The Best Complaint is to Make Something

Art is man's challenge to time, his rebuke to chaos; the protest will survive neither the triumph of fire, nor the finality of ice — but it is better than the silence of consent.
- Dr. Idel Dreimer

Whatever your politics, the present feels like a time of both destruction and creation. It feels like a time to make a stand - to actively participate in creating a world that we want to live in, a world where all people can thrive. To take ownership of ourselves and our businesses and our process. Something in Elysian Fields post of the James Murphy quote “The best way to complain is to make something” just rings true, especially right now.

We’re always inspired by what people make. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been so inspired by how the artists, designers, and makers that we work with and that we admire have spun overwhelm and fear into ideas, beautiful things, and action. Most importantly, each of these makers have called us away from division and into love. Their actions have been beautifully generative.


Here are just a few of the ways they’re doing it.


Native Bear, a stationary and gift line, lent their creative hand to Signs of Solidarity, a public art protest in opposition of divisiveness in Atlanta, Georgia.




Welcome feels the warmest in your native language. Scout & Whistle have created neighborhood signs to affirm and include, and they’re giving almost half of the proceeds to Portland’s Immigrant & Refugee community.





Bringing opportunity and ethics into every piece of their beautiful products, Sweetgum Textiles, based in New England, partners with regional women to sew their linens, donates 1% of all of their profits to For the Planet, and they only use natural fibers and water-based dyes.





Love binds us: This is the message of this newly released card by Pen+Pillar. 100% of the proceeds from the card go towards the Preemptive Love Coalition, an organization that offers support to refugees in Syria and Iraq.





SugarSky sews encouragement and empowerment into every headband they make. Skyler partners with US women to sew the headbands, and her new collection of patterns featuring the natural parks are subtle but powerful advocacy for the great outdoors.





A few more: Beetle Ink Co. is donating 20% of their February art sales to the ACLU. Milk Handmade and Argaman & Defiance are teaming up to donate up to $750 for the International Rescue Committee. Lisa Congdon is standing up for her right to state her opinions, as well as share her art, publicly.


How are you creating a world we want to live in?


We invite you to share your #makercomplaint online and tag Wholesale In a Box. Selfishly, we could use a little more inspiration these days.


Grow Your Wholesale

A free five part email series with the most important things we know about getting your handmade products into stores.

How Many Times Should I Follow Up With Stores

For makers, the emotional aspect of reaching out to stores is often the hardest. If you have taken the leap and reached to stores to introduce your work, you know it can be scary and even harder is knowing how many times to follow up. We get a lot of questions such as:

‘How many times is too many times to follow up? I know being persistent is good, but I don't want to look desperate or be a nuisance?’

‘How many follow-ups is too many? When is enough enough? Where is the line between following up and driving someone crazy?’

Every maker feels differently about the ideal number of follow-ups for them. We make the default with Wholesale In a Box to do two follow-ups as we find that this catches a lot of the stores that might be interested but didn't see or forgot about one of those initial emails. Some of the makers we work with don't like to do that second follow-up while others do an additional 2nd or 3rd and engage the store on Instagram and send something in the mail. 

The "ideal" number of follow-ups can certainly vary from store to store. Sometimes, if you're already a little "iffy" on the store, you might not want to follow up twice. But then again if you're pretty darn "sold" on your work being a super-good fit for the store, you can absolutely circle back a number of times. 

One way to do 3+ follow-ups is to stretch them over the longer term. So perhaps you do two follow-ups right away (at 2 week intervals) and then you circle back 3 months later with an update. And then again 6 months later just to pop your head in and say hello, perhaps telling them about a new product or line.  One thing you do not want to do because it’s illegal (and because it’s ineffective) is to add people on your mailing list who never signed up for it. 

For the most part, unless stores have given you a "no" it's not bad to keep touching base via email. The only thing that's not appreciated is if you do a TON of follow-ups in a super-short period of time, because then the store owner might feel like, "I haven't even written back to my mom/customers/friends in the period that you keep writing to me in! Hold your horses!" Keep in mind this isn't about wearing anyone down or sending them emails they don't want to receive. It is about being present and responsive and engaged with stores you truly believe are a good fit and would benefit in some way from carrying your line.

Check out our store owners interviews with the owners of Omoi Zakka, Moon and Arrow and Collected Thread to hear more about their thoughts on being approached by makers. 


I would be leaving something out if I didn’t say that the etiquette around following up varies quite a bit from industry to industry. There are so-called sales gurus who will tell you not to follow up fewer than 7 times and then 5 more touch points after that!  The truth is that while you may not want to go that far, if you only are reaching out to stores that you are really confident would be a good fit, you can stand tall in your strength and persistence in whatever way feels right for you.  

It is often at the intersection of self-doubt and a lack of information that we feel nervous.  You can mitigate a lot of the emotional turmoil around following up by: 

  1. Setting a standard for yourself as to the type of store you reach out to and trusting that anyone you have on your schedule to follow up with has already been vetted.

  2. Setting a follow-up schedule that you think is respectful, fair, and proactive, and

  3. Sticking to it no matter how you feel in that moment.  

For more see our Following Up With Retailers: Do's and Don'ts article in the Wholesale In a Box Training Center


If you have questions please feel free to reach out, we would be more than happy to help! 

Grow Your Wholesale

A free five part email series with the most important things we know about getting your handmade products into stores.