01 March 2012

Dying Clothespins

Sales in my Etsy shops have been quite steady of late, and it (sometimes!) makes me think that I really can make a "go" of this. I LOVE my work, but obviously need to continue to make sales that generate revenue to keep going.

One of the items in my "thewellseasonednest" Etsy shop is spring-type wooden clothespins that I hand-dye in various colors.  They've been pretty popular - the clothespins take my dyes well and are fun for hanging kid's artwork, photos, memos, and more.  With a magnet glued to the back, they look cute and function nicely on bulletin boards.  My preference to dye, rather than paint, the pins is the look - I like that the grain of the wood still shows through, and the metal stays bright and shiny, not chipped as often happens with paint.

Several weeks ago I was contacted through Etsy by a company who wanted a quantity of clothespins dyed in a specific color.  So, not one to miss an opportunity!, I did some calculations and placed a bid to dye 11000 clothespins, never really thinking that I might get the job.  But, in the "be careful what you wish for" department, I did!

Luckily, they are to be all one color - the company's signature color, that I label as "lemonade".  After some back and forth with the company to agree on terms, I ordered dye supplies from one company and 11000 clothespins from another.  (wonder what they must have thought when they saw that order form ...)

The other caveat is the time element...I have less than one month to complete my task, as we have a mini vacation that had already been planned towards the end of March AND the company needs them for a Spring promotion.  

So I thought I'd give you a little glimpse of the job facing me, just in case I fall off the face of the earth for a bit!

Today, I returned home from a dental appointment to:

11000 clothespins in six boxes sitting at my garage door!  I had NO idea what size the shipment might be;  to date, my largest order has been two dozen clothespins for a customer, and that was just a few packages I bought at Target.

After a lot of brainstorming with friends and family about the best way to accomplish the task, I had weighed my options, and decided to do them at home rather than finding a commercial kitchen, and to work in batches of 500 at a time.  Luckily, we have a big kitchen with lots of counter space!  So I  set up a work station:

Two large enamelware pans with boiling water for the dye:

The subject:  30 to a package, and I ordered 375 packages
the largest bowl I could find - a little pre-soak
So, here I am at the end of Day #1, having dyed over 500 clothespins - with tired feet and yellowed hands!  The counting and sorting alone was an awesome task (forgot to mention it was requested that I prepare 22 portions of 500 clothespins apiece.)

...but yes!  I think I can, I think I can, I think I can ... pull this off.....


  1. Wow! Sounds like the makings of a "small business goes big" kind of story. I can't even imagine that many clothespins.

  2. WOW!! I know you can do it! What an awesome opportunity! Just put on some good music and dye your heart out! Can't wait to see them when they are finished.

  3. Yes, I must admit I was very excited to win the bid. Probably a one-time opportunity, but who knows? I think I should use it for promo/marketing in some way but don't quite know how to approach that...giving it some thought. Any ideas?

    But, Angela, you're so right about the music. It's actually a good opportunity to hang out at home in my sweats and dance in my kitchen!

  4. Talk about doing the happy dance!! Goodness..who would have thought that something so simple could turn into something so big?? I'm happy for you and hope that this is the launch of a really wonderful venture for you :)


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