9.16.2010

Behind the Scenes: Selling Wholesale



Level Up! Wholesale and PR from I Heart Art: Portland on Vimeo.

Last month I attended the local Etsy I Heart Art: Portland workshop Level Up! Wholesale and PR. I've posted the video so you can see it for yourself; however, I've summarize some of the new things I learned during this class.

First off, I'm not ready for wholesale. Ahhhhhhhhhh :) This realization was actually a huge relief for me to acknowledge. I won't get into all the details, but the big picture is that I don't feel like I have all my ducks in a row. Needless to say, I will continue to diligently build stock in Hint Jewelry's sterling charms while coming up with a wholesale plan that works for me. With that said, here are some of the things that I found both interesting and refreshing to learn.

Happiness
Level Up! was presented by Amanda Siska of Bread and Badger, and I liked her immediately because she started off with the idea that most important thing is to "be happy in your business." Yahoo! I could gather from this statement that she had already experienced some of the pressure of supply and demand that I have been facing over the last year, and that she had come to some realistic decisions about Bread and Badger.

Salary
You need to pay yourself. Whoops! This is something I haven't done yet, but it has been a nagging notion in the back of my head. Amanda Siska makes the point that not only do you need to be aware of how much you are earning but how much you are wanting to earn. Definitely a shift in thinking for you and your business to thrive.

Grass Roots Advertising
Amanda Siska claimed that early on she spent a lot of time on traditional press releases that may not have panned out. She emphasized that focusing on blogging and sending short emails with attachments to editors of online magazines led to more visible results.

Wholesale
Amanda Siska said that she is most often contacted for wholesale orders through her Etsy shop rather then her web site, which made me realize that the investment in Etsy as a marketing tool is worth it.
She recommends that before you launch into wholesale to be sure that you are ready for large scale production. In her presentation Amanda uses a graph from Paul Gerhard's How to Sell What you Make to illustrate the point that you need to understand the limitations of your production and pricing. Questions to ask yourself:

1. Can I create enough product to make it pay off?
2. What are my physical limitations to making a profit? (i.e., can I really fabricate 200 necklaces in a month to cover all my costs if I sell at wholesale prices?)
3. Do I have my retail and wholesale pricing at the level to cover all my fixed costs?

Pros: fewer packages, limitless possibilities, spend less time making a product by contracting out, and generate sales in the off season

Cons: less profit per item, more work production, may have to change packaging, probably have to hire help, and might need more storage space

Another interesting tidbit Amanda Siska shared was that not all stores will reorder from you. She experiences only about 10% of her wholesale customers reordering. I found this idea reassuring because it made me realize that wholesale shoppers are a lot like regular customers. What someone might be interested in now might be different later on, and I don't need to get caught up in taking a wholesale business relationship personally if it doesn't lead to further growth.

I also liked how Amanda Siska strongly encouraged us to come up with our own payment terms instead of using the traditional method of Net 30. She most often receives payment up front from PayPal or a credit card and this eliminates chasing down a customer.

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I came out of this Level Up! Wholesale and PR workshop with the feeling that I am empowered to make decisions about how my wholesale business runs. I don't have to follow traditional guidelines for public relations or payment terms. There is no rule book out there that is going to ding me, if I decide that I will only take wholesale orders over $200. The most important thing is that I remain "happy in my business;" otherwise, everything else will fall apart.

I hope you take the time to watch this video if you are thinking about selling wholesale or you have an Etsy shop. Amanda Siska's experience selling her wares through Bread and Badger has been a great opportunity for me to learn more.

3 comments:

  1. i'm going to watch this video at lunch break,it sounds interesting..
    i think the point of being happy in/with your business is very important..
    however..
    after selling wholesale for over 20yrs i would just like to add,( perhaps it's silly to say this).. it's not necessary to go big time right away with wholesaling...in different comments i've read in the past ,i get the idea artists think they must do some big advertising push and be ready to crank out product like crazy...
    not so..you can always just accept a few good galleries and offer them wholesale..then add a few more stores once you see how well you are keeping up with orders..
    i like selling wholesale..stores order, you make, ship and a check arrives..very nice.

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  2. What a great post...thank you so much for that...I have been toying with wholesale in the future, but I too have too many ducks to get in a row yet...I really love your website...I have been lurking for months, but now things are settled more...and I figured out how to use a reader....so happy things are going so well for you...your work is excellent!

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  3. Spirited Earth, thank you so much for adding your expertise to this post. I think that you're so spot on that there is a misconception about the size of wholesale and it is something that has spun my head out of control at times. I like your idea and appreciate you adding some balance to this post!

    Stacie, thanks so much for your lovely presence here on my blog. I hope you are on your way and ready to dive in!

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