Sunday, November 04, 2007

Selling Your Raw Wool- How to Get Started

I have been selling my raw fleeces successfully for many years now and wanted to share the basics of how I got started. Initially I knew nothing about wool, spinning and knitting. We got the sheep primarily to keep the border collie busy and to "mow" the surrounding overgrown fields on our property. The fiber aspect gradually evolved.

A local gal took an interest in my fleeces when she found out that I raised sheep. She was a spinner and made an offer to me and bought a few whole fleeces from me. Every year the shearer has to come and shear the sheep so why not sell the fleeces? I realized that if I was to be successful in marketing my fleeces that I had to learn everything there was to know about my fleece. So I bought a used wheel and learned to spin. Then I learned how to turn that wool into yarn (see above photos). Once I delved into the details of what makes up a fleece's characteristics, I was better armed to sell to spinners. I experimented with various techniques to clean and prepare the fiber, from hand carding to sending it off to have it processed to combing and blending the fiber myself. I also experimented with dyes and dyeing to see how my wool handled all these processes. I think the key to getting started for me was showing my wool at the local and state fair. If you are new on the scene, no one has any past history to go by and may be hesitant to dish out money on an unknown product. Having ribbons and championships under my belt allowed new customers to see that they were getting a quality product.

My main avenue for selling my wool is the internet. I use my farm site which was around long before the blog boom and various internet groups. The farm site serves as the photo page and I also list the testimonials here that I have received from satisfied customers. I generally follow up with each customer and ask a few of them each year if I can print their comments. Many accolades are offered unsolicited. The blog here serves as an enhancement to the farm site because here people can see the animals and the various fiber projects that come as a result of those animals. I also post photos that people send me of my fiber in their projects when I can.

Over the years I started to cover my fleeces as I found that I enjoyed working with them when they were clean of vegetable matter (VM). I also found that as a result of the extra expense and labor involved, they command a higher price.

I do take reservations from previous customers as most of my fleeces are sold before they are sheared. I have quite a few repeat customers which is telling me that they are satisfied with my product.

I added mohair to the mix several years later because I liked the idea of having goats and diversifying my product line seemed like a good idea. I then added an angora rabbit but so far I have been too stingy to sell that fiber and have been keeping it all to myself!

Go to Yahoo Groups and type spinning into the search box. Subscribe to those groups that have a decent size membership and learn as much as you can. Then when you are ready, post your ads. Some of the groups take no ads and some only take a certain number per week. Some are exclusivly for raw fiber. Occasionally I will post on Ebay as well. The groups I sell through are Fiberbuyandtrade, fibersource, and fleeceforsale.

Some Related Posts:

Combed Blend

Rainbow Dyed Knits
Socks From My Fibers
Grey Fleece

Related Books:
Barnyard in Your Backyard

I welcome any questions here in the comments.

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