| | Re: Assistance in starting a small, local bow business
I started buying my ribbon from a seller on Ebay who sold packs of coordinating ribbon (1.5", 7/8", 3/8") and you could choose your colors. It was a reasonable amount of ribbon to start out with, at a reasonable cost (not the cheapest you'll get it for, but when starting out you want to have a good variety of colors, so this was my way of affording them).
Next, I bought colors I knew I'd use most of (white, pink, hot pink, etc.) in 50 and 100 yard rolls. This made more sense per yard, but I spent around $200 just on the basics to get stocked up.
I buy prints on sale from JoAnn and Michaels or online from RABOM. So far, I don't do enough business to warrant stocking up on holiday prints, etc., and when I buy on sale the per yard cost is low enough for me.
When I start making a new item, I'll price it out and make sure that the cost of my materials still leaves me a good profit margin even when buying supplies at higher cost for smaller amounts (for instance, making two new headbands with a two pack of buttons from JoAnn) but I also research to see where I can purchase that same (or similar) button in larger quantities at a better cost. That way if an item sells well, I can make more money in the long run by planning ahead for buying the supplies, but if an item doesn't do well, I'm not stuck with hundreds of supplies I won't need.
Hope this helps!