Starting Sorority Products Website
March 31, 2005 11:46 AM   Subscribe

I starting making some crafts to sell at a sorority store around campus, and realized there would be a pretty good online market, so I was wondering a good way to get in contact with product wholesalers to sell online? Any other web start up advice would be appreciated. Also, annoying second question: Is it possible to pour your own pewter keychains? Each sorority has their own symbol (lyre, crown, arrow, kite, etc.) and I was wondering they would be possible to make.
posted by sicem07 to Work & Money (5 answers total)
I have seen a sort of low-end pewter pouring done.

It seems to me there would be somewhat of a substantial investment in equipment and learning, but the amount of stuff needed didn't seem like it would be crippling. Several hundred dollars, maybe.

But it wasn't a full on fancy casting (if that's the right word?) process. For example designs were only on one side of the pewter... Should be fine for keychains, though.

So I don't really know anything about it other than that it isn't in the realm of impossibility.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:09 PM on March 31, 2005

Rather than pewter for the keychains, you might want to consider Precious Metal Clay. It molds like typical clay, but when fired turns into almost pure silver. You could work up more of a press mold than a pour mold to form the keychains. I haven't worked with PMC yet, but I still have an IOU to wifey to get her some to play with, so I'll eventually get to use some.

As for the online startup/wholesaling angle, we still need to get into that too - we're anxiously watching the thread for answers...
posted by Moondoggie at 12:20 PM on March 31, 2005

Ditto being interested in the online question - I'm starting to make these and I've got the technical ability to set up osCommerce and handle it but how to I get people to go look at it? Google adwords?

On the one hand per-click means you're not spending money on stuff nobody looks at. On the other, if the price is high and the conversions into sales is low... it could be a giant money-loser rather than the desired after-work-activity that I enjoy which at least pays enough to cover materials and tools.

As far as the pewter question I'd steer away from manufacturing (which I can tell you - from the above pictured mirror-thing I make - can consume a huge amount of real estate even if you work hard to use off-the-shelf materials) and find a source in quantity. If the symbols are as common as you make them sound you can likely find places like this or this where you can buy already done items and assemble into the things you want.

The keychain thing sounds brilliant. You should be able to buy the bits at a resonable small cost, put them together as you watch tv or the like and resell at a profit that's pretty good for the time invested in assembly.
posted by phearlez at 12:58 PM on March 31, 2005

I cast some pewter years ago, it was a simple one-time project in shop class (yes, that many years ago, back when shop class existed, and I was still in it). Curiously, it was to make a symbol for a secret society, to honor a graduate.

In my case, a simple letter was all that was required, so I used a router to make a wooden mold. The pewter was melted in a small crucible (roughly pint capacity) which was gas powered. At a guess, I'd say the crucible was cheaper than a kiln, and probably used less power as there is no prolonged time needed as in baking clay. To form the holes needed, I simply placed nuts in the mold and poured around them (this was also especially appropriate, as the society in question was a band of nuts).

So the real issue is whether you could create an appropriate mold. I'd guess baked clay would be the best mold, provided you don't have to break the mold with each casting. The crucible is really very cheap hardware, just a metal bowl with a gas burner.

I think phearlez has a good notion about buying prefabricated bits to assemble. Moondoggie's Precious Metal Clay is something I've not heard of, and will now be wanting to try. I'm passionate about silver!
posted by Goofyy at 10:30 PM on March 31, 2005

A caveat: the symbols in the specific layout might be copyrighted by their respective organizations. You might want to check that out before proceeding.
posted by cass at 7:46 AM on April 1, 2005

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