On November 10th, we had the second Maker Session in our class series called The Ins & Outs of Wholesale with Brian Holoubek of Heavy Rotation and Brandy Boyd of Hot Pop leading the class. With the broad topic of selling handmade wholesale, the class also touched on what buyers are looking for in a product, how to get your work sold in local and national stores, and trade show secrets.
As the buyer of Hot Pop, Brandy Boyd shared her perspective on the relationship between buyer and maker. [Read more about Brandy and what she does here!] Her shop has a large focus on locally handmade items and deal in consignment as well as wholesale buying. While Brandy finds some items and their makers through social media, the majority of local items sold at Hot Pop have been selected because of the hard work and gumption of the maker.
In order to get your product in the store you must send the email, call the buyer, ask questions, and seek out information face to face. As important as putting in the time getting your product in a store is making sure you have the right store. Does your item fit the general aesthetic and mission of the establishment? Does the store have the clientele that will purchase your item? Knowing your product as well as your customer is key to success. The shop buyer can be an important factor in developing a customer base as well as a great way to receive feedback. The maker can find out how their line is selling, who is buying the product, how they can expand, as well as what they can do differently.
Presentation is everything. When approaching a business the appearance of your item is very important. The packaging must look presentable. Eye-catching, clever, and unique packaging may set the item apart from the rest. Always include your information. Having an email, website, blog and other info attached to the item will lead to more sales.
“Know and do what works best for you,” are some simple but affective words of wisdom from Ms. Boyd. Pick the right store, the right buyer, and the right price.
On the opposite side of the spectrum Brian Holoubek spoke on his experience selling his art based t-shirt line, Heavy Rotation, through wholesale. [Read more about Brian's business and personal experience here!] Brian started small by talking to boutique owners face to face. He asked them simple questions about what they buy and who they sell to. Just by talking to people, Brian was able to begin wholesaling to a few accounts. Hi business began developing much quicker when he took the step to begin participating in high volume trade shows.
Brian’s talk took wholesaling step by step starting with developing a line sheet. A line sheet is a way for buyers to see your product line alongside the information needed such as price and shipping date. These line sheets can be printed or done digitally.
Brian then touched on a key component from Brandy’s talk. Find the right stores. “In part, product and price dictates distribution, however there is an art to navigating retail.” Find your fit, start a list, and get to work!
To get your foot in the door literally put your foot through the door. Talk to buyers, like Brandy, in person. Ask questions and bring samples. If the store you are aiming for is not in your town call directly, send personal emails and physical samples to get your brand in the hands of the buyer.
Brian spent a lot of time talking about the benefits of trade shows. Trade shows can be expensive and time consuming however very integral to getting your wares into the hands of bigger and broader retailers. Find the right trade show for the product. There is a trade show dedicated to every avenue of retail so find the right fit. Doing a trade show is very similar to setting up shop at a Maker Market. Your space and how you design it will aid in sales. Inviting and interesting display is key to selling your wares. Booth design matters. In addition to setting up an amazing booth, take business cards, talk to buyers, and build relationships to ensure repeat visits. Be aware and engaged!
If you are interested in learning more about dynamic booth design, we will be hosting Renegade Craft Fair for the February Maker Session who will come to highlight ways to make your work stand out! This class will be available on January 6th. For now, consider signing up for the next class in our series entitled Simple Product Photography! If you would like to be notified when our classes hit the shop, sign up to receive vendor notifications here.