Get it Made, Get it Sold: The Basics of Sourcing & Sales for Entrepreneurs skillshare originals badge

Jeff Staple, Founder, Staple Design

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
14 Lessons (1h 50m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Overview

    • 3. Methods of Selling

    • 4. Tools of Selling (Part 1)

    • 5. Tools of Selling (Part 2)

    • 6. Promotional Materials

    • 7. Reps, Showrooms and Tradeshows

    • 8. Seasons and Deliveries

    • 9. Price First, Make Later

    • 10. Working with Vendors

    • 11. Production Example

    • 12. Costing

    • 13. Protecting Yourself

    • 14. The Relationship Between Sales and Sourcing

80 students are watching this class

Project Description

Create a line sheet, costing sheet, and sales/sourcing calendar

Introduction to Sales

  1. Study the next steps to building your company: Sourcing and Sales

    After you created the brand or collection, Sourcing and Sales are the next essential steps for your business growth. If you can’t make the products, you can’t sell the products.

  2. On a higher level, determine how you want to sell your brand
    • Direct to consumer? Pro: cuts out the middle steps between you as the designer and the people who buy your products. Con: Your distribution is much more limited than working through other channels.
    • Traditional wholesale/retail model? Pro: gain access to thousands of customers you don't currently have, move a high volume of products faster than you can on your own. Cons: loss of profit margin.
  3. Understand the Cost/Wholesale/Retail price breakdowns

    Work backwards. What do you want to sell your bag for at retail? Divide that by two to get your rough wholesale value. Then divide that by two to figure out what you need to make this bag for, or your cost.

Building Sales Collateral

  1. Create your order sheet

    Make sure to include all of the necessary information:

    • Bill to/Ship to
    • Shipping method
    • Ship Date and Cancel Date
    • Payment Terms
    • Photos for reference
    • Style name/number
    • SKU name/number
    • Sizes available
    • Brief description
    • Blank boxes for orders
    • totals for quantity and costs for the buyer’s order

    Your order sheet should also have return/claim policies so you and the store are on the same page after the goods are delivered.

  2. Create your look book or catalog

    Of course, this is a HUGE undertaking that deserves a class for itself (shoutout to Tasha Bleu’s Skillshare class!). Select your best products to showcase the quality and lifestyle of the brand. REMEMBER: this is a SALES tool. DO NOT make the shots or information so vague that buyers can’t even tell how to buy each product.

  3. Don't forget to add a credit application!

    Nuts and bolts item: Credit Application. You are entering into a business agreement with the store so it is essential to hold all parties financially accountable. Trust me, I have been burned by stores in the past.

  4. Create promotional materials

    Create eye-catching, unique promotional materials. These are a fun way to differentiate your brand from the dozens of others these buyers are hit up by on a daily basis. Make sure you are cost effective here, though, as this is simply a marketing expense that will not generate any direct revenue. 

  5. Upload your line sheet to your Student Project page

    You can share JPEGs of your line sheet or link to an external PDF page so fellow students can provide feedback. 

Sales Channels and Deliveries

  1. If you are selling to stores, determine the most appropriate method for your company
    • If you choose to join a showroom, you have to layout money without guaranteed sales. They do have a built in audience of buyers, however, so it does have some benefits for brands. Your revenue would really have to justify paying the salesroom costs.
    • Independent sales person: similar to a showroom but not as expensive. These people more than likely traveling to stores and tradeshows to represent your brand along with a handful of others. Normally they require a retainer or commission on sales. They are advantageous because of their relationships, industry experience, and focus on pulling in revenue.
    • In house sales person: having a dedicated sales person that lives and breathes your brand is definitely a successful route to go in. Of course, this person requires resources and salary… so you have to be selling a lot of units in order to justify this cost.

  2. Try to remove yourself from the sales process if you are the designer

    I can't emphasize this enough! As a designer, separate yourself from the sales process! It is borderline impossible to not get offended by a buyer’s negative feedback. If the previously listed options are not in your budget, enlist a buddy that is interested in helping your brand grow and have him or her work on commission. If they are down for the cause, they will be a huge asset.

  3. Attend a tradeshow

    Regardless of whether or not you can afford a booth at a tradeshow, I highly recommend visiting a show to get some experience in an industry setting. This will give you a glipse at how some of the top brands in your intended market space operate and present their collections. No matter how big any of the brands are, odds are they were in your shoes at some point, so it is inspiring to see where you can grow your company to.

    Pros: hundreds of buyers in the same place at the same time. Cons: VERY expensive. 

  4. Determine your seasonal delivery schedule

    Figure out your targeted delivery schedule from a product perspective. Will you have 2 seasons of delivery? 4 seasons? 12? All have pros and cons, just make sure you can sustain the production at whichever rate of delivery you choose. The MOST IMPORTANT rule of delivery is being on time, so regardless of the number you choose make your top priority delivering your products when the buyer expects them.

  5. Get on the industry timelines

    This might be one of the hardest challenges for a young brand to overcome.

    Stores use up their seasonal budget 6-10 months ahead of delivery. If you want a legitimate chance of grabbing some of that budget, you need to be selling to stores when they are looking to buy. THIS IS WAY EASIER SAID THAN DONE. It is possible to sell “at once” (remember, on demand goods that are readily available), but you are gunning for a very small slice of the store’s budget pie

Introduction to Sourcing and Development

  1. Determine your pricing

    Figure out who you want to sit next to in the stores and price your products accordingly. As a rule in the industry, you will find similarly priced items sitting next to each other on the shelves. The pricing will determine how and where you can make your products.

  2. Source your vendors

    Choose your vendors wisely! Unfortunately there are no short cuts here… create a wide net and contact several factories to determine where it might be best to make your goods according to your needs. If you have friends in the industry, ask them for references. This requires relationship building and patience. 

  3. Working with vendors - communication is KEY

    Tech Packs are absolute ESSENTIAL tools for having your garments made by a factory. There is no such thing as over-communicating when it comes to tech packs as they are the recipe for building your garment. Just think, the better your tech packs, the faster the factory gets the garment right, the less you need to sample, the more money and time you save. 

  4. Get familiar with the sampling process

    Sampling process

    • prototype: first effort by the factory, may require several rounds
    • photo sample: good enough to represent the garment in a photo (might have some fit issues though), used for lookbooks, catalog, press, etc
    • Salesman Sample: this is closest thing to what the garment will actually look like in the stores

    **Make sure you allot enough time for each round! You should be sampling up to one year in advance in order to get on the correct fashion industry calendar.

Costing and Protection

  1. Create a costing spreadsheet

    Costing is made up of dozens of factors that add up to make your garment, don’t overlook any details! From packaging to labels to shipping to materials to construction, it all matters.

    • Understand the cost and then you know what to charge for it.

    • If it is too expensive, figure out where you can cut costs while still maintaining the quality of your product.

    Create a spreadsheet that has all costs written out and totals up everything involved with the production and delivery process. Excel is the ideal format for this to make calculations super easy.

  2. Protect yourself
    • You need to take heed of terms for your manufacturing partnerships just like your retail partnerships.

    • I recommend that you share the risk with the factory through mutually beneficial payment terms.

    • Don’t forget to consider where you are going to put the inventory! It has to be stored somewhere while you prepare the goods for shipping
  3. Upload your costing spreadsheet to your Student Project

    In order to give each other advice and further uplift this community of entrepreneurs and creatives, please sahre your costing spreadsheet. If you are concerned about sharing financial information relating to your production costs, simply add in false numbers. The importance here is having a very focused attention to detail so that you take all costs into account.

The Relationship Between Sales and Sourcing

  1. Consider how you will fulfill your orders

    How do you get the orders to stores or directly to customers? Fulfillment is another often overlooked challenge for new brands.

    • research the various shipping options available according to your products

  2. Make sure to follow through with your deliveries!
    • It is your job to make sure people buy your garments off racks as soon as it hits.

    • Marketing MATTERS. This drives the demand for your products so stores sell out of your brand and then they want to reorder.

    • Be aware of the entire purchasing process. There are several other people involved in the transaction than simply you and the customer. Make sure the stores represent your brand appropriately.
  3. Create and upload your Sourcing and Sales calendar to your Student Project

    In order to make sure you have a plan in place to make and deliver your goods on time, create a sourcing and sales calendar that details the entire process for your next collection. This will be a HUGE asset for you to remain on top of deadlines and see where you fit into the fashion industry calendar. 

Student Projects

project card
project card
Mathew Kieser
project card
Travis Bothner
project card
project card
Marcos Aguilar
project card
Jesse Rodar
project card
Joyce Kang
project card
Ryan Jones
project card
Kristi O'Meara
project card
Brian Kanagi
project card
Terrence Kim
project card
Kwame Adjaye
project card
Jeffrey Tuason
project card
Marquis Mosley
project card
Frank Denbow
project card
Ray Herrera