So, your branding and pricing is on point. You have systems in place for handling orders and you are have an awesome product to sell to shops. You are ready to start wholesaling!
Here are a few tips to help you make a good first impression, and to keep you from earning strikes against you, before you even start your journey.
1. Don't pop in to sell me something when its busy.
This includes Saturdays, First Fridays, and the Christmas season. If you are going to pop in and it's busy, turn around and don't approach the owner or staff.
True confession: I may have made some high school athletes cry when they came looking for sponsorships on the Saturday before Christmas and I told them not to go to anymore stores that day.
2. Don't expect me to return unsolicited samples.
It's okay to leave samples, but please don't expect them back. If it's something you want to show us, but can't leave, please make an appointment. We can't be responsible for keeping track of your stuff.
3. Don't expect a shop to carry anything or everything you make.
Sometimes its just not a good fit.
4. Don't make promises you can't keep.
If a shop needs an item in two weeks, and you can't deliver, don't say that you can. Be honest about your delivery times and we will try to respect those when we order.
5. Don't be unprofessional.
We work with brands that treat their customers with kindness and are uplifting. If you start acting like a jerk on social media, that reflects poorly on the shops that carry you.
6. Don't saturate your market.
If you already sell at a shop in town, I'm probably not going to be interested. Now, if you offer something to me exclusively, that you don't make for others, I could be interested.
While we do carry some local products, we actually do best with regional products. Because we're a small town, customers often buy direct from the artist, so sales can be slow if you sell in multiple local venues. The local artists that do best with wholesale/consignment are the ones that send potential customers to the shops to make purchases.
7. Don't expect the shop owner to do your work for you.
You are responsible for pricing your items appropriately. You are responsible for your products' brand presentation.
And now for some encouragement.
These last few blog posts may sound discouraging. The truth is I love seeing people chase after their dreams. Some of this information is harsh, if its the first time you're seeing it.
If this feels like too much, take some deep breaths, and let it sit for a bit. Then, pull on your boss pants and get to work. It is achievable.
Those of us making a living as makers have all come to terms with our pricing strategies and found good matches with stores or decided that wholesale isn't for them and are making our livings selling directly to our customers.
If after reading through all three posts, you feel like your products are a good match for Soapy Gnome, we'd love to hear from you.
Send your requests to Jenny (at ) soapygnome.com
Good places to start on your wholesale journey
If you are ready to get started with wholesale and aren't sure where to start, here are some helpful resources:
Creative Live- Megan Auman- How to Make a Living, Selling What You Make
Lucky Break Consulting- Lucky Break University. Also has branding classes.