12 Jun Working with Designers for Pattern Support
Everyone in the fiber industry knows that patterns and samples sell yarn. Consumers love to see examples of projects that can be made with your products, and having great samples leads to stronger sales. Last year we launched the Wool Wide Web Designer Database, and we’ve noticed a distinct shift in how patterns are published and sold to companies by designers.
The old standard was that a designer would create a pattern, and sell it to a magazine or a yarn company. The designer would receive their one-time payment, and the rights would belong to the company. Sometimes royalties were paid to the designer, and it was possible that the designer’s name wasn’t even published with the pattern. The magazine or yarn company would publish this pattern in print, either for sale or for free with yarn purchase. The designers didn’t have another way to reach the broad audience that a larger company could, and so this was their best option to make a profit and have their pattern widely distributed. Many designers also didn’t have access to professional grade photography, a technical editor, or software to create charts and schematics.
With the internet and websites like Ravelry, Craftsy, and Patternfish it’s much easier for designers to gain a large audience without a third party. They can easily upload their patterns and sell online without leaving their sofas. The startup costs of becoming a designer have also diminished with the affordability of digital cameras, ubiquitous personal computers, and the ability to network online to find others in the same field. In the last few years digital publishing has also taken off. Independent designers are publishing their digital patterns online, as well as magazines that are publishing exclusively online with no print presence.
With these changing conditions in the design world of fiber it’s important for all of us to recognize, adapt, and consider how we can continue to collaborate and grow our businesses. Pattern support is still crucial to any yarn company’s success, and also vital to local yarn shops. So, how do we adapt?
For yarn companies it’s important to remember that you’ll always get more revenue from selling yarn than patterns, and that the patterns are intended to support and supplement yarn sales. The wave of the future is in shared rights, where a company purchases the rights to first publication and a period of exclusivity. Where at some point the designer would be able to sell their pattern again either digitally or in print (or both). To stay current and on trend it’s important to release new patterns on a regular basis, so keeping the rights to a pattern for eternity isn’t necessary.
Local yarn shop owners should consider Ravelry’s in-store sales program. There is no fee to participate, and you can sell a huge number of patterns that are available on Ravelry to your customers in your shop. You can purchase the pattern from the designer at a wholesale rate, print the pattern in store, and you can also have a digital version sent to their Ravelry account or email. This is a great way to support independent designers, and to cut down on the overhead cost of stocking a lot of printed patterns that may or may not sell.
For companies struggling to wade through the myriad details of the pattern world, the Wool Wide Web offers consulting to wholesale companies. Our team can help you plan and implement a pattern program and manage all aspects of a collection launch. Call us at 719–539-3110 for more details!