Wholesale for your Handmade Business, Part III: Get The Word Out! | Casey Sibley | Skillshare

Wholesale for your Handmade Business, Part III: Get The Word Out!

Casey Sibley, Pattern Designer, Artist, Maker

Wholesale for your Handmade Business, Part III: Get The Word Out!

Casey Sibley, Pattern Designer, Artist, Maker

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9 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Class introduction

      1:06
    • 2. Create an online home for your work

      6:41
    • 3. Strategies for finding wholesale buyers

      14:53
    • 4. Contacting buyers: What to say

      8:06
    • 5. Timing is (usually) everything!

      1:54
    • 6. Keeping track of leads

      2:20
    • 7. Overcoming self-doubt

      2:36
    • 8. You got the order! Now what?

      3:12
    • 9. Thank you! :)

      1:01
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About This Class

If you're an independent designer or small handmade business owner interested in venturing into wholesale, this class series is for you!

You don't need and expensive e-course, or fancy equipment, or a marketing guru to help you create a successful wholesale line and strategy. All you need is a little planning and consistency to get your line into stores.

In this three-part series, I'll be sharing the strategies I've learned over the years while wholesaling my own handmade product line with Casey D. Sibley Art + Design. Over the course of three weeks, I'll be releasing classes on the following topics:

PART I: The Basics (CLICK HERE TO WATCH)

Learn the basic terms and strategies to begin wholesaling your handmade products. I'll start with the most basic question of all: WHAT IS WHOLESALE? Then I'll introduce you to:

  • pricing considerations, strategies, and examples
  • an overview of wholesale terms and policies
  • linesheets and a catalogs
  • tools of the trade for building your linesheets and catalogs
  • HOMEWORK! And resources for gathering ideas for your own catalog design :)

PART II: Building Linesheets and Catalogs in Adobe InDesign (CLICK HERE TO WATCH)

I'll walk you through the basic tools for creating a cohesive booklet-format document in Adobe InDesign. In addition to getting started with this program, I'll also cover:

  • how to design either a linesheet OR catalog (or combine the two!)
  • considerations and techniques for laying out your product information in a clear and concise way
  • what information to include in your linesheets and catalogs for buyers
  • how to prepare your documents for printing
  • how to export your documents to PDF format and share with buyers digitally

PART III: Get the word out! (THIS CLASS!)

If you make it, they will come...but you have to let them know you made it! In the last class of the series, I'm sharing my best tips and strategies for researching, contacting, and attracting potential retail buyers for your handmade product line. You'll be set with the lingo and marketing materials to start reaching out to your dream stores and building your wholesale business into a sustainable income.

As a full-time maker, I've been able to create a job for myself that I look forward to every day. I want to share what I've learned over the years with you. :)

Meet Your Teacher

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Casey Sibley

Pattern Designer, Artist, Maker

Teacher


Hi! My name is Casey Sibley, and I'm a designer in Lansing, MI. I used to run a wholesale business selling my line of handmade homegoods and accessories adorned in my original pattern designs to shops across North America. More recently, I've been sewing my heart out and designing women's sewing patterns for home sewers.

Over the years, I've taught myself to grow two businesses from scratch by practicing my craft and learning from others who came before me. I'm here to share what I've learned about sewing my wardrobe, creating pattern collections, and building a line of products.

As a full-time designer and creative business owner, I love the work I get to do every day. If you're starting or growing a creative business with the dream of being your o... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Class introduction: Hi. My name is Casey Sibley, and this is Part 3 of Wholesale Figure Handmade Business. If you haven't already, you might want to go back and watch Parts 1 and 2. In Part 1, I was showing you the wholesale basics. The basic terms and strategies you need to know to get started whole selling your product line with retailers. In Part 2, I was showing you how I built my line sheets and catalogs using Adobe InDesign. In this part, I'm going to be showing you all of my tips and strategies for researching, contacting, and attracting potential retail buyers. If you're brand new to wholesale, this is a great crash course for beginners. If you've been whole selling your products for a little while but you feel a little bit stuck about finding new stores, there may be some chip bits in here that you can use to help you build that contact list and get more stores on your retailer list. This is the final part of the three-part series on Wholesale for your Handmade Business. By the end of these lessons, I hope that you'll be equipped with the know-how and the resources to begin whole selling your product line with stores all over the globe. Join me in the next lesson and we'll get started. 2. Create an online home for your work: The first thing and possibly the most important thing that you'll want to do is create an online home for your work. So the first thing that you can do is create a retail or wholesale website. You can decide whether you want to have these as two separate websites or if you want to combine them into one website, either way, it's really really important that you have a website for your work, so that you can send buyers to your website. So the thing that's nice about having your own website is that you'll have total control of your branding. It'll look more professional to be able to send people to your very own website. You're going to have lower seller fees than selling on other platforms. Typically you can also customize the buyer experience, which is nice. It's going to be a little more work to set up something like this on the front end. But in the long run, it's really going to make your life a lot easier. You may have to create some work-arounds for wholesale sales if you don't have a wholesale site. If you're only selling on a retail site, there are lots of apps and plug-ins that you can use to do this. If you have Shopify like I do, I use Shopify for my website and there are apps for other websites as well. But I actually ended up separating my wholesale and my retail site into two sites because it just was easier. I used to use an app called Locksmith. There was a plug-in for my Shopify site but over time, it just became a really cumbersome thing to do to make it work correctly. So now I have them on two separate sites. So I highly recommend that you have your own website. The next thing is selling on a wholesale platform. So there are companies out there that have created platforms for sellers to create a wholesale website basically. Indigo fair is a newer one that has come out and that's one that I sell on. It's just an e-commerce platform where you can list your work and they help you market your products to wholesale buyers. The ease of setup for something like this is going to depend on the platform. So for IndigoFair, it's been fairly easy to set it up. When they first started, I had to send my product to the Indigo fair administrators to set it up for me, which was frustrating at times if I wanted to update things, but now I can go on and update myself. Since it is still a newer platform, it can be a little awkward sometimes getting things updated, but they're always improving the platform because they grow. You're probably going to pay a larger seller fee or commission for sale. So on IndigoFair, it starts at 15 percent commission for each sale. You are going to pay extra for transaction fees, you're going to pay extra depending on the stores that come and buy from you. Like it's just our first-order or their second-order with you that's something that you need to look into on your own and figure out if the fees makes sense for you. You're going to have less control over how your products are presented. So this is another big one when selling on another company's wholesale platform, they haven't branded to fit their company and you have to kind of fit your branding into that. So that's one thing to think about. You're also going to be competing with other sellers on the platform. So they may be recommending other products while buyers are looking at your products and there are going to be getting e-mails from IndigoFair or whatever platform you decide to use that are going to be advertising not only your products, but other products as well. But it is easier to get found by buyers on these sites. So IndigoFair does a lot of marketing to bring buyers to their website. I've gotten a lot of wholesale orders through this site. So that's been a really great way for me to spend some of the time that I used to spend on wholesale outreach finding new stores, I get to spend that time on other things. So it actually has been really worth it for me. So I just recommend that you do your research, ask lots of questions, e-mail their help desk and just see what you can find out about it and ask other sellers about their experience on the platform. So IndigoFair and Stockabl are two that I'm trying out right now. I've told you a little bit about IndigoFair. Stockabl is similar I believe to IndigoFair. They are still as of this recording still kind of getting things set up on their website. So I haven't gotten everything listed there, but it's another wholesale site that is kind of taking the place of Etsy Wholesale which is now closed. So I'm excited to see how Stockabl goes. Then other services that I've heard of but haven't tried are Hubba, Wholesale in a box, IndieMe, and Wholesale Matchmaker. With all of these, some of these are services that help you find new stores. Some of them are going to be wholesale selling platforms or buyers can come to place an order with you. So depending on which one you use, you may still actually need your own website when using these. So other e-commerce platforms is another way that you can get your products online to show to buyers. Etsy is the most obvious one, and this is the only other e-commerce platform that I'm selling on right now, besides the wholesale platforms and my own website. So again, the ease of setup is going to depend on the platform, and Etsy, like I said, they've closed down their wholesale platform. So typically for Etsy, I am leaving it in a little bit and not putting as much out there. But I do have a note in my announcement that tells people where they can find me to buy wholesale if they want to buy wholesale. You're going to have less control over how the products are presented just like any other platform. You may pay a larger seller fee for sales because I know the Etsy charges transaction fees on top of fees on the sales and they also now charged fees on your shipping. You're going to be competing with other sellers on the platform, but it is easier to get found by buyers much like other platforms. So you may have to create workarounds for wholesale sales. So you may want to create [inaudible] codes or find another way to work around that since Etsy is not doing the wholesale any longer. Again, just do your research. Ask around and see if it's the right fit for you. There's also communities online and offline that you can join to find more information on wholesale and all the different apps and platforms out there. Two that have been really helpful for me have been Etsy Wholesale Sellers Facebook group and the Stockabl Wholesale Facebook group. There are people in these groups that range from very experienced to not very experience. But you're getting a lot of information sharing back and forth on these. They both have been very very helpful for me and also helpful for me in deciding which platform to sell on. Then ask retailers how they find new products. It's really a good idea to start building that rapport with retailers and asking them, what's the best way for you to find products? How do you like to shop for products online, those types of things. So just keep your eyes and ears open for any sort of feedback on that type of thing that you can find. 3. Strategies for finding wholesale buyers: Next, I want to share some of my strategies for finding wholesale buyers. In this section of the class, I don't want you to get too overwhelmed with all of the different options there are. I just wanted to share everything that I do just to show you what's available to you and what's possible. Don't get completely overwhelmed and think that you have to do all of this at once. It's a strategy of trying a lot of different things at different times of the year and seeing what works out best for you. I've got a lot to share in this part, but try not to get too stressed out because it's a lot of information. Anyway, these are all of my strategies for finding wholesale buyers and I do some combination of every one of these things at some point. The first and most obvious is showing your stuff on social media. I typically use Instagram the most and then Facebook second. I don't really use any other social media platforms to share my work. You have to just find what works best for you and your products and what you feel most comfortable using and even if it's just one thing, that's fine. I really rarely use Facebook and the stuff that I'm posing to Facebook is usually pushed directly from Instagram, so don't worry too much about being everywhere all at once. Focus really on one or two platforms that you go the best about, but some of the things that I do on social media, I use it as a search engine basically. I'm not trying to become Internet famous on Instagram, for example, but it is really helpful when I'm searching for inspiration and searching for stores and searching different regions and trying to figure out what is popular and what's selling and that type of thing. On social media, specifically on Instagram, I search hashtags a lot. I'll go out and look different hashtags that like wholesale and made in America and that thing and see what pops up. A lot of times that's going to be more other makers that are popping up that I may find stepped through their profiles that is helpful and helps you find shots. I also use relevant hashtags in my post. I'm tagging things with accessories or handmade in America or made in Michigan are the types of things that I know that the types of stores that I sell to or looking for just in case they go out looking. I also search the regions in Instagram. I'm looking at different areas like I might look in my local area of Lansing Michigan and start playing around with hashtags and living in different regions that way. Now I start local and you can start to expand a little bit more. Another really awesome thing about social media is you can ask your followers for suggestions. About a year ago, I actually put out a post on Facebook and asked my followers and I think it did good on Instagram to actually. I just asked my followers like, where do you shop? What little mom and pop boutiques do you love? Tell me, let me know what you think. I got hundreds of suggestions from people about different stores all over the country to look into and that was a really great resource. See what other brands are selling. I follow a lot of other handmade brands and I follow a lot of brands that are complimentary to the type of work that I do. A lot of times they'll post about where they're sending their products for wholesale. I do this too. You can see in this top right image, I've got pictures of some little pouches that I'm sending out. This was an order that I was packing up and sending to a retailer. I posted about that retailer. You never know and you can always check out those stores and see if it's a fit for your products as well. Another way to find buyers is trade shows and craft fairs. When I started my business, I was doing mostly craft fairs and now I am very selective and I choose shows that are relevant to my work, but when I started out, I was trying a lot of different things all at once. Now, craft fairs are going to be less likely that you're going to find a store buyers, but they do shop at craft fairs. They do go there looking for handmade artists to sell in their stores and the higher likelihood of getting found by those types of buyers is going to depend on what type of show you're showing your work at. There are some shows like Renegade Craft Fair that it's all over the country. Those shows have a lot of buyers that go there looking for a product to sell in their stores. That's the one comes on top of my head, but there are other ones that are more popular and juried shows that are going to be a higher likelihood of having the types of buyers that are looking for products to sell in their stores. Then with trade shows, you're marketing directly to wholesale buyers, which is great. You just want to be selective about those and make sure you're choosing ones that are appropriate for the types of products that you sell. You're going to have to evaluate the return on the investment for these because they can get really expensive, but it's also worth it if it's the right show for your product line. That's something to consider, but again, it goes back to being really selective and choosing shows that are relevant to your work. Doing trade shows and craft fairs, it's a lot more work, but it's a higher likelihood of finding serious buyers in a shorter timeframe than if you are reaching out to people via email and just calling buyers, they get to see your work in person at a trade show or a craft fair. It makes it more likely that they're going to make a decision on the product right there. When you do these types of things, you want to focus on gathering leads and collecting e-mail addresses, because you want to make sure that you get a lot of bang for your buck out of these shows and down the road you have contacts that you can continue to reach out to. You can call those you're warm leaves basically. You're going to be gathering these leads to start building a rapport with them over time and hopefully end up selling your product to them. Then niches are also a great way to get by or feedback, whether it's your retail buyers or your wholesale buyers, you're going to be getting a lot of feedback on the product and you're going to have people touching the products. You're probably going to have people giving you suggestions for more products that you should do. Even though you don't have to take all of the advice that you get. I feel like those types of things are really valuable and continuing to develop your product line. Trade shows, craft fairs, any in-person event like this, is a really great way to continue to develop your product and get the word out about it. This picture here is me and my mom at the New York Count trade show and I can say that this is a very expensive show to do, but I'm still getting orders from this show. This is a couple of years ago and it was a really great investment for me. It was a huge investment, it's not something I can afford to do every year, but it was it was really great for me. Something to keep in mind. Another great way to get the word out and find buyers is through networking and word of mouth. Like I mentioned before, there are Facebook groups, there are LinkedIn groups that you can join that are more business to business oriented. There are people that are also business owners that you can talk to. I highly recommend that you join groups like that. Joining local business focus networking groups. One of the groups that I joined a few years ago was a local business group for women business owners in my community in Reno, Nevada back when I lived in Reno and I got so much business out of that group. I also made some really great friends in that group. It was just a great way to help spread the word about our products and tell people about my products and then have them tell other people about the products. I attend a lot of events and conferences. This is another great way to share about your work. Tell your friends, your family, and your colleagues to tell their friends or mention your line to stores. It's really simple. Just talking about what you do and telling people to share it, people really will share it and it helps get the word out which is great. Ask for store suggestions from followers and friends. Like I mentioned before, that's a really awesome way to get literally hundreds of leads for potential stores that you can reach out to. Again, tell everyone when it's relevant in conversation, if someone asks you what you do, be sure to tell them that you have this business and you're trying to get the word out, and you want to wholesale your products, because you never know what connection you're going to make or who knows somebody that could be a connection for you. This is me in networking. Window shopping, this is another way to understand what buyers are looking for and see how buyers have products and merchandise. This is going to help you when you're reaching out to stores to understand what looks good in the store and whether or not your product was even a fit for the store. Walk in around in your area and see what shops are selling products complimentary to yours. Do the same when you're on vacation. That's another great way to find more national places to sell your word. See what shops post on their social accounts and on their website. I like to go on shop's accounts and websites and see what they post the most of and see what their best sellers are because that's also an indicator of whether or not my product would be successful there, and whether I should be reaching out to them and letting them know about my product. Then, always keep your eyes and ears open for clues on what stores are looking for and selling. When you're creating a product line, you may have started creating it because you really love creating it, but you also want to make it sellable. You want to make sure that you are representing your product in a way that a store can sell it very easily, and not only make money from it, but be really proud to have it in their store. This is a really important note: Do not ambush retailers in their store unannounced. That's a really unprofessional move, and it puts people on the spot. It can be really awkward and uncomfortable for the store buyer, and then maybe even for you when they're like, "This is weird, don't do this to me." You never want to just walk into a store unannounced and start pitching your line. The buyers may be busy helping other customers. They may not have time to talk to you or they may not be interested in your product. You don't want to put yourself in this really awkward, uncomfortable situation. You always want to call or e-mail first to schedule an appointment or drop off samples. I guarantee, the retailer will be much happier if you do that. Just something to keep in mind. Don't make it weird. Another great thing to do is just search on Google. Google searches are going to be a little bit more broad, but if you've been doing this for a couple of years, and you're starting to get a feel for what types of stores work really well with your product, then you can start using Google to pinpoint different regions and types of stores that you might want to sell at. You're going to want to start out locally and then expand to other regions. You want to search region similar to areas where your product already does well. My product tends to do really well in vacation communities, in beachy areas, it does really well in the New England state, so in the northeast of the United States, it does really well. Now, when I'm looking for new stores, I feel really confident reaching out to those types of stores. You want to think of regions that would be a good fit for your products aesthetically as well. Whether it's a beach vibe, or a mountain vibe, or a city vibe, whatever, you have an idea of where you want to see this product and where you can see it, think of those things when you're Google researching different areas to reach out to and then try multiple keywords. You want to try and think like a buyer or a tourist looking for products like yours in their area. Think about what people might be looking for if they want to buy a gift for a friend, or if they are getting married, or if they are buying a baby shower gift, or if they're looking for things for their home, or if they're looking for accessories, or clothing, that type of thing. Wherever your product fits into that type of search, you want to be thinking about that when you're looking for new places to sell. You can also look at complimentary brands. If you are following other brands online and you think that your products would look really nice sitting next to one another, so say, it's a candle company next to one of my bags or it's a place that sells a lot of plants and it's next to one of my little fabric buckets that I sell, you're always thinking about complimentary brands that would look great next to your products on a store shelf. You can search the stores lists of this person's product websites. I have all of my stores listed on my website. Anyone can go and look on my website and see where I sell in person, and start researching these stores and see if they're a good fit for their stuff. I want to stress that you want to find complimentary brands. Many stores are probably not going to be interested in selling the exact same product from another brand. If you make candles, for example, and they are already sell a line of candles, they're probably not going to be as interested in selling another line of candles. You want to think about those types of things. They're not necessarily looking for products that compete with one another in their store. When you can think about ways that your products can strengthen the other brands in their store, that's going to be the best fit. Don't reach out to every single store that another brand sells on. You want to be very selective and intentional in your search. You're not just trying to copy every single store and just like do this mass outreach. That's spammy. You want to make sure that you're really intentional about this and that you're using this as a starting point to help you find stores that you may not have found on your own. Other great sources for finding wholesale leads is the Etsy Local site. Etsy Local is a site that has events that are happening in different areas and you can just go and search an area and it will tell you different events that are happening. Etsy Blog also does some features on some of their retailers, so that's a really great place. I've scoured the Etsy Blog looking for shops to reach out to and that's been great. Magazines are awesome. Blogs and design websites, travel guides, city shopping guides, top 10 or best places to whatever list, and then local papers, stories on local businesses and events. What you're looking for in these types of things is any kind of story on a small shop, or a large shop, or whatever, any kind of stories on events, or fun places to visit, so that you can start to get an idea of where people are going to spend money on gifts, and personal accessories, and items, or whatever it is that you make. You want to get your mind in that mindset of finding the places that people are going to shop and seeing where your products fit into that. 4. Contacting buyers: What to say: Now that you've compiled your list of buyers and you are ready to start reaching out, what do you want to say? Well, the first thing I suggest is to write an e-mail. You're going to want to find the buyers contact info, so you're going to have to go on their website or wherever they are online, or even have to call the store and ask who you need to reach out to. I really like to personalize my e-mails and I'd like to address them to a person, if I can find the person's name and I try to make them very personal so that it doesn't feel like a spam email. I want them to know, I want to convey to them that I'm interested in starting a relationship basically and I'm a real person and I'm a one-person show and I want to make sure that they know that, so try to find the buyers contact information. You want to check their website first for submission guidelines as well. Some stores do actually have submission guidelines, because if there are really popular store, they're probably getting a lot of submissions and if they have those types of guidelines, you definitely want to follow them. I can guarantee you that the buyers are seeing these e-mails and they are checking them and the reason they have these guidelines is for a purpose because they probably are undated with submissions. This probably helps them keep everything straight. They have those types of guidelines follow them to [inaudible]. You want to create a clear email subject. There's no need to bury the lead here. There's no need to make it kind of click baby or trying to entice them with something that's confusing and they're like, Well, what is this and then they open it. Just be really clear about it. In the e-mail subject, there is products of submission, I put the name of my brand and I usually put the name of their store, as well so that it looks like I'm addressing it directly to them for their store. I think that that adds a level of trust when you can be really honest and transparent with people from the beginning at the subject line. Here's an example of one of the e-mail. This is a typical e-mail, but I'll send out to people. I've addressed this to the buyer named Molly. I briefly introduce myself and my line and I link to an about page for more information. Because I try to keep these emails pretty short and to the point so that I'm not sending them so much information to read because I know that they're busy and they want to be able to skim through everything really quickly and see what they need to see and make a decision in that moment. I'll briefly introduce myself, linked to an about page and then tell them why I'm emailing them and how I found them. In this e-mail I say, "Hi, Molly. I hope you are well. I recently found your lovely store on the Etsy Local site and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Casey and I own Casey D. Sibley Art and Design and I've linked to here, an American made lifestyle brand and accessories, gifts, and textiles designed to inspire a happy life. All of the products and textiles are designed by myself in Reno, Nevada and sewn locally by either me or my seamstress". This is an older email. I'm actually not in Reno, Nevada any longer. But this is a really great, small, short, blurb about how I found them, why I'm reaching out, and what I do and it makes it really to the point. The next line I say, "I was wondering if you might be interested in the wholesale partnership. I'd loved to work with you if you think our products are the right fit for your shop". I'm trying to be really humble here too. I'm trying not to make any assumptions about whether or not they're going to share. They want to have my live in their shop. But I'm also being really straightforward about what I'm trying to do here and why I'm emailing them. You want to highlight any relevant points about your brand, but keep it concise because I did that in the first paragraph and you want to tell them how to view your products and place an order. In the last paragraph, it's a couple of sentences. I just tell them they can see everything new and browse on the wholesales site and I give them the site to that and the password to get on to that site. You can also see the current wholesale catalog here without logging in. If they want to just see the catalog and not have to go on a website and enter our password and all that, I've to put a link to my catalog so that they can browse through really quickly. Then just I say here, "If you have any questions, please let me know and thanks for having to look". I try to keep it cheerful and brief and give them a little bit of information. But hopefully leave them wanting a little bit more and then I wrap it up. Occasionally, I'll put a few inline pictures in the actual e-mail, so I'm not attaching them, but I'm putting them in the body of the email. That's called an inline image. You don't want to send them a bunch of links, a bunch of PDF stuff, you don't want to do all of that because, again, they probably get a lot of submissions and anything that's going to clog up their inbox is not going to be really appreciated, so I tried to keep these emails pretty small and I tried to have links to everything that they would need to see, which is another reason why you want to have a website that you can link to all of this information. One thing that I'm majorly against is sending DMs or private messages or direct messages on social media. I think that's really unprofessional and it's also really hard to track that type of correspondence over time in an organized way. Some buyers may not check the messages like myself when people send me messages on social media, a lot of times I don't see them for maybe a week or more. I mean, there's been times that I haven't seen messages for like months and then I feel really bad, but I'm not in the habit of checking those messages. I really, honestly don't take people seriously when they email me or they message me through a direct message on Instagram, for example. I'm a huge proponent of doing your homework and writing the e-mail. You want to make this really personal, you want to make it really professional and show that you're someone that can be trusted and I feel like DMs are really unprofessional, so don't do it, write the e-mail. Then after you've written your e-mail, you want to follow up. If you don't hear anything for the first one to two weeks after the initial email, just send a little follow up and say, "I just wanted to check in. I'd still love to work with you. Let me know if you have any questions". Then maybe really linked to your about or your wholesale site and your catalog and just keep it really brief. Then after that first follow-up, I give it some time. I keep it really short and sweet and then after that I'm probably only following up with them a couple of times a year or whenever I have new products. You want to make sure that you stay on their radar, but that you're not being a pest. This is really important. You don't want to spam them, you don't want to badger them for a response. Sometimes the timing isn't right for these things. Sometimes it's not a fit. It could be a number of reasons why they don't get back to you, but you want to make sure that you're respectful of their inbox. If a retailer does tell you it's not a fit, don't keep emailing them. Leave it alone, take them off your list and don't need to e-mail them anymore. Sometimes stores will take a long time to order. I've had stores that have placed order, a year, two years, even three years after initial contact. It was a situation where they weren't telling me not to send them stuff, but they weren't responding. I just every so often, every few months I would be like, hey, just wanted to touch base and let you know I have some new products, basically, like I said, standing on their radar. There have been times, actually quite a few times when that has paid off in the long run. You want to be friendly and patient. Don't give up hope, but just stick to it and set a follow-up schedule and work it into your schedule, work it into your routine and just make it part of what you do, weekly, monthly, quarterly, however, you decide to do that. But just make sure that you're very respectful of their time and their inbox. 5. Timing is (usually) everything!: One thing to keep in mind when you are reaching out to stores and scheduling all of your outreach and your follow-up and all of that is that timing is usually everything. A lot of times it just depends on when you're able to reach out to these stores, so just keep that in mind. You want to time your outreach around buying seasons too. Most stores are going to be buying seasonally to prepare for the holidays and shopping trends. January through February is a really busy buying season for the spring and summer for stores, and then August through October is really busy for the holidays in Winter. The stores are basically trying to stock their shelves in advance and it's very seasonal. You want to check out trade show dates in your market and do your main outreach before, during, and after those show dates. New York NOW the one that I've done and others that are similar, usually happens in February, early February and in August. I usually try to time my collection releases around those dates, and I'll reach out within a month of the show, and then I'll reach out around the same time as the show, and I might even do a follow up after the show so that I'm on their radar around the same time that they are looking to buy stuff for their stores. You can also run show specials if you do trade shows to incentivize buyers, and you could do seasonal specials as well. Free shipping on orders over a certain amount is a special that I do a lot. Whether I'm doing a show or I am not, I usually will do a free shipping special around those times and it's something that I can handle. My shipping is not that expensive since most of my products are fabric, but you can also do a percentage discount. That's something that you want to make sure that you can cover in your pricing. But those are great ways to incentivize buyers to get their orders in. 6. Keeping track of leads: Over time you're going to be gathering a lot of leads, hopefully, if you are doing this on a schedule, if you're staying on top of it, you're going to be gathering a lot of names and emails of buyers, and you want to make sure that you have a really great system for keeping track of all of that and keeping track of all of your outreach. This is another reason that I don't like the social media direct messages and that thing because you want to make sure that you keep track of this and that you don't forget a conversation that you've had with a buyer in the past. One way to do that is to use a CRM. A CRM is basically just a customer relationship management app. There are tones of these apps out there. But basically, this is just something that helps you keep a log of all of your correspondence with customers and potential customers. It creates a pipeline, it's called a sales pipeline, and you can move your leads through that pipeline as your correspondence with them progresses. It's going to help you categorize your contacts and move them through the sales pipeline. I use Streak for Gmail. Streak is awesome. It is free, it's simple, it's easy to use, it allows you to do a mail merge, to email multiple people at once. I really really love Streak for keeping track of my leads. They have paid versions of Streak, but actually, I just use the free version, and it's been perfect for what I need it for, just to keep track of everything. You can also just google CRM to research others, there are a lots. Here's a close-up of my Streak in Google, and you can see I've created different pipelines. I have one for pitched, and this is an initial outreach. I have one for the followups that I do. I have cold leads, warm leads, hot leads. That's just like, a cold lead would be one that I just found and decide I want to reach out to. A warm lead would be someone that maybe I met and see a potential there. A hot lead would be someone that's expressed an interest and says that I want to place an order. Then they place an order, I put them in the order placed. If they do a reorder, that thing. I'm keeping track of all of that, and the nice thing about Streak is that it keeps track of all of those emails that you exchange back and forth, so you can look back at your conversation pretty quickly and easily, and search within this app. 7. Overcoming self-doubt: I know that this is a lot of information to process all at once, and I know how daunting it can be to reach out to these stores especially starting now. It still gets a little daunting sometimes. I've been doing this for years. But there are just some things that you need to keep in mind to help overcome the self-doubt that comes along with doing these cold emails and reaching out and trying to put your work out there. Doing this outreach is a numbers game. It's a lot like dating. You're going to be putting yourself out there in front of a lot of different stores that you are being intentional about. You want to make sure that you're intentional about the storage, you're reaching out to. But not everyone is going to place an order and your line is not going to be for everyone and that's okay. You want to be really intentional and targeted about the types of stories that you're reaching out to. You're going to find that there's going to be certain types of stores that just love your line. Then there's going to be some source that it doesn't do as well with. One way to think about it is you are helping a shop find more items its customers will love. Again, this comes back to being intentional about the type of store that you're reaching out to. But if you see products in a store that you know are complementary to the type of thing that you do and you can tell it to have a similar customer to customer that's interested in the stuff that you're making. You're just helping this store find more awesome products for their customers which is great. It's a win-win. If you look at it like a mutually beneficial relationship, that's the best way to move forward with this. Business is all about building relationships. One of the things that I love about doing wholesale and working with other small business owners that own their own stores is that I get to build relationships with these people and it's super rewarding. The more that you can build those relationships, the more likely it is you're going to get those orders and the more rewarding the process is going to be. Some shops will become repeat buyers. I have found that the 80-20 rule applies here. Twenty percent of my buyers make up 80 percent of my business. There are going to be some shops that come back over and over again and are really excited about your products. That's such a great feeling. There's going to be other shops that may only order one. But it doesn't mean that you have a terrible product. It just means that you weren't the best fit for that shop potentially or they may even come back years later. Maybe there is product just moves a lot slower. There are all kinds of factors that can factor into that. Don't beat yourself up if you only get one order from a store or someone turns down your line. It's just a matter of putting it out there and continuing to develop your line and evolve and find the right fit for you and your products. 8. You got the order! Now what?: So you did your homework, you gathered your leaves, you reached out to all of your stores, and now you've got an order which is awesome, so you can celebrate. But now what? The first thing is to have excellent customer service. Customer service is top priority when you're working in your business. Anything that you do in your business, customer service should be top of mind at all times. So you want to set expectations early and under promise over deliver. That's my motto with doing wholesale and running a business really and sometimes I screw up, it's fine. You're going to have times where you mess up and you're going to learn a lot but you want to just keep moving forward, but you want to be sure to set your expectations really early with your stores by letting them know when you're going to be able to ship, letting them know what they can expect, letting them know you've got the order, all of that. So whichever way you choose to take orders, you just want to make sure that the buyer is really clear. Once I hand over that credit card information about what they're getting in return. You want to keep your correspondence concise and friendly. So when you're emailing back and forth with your buyers, once that order is placed, you want to make sure that you kind of stick to the facts. You want to stick to answering any questions that they have about the products or about the order or anything, and not get too off track with what you're emailing them about because you want to make sure that you're not being confusing and your correspondents. So just keep it really basic, keep it friendly and try to keep things on track. You want to ship your orders on time. That's a big one. You want to make sure you're shipping on time. Don't just let this get out of hand and not keep everyone up to date on when they can expect you there order because that can be really frustrating for a buyer. You want to make sure you answer buyer questions and don't disappear if something goes wrong. So it's inevitable, things are going to go wrong from time to time. It just happens. Even when you're doing your best and you're doing everything, you can, sometimes things just get messed up. So you want to make sure that if a buyer has a question for you that you respond quickly and that you are not disappearing and making them wonder what's going on. If something does go wrong that you catch you want to be proactive and you want to let the buyer know immediately. So there have been times that I've been waiting on supplies that didn't ship when I thought they were supposed to or things like that, it just happens. So instead of going underground and not really letting the buyer know and hoping they don't notice, just email them. Send them an email, let them know what's going on. In my experience, buyers are always really understanding. These are other business owners, that's something to keep in mind so they get that things go wrong and they just want to know what's going on. You want to be friendly and accommodating, even when people are demanding. You're going to have some buyers that are just like when's the order going to ship, what's going on? They have a lot of questions. But you want to make sure that you are being really friendly and just grateful and appreciative of their business because they're also running a business, they also have their own stressful moments that they're going through. So you want to just be really aware of that and try to be friendly and accommodating as much as possible. 9. Thank you! :): Thank you so much for checking out my class, I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it was helpful. I want to encourage you to check out some of my other classes as well. Like I mentioned before, I have two other classes to round out this series on wholesale for your handmade business and I've linked those in the class description below this video. I also have a class on building seamlessly repeating patterns from your hand-drawn artwork using Adobe Illustrator and I have another class about building product mockups using Adobe Photoshop. If you have any questions along the way, feel free to leave me a comment below. I do actually check the comments, and will respond to your questions as soon as I can. Also tell your friends. If you have friends that enjoy these types of classes or you have friends who are either aspiring surface product designers or trying to build a wholesale business, let them know about my class if you've found it helpful. You can also follow me here on Skillshare to be notified when I'm releasing classes in the future. So thanks again and I hope to see you in another class. Bye.