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10 Big Questions to Ask When Buying Craft Supplies

My best friend and I decided many years ago that crafting and buying craft supplies are really two different hobbies! If we're smart, we won't overshadow the first with the second. Believe it or not, there is such a thing as having TOO much!

So, as we're approaching the launch of the new Stampin' Up! July-December mini catalog and the second Sale-a-bration period of the year, I want to share my decision-making process for buying craft supplies. As a demonstrator, I have a robust order every quarter, and I need to make the right decisions - and not break the bank!

Following is a set of questions I ask myself before I order new products, with the first three or four in specific order:

  1. What is my budget? Can I afford it? It's so easy to get caught up in eye candy and overspend. I'm guilty! But it's important that your crafting hobby doesn't outpace your wallet or your expenses of daily living.

  2. What staples (i.e. must-haves; consumables) do I need before I buy new stamp bundles, suites, etc.? I will always need consumables that form the foundation for my cards. For example, I need solid-color cardstock, inks, adhesive (glue or tape), and envelopes. Without these, I won't get very far.

  3. Do I like it? Does it inspire me? Above all else, I should have an emotional connection with the product. If it leaps off the page and inspires me, then there's a really good chance that I can be successful with it. My enthusiasm will show in the cards and other projects I make, and that enthusiasm hopefully will rub off on others.

  4. Who is my audience, and will it inspire them, too? Unless you keep everything you make, defining your audience is an important task. If you send cards only to friends and family, that's probably easy! If you are a demonstrator, your audience could be anyone. If you sell your cards, you may be able to gather information about who they are by surveying or looking at some analytics. Whoever they are, you want to make cards or other projects that they will like as much as you do.

  5. Does it have coordinating pieces/sets? Do I need those, too, or can it stand alone? Sometimes we love the stamps, but not the dies or punch. Sometimes the reverse is true. Will you buy all, some, or none? That's your choice.

  6. Do I like all of it, or just one or two pieces? Is it versatile? Sometimes a set may have one specific piece that we love, but the rest is a little lackluster. Is that one piece good enough to justify buying the whole set, or will the rest sit unused on the shelf? TIP: When it comes to versatility, don't forget to look at both stamps and dies if they are bundled. Often, there are stamps with no dies - but sometimes, there are dies with no stamps. That often means you can extend the use of the bundle, and it may even become less seasonable because of versatile dies! Here's an example. Look at the extra florals you get with these dies. (This is the Honeybee Home Bundle, item 157952, page 74 of the 2022-2023 annual catalog.) Image (c) Stampin' Up!

7. What is the lifespan of the product? For a Stampin' Up! demonstrator, this may be the length of a catalog sales period. For others, product lifespan may mean how long the product will last, or whether it's season- or holiday-specific, linked to a fad, etc. What happens to it after that? Will the materials degrade, fade, or become unusable?

8. Is it useful for the types of projects I make? If I seldom make baby or kids' cards, why do I need that adorable baby set? If the image is too big to fit on A2 cards (my primary project), do I have a project in mind that matches the item?

9. Is it easy to use, or will it be time- and labor-intensive? If time is the most important thing to you, then don't buy sets that require you to assemble small pieces to make a complete image; for example, flower dies that are separated by petals. You cut each flower petal and then assemble it to make a 3D flower. It may be pretty, but is it worthy your time investment?

10. How much space will it take in my studio? How will I store it? Does it have its own packaging (stamp case, clam shell, box) or must I re-organize it into something else? Storage is always a concern. You already know your limits - and your budget may dictate how many cabinets, shelves, or other storage containers you can get. I know from experience: if you let your craft supplies overrun your space, the creative juices can slow to a crawl or even stop. It's just too overwhelming and really counterproductive!

This list of questions could go on and on, BUT it's up to each crafter to have a decision-making process for buying their supplies. And just like most other things, there are always exceptions. For example, if you see an item, especially a consumable, that you regularly use, and it's on sale, buy it at the bargain price if you will use it and have a place to store it. It's a great money saver!

I hope you find these buying tips helpful. What other criteria do you use to buy your craft products? Please feel free to share them in the comments section.

Meanwhile, keep calm and craft on. May God bless!

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