Fashion: How to Pitch Your Products & Start Selling Wholesale | Emily Weckesser | Skillshare

Fashion: How to Pitch Your Products & Start Selling Wholesale

Emily Weckesser, Designer and Founder of The Oyster's Pearl

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10 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Trailer

      2:02
    • 2. Project Overview

      0:17
    • 3. Jumping In: Definitions & Terminology

      4:42
    • 4. Getting Started: Linesheets & Pricing

      3:47
    • 5. Wholesale Policies and Procedures

      5:26
    • 6. Finding & Pitching To Your Perfect Retailer

      4:03
    • 7. Coming To A Fair Agreement

      2:44
    • 8. Getting Paid!

      1:44
    • 9. Following Up

      1:21
    • 10. Conclusion

      1:17

About This Class

You’ve already created a beautiful fashion line that you believe in and are passionate about. Now, how do you actually get it carried in stores and into the hands of your ideal retailers and consumers? This class will walk you step by step through perfecting your product line, prices, and policies as a vendor and then finding and developing successful wholesale relationships with relevant retailers. This class is for beginners who have a fashion line they'd like to distribute to stores, whether online or brick-and-mortar, and have little or no prior knowledge or experience selling wholesale.

Transcripts

1. Trailer: Hi there. I'm Emily, founder of the Oyster's Pearl, a design boutique that my husband, Brad, and I run right here out of our studio in northeast Ohio. We specialize in graphic design and typography, and we have a line of screen printed apparel, custom stationery and home decor that we love getting to create together and then share with the world. My background is in graphic design, so I specialize in typography, illustration and lettering. Brad's background is in woodworking, ceramics, screen printing and photography. So we get to do a little bit of everything together for the business. And we're just really thankful that we get to create a line of products that we love and then share them with people. Through the years, as our company has grown, we've had the privilege to work with a lot of wonderful clients, including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, Rekha and Scott Mob Shop, as well as dozens of independently owned shops and boutiques nationwide and internationally . We've just begun our fifth year of business, and right now we're most excited about our expanding wholesale relationships that allow our goods to be stocked in stores around the country. A lot of hard work goes into preparing your brand. To be ready to sell wholesale, you have to be sure that all of your policies, procedures and prices are ironed out and ready to go before you start forming any relationships with retailers. In this course, I'm really excited to jump in and talk all about the tried and true step by step process required to get your fashion line off the ground and into the hands of retailers were going to go over the basic wholesale terms and definitions that will help you navigate these new business relationships, discuss all the important elements required for a successful contract with buyers. Figure out how to find and pitch to your ideal retailers, and then how to follow through on your fulfillment of these orders in a professional way that guarantees a mutually beneficial relationship for you and the businesses that you're now partnering with. The world of selling wholesale may seem intimidating when you're just starting out, and you're not sure how to work with larger retailers or even smaller boutiques. But throughout this skill share course, we're going to cover all of the necessary details for getting started with confidence and by the end of the course, you'll be ready to pitch your unique line to retailers who are eager to partner with you and carry your goods and their stores. Let's get started. 2. Project Overview: so to start for your project, the first thing that you're going to do is just in the comments. Share a little bit about your company or your products that you carry, and if you want to include a link to your website or line cheater catalogue, that would be great as well. So get started with your project by sharing below, and we can check each other's work out. 3. Jumping In: Definitions & Terminology: before we get started with how to of selling wholesale, it's important that you have a good grasp on a handful of key concepts in terms that will frequently come up as you navigate these new business relationships. It's extremely important that you understand what all of these terms mean because they're going to dictate your contracts and how you conduct business to avoid any misunderstandings and to ensure a smooth transaction. Be well versed in the following business terms so that you feel confident and ready to discuss wholesale partnerships with retailers who are interested in carrying your line. And for your convenience. There's a pdf attached with all of these that you can download and refer back to it any time to start. Let's define wholesale itself. We've been tossing that term around a lot, and it's basically just a business to business relationship where one party provides goods . Usually they're called the seller vendor maker, supplier, etcetera, and the retailer or buyer is the party who is buying the goods for resale to their customers. A similar but distinct alternative to traditional wholesale is consignment, which typically has the same mark ups and procedures as wholesale relationships but the vendor is not paid unless or until they're good cell. So with this kind of an agreement, you are not paid for anything. Upfront Onley periodically as sales occur. When discussing retailers, they can be brick and mortar locations, which refer to physical storefronts that customers can visit and see merchandise in person . Or online retailers, which are, of course, Web based companies without a physical store front who conduct business entirely online and oftentimes work with suppliers and wholesale relationships. A line sheet refers to an easy to read document that displays all of the items a company has for sale and pertinent details like wholesale prices and order minimums. This document should be an easy reference point for retailers who are looking to place an order. And speaking of minimums, this is just the minimum amount of money or quantity of items required for a wholesaler to place an order. Other important terms to consider our lead time, which is just the approximate production time you need to fulfill in order from when it's place to when it's delivered. Delivery window is along the same lines, but just a simple time frame that you can guarantee your goods to arrive by M. S. R. P is an acronym that stands for manufacturer's suggested retail price, and this is the pricey recommend your goods are sold for in a retail setting and can help dictate accurate wholesale or consignment fees. This all depends on the company's markup or the percentage cost increase from wholesale to retail price. So, for instance, if you sell a T shirt to a company for $10 then they resell it for $15 that's a 50% market . When a retailer is ready to place an order with you, they also send over an official purchase order, or P O, which is a document that outlines the items they'd like to buy in the quantities, colors, types, etcetera of each. The purchase order, once it's accepted, is typically binding and indicates that the retailer has placed an official order and that you are going to fulfill it according to your policies. Payment options vary in wholesale relationships, but often net payment terms are agreed upon, which means that you give the retailer a certain amount of time to pay their invoice after receiving their order. For example, if payment terms are Net 30 then you're giving the retailer 30 days after receiving their order to pay you for everything. Cash on delivery or C O. D requires payment from a retailer assumes they receive their goods instead of giving the cushion of time like a net payment arrangement or paying ahead of time. An invoice is simply the bill you sent to the retailer outlining everything they ordered and the costs per item, as well as a total dollar amount due and details for how payments can be made or where they can be sent and any other relevant feeds like shipping costs. Buybacks is when a vendor allows a retailer to send back unsold merchandise for a refund when preparing your goods to be sold by retailers ticketing as the practice of attaching branded tags or labels to your products before shipping them out. Drop shipping is an arrangement where vendor ships items directly from their work shopper warehouse to the customer without physically going through the retailer as a middleman. Exclusivity is an agreement that a vendor will only supply one retailer with a specific design or item in a designated geographical area or on a specific website and this just guarantees the retailer that they have a unique selection of goods that competitors don't have access to. A distribution center is one of much bigger retailers with stores across the country, have a consolidated shipping center, where they receive packages and then redistribute their inventory to their stores. So, for instance, if you're working with Nordstrom, you won't send your goods directly to the Nordstrom E shop at or even there, local office. While you may have items carried in there Washington, D. C. Location, they might request you send goods to a distribution center in somewhere like Richmond, Virginia, and then they're going to sort through in ship specific items to their designated locations from there. Now that we've covered a handful of common terms for wholesale partnerships, we can dive deeper into these topics with a good foundation of understanding 4. Getting Started: Linesheets & Pricing: there's a lot to do before your company is ready to start selling wholesale. You need to have a firm grasp on prices and organized line sheet. All details ironed out for your product line. Have professional and appealing photographs for your line sheet and clarify all of your policies and procedures for wholesale orders, including shipping, lead times, order minimums, reorders and more. So first off, let's make sure that your line sheet is in perfect order before you get started. As we discussed earlier, your line sheet is just a easy to read document that highlights your product line and has all the necessary details, like color sizes, quantities, materials that are required for a retailer to place an order. Ah, buyer for retail shop should be able to place an order straight from your line sheet. As you can see here we have just a quick screen shot from our line sheet on Etsy Wholesale . You can see that we have clear professional product photos that air showing each item. Clearly, we have the wholesale cost already calculated and shown there in green, and each item has a title that is unique to the product that buyers can refer to if they have any questions or when they're ready to place an order. So hopefully seeing this example helps you see that it is just a really simple, straightforward document for retailers to refer to next. You want to make sure that the wholesale prices listed on your line cheat are truly profitable and sustainable for your business. Of course, there are many variables in these calculations, including the cost of your materials, the time required to make an item you're overhead or utilities and more. But a basic calculation that can help you get started is to take the cost required to manufacture an item, multiply it by two to get your wholesale price and then multiply that again by to to get the retail price. This means that an item will typically sell for four times the cost required to manufacture it again. This is generally speaking, and it certainly varies industry to industry and business to business, but it is a simple formula to help you see if you're on the right track. So, for example, just to put this in perspective, if you net a handmade scarf that you wanna sell wholesale and it costs you $3 materials, and it takes you an hour to make it. And you'd like to pay yourself $10 an hour. Your basic cost us $13. Ideally, you would then sell this car for $26 wholesale, and then the retail boutique that's carrying it would resell it to their customers for $52 . This formula can be really eye opening. If you've been struggling to price yourself appropriately or to turn a profit in your business, it's extremely important that you factor in all of your costs and then the necessary markups for retailers. And just assume that you'll usually bring in about 50% of the M. S R P that you list your products that there are two important takeaways from this pricing model. One. If you don't plan to multiply your costs by at least four, then you'll hardly profit from a wholesale relationship where you're only bringing in about half of the retail cost per item, and to this shows the importance of order minimums. You are in no way expected to send just one of your items to a retailer for half the cost that you would have sold that item to your own customer. The beauty of wholesale arrangements are these minimums that we keep discussing. This makes sure that a partnership is worth your time because of the volume of items that are ordered. So, for example, we carry screen printed tote bags in our online shop for $22 retail, and we'll sell these the wholesalers for $11 apiece, but only if they order a batch of, say, 10 or 15 or more. And this higher volume helps make up for the lowered price and makes wholesale orders worth our time from a profit sampling. It is of utmost importance that your prices are calculated accurately before you begin forming wholesale partnerships. Otherwise, you can quickly get in over your head with high volume orders that aren't really turning a profit for your business. Being aware of industry standards for mark ups and profit margins will help protect you and generate sustainable income for your business 5. Wholesale Policies and Procedures: Once your line, she is in tip top shape, and you have prices calculated to guarantee a profit. It's time to pay close attention to your specific wholesale policies. This is where you can really tailor your business practices to best suit your company and to provide clear expectations for what retailers can expect when they place an order with you. Be sure to give yourself a generous lead time for fulfilling orders, especially if you're items or time consuming or labor intensive to produce. Be realistic and up front about your turnaround times with buyers before they place. In order to make sure that you can best accommodate their preferred delivery windows, you'll also want to iron out your order minimums. Whether that's a dollar amount or a specific quantity required for them to purchase, you'll want to make sure you're on the same page about shipping methods and who pays shipping and handling your return or buy back policies and any other stipulations. For retailers who want to carry your brand in stores, it's best to be clear and upfront about your policies from the get go, rather than to change or delay in order. Once it's been placed and a quick note on shot policies. While you want to know where you stand before you get started, consider how willing you would be the bent on a few things. If it would mean working with a company that would be a dream client for you. So maybe you make your lead time a little bit shorter and work longer hours to fulfill in order on a deadline. Or maybe you offer to cover shipping and handling and sweetened the deal a little bit. Whatever the special circumstance, maybe on Lee, you know if your business is in a good position to swing any policy exceptions for the sake of a good partnership. So now that you're line, she is an order. Your prices are set and your policies are in place, you are ready to get started selling wholesale. Earlier, we defined a few of these terms, but now let's dig a little bit deeper into wholesale versus consignment and brick and mortar versus online shops. Each venue and method of partnership has its pros and cons and may carry a little bit more risk for either you or the retailer. So in a traditional wholesale relationship, the buyer places an initial order and then owns that merchandise, and it's their responsibility to resell it to their customers. This is a great arrangement for you as a vendor because you get paid up front, regardless of how your product performs in stores. Of course, you wanted to do well, but in the off chance that it doesn't you aren't responsible for any extra inventory. And if a retailer has a sale or marks an item down to clearance that comes out of their profit, not yours consignment. On the other hand, as we discussed earlier, this delays payment until an item is purchased. So this method is typically lower risk for retailers because there simply housing your goods in their shop until it sells. If it sells great. If it doesn't, they're usually able to send your products back to you after a certain amount of time, whatever stipulated in the contract ahead of time. Personally, we do both wholesale and consignment, and we're happy to do either one. It's just good to be familiar with both options before you get started with wholesale agreements, because the wholesale purchase is a little bit riskier for the retailer you're gonna want to do anything that you can to make them more comfortable to place an order up front so you may consider sending them samples so that they can familiarize themselves with your product line before placing an order. Another way to make a retailer more comfortable is to maybe have a lower opening order minimum than you require for reorders. This allows them to just try out a handful of products in their store and make sure that it's a good fit before they come back and place a larger order. Try and be flexible with retailers who are considering carrying your line and do whatever it takes to make them comfortable placing an order. Brick and mortar shops with a physical store front and hard goods that customers can come in and handle in person are wonderful to partner with because people get to see, feel and try on your products before buying, which, of course, makes them comfortable with their purchase and helps minimize issues. The online order sometimes have, like wrong size is or misunderstandings about a product's details. Brick and mortar shops are also often thriving in tourist areas where local pride or special occasions draw people in there looking for a souvenir or one of a kind item. We love working on geographically focused items for shops around the country that maybe we don't sell as much of in our online shop, but that do really well in these physical storefronts. So the physical location of different stores just have a certain charm that is great to use to your advantage when selling wholesale. On the other end of the spectrum, from brick and mortar shops are online shops. There are so many out there these days, but we personally sell through etc. Wholesale Scout, Mob Shop and BRCA, just to name a few. The advantage here is that these companies often have aggressive marketing strategies, really large national or international audiences and special partnerships with bigger brands that can help get you a lot of exposure. Instead of a small, loyal, localized customer base like brick and mortar, thes online retailers have access to tons of eager shoppers solely through the Internet. You can maintain the same wholesale costs and arrangements as you do with brick and mortar with these online retailers, but they never physically take possession of your goods and sell them for you. It's all just online transactions. This is often considered a drop ship relationship, which I'll explain a little bit more as we defined earlier. Drop shipping is when an order is received through a retailer, then relate to the vendor. And then the vendor ships the order straight to the customer, never physically sending it to the retailer first. This saves on time and shipping costs for everyone and is a great arrangement for custom or special orders. Almost all online retailers that you may partner with are gonna operate with a drop ship arrangement, so it's just good to be familiar with that term. So as you can see, each wholesale method has its pros and cons and can vary a little bit, depending on if your goods are sold in a brick and mortar shopper, online wholesale versus consignment and whether or not you offer drop shipping. So it's really good to weigh all of these options before you get started and know what might work best for your company. 6. Finding & Pitching To Your Perfect Retailer: Now we're gonna discuss finding and reaching out to retailers who would be a perfect fit for your brand. The first and most important step in this process is truly knowing your own brand so that you can narrow down which retailers would be a good fit to carry your products. Each retail shop and online store that I know of has gone to great lengths to define its brand aesthetic and hone in on a specific style that they specialize in. If you have a form, strong retail partnerships from the get go, make sure that your pitching your brand toe like minded companies and that your goods flow aesthetically with their existing product lines and seem like they would resonate well with their specific customer base. Just because you have a wonderful product does not mean that it would be a perfect fit for certain brands. So back to that handmade scarf example that we used when we were calculating wholesale and retail costs. Maybe you are the proud owner of a beautiful line of neutral colored, chunky knit, high end handmade scarves you are proud of and confident in the quality of your product and ready to start selling these scarves wholesale through different partnerships around the country. These cards would most likely do wonderfully and colder climates during winter months a perfect holiday edition for shops to carry. Maybe you should also focus on geographical areas, where a Chungking at scarf makes sense and is a cozy addition to someone's wardrobe. But do not waste your time pitching these two shops in Florida. Or maybe in summer months, where a chunky knit scarf wouldn't make any sense to have in a store. And if these air high end, neutral colored handmade scarves, they might not be a good fit for a site that maybe sells a bunch of brightly colored accessories that air on the lower end of the price market, even if that site has a huge, engaged audience. Ah, quick look at their existing products line, and colors and style should indicate that you might not be a great fit for their brand. This example is kind of silly and obvious sounding, but it applies across the board. Know your audience and what kind of people are buying your products and then find retailers who are already selling to these people and try to partner with, um, speaking of pitching to retailers, a few quick do's and dont's do know their company and shop well. Before you get in touch, try to address the buyer or shop owner by name. Do you give a brief introduction of who you are and what kind of products your company carries? Um, Deuce and Justin Item or two that you think might do well in their shop do include a picture or two and a link to your line tete that they can look over and do include a call to action and a guarantee to follow up with him in a few weeks. Now for the donuts. Don't send the same impersonal can email toe every buyer that you get in touch with. Their gonna immediately be able to tell if you're just spamming out the same message to everybody. Don't send a super long message that they won't have time to read. Just keep it brief. Don't include a ton of high resolution images that are attached that are going to take forever for them to download. In view. Just try to embed a few low res images straight into the email body and don't just leave them hanging. After you give your pitch, make sure that you ask if they have any questions or if they'd like to get started with a sample or with placing an order. This process can be a little bit intimidating, but it's really up to you to personalize your message and make a great first impression When meeting retailers online. Just be genuine and professional and let your product photography and branding speak for itself. If it's a good fit, then they're gonna be eager to get started. And on that note, don't be discouraged if you don't hear back from a retailer for a little while. Buyers are often very busy when they may just be book marking your shop for a future order . In conclusion, the best and most efficient way to form great partnerships with retailers is to know your brand really well. Take the time to find retailers who were in line with your brand and then personally and professionally approached them with a clear and concise pitch and called action. Then be sure to follow up and answer any questions that they may have before you guys get started with an order so for your cost project. You're gonna be crafting a retail pitch to send retailers. And for your convenience, I've attached a sample with some notes just to walk you through the process and give you a clear example of kind of what we're going for with the project. So feel free to take a look at that and let it inspire you in your own retail pitch. 7. Coming To A Fair Agreement: Now that you've found retailers who would be a good fit for you and they're interested in carrying your product line, it's time to get started with an agreement and initial steps. We've already discussed your various shop policies at length before, but now it's time to show this policy clearly with the retailers who are going to be carrying your product line. Clarify if you're going to send a sample before they place an order, and if that sample is complementary, or if they need to pay for it or if they'll be sending it back to you. Um, when you do receive an official purchase order, just look it over carefully make sure that they're meeting all of your order minimums and that you're able to accurately fulfill their order in the lead time that you already quoted them. There are so many variables that can go into filling a wholesale order, and often each retail location is gonna have different requirements and preferences. So just have an open line of communication with the buyer the first time that you work with , um, um, double check their ticketing expectations. Make sure that you're labeling your products in a way that brands your merchandise but also is in line with their retail strategy and before you ship, in order, have contracts in place that doesn't make the shipping and handling costs, as well as any policies on buybacks, reorders or returns. Um, when working with smaller boutiques and retail shops, A lot of these details are pretty simple, But when you do partner with larger companies, um, they're gonna have a lot more complex labeling requirements and shipping procedures that you should be aware of when the order has been filled and is ready to ship. You'll want to be sure to include a packing slip, which is just a simple document that has your company name and contact information and also outlines all of the contents that you're sending with corresponding quantities. This just helps clarify which order has been shipped, and for the person that's opening it helps keep everything organized. Um, when shipping, some retailers are gonna require that you utilize a certain shipping company or method. For instance, when we worked with Nordstrom, they dictated which freight company we ships through. Sometimes we shipped to international stores and we have to be aware of different customs clearance forms to include. So just make sure that you're aware of any special circumstances or requirements for shipping to each different retailer that you work with. Most often, though, unless you're working with a really large retailer, the shipping with it is up to you, and we recommend going with a trusted company and always purchasing insurance and making sure that you have up to date tracking details as soon as items are on their way. The best professional practices to notify the recipient and send tracking. And then if there ever any issues with items that are lost, damaged, stolen or delayed, the insurance that you purchased will be critical and recovering that merchandise and helping you get a replacement order out the door as quickly as possible. These are just a few of the basic steps for fulfilling and shipping wholesale orders in a professional way. But the most important take away is that you pay attention to the procedures that are unique to each retailer that you work with and make sure to fulfill it accordingly. 8. Getting Paid!: Once your goods are out the door and on their way to their destination, it's time to get paid, of course, just like everything else we've been discussing. Payment terms can vary depending on the retailer, but we can discuss a few common methods now. Firstly, make sure that payment terms are well understood and agreed upon before you ever finalize your contract or purchase order. Often you're free to dictate your own payment terms according to what's best for your business. So sometimes we require payment up front before we ship anything. Sometimes it's cash on delivery, and most often it's Net 30 which gives the buyer 30 days to pay their invoice once they've received their shipment. Alternatively, you could do Net 60 Net 90. It's up to you and what you're comfortable with. You can dictate thes terms through a contract prior to working together or on the invoice that you send. Remember that if you're in a consignment relationship, you don't get paid until your good sense, so make sure that you haven't arrangement sorted out ahead of time to receive payment, maybe every month for the goods that sold in the previous 30 days. If you're working with larger companies. Sometimes payments could take a long time to process, so be prepared for a delay as the invoice is shifted through multiple departments. And if you're working with a smaller boutique, oftentimes one or two people are running the whole show and easily get overwhelmed. So with multiple vendors and all the tasks required to run a shop, it's not unusual for them to be a little bit behind. Just be gracious, and there's nothing wrong with sending a little reminder and making sure that you are up to date on all of the invoices that you deserve to be paid for. Invoicing doesn't have to be complicated. The best way to ensure a smooth transaction is just toe have all of the details and expectations laid out ahead of time so that once things have been shipped, there's no question of what to do next. There's also a pdf of a sample invoice attached for you to look at just so that you can see how things were laid out and what always included on a sample invoice 9. Following Up: you've worked so hard to find and do business with your ideal retailers. And now that they're officially stalking your items, you want to do everything you can to maintain a solid relationship with them so that you can continue to do business together in the future when you go to ship your package. If you're working with a smaller shop or boutique and you want to make a positive impression, consider writing a hand written note or sending a small gift to the shop owner or buyer. A little gesture can go a long way. Check in with them to make sure that they received the package and didn't have any questions or issues with their latest shipment, and then make sure to follow up a month or two later and see how things air selling in their shop. This is a great way of reminding them to keep your products in stock, but also their feedback is really valuable for you to find out what items might be best sellers and most popular with their customers. When it comes to social media, let this be a mutually beneficial marketing tool for both you and the retailer that you're now working with maybe give sneak peeks that you're gonna be supplying them with an upcoming shipment, or let your audience know that they can now find your goods in person at a store near them . Giving a shout out to your retailers helps advertise for them, and they often return the favor by doing the same for the brands that they carry. This is a great reciprocal marketing method that helps to further establish your business relationship. In conclusion, treat these interactions like a business relationship instead of an isolated transaction, and that way you'll get the most out of this new wholesale partnership. 10. Conclusion: congratulations. You are now equipped to start selling wholesale now that you have all the necessary terms and definitions for savvy wholesale selling, you can navigate contracts and agreements with confidence. You know where your business stance and you have your policies in place and your prices set . We discussed wholesale and consignment, brick and mortar and online, and the advantages and expectations of each different venue. We talked there finding a retailer who's a really good fit for your brand, effectively pitching to them and then filling orders in a professional way and getting paid for them. You should feel confident and maintaining strong relationships with retailers and then allowing these relationships to take your business to a new level through ongoing wholesale partnerships. To put everything that you learned into practice, complete your course project by leaving a link to your line sheet or catalogue and then drafting a sample retail pitch, just outlining you your business and why you think your product line might be a good fit for a certain store. You're free to use the attached pdf that we referenced earlier just with a sample and general guide to kind of walk you through that process and then when you're finished, share with us below and we can take a look at each other's and provide some constructive criticism and hopefully encourage each other and our business endeavors. Thank you so much for taking this course. I really hope that you learn something new and that you feel empowered to help your business grow.