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Topic: Approaching Companies  (Read 746 times)
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MinervaLRenfield
« on: December 28, 2011 04:12:45 PM »

I'm coming at this from the perspective of a designer/artist as well as a business owner.  I happen to own a company that carries both in house products as well as stuff I order wholesale from other designers and companies.  (Not trying to shill here, not even going to mention the name of the company here, just trying to express where I'm coming from).

One thing I've noticed over the last couple years that I feel compelled to offer advice on is how you might approach companies when you want to go into wholesale efforts.

The Golden Rule -  Please be professional.  I don't care if your product is super awesome amazing, if you send me an email that you obviously didn't proof, is vague, silly or even rude - I just skip it over.  If you can't behave like a professional I, and likely many other companies, won't want to work with you.  Maybe that sounds rude on my part, but it's the truth.  It's just like applying for a job, you want to look good, it's our first impression of you.  Don't blow it by making silly mistakes.

Be concise, but don't forget to tell us what you're trying to do.  Sending me an email with a link and a picture but no actually pitch leaves me wondering you are and worried that your link might be spam or a phishing attempt.  Sending me a 6 page bio about you and artistic technique before finally pitching me your wares is equally perplexing.  (Actually this also goes for when you're approaching magazines or websites for a possible feature, make contact first, then tell me your story.)

Don't Burn Bridges. I don't understand the need to be rude.  Some people will turn you down.  It's part of the business.  If you can't handle it then you shouldn't be approaching businesses to begin with.  I have some really shocking moments where I had to turn down some wholesale pitches based on any number of reasons, budget/style/feasibility/fit, and in some cases it's just a matter of season or timing and I might be interested in working with an artist at another time.  As much as I would like, I don't always have the ability to stock every wonderful vendor that approaches me.  

If your reply to my "Sorry, we can't make a deal at this time..." response is to lose your mind and send me spiteful, cursing hate mail about how I'm missing out on your awesomeness and you're going to make sure everyone you know hears about how horrible I am for saying no to you... yeah... you're off my list for any future interest.  It's a very quick way to earn yourself a bad reputation because business owners do talk to each other.

DON'T SPAM ME, BRO.  One time, I came across one designer that I thought had some great products I might want to stock.  I signed up for a wholesale account with them and I have been seriously spammed ever since.  It's put a bad taste in my mouth about working with them sadly because when they have a sale or promotion I can get up to a half dozen emails a DAY reminding me about how their promotions work and how limited time I have to take advantage of it.  Don't make your wholesale customers dread you.  

Going wholesale can be a great thing for your company.  There are lots of businesses out there who want to work with you.  Don't blow it by being careless in your interactions with them.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011 04:25:25 PM by MinervaLRenfield » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Chris in VT
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2011 04:10:13 AM »

You bring up some very good points.

But one thing a lot of artists fail to realize is are they making enough money? Especially the single artist who is doing everything him/herself.

As one who has done both wholesale and retail, I feel I can see both sides of the issue.

When someone wants to do wholesale, they must keep in mind they are, as a rule selling their work for half price. They must do volume in order to make it worthwhile.
The retailer then doubles the wholesale price. The retailer is the one making the profit. But when it's only one person making the product, many times they realize they are working just as hard for half the money. And in order to be successful, you must be very efficient.

We have wholesale "cash and carry" shows here in the US. One is just outside Philadelphia in February. Shops from all over the east come to Valley Forge and see who has what. The new wholesaler sells directly to the shops and if they like what they bought, will reorder. And a good wholesaler will have minimums. Otherwise I will guarantee they will fail.

I've done the wholesale shows, and I've done retail shows. I love doing the retail shows as I can have fun with the customers. And make 100% of the money instead of 50%.
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MinervaLRenfield
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2011 08:01:17 AM »

I agree with that Chris.  I was more coming at it from the "How to get your foot in the door" perspective really.  

Another point that you bring up in my mind however is the pricing - Make sure your product is priced right from the get go.  Make sure you have a wholesale price worked into your product BEFORE selling retail.  When I'm helping people start their businesses it's always the thing that makes them think I'm an idiot. I'm a big supporter of the ((Mats x 4or5)+(time))= Retail Price and the ((Mats x 3or4)+(time))=Wholesale Price formulas as a good starting place.  

The reason I bring this up here (because I know it's been brought up many times before) is because it'll effect how we do business together.  As a someone who might be interested in your wholesale goods, I'm not always looking for your cheapest price, I'm looking for a usable, competitive price.

That means if you make a necklace and sell it retail for $20 and that's only a 20% mark up over materials for you  then you can't wholesale to me without taking a serious loss.  

And companies aren't interested in 10%-20% discount wholesale.  It's just not viable for us.  Typically if I'm buying wholesale I'm going to want to sell the product at the regular retail price and still make some money off of it.  If you're selling necklaces at $20 and only giving me a 10% discount, that $2 off will likely be eaten pretty quickly the shipping costs, possible import taxes, the work costs to put it on my website, overhead, etc.  And I can't mark the necklace up much higher than your retail price, because then I'm not going to be able to sell it if it's something you also have on the market.  

So if you can't offer a decent wholesale price of something between 40%-60% look at your pricing.  It might be that you're undervaluing your work or maybe your product just isn't marketable as a wholesale product.  Maybe you can find a way to change it by altering your materials, sources, etc to try and make it more affordable to you to make.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011 08:02:06 AM by MinervaLRenfield » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2012 07:12:57 AM »

Too many crafters don't understand that in order to get their own supplies at wholesale prices (to make their own product cheaper), they need to order a LOT more than 20! They make 1 item at a time, so making 20 seems like a lot to them. They also don't think about how much work it will take to supply retailers with enough goods to make a 40-60% price cut worth their time and keep them happy. Once you become a one-man factory, the fun may disappear along with it. The factory aspect is why I got out of the handmade card biz. Well, that and the fact that I liked to hoard pretty paper instead of using it. Roll Eyes
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