If you're anything like me, you HUNT for the best deals on everything in your life, and your small biz is no different. I have scoured the web and tried a ton of different resources across my years running TPF to finally arrive at this list of my faves that are the best bang for your buck (and don't have absolute scum CEOs).
Shopping for Your Small Business: Start Here
Why I Love Them: incredible quality (waterproof, weatherproof, 2-4 year minimum outdoor life), best per-unit cost, huge range of materials (order their sample pack so you can see all of the different options like mirror, glitter, glow in the dark, and more), great customer service (they are very quick to reissue any stickers that arrive with any printing issues), and always FREE SHIPPING!
People also recommend:
✿ Rainbow Symphony (for suncatcher stickers)
✿ Sticker Ninja
✿ Sticker Blitz
✿ Sticky Brand
✿ Vograce (for stickers, keychains, washi tape, and more)
✿ Zap Creatives (similar to Vograce. Their acrylic charms use recycled materials which is awesome. Look out for their deals!)
✿ Wizard Pins (for more than just pins!)
Busy Beaver Buttons
Best For: round buttons, magnets, bottle openers, and more
Why I Love Them: woman-owned, competitive prices, eco-friendly practices (products are created in a solar-powered, geothermal facility using US-made recycled steel parts, a combination of recycled and sustainably reforested papers, and non-toxic toner), fabulous customer service, allows you to add your name to the edge of the buttons, and FREE SHIPPING!
Best For: enamel pins, patches, enamel keychains
Why I Love Them: they are a great place to start your enamel pin journey. They have artists on staff that will convert your design to a mock-up and work with you to make any color or detail tweaks you want. The team is super nice and makes the whole process a lot less intimidating.
Downsides: You will be paying a bit more per-unit than if you were working directly with a manufacturer, but when you are starting out, having them as your liaison really eases the process
✿ The Pin Department: this team is AMAZING. They help you with everything from orchestrating manufacturing, to packaging and even product photography. And it's not just for pins! Lovely people like Inner Peach and Salad Days have worked with them to create enamel earrings, reusable tote bags, and more!
✿ Your Stuff Made: I found them through Chanamon's resource list and while I have not used them yet, they seem to be able to make literally ANYTHING from clothing to washi tape and jewelry. They also emphasize ethical manufacturing practices which is always a plus!.
CLOTHING & ACCESSORIES MANUFACTURERS
This is who manufactures my beanies and did a fantastic job! You will have to navigate alibaba but it's worth it!
This is who manufactures my acrylic earrings now. They even assemble them for me and have created custom gold findings to fit my needs. Again, on alibaba but fantastic to work with.
Best For: art prints, business cards for pin backings, "thanks for your order" cards, banners, return address labels, custom stamps, and more
Why I Love Them: Reliable quality, lots of options, super affordable basics that you can utilize for a huge range of uses, lots of sales/discounts (use Honey!), very easy to get a refund if there is any issue with your order at all
Print Papa: another great resource for all of your marketing needs. I got my mini table runner from them and it's fantastic for smaller events. Sign up for emails so you get notified when they have a sale and can pounce!
PACKAGING AND SHIPPING MATERIALS
**Avoid ULINE at all costs!! They may have the best prices and largest offering of products, but their politics are HORRENDOUS! Check out this instagram post to learn more about their hateful beliefs and the insane amount of money their founders have contributed to dangerous hard-right conservative causes and politicians - something they openly advertise in their catalogs and newsletters. Honestly even amazon would be a better option!
GET FREE SHIPPING LABELS!!! vvv
@thepeachfuzz.co NEVER BUY SHIPPING LABELS EVER AGAIN! I was so skeptical but holy shit! HOLY SHIT!!!! It was so easy! And QUICK! #smallbusinesstips #smallbiztips #communityovercompetition #smallbusinesssupplies #rolloprinter ♬ Reading Rainbow Theme Song - Reading Rainbow
Best For: mailer boxes, recycled mailers, jewelry/gift boxes, chipboard, padding/filler, tissue paper, gift bags, etc
Why I Love Them: even when including the sometimes pricey shipping costs, they continue to have the best per-unit costs I have found. Quality is always impeccable and shipping is pretty quick!
Special Deals: PMSAVE5 gets you 5% off $200. They will occasionally offer free shipping so when they do, STOCK UP!
Best For: eco friendly packaging
Why I Love Them: they make RECYCLED, COMPOSTABLE bubble mailers. I had never even heard of such a thing but how cool is that!!!!!
Magic Water Supply
Best For: chipboard for packaging prints
Why I Love Them: they always have what I need in stock, and the shipping is VERY fast and FREE!
Best For: compostable clear sleeves, nice packaging
Why I Love Them: fast, affordable, huge selection
Best For: zero-waist compostable mailers (in PINK)
Why I Love Them: insanely fast!!! and much cheaper than Noissue!
I haven't tried them yet but they were recommended below and look fantastic!
|Self-adhesive paper tape (eco friendly)|
|Decorative Stickers for packaging|
|Flat merchandise sleeves (I use for bagging up stickers, also have much more)|
Booth Display Items
Marketing Holders: where I got the business card holders for my pegboard that I use to display my stickers. Loads of other options.
Custom Banner: I was BLOWN AWAY by this. A 6x2 banner for $32 that arrived to me literally a day after I ordered it. INCREDIBLE.
Is it okay to ask another maker who they use to manufacture something?
It depends. My general rule is that I do not ask someone for their manu if creating that thing would put me in DIRECT competition to them. For example, us both making stickers won't really impact either of our businesses because they will likely be massively different, but if you and I are both selling lighters, that seems like more of a direct chunk of my market that will be threatened. That being said, I have still asked in these cases, but with a tremendous amount of respectful language. While I have not yet succeeded, I have asked people their lighter manufacturers before because I am already making lighters (so the competition there wouldn't be changing or increasing) I have just been looking for a manu that does maybe other colors or a more square shape than mine.
I think that if you are already making that same product but are looking for a higher quality producer or some little tweak, that seems very fair to ask. Be respectful in your ask and even offer to credit them for the referral. You can also even ask to collab with them on it so it feels like more of a joint venture.
Not everyone will want to share, and that's okay. I obviously am very against gatekeeping, but I don't think that holding some of your cards a little closer to your chest qualifies as gatekeeping. People may have had a negative experience wherein their generosity in resource sharing lead to someone stealing their whole ass idea. Or they may just not realize yet that community building is more important than competition. Or maybe they had a bad experience with their manu on that item and don't want to expose you to a similar situation. You just don't know. Be considerate, be gracious, and be okay with not getting an answer sometimes.
If any of this has been helpful to you, please consider leaving me a tip so that I can continue to provide these resources FOR FREE and never gatekeep!