Many years ago, prior to my ventures in designing fashion accessories, I thought it would be “totally fun” to wholesale to stores and boutiques all over the country. It would be different, exciting and financially rewarding… so I thought! It would validate me as a serious artisan. I would be the next designer to have my creations appear on the runways of Paris and NY. I would be sought after by all the celebrities and famous people from all over the world, each vying to be the first to own one of my latest designs.
At the time, I was doing what I still enjoy today…………creating colorful art and placing it on the product (one at a time) Please be sure to repeat, “ONE AT A TIME,” very slowly, because by the time I had completed a project for a client, making multiples of the same thing over and over again was sheer torture! I had become the manufacturer! What was I thinking? I must have taken leave of my senses (as my mother used to say when she saw someone acting out of the ordinary) Got to love her.
At first, it WAS indeed fun. I was thrilled to have my work represented and sold in museum gift shops (just saying the word “museum” made me feel so highly important) My head was spinning with ideas such as making a “special design” for the First Lady and then flying off to Paris to premiere my latest collection. However, WHOLESALING is not as glamorous as one may think.
My suggestion to anyone wanting to “wholesale” their hand created products to retail stores is;
1. Be sure you understand the meaning of “wholesale.” Are you able to replicate an item over and over, possibly hundreds of times?
2. When you wholesale to a retail store, you will need to sell to them at a price that they will be able to mark up at least 50% or more.
3.Can you make a deadline? Deadlines are expected by merchants so they can get their product out to sell and if you are in no hurry to get a product to the customer, then don’t expect the customer to buy from you.
4. It is important to know about shipping and cost. You will need to configure this into what you charge the merchant.
5. Payment for your product. Will you offer a net 30/60/90 day? Do you require payment for your product immediately or will you take a deposit? Keep in mind, some larger companies cannot write you a check that day. You have to wait sometimes weeks for a payment. Are you financially able to carry on your business if that happens.
Be sure to fully understand the process of wholesaling before you set out to make hundreds of the same “butterflies” like I did. If you think whole selling is for your company, it can be a very rewarding aspect of your business, but be sure to work smart! Have a plan. Do the numbers first and consider it carefully before you jump head first into doing what you think you love, because you could end up disliking it very much, not to mention discovering the profit was not what you had anticipated.
Note: I still like butterflies, and gleam at the thought that somewhere out there in the land of “fashion” is a customer who owns one of my prior butterfly designs from years past, that they purchased from a retailer who made a huge profit, thanks to me!
Was it worth it? Yes. It taught me to work smart and find a manufacturer who could transfer my designs to my products faster, (INSTEAD OF ME) because time is MONEY!