Kydex knife sheath business

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by teksonn, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. teksonn

    teksonn Gold Member Gold Member

    3
    Feb 19, 2018
    I am a retired vet looking for a way to supplement my monthly income. To this end I have recently spent about $5000 for supplies and equipment and MANY hours teaching myself the skill of working with kydex. I have just recently gotten to the point where I am quite proficient at making a marketable product, i.e.kydex sheaths. My problem is that I'm not having much luck in the area of marketing/advertising. I initially decided to give away a few hundred dollars worth of sheaths in order to promote my business and get my name out there. I've been advertising on Craigslist and in one of our free advertising papers (the paper is free but not the advertising) as well as a couple free advertising web sites. My problem is that people aren't responding very well and the few that do are asking for some very strange sheaths for very different items (example: an ulu knife and 14" kniife) when I specifically advertisied for doing blades 8" or less. People are seeing my ads and digging up old knives they have laying around that they want sheaths for but these are people who are not condusive to spreading the word of my business by mouth, which is my end goal as I have spoken to several people who do this successfully and they say word of mouth is how they get most of their business. Can anyone suggest what I might do promote my business successfully? Any help would be more than greatly appreciated.
     
  2. hhmoore

    hhmoore Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 7, 2014
    Knifemaker/Craftsman membership here... where better to build your name & sell your product than the place the knife knuts spend their time (and money).

    Once you've got the right membership, you can use a few sheaths for popular knives in passarounds, requesting feedback/reviews from the participants, (offering participants a discount on a sheath, available after they've posted their feedback, is a nice touch). Host contests for giveaways. Etc.
    Of course, that assumes a quality product & competitive pricing...and, ideally, not having to have every knife sent you.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  3. Danke42

    Danke42

    Feb 10, 2015
  4. tiguy7

    tiguy7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 25, 2008
    You may also consider renting a table at a local gun/knife show and displaying your wares. This could generate some local customers. You could also sell blade protectors for kitchen knives. The ones available at kitchen supply stores seem overpriced.
     
    duramax likes this.
  5. Hawkfan

    Hawkfan Gold Member Gold Member

    178
    Aug 16, 2019
    If you're looking for people who are more likely to send you referrals, what about Fishing and Hunting guides? They are the pros of the hunting and fishing world and see new groups of people every single day. And since they're the authority and pro, people probably want to use whatever they're using. Maybe you sponsor them somehow...If you're going to spend money on going to a show, it might be worth it to go to a show where all the Fishing/Hunting guides gather. Maybe you use the odd knife size sheath as your way in....maybe everyone has that one knife they can't find a sheath anywhere for.

    Maybe people like Firearms class instructors, security guard training instructors, run range employees, speciality tactical training course instructors, military personal...I would think whoever is likely to see lots of groups of people rather than some deer hunter guy who goes out with his kid and two buddies, the same people repeatedly. And then maybe you incentive the shit out of it and give him a percentage of the profit from each sheath...it's a numbers game and could add up really quickly. If the person happens to be not really motivated by money, find out what they would really appreciate. Maybe instead of a commission, you start a program where you give people bonuses based on number of referrals. Instead of money, maybe they would be motivated by a vacation to Hawaii with their wife or a flat screen TV etc. Everyone's motivated by something and if they're in a realistic position to refer quality sheaths to lots of people, it's not like they have to go out of their way.

    Maybe you have to invent a new type of sheath that holds multiple items or is just something with a new twist? That's one way to get around the “we're all set with sheaths” argument.

    If you're going to spend money on traveling to a show, if done correctly, you'll probably get more mileage out of attending a show where Fishing/Hunting Guides gather for a conference. You could just buy a normal attendee pass rather than rent a booth.then just walk around and strike up conversations.

    If you want to sell sheaths at a knifeshow, I would partner with a non competing person and just pay them to let you setup a display on their table or something, rather than pay for an entire booth...my guess is that it would be really difficult to recoup that type of cost. Knifemakers can afford to rent booths because they sell a really high ticket item and don't need to sell many to turn a profit.
     
  6. Ebbtide

    Ebbtide

    Aug 20, 1999
    Bf knifemaker/Craftsman membership here.
    Join and participate in FB knife groups.
    Get on Instagram and show your wares.
    Have a contest / giveaway....
    Take excellent photos of your work and get them out there.
    To the magazines, to the outdoor writers / you tubers....

    It's a niche market so local isn't going to do it.
     
  7. Hawkfan

    Hawkfan Gold Member Gold Member

    178
    Aug 16, 2019
    You definitely have to be taking advantage of Instagram. That's probably the #1 best way to get your stuff out there.

    I think you should reach out to knife makers because I've heard a lot of them complain about having to make sheaths. It makes perfect sense because if you're in the zone with making knives, having to stop and make a sheath probably sucks. If you make a deal with just a few busy knife makers, that's already probably more than you could handle yourself without help. And then you could just hire someone to work from your house and make the sheaths for you.
     

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