Nashville startup upcycles vinyl scraps into successful crafting business

Amazon API helps Craftables sell smarter using the power of analytics.

2 min
June 11, 2024

Craftables is what co-founder Stephen Cox calls a “happy accident.”

In 2012, Cox and his business partner Drew Barbier were buying vinyl in mass quantities for their budding decal startup on Amazon when they realized selling vinyl scraps was more profitable. Using the inventory and sales data available on Amazon Seller Central, the pair shifted their attention to selling various sizes of scrap vinyl to crafters.

“One great thing about Amazon is the analytics and the insights that you can get…to make decisions about the right products,” Cox said. “Having that knowledge as we got into thinking about making the shift [from decals to scraps], we were able to make intelligent decisions about what the opportunities were by utilizing those tools.”

Two years later, “we turned our scrap business into our main business,” Cox said.

Today, Craftables is a one-stop-shop for all craft vinyl needs, including adhesive vinyl, heat transfer vinyl, and tools and accessories for crafting. The company has grown enormously, from first operating out of a small music studio in Portland, Oregon, to now employing a team of ten with a 20,000 square foot space in Nashville, where Cox says the cost of doing business is lower.

Craftables has grown enormously, from first operating out of a small music studio in Portland, Oregon, to now employing a team of ten with a 20,000 square foot space in Nashville.

Craftables has grown enormously, from first operating out of a small music studio in Portland, Oregon, to now employing a team of ten with a 20,000 square foot space in Nashville.

“Especially the first five years were really dramatic growth [for Craftables], in large part to Amazon,” Cox said. “Amazon is where all the eyeballs are. . “Amazon is where all the eyeballs are. People are there to buy the products.”

As the number of indoor craft hobbyists soared during the pandemic, the demand for vinyl took off with crafters turning to Craftables and Amazon for material, supplies and tools.

“We did our best to scale up and meet that demand, but things started getting missed,” Cox added. “We started having quality problems. We realized that we had to focus on our organization.”

Craftables turned to technology to streamline business operations and speed order fulfillment. The startup began using Amazon API to dynamically generate work orders by pulling in inventory and sales data, which are then sent to the shop floor for processing. Amazon API also enabled Craftables to pull reports in real time for brand metrics, page views, and product availability to help ensure sufficient inventory and to make stronger sales decisions.

Business partners Stephen Cox (left) and Drew Barbier (right) have leveraged Amazon API to scale Craftables into a successful craft vinyl business.

Business partners Stephen Cox (left) and Drew Barbier (right) have leveraged Amazon API to scale Craftables into a successful craft vinyl business.

“We can leverage all those insights without having to hire anyone to look at reports or download reports, and we’ve tremendously lowered our overhead,” Cox said, adding that speed of delivery is an important part of the shopping experience for crafters who feel inspired and want to bring their ideas to life quickly.

“We have a lot of small business customers who get orders for products and they want to have quick turnarounds on their products,” he said. “Amazon, by being able to get it to you the next day in many cases, for a reasonable rate or free even, that’s a huge benefit to a lot of our customers.”

As Craftables continues to grow, Cox said the business is continuing to leverage Amazon’s “huge set of seller tools” to reach new audiences, from Brand Registry to Amazon Advertising.

“If you’re willing to invest in advertising…you’re actually able to get more organic views, and so there’s a flywheel effect by promoting your products,” he added. “It can be good for everyone.”

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