Lots of people make the switch to cloth pads, and then decide that since they can sew, they should make cloth pads to sell. That’s fantastic – the more cloth pads out there, the more they will be seen and that increases the number of women switching to cloth, which is a great thing…. but I just wanted to give some advice on this, and some points to consider
Reputation (Word of Mouth)
The thing that sells pads the fastest is reputation. If a pad brand has a good reputation, their pads will be well respected and people will be more likely to want to buy them. You can’t buy reputation, your quality of product and customer service, and word of mouth brings this. Of course there is good reputation and also bad reputation. If a product has a bad reputation, it will be less appealing to customers. Making a good product, shipping it quickly and having good customer service can build you a good reputation.
Have a look at the cloth pads that are around… look at the average quality of the pads you see… Look through reviews and you will see how important good sewing skills are to customers. They will often specifically say when a seller has good sewing skills, and will say so if its bad. Then have a good look at the quality of product you can make. If you don’t think its quite good enough, then you really should do more practice. Give (or sell) your practice pads to friends and family before starting up a shop to sell to strangers. I’m not trying to be mean – we all have to start somewhere, but think of your customers – I’m sure they would rather you spent a bit more time and perfected your sewing… also think of your reputation… wouldn’t you rather be praised for good sewing than have a reputation for bad sewing?
While a pad has to be a certain shape to do its job, you don’t want to just bring out a copy of what someone else does. Think about what you can do to make your product unique… from fabric choice, to shape or even style.
Its essential to make some pads to give away to people as “testers” while you are testing your design and sewing… Yes it costs money, but that is part of being in business. You do this so that when you are ready to sell them, you’ll know if your product works for various types of flow, and you’ve had feedback from several people. What works for you might not work for others, and it can give you some insight into what you might need to do to make pads suitable for others.
I see quite often pad makers saying things like “Our pads are so absorbent you won’t need waterproofing”, “you will not leak with this pad” etc. You need to be very careful when making claims like this, as not all people bleed the same way, and if you say your pad will not leak, and it does – then you open yourself up for not only an unhappy customer and potential for the customer to demand a refund because the product did not perform as advertised. But they could also even sue you for damages (white pants, white couch and leaky pad?). It is very important for pad makers to be aware that not all people will bleed the way you do. That is one way testing is beneficial – you’ll get an idea of other people’s flow. Whether or not a pad without waterproofing works fine without leaking for you, or even for all your testers – there is no guarantee that it’s not going to leak for another person who wears it. Some have a very heavy flow, some have a “gushy” flow that can soak right through a pad in minutes. Some can bleed less than 50mls over their entire period. Some can bleed over 100mls in one day alone. Making claims like this will not be accurate for all those who may want to buy them. Instead, it is best to stick with statements more like “our pads are made from very absorbent fibres and most women find they are absorbent enough to not require waterproofing at all” rather than claiming they will not leak or don’t need waterproofing.
Just because you like one type/length of pad, it won’t suit everyone. Do you want to just specialise in what you want to do, or do you want to cater for other preferences too. Once you are in business, and find more of one type/length sell more than the others, then you can simply just make more of the ones that sell better, and keep a few of the others for those who prefer them.
Working out your costs
Its not simply a case of working out that the fabric cost you a certain price, so charging that.. there are other things to consider. See the page on Pad Cost to see what things you should consider when pricing your pads. You can offer testers at the cost price to you, so that you’re not out of pocket, or you can accept that it is one of the expenses of business. Ask your testers what they liked and disliked. Perhaps give them a sheet of questions to answer. How do they find the shape, length, style, fabric, absorbency etc. If your tester group is large enough, you will get a good idea of if your product is suitable for lots of different flows. Use their answers to further update your product. Try to choose testers who will give their honest opinion, not just go “they are great!”, as that isn’t helpful.
Pad Listing Details
When you finally get everything organised and pads up for sale… don’t forget to include all the information your customers might like to know. Length of the pad, width at front and back (flared ends) as well as width of the crotch when wings are snapped (“snapped width”) are all ESSENTIAL points. A lot of people list just the wingspan (eg wing length when the pad is laying flat) – but that’s not really very helpful to know how wide the crotch of the pad will be when it’s snapped around your underpants – that is what people want to know. Also give full details of what fabrics are used, how many core layers you use. Saying a “bamboo core” means nothing – is it bamboo batting, bamboo jersey bamboo fleece? Is it 1 layer, 3 layers?. You need to make it clear if it’s got waterproofing or not. And don’t forget good pictures!