number from your state or country to prove that you’re actually going to be reselling what they sell to you.
If you don’t have a legally-registered business, a lot of wholesalers might not sell to you at all, and you’ll need to get legal before they will.
What companies ask you to provide is going to vary from company to company, so even if one will sell with a tax ID, another might also require more information.
I’ve used multiple wholesalers throughout my time in business, and I’ve had to provide a lot of random information to different ones, just depending on what they ask for.
Some of them won’t ask you for any information at all, so it’s not a consistent thing.
How to ask about someone’s sources.
If you’re determined to ask, or if the person does videos where a lot of supplies are used and directly named, just be polite about it, and don’t get mad if the answer is “I don’t reveal my sources.”
I do videos about edible ink printing on my store’s Youtube channel and I’ll talk about the printers that I use, because I know that most people won’t be able to work with an edible ink printer before it stops working for them. (It’s a Canon ix6820)
They’re really hard to deal with, and I’ve learned a lot of tricks to manage them throughout the years.
So if someone asks what kind of printer I use, I’ll tell them. But I know that the brand won’t help them in the long run because having the equipment is only the first step!
Every Etsy seller has been asked about this at some point, and some of the questions that we get are pretty brazen.
I once had someone ask me to tell them how I made something with a message that went something along the lines of “Tell me how you made this step by step, I want details, please and thank you.”
Well let me just drop everything and write out a full tutorial for you…That “please and thank you” at the end really got me.
I’ve also had people try to be sneaky and ask me all kinds of nosy questions that weren’t directly about my business, but it was clear that’s what they were getting at.
No, that’s not going to work. Being demanding and entitled isn’t going to make anyone want to give up the info even if they would normally tell you their sources.
If you do want to find out where someone gets their materials, you should just be prepared to ask nicely and not be disappointed when they say no.
Remember that Google is your friend, you can do your own research, and you should probably start with the products that you already use.
Don’t expect someone else to do the work for you, and if you want to start a real business you need to understand that work does have to go into it. Which does include finding suppliers.
If you want to read an article about where members of the Artisan Shopping Directory find their shipping supplies, that’s a different question, and you can read that article here: Shipping Supplies For Etsy- A List From Sellers.
This article looks at the confusing revenue reporting on Etsy in the stats section and other sections where you can find financial info.
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