Do you sell your handmade products wholesale?

January 19, 2013

Do you design your own handmade products or make one of a kind products and are wondering if you should sell wholesale? We reached out to some of our fans and readers who are selling their handmade products wholesale and here is what they had to say:

  • If you’re trying to sell wholesale to retailers, you may want to trial a little mystery shopping program. You can either ask a good friend to do this for you or if you’re in the hurry, create an email address on Gmail, and pose as a potential customer asking if them if they stock your product. When they say no, you (or your friend) say you/they saw it on xxx (your site). You can either wait for them to actually contact your website because they’re interested in the product mentioned, OR you can mention that customer XYZ likes their shop and has contacted you to see if you’d sell it there because it’s local, has nice staff etc and go from there. Everyone loves a little praise! - Elizabeth Ball from It’s In The Stars

  • Here are my tips!Your best tip to selling your handmade products wholesale (in other words, what advice would you give others who are looking to sell their handmade or one of a kind products to retailers? What has worked best for you?)Our advice, from David and me, is, first of all, sit down and think and analyze what is your market and what kind of audience you want to sell to.
    • Start small.  It’s much easier to approach the owner of an individual store than the buyer of a chain.  After you get some experience and traction selling with smaller retailers, you’ll have a lot more leverage when negotiating with buyers of large retail chains.
    • When I sell my handmade products to retailers, I focus on making the process as easy as possible for the retailer.  For example, I provide them with product scripts and brochures to assist their employees in describing my products to their customers.
    • Another great tip for someone just getting started is to make sure that they’ve priced their products correctly.  Smaller retailers appreciate an easy-to-understand pricing structure, and this is also an excellent business practice that will make it much easier to expand your business. - Naomi Tapia from Lipzen

  • It’s always important to do market research first and also see how big you want to grow.Be ready with all the right info from your suppliers before any order comes in, because if you are not ready, and retailers approach you, there is a chance that you can lose the opportunity.If you want retailers you have to go for it. Unless you know somebody in the industry who can help you, you have to do the work of putting you and your product out there to try to find buyers.There are trade shows, PR people, but starting local is always a good way to start. Everything that you don’t do yourself costs a lot of money, so you should learn for yourself every step of the way until you make it.Organization, organization, organization is the main thing for every business to succeed, and, of course, you will learn as you go! - Escauriza-David Martinez from Vania & David

  • Make sure you have a clear pricing strategy when discussing wholesale with a potential partner.  Communication is extremely important when discussing new partnerships and use a Customer Relationship Management Tool (we use Streak.com) to manage where we are in the sales process with our potential partners. - Kim Bennett and Michael Wuest from The Polished Trinket

  • Tips and advice for selling artisanal products to retailers and wholesale accounts.It is very important to set your pricing high enough to TRY to accommodate retailers margins. The more locations your products can be seen, the faster the growth of the business.In the end, the BLENDED profit margin is the important number. You’ll make great margins selling direct and not-so-great margins selling to retailers. Try to negotiate with retailers to accept lower than average margins on your products. Your product is unique/not available everywhere. Offer longer terms or helpful point of purchase marketing etc. These ideas have worked for me in negotiating lower than average margins with the retailers. - Jim Hamann from Duparquet

  • The best advise I can give to someone starting out a company that makes handmade products is to start slow and let sales build your company so you don’t over leverage yourself with debt.
    • Showcase your product at local farmers markets and similar types of markets to listen and learn from your customers feedback. This is an important step to help you refine your selling and presentation skills. It’s also great for market research and testing certain packaging, flavor options, etc.
    • Listen to your customers! When your are ready to go after retail retail accounts start small. Go after small co-ops and mom & pop type stores first. They most usually have a buyer in-store that can make purchasing decisions, and they will also help you refine any glaring issues or problems with your product or packaging.
    • Once you get placement in stores it’s time to demo, demo and demo some more. In-store product demonstrations, especially in the consumer packaged goods arena can help tremendously in building your brand and is worth the time. Consumers appreciate meeting manufacturers especially in times when most food producers are large companies that don’t have faces or names to go with their products.
    • Once you build 3-6 months of retail sales data, pitch a regional buyer for a small to mid sized regional retailer (5-25 stores locations) or a regional natural foods chain such as Sprouts, Mother’s Market, Whole Foods Market, etc. We built our business through slow and methodical growth making sure we created long-term relationships with our buyers. It’s very easy and tempting to do things much quicker, but this will create a flash in the pan response, which is not something that we wanted for our long-term growth strategy. - Bill Keith from Perfect Foods Bar

  • Get coverage by major sites (in my case Thrillist and Techcrunch) and do lots of in person sales to end customers to understand their listening and refine your pitch. - Brandon Peele from EVR1

  • Don’t sell your self short. for the hard times that the USA has been in, hand made goods have been on a claim. make sure you pay your self first for you work being done. most retailers will try to bump your price down. they know handmade goods are selling that’s why they are asking you/i for our products. but they want them cheap like it was made in china. china has made a trap with hand made goods and selling to retailers. make sure the store your selling to can handle your retail price. if its high end price then don’t sell to a mid price store and hopes they can sell them. getting pumped do to getting a store who wants to sell your product can cloud your judgement  make sure the can sell at full price the year round and not 1 month later sell your product for 50% off do to cant move it of the shelf. bad for your name.If a store/boutique is a good fit but doesn’t want your product or is uneasy to take on your product. Give them 1,2 or 3 products to think it over. that works, not right a way but later on the road. i have gotten famous/stars by doing that idea. so at right off it will cost you but in the long run it will work out.Stop leasing to other people. leas on to your self. trust your self. believe in your product. Don’t sell to store/boutique who cant sell your product just for the sake of getting a new account. if they cant sell your product at full price then walk a way, or make a new product that is cheaper for store/boutique that are in lower price.The best tip that worked for me: Do to product is all hand made no maishens and its only me making the bags as of now. i sell them by word of moth. to keep control of products i do consignment in boutique stores, i am still very small right now, its only me making the bags. - Severn Lang from TSLANG

  • Those looking to sell their one of a kind products should meet with people in person. I attended conferences, exhibit halls and really pounded the pavement to achieve the success I’ve seen so far. There’s just no replacement for meeting people face to face when introducing a new product like mine. And, be willing to try going through a distributor, but make sure to read the fine print. - Chad Archibeck from Re-String It

  • If you are selling handmade products wholesale, it’s a good idea to break down your price structure into Volume Wholesale quantities.  For example, your wholesale price per piece for 1 to 2 pieces will be higher than the CPP (cost per piece) for a sale of 2 – 4 pieces, or 5 – 7 pieces, or 8 + pieces.  Decide where it makes sense for your price breaks to give more attractive volume wholesale prices. - Barbara Bergen from Cremation Urns by Legacy

  • Never under estimate your customer.  The customer who buys a $20. set of coasters could be the customer who returns to by a $300. set of chairs. - Doreen Catena from Dordesign 

  • When looking for a wholesaler, start locally and with a store you or your loved one frequents.  When presenting your product to the store owner, make sure you mention that you are already a customer of theirs and love what they do.  This will immediately give you a way past their defensive walls in that they don’t want to lose you as a customer.Always present your product as a benefit to your buyer.  While its easy to be passionate about our product, its not always easy to present our product in a way that benefits the person we are attempting to sell to.  Research their store, what type of items do they have? What type of clientele do they have?  How can your product be sold in their stores?  Have you researched their industry?  To do a successful sales pitch, you must research your client.  The more you know about your client, the more you will be able to overcome their objections in a confident manner.  - Erika D. Hampton from Tag’d Up Apparel

  • My tip that I have for getting your products into stores is to be persistent, and always be prepared. When I first started my business about 8 months ago, like any new business owner I was searching for the best way to get my product and name out to others. I am constantly on the Internet looking for different venues, and outlets to house my product. My products are sold in a few local stores where I live, and I look forward to expanding to include big name retail stores within the near future. - Adrena Martin from CreationZ From A Dove

  • In our opinion, the best asset that a handmade supplier can focus on is ‘customization’. While the market is flooded with products, ‘customization’ is something that takes a simple product a notch higher. To understand this well, you can imagine a scarf or a tie that you have received as a gift. And then imagine the same gift with your initials/name crafted on to it. Customization is a word with an array of meanings when it comes to business practices. One could also customize the service that goes along with the product. It would also be very special if packing and packaging is paid attention to in this respect.  We, at Funky Dori, try to combine our aesthetics with the customer’s requirement as closely as possible and have repeatedly got good buyers and quantities because of the same. - Divya Rai from Funky Dori  

  • Make sure that you approach retailers that understand the nature and limitations of handmade or one of a kind merchandise (galleries, artisan product stores, etc.)- You’re probably not going to be able to make a 1000 units of something popular. Being handmade or one of a kind is a benefit on it’s own since it has built in exclusivity. - Angela Price from Eden Condensed

  • Research your desired market. Talk with store owners. Ask what the fastest moving products are. Find out what customers are ASKING for – it may be something you can make that you hadn’t even yet thought of.I think if you can also partner with a store and create a store-specific, or brand-specific customized product which is only available through them, that is helpful. - Catherine Tingey from ILAN

  • Stand firm on your wholesale price-point.  It’s flattering to know that a businesses is interested in retailing your items; however, make sure that they understand that your items are handmade and your prices reflect your personal touch & creativity. - Shauna L. Howard from Diva-In-Training Designs

  • After spending the past year and a half working to create a solid online and local presence, we are now offering our products wholesale. For us, it’s a no-brainer.  I have no doubt that this will only help to grow our business.  We have spent a great deal of time making sure that we aren’t going to “giving away the store” in the process, however.  Carefully calculating all costs associated with each product is key.  This allows us to come up with a fair and equitable solution for both our wholesale clients as well as our pockets. - Heidi Danos from Dirty Knees Soap Co.

  • The keys to selling handmade products wholesale, are the guarantee in swift production and turnaround, while not sacrificing the quality and integrity of your brand. Some of the handcrafted products that we carry on our site include cupcake wrappers and stands, wood-burned products and birch items, and we have very high quality assurance standards for these items. What has worked best for us is distilling down production times for each of our handmade products and components for each of the products to very specific metrics. We only introduce products our handmade products to retail clients when we have been assured that our products will meet the quick turnaround and quality assurance standards that we have set for Koyal. - Shreyans Parekh from Koyal Wholesale

  • Most of my larger pieces sell via the Internet.  My jewelry which has a smaller price tag sell through retailers.  Since I am an artist first I want my creations to be appreciated therefore, I never approach a retailer. I will slowly build a relationship with the retailer making sure it is placed in a good location and displayed properly.   The retailer must like your product or it won’t sell. - Joy Scott from Coastal Art Glass

  • When you pitch your product to retailers, make sure you pitch products that are a good fit with the other merchandise they carry.    If  most of the items in the store are made for  corporate or professional women, it would not be wise to pitch a 4 inch Hot Pink pair of earrings. Before I pitch to a retailer, I like to research the photos on their facebook page and website if I cannot physically visit the location. - Olivia Thompson from HypnoEars

  • Selling your products at wholesale to the appropriate retailers is a great way to expand your business and build awareness of your products. In return, the retailer can rely on your quality products and buy them at wholesale to make a profit and expand their customer base. - Nancy Tomovska from Stance

  • Quality over quantity with extreme discounts on future orders to keep customers coming back. Quality handmade attention to detail has been what people enjoy the most about our products. - Steve McGarry from McGarryGadGets

  • Do the proper research BEFORE you approach the store’s buyer.  Go to the shop as a “customer”, see what other merchandise is similar to yours, see who the shoppers are, etc.  That way, if you’re lucky enough to get an appointment with the buyer, you will sound knowledgeable, prepared and polished.  Also, wear your product!!!  With my one-of-a-kind feathered headpieces I make sure to wear one when I browse a shop I’m interested in.  I have my 1-minute “elevator speech” ready to go in case someone admires it. - Andie Cohen-Healy from The Feathered Head

  • We’ve found that connecting with business professionals on LinkedIn has brought us many wholesale opportunities. I spend as much time as possible answering questions in community forums for others and also just sharing ideas and that brings a lot of attention that result in wholesale inquiries. You never know if the person that your are helping out with advice has connections to a store buyer. - Jeffrey Nash from Juppy

  • When turning handmade items into wholesale orders, it is important to remember that you must be able to mass produce the item. In other words, if you have been making those gorgeous one of a kind beaded earrings, and want to turn them into a wholesale order, you have to be able to have all materials on hand to make 20 or more pcs. and be able to assemble them. This is where it can get tricky, and you do not want to get in over your head. I recommend simple pcs. for wholesale orders. Pcs. where you know you will be able to get the materials you need, at a great price, and they will not run out of stock. Also, a handmade pc. that is easy to reproduce. If you get enough orders, you may need to hire help and you want your staff to be able to work on the designs easily.Because you are not going to be the face of the brand when it leaves you to go to a brick and mortar shop, I would recommend adding a personal touch to the item. Such as a hang tag with your logo on it, or a signature to the item. This can add to your brand awareness as well, and really helps with advertising. - Heather Markowski from Posh Adornments

  • Unfortunately selling wholesale wasn’t something that worked well for me. Here is why? (1) I could not sell the product at a wholesale price low enough that the retailer could sell the product at the margin they wanted. (2) Most of the clients want some level of customization on the piece/design, even if it is a simple as a ribbon change. (3) I wasn’t willing to sacrifice quality of my handmade designs to drive costs down to produce in extremely high volumes. - Kristi Richardson from Bloomed to Last

  • The best thing you can do selling handmade or one of a kind products wholesale is to make a sample, reach out to those who can influence that connect to your customer, talk to your customer, network and show the quality of your product. - Michael Flanigan from Expressionary

  • The tips I want to share are:
  • Set a price that allows enough profit for your time and energy.
  • If you have an online presence state to any potential retailer your desire not to have your products on their website competing with your online price.
  • Stay away from larger catalog companies unless you can truly fill their larger orders with a price that allows enough profit for your time and energy.
  • Always remember tip #1

  • The best tip that worked for me:
    • Personally walking into stores that might carry your product and talking with the owners.
    • State on your website you are open to wholesaling.
    • If budget allows, research and attend a wholesale trade show that best suits your product line. These can cost a bit to get in but can really increase your wholesale business. - Galen Dively from Burnt Impressions
  • 4 Comments. Leave new

    Having wholesale information accompany your product listings on your website is really helpful and makes you really approachable. Lots of retailers are out there looking for new product lines to introduce into their shops — having that information at-the-ready and looking like someone who has dealt with the process before definitely gives you a leg up!

    Reply

    U should recommend this page for selling handmade items..

    http://www.ezebee.com

    its new and some things have to improve but i like it!

    Reply

    Also stay positive and never be afraid to go after the bigger chains as long as you can deliver. :)
    https://www.myfairycouture.com
    https://www.myfairycouture.storenvy.com

    Reply

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