Considering a Store Display For Your Line? 3 Principles to Keep In Mind

This blog post is part of a new project to support you in growing wholesale. In addition to the other things that Wholesale In a Box makers get from us every month, we’re trying something new -- Wholesale In a Box will have a monthly theme we’ll focus on across the company. For our first month, we’re starting with a topic that is really important for growing wholesale, but isn’t always the first thing that makers focus on: standing out on store shelves.

We’ll delve into that theme in the Monthly Brief that makers get, we’ll write about it here on the blog... and we’ll cover it on our brand new Secret Podcast! What is the Secret Podcast you say? It’s a podcast just for Wholesale In a Box Makers. In the very first episode, we spoke to Mary Claire White, owner of the Memphis boutique Falling Into Place. We dig into everything from store displays to starter packs.

Want access to that episode? All Wholesale In a Box makers who are with us by July 1 will get the episode. So if you’ve been waiting to sign up for Wholesale In a Box, now is a great time.

Having a great product is always Job One for a maker. The beauty, artistry, quality, and branding of the pieces you make are the foundation of everything that happens in a handmade business.

That said, if wholesale is your focus, your primary customer is the creative, hardworking store owner who buys from you. And that means that your job is to help them sell your work -- not simply to hand off your line and hope for the best.

This month at Wholesale In a Box, we’re focusing on the topic of how to help your line to stand out on -- and fly off -- store shelves. There are multiple components of doing that successfully: branding, packaging, and pricing among them. But one interesting -- and lesser used -- tool you can use is that of store displays.

We dig more into the hows and whys of store displays, signage, and starter packs in the Wholesale In a Box Secret Podcast (available to Wholesale In a Box makers starting July 1.) But in this article, I want to look at a few displays that work well and call out three principles that you can use for your own store display, if that’s something that makes sense for your business.

3 principles to use in creating a store display for your handmade line:

1. Keep the display simple, above all.

I love this display from Humboldt House in Chicago, IL. It’s beautiful but it’s also very simple, which helps highlight the bold jewelry in contrast. While this particular display is likely one that Humboldt House created in-house, it is a format that could work well for a jewelry maker to provide to a shop owner, especially in combination with a small sign to accompany it.

What’s working here:

  • The look of the display complements, but doesn’t overshadow, the aesthetic of the jewelry.

  • It is versatile and can be combined with other merchandising elements by the store owner.

  • It’s affordable to make, as the structure itself is fairly simple.

2. Use resources you already have and match the display’s aesthetic to your line

Linda at Rustica Jewelry creates these displays for her line (and actually sells them to other makers.) She partners with her husband to create the displays, since he’s a woodworker.

What’s working here:

  • The aesthetic of these displays is rustic, and simultaneously muted and colorful. That matches Linda’s aesthetic perfectly and works well for the stores that buy from her.

  • The displays have a small footprint and rotate to showcase more pieces from her line.

  • She’s found a way to produce these easily and economically, by using resources she already has. While not everyone has a woodworker husband they can ask to make displays, everyone does have resources on hand (whether materials, skills, or collaborators) that they can leverage.

  • They incorporate a bit of branding in an unobtrusive way.

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3. Consider adapting displays you already have

Quiet Cricket has a beautiful line of candles and apothecary items. While she’s going strong with wholesale, Hannah from Quiet Cricket actually got her start at craft markets. Because of that, she has a lovely display that she uses at markets -- but would translate very well to wholesale. While she hasn’t yet, she could consider adapting this display to be used in-store by shop owners.

What works here:

  • The display has multiple tiers to showcase multiple products from the line.

  • The aesthetic aligns perfectly with Quiet Cricket’s sweet, minimal, dreamy brand.

  • Its relatively small size would make it easy and affordable to ship and helps with any footprint or shelf space concerns that store owners might have.

All in all, using store displays and signage in your wholesale strategy can help set you apart from other makers and help stores sell your work. When thinking about them in the big picture of your overall business strategy, remember to keep them well designed (matching the aesthetic of your brand), simple, cost effective, and with as small a footprint as possible.

These tips just skim the surface of our Secret Podcast Episode 1 with Mary Claire White of Falling Into Place. We talk signage, store displays, starter packs, how to decide if these elements are right for your business -- and if so, how to pursue them simply and well. Want access to that episode? All Wholesale In a Box makers who are with us by July 1 will get the episode. So if you’ve been waiting to sign up for Wholesale In a Box, now is a great time -- make sure you’re signed up for our mailing list to get our updates.

Grow Your Wholesale

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

Don’t Hire Someone to Be Your Best Friend (And 6 Other Hiring Tips)

First of all, I hear you. HIRING IS HARD. It’s hard to manage people. It costs money. It takes a huge amount of time to find, vet and train people. You don’t have a big enough studio. You’re an introvert. You have just a small amount of work available. You live in a tiny town. You’re an artist, not a manager. You tried that last year and it didn’t work out.

But no matter how hard you work, or how Beyonce-like you may be, there are still only 24 hours in a day. So in order to build something more evolved than what you are currently doing, you need to involve other people.

If you don’t hire help, growth in your art and business will come at the expense of your relationships, health, or happiness. And I honestly believe that most makers should be hiring help -- but that it likely won’t take the traditional form of a full-time (or even part-time) studio assistant.

If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed with all you have to juggle as a maker, business owner, artist, and human being, read on.

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7 things I’ve learned about hiring help (even as a tiny handmade business):

1. Make a list of your Jobs To Be Done

The biggest mistake people tend to make when hiring is that they think in terms of job titles, for instance: “I need to hire a studio assistant.” The problem with this is that the job titles you’ve heard of may not meet your needs in terms of your budget or what you actually need done in your business. So I recommend thinking in terms of Jobs To Be Done (JTBD), instead.

How to begin? Make a list of all of the things that need to get done to maintain or grow your business and that YOU don’t HAVE to be the one to do. Prioritize them -- the highest priority tasks to outsource are those that will move the needle on your income and are those that you are least good at or enjoy doing least. Once you have your set of high priority projects, begin to envision the traits of the future project do-er. This starts to become your job posting. We spoke with Katie, of Katie Dean Jewelry, at the beginning of this year for our Mentor Intensive. Here’s what she said about when she knew it was time to hire:

I had gotten to the point where I was so exhausted that I would have conversations with people and then wouldn’t be able to remember what had been said. Ultimately, I knew I had to make a shift for my well-being and that it wasn’t selling out. It was very gradual, though. I think the best way to do hiring is to do everything yourself until there simply isn’t enough time in the day to do what you need to do, or the volume of product is more than you can produce. At that point, you hire someone on.

2. Find the money.

I always laugh when people recommend finding the money for hiring by “cutting out that latte habit” and using that money to bring on help for your business. Most small business owners wish they had enough money to have a latte habit in the first place. So I won’t tell you to find your hiring money by trimming luxuries you never had.

But -- many of us are wasting money or leaving money on the table by under-hiring because we have a scarcity-based impulse. So I will tell you to take a hard look at your finances and identify any money you can spare. You need less money than you assume to hire. And you probably have more money available to you than you think. In a recent interview, Aftyn from Rise and Wander says that although she and her husband have a tight budget, they sit down at the end of every year, look at all of their spending, and figure out what they could downsize, change, or cut out to make room to hire more help.

If you don’t hire help, growth in your art and business will come at the expense of your relationships, health, or happiness..png

3. Hire for the right number of hours.

Many people assume that you can only hire people for 20-40 hours per week. But the truth is that you can hire people for a day per year in the busy season… or a weekend per month… or 5 hours per week… or any other structure in between. It can be consistent or it can be seasonal. So consider your list of Jobs To Be Done and consider the amount of money you can possibly round up to spend on the new hire. The number of hours you hire for should come from your JTBD and budget -- not the other way around. Jennie of Jenny Lemons shop and brand explained a bit of her thought process when it comes to hiring during our Mentor Intensive:

I have an assistant who helps me 1-2 days per week who helps me and who is also a small business owner who is getting started. I’m also looking into hiring an actual employee. And I’m really committed to working with artists and small biz owners.

In terms of how much to pay, it depends on the job and also on minimum wage. I wish I could pay what Google pays people. But minimum wage in San Francisco is $14, which is really high, so I start people at $15 because I don’t want to be minimum wage but it’s also what I can afford and what I think is fair.

4. Don’t hire someone to be your best friend.

The personal relationships I have with my team are some of the most satisfying, positive relationships I have. It’s such a beautiful thing when we connect deeply and personally with the people we work with. That said, I didn’t hire my team to be my friends -- I hired them to fill functional roles on the team. I recently heard Whitney Johnson put it like this:

When we’re hiring people, we’ve got functional roles we need to fill on our team. But one of the pitfalls for people is we’re not clear on the emotional jobs we’re hiring for. And I think we have to be really, really reflective because it sometimes shows the underbelly of who we are. Sometimes we hire someone because we want them to take care of us… or hiring someone because we want someone to talk to… or to have them somehow take care of the business.

Hire people who are good for your business and hire them to do jobs that need to be done. Don’t hire as a salve your own emotions, to bring a “cool factor” to your business, or to give you a pass as a business owner.

“Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” - Brené Brown.png

5. Find the people.

When we first started hiring, I only shared my job posting through our social media, email list, and personal networks. And it always seemed like an uphill battle to find enough great candidates fast enough. Since then, I’ve found that paying to post jobs can be very much worth the money, even though it’s a tough pill to swallow. When you’re making your budget, plan on spending some money on finding and training your new hire -- rather than assuming those costs will be zero. Depending on the type of work you’re hiring for, consider Handshake, Upwork, FreeeUp, Working Nomads, local universities, local job boards, or other for-pay places. It doesn’t matter as much which board you choose -- the important thing is to treat it like a real hiring process, not just a matter of hiring someone you know.

6. Start with a trial project.

This is a bit of detail, but it’s a detail that I’ve found powerful. It’s hard to get to know someone in the course of the hiring process. And every job has its own quirks. So I recommend starting every new hire with a small trial project so you can see in action whether there is a fit between the person you hired and the job they’ll be doing. Pick something representative of what the job entails, but that doesn’t require a ton of training -- and make sure they can complete it in less than a week. At the end of the trial project, step back and assess whether they did a fantastic job on the work itself, as well as demonstrated the values and character traits that you want to see in the hire.

7. Be clear.

The biggest mistake I see inexperienced leaders, hirers, and managers make is that they are unclear. They’re unclear about the good, bad, and ugly of their job when they’re hiring. They’re unclear in the training process. And they’re unclear with criticism and praise. My teammate Simone says, “overcommunication is good communication.” So overcommunicate in your job posting about what the job is really like. Overcommunicate in your training and management. Overcommunicate about feedback and concerns… as well as about praise and gratitude and what’s going right. And as Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.”


A hiring case study…

I spoke with Jonnie from Grey Theory Mill about her recent hiring experiences and she had some wonderful wisdom to share. She is based in San Diego and is a beautiful force in the maker community. Her line is a spirited blend of cheek and class, and Jonnie had some great thoughts on the mountain tops and valleys of hiring:

Finding “Goldilocks”

Cliche, but it really is about finding the right person. I had hired 3 people before landing my "dream girl", and they were good, but--to quote Goldilocks--they weren't 'just right'. I had known most of last year I needed to hire help, but it really set in during my August tradeshow when I noticed a fellow maker had a friend she flew in to help her with the show. My thought was, "who would I fly in to help me sell my brand here?" I don't have an extensive list of friends who aren't already makers, and many of my friends are neck deep in raising kids, OR pursuing careers, OR wouldn't be a good fit, but one friend did come to mind.

Navigating business and friendship

When I got back into town I asked this friend if she would ever be interested in helping me with shows. Her whole face lit up and she enthusiastically agreed. Later she approached me and shyly told me she's always been interested in learning about jewelry, loves to make things, and asked me if I would consider teaching her how to make the jewelry--as an intern. I was so excited that I immediately said yes. I hadn't asked her if she wanted to do anything else because she has a career, I just didn't know at the time she was wanting a change.

Jonnie and Monica of Grey Theory Mill

Jonnie and Monica of Grey Theory Mill

I had been saying I didn't want to hire a friend, but I guess there was a loophole if that friend was, "just right." It also helped that this friend is one of the most considerate humans I know and literally said, "if I am not good at this or not a good fit, your success is important to me and I want our friendship to be unaffected by this." Without knowing it, I had hit the jackpot.

Diving in as a team

I hired her in September and we started with small things and had fun. By the time we hit December, she knew how to make all the dangly earrings and a good deal of the necklaces. The icing on the cake was, I didn't have to train her at all on shows. She's inherently amazing at representing and selling.

Training is tedious work (and something that made me dread hiring someone because it would slow production down), but I knew looking at the long road ahead, there would be four capable hands instead of two very tired and distracted ones.

Breathing and evolving

Hiring her gave me the breathing room my subconscious knew I needed, but my pride was hiding. I'm beyond grateful and so excited to have her on my team.

Now we're in the second quarter and I have trained her to do email marketing. She caught on quickly and I now consider her better at it than myself!

Jonnie’s tips on hiring:

  • Say exactly what you want out loud OR write it out. I firmly believe in the answers/things/people you need showing up when you get the thought out of your head and into the world.

  • Hiring friends can be amazing or a total shit show. You should be able to tell or know if a working relationship added to a friendship might cause damage.

  • Start delegating and training them on the tasks you hate. Telling them you hate said tasks is optional. I told mine after she said she LOVED doing X + Y! My response was, "AWESOME! That's my least favorite!!"

  • Set goals and reasonable expectations based on their experience. For a lot of my jewelry, I can make a piece in X amount of minutes. I share that with her so she knows that that is where she should be reaching.

  • Tell them when they make you proud!!! Tell them when the mess up, but don't get mad! You've been doing this for YEARS. They are learning a whole new trade.

  • Spoil them. Seriously, if they are your "IT" person, your "just right" person, spoil them. Even if it's small spoils like their favorite coffee, small gift card, lunch, etc. Be a boss they want to work with and for, be a cool job. My employee basically gets any free jewelry she wants, she gets treated to the restaurant of her choice after shows, I went BIG on her Christmas presents, I round up on hours, etc.”

Hiring is an intimidating process. Building a job description takes time, training is tiring, and there are other challenges to overcome. But here’s the reality of it: creating a team of people who are excited about your business and mission will not only energize you, it will empower you to bigger, more beautiful aspects of your art and business.

So embrace honesty and ask yourself what you need. Look truthfully at your finances in order to leverage your business’s fullest potential. Start small and incorporate sample projects as a part of your hiring process. Above all, clearly articulate what and who you need to launch your business into a better place.

As Jonnie reminded us, it may take a few tries to find your “Goldilocks” team. But be patient with yourself and embrace flexibility in this new adventure. When you find those great teammates, your art, business, and relationships will be all the better for it.

Grow Your Wholesale

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Maker Tips + Reviews Of Faire -- Plus Our Two Cents on Using It to Grow Wholesale

I’ll be honest. When I first heard about Faire in early 2018, I was very skeptical.

My concerns were partly rational and partly emotional. Marketplaces are double-edged swords for makers -- they can be helpful, but the relationships that makers work so hard to build are assets of the marketplace, not of the makers. Which is a big problem when those marketplaces pivot or close. Plus, the founder of Faire is very… tech-y and Silicon Valley-y. And I was worried about whether he would really make the hard choices to put makers first.

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Since then, we’ve learned a lot about Faire -- especially how it really works for most makers, and how makers can use Faire without getting burned. I still have many of the same bigger picture concerns as before. But the reality is that Faire is becoming a more significant option and tool for many makers, and we want to make sure we’re supporting our makers in using that tool effectively and wisely.

Our first stop in putting together this article was to ask makers we respect for their honest review of Faire, as well as their recommendations and tips for other makers. Today we’re sharing those reviews and tips, details on how Faire works for handmade lines, pros and cons, what makers should consider when deciding whether to use Faire, and how Faire and Wholesale In a Box can work together.

What is Faire and how does it work?

Faire is an online wholesale marketplace connecting product companies and stores. It was established in 2017 under the name Indigo Fair -- since changed to Faire because of a trademark issue -- and has been growing steadily since. It’s based in San Francisco, founded by a Square and Square Cash alum, and has raised a lot of venture capital since inception.

In terms of structure, it is similar to Etsy Wholesale. Makers apply to have a store on Faire, where their products are then uploaded, and stores are able to search and shop all of those products.

How does it work for makers?

  • You must first apply and be approved to become a maker on the platform.

  • Once you’ve been approved you’ll need to create your shop page, but Faire does offer to set that up for you if you give them access to your product information and images.

  • It doesn’t cost anything for the maker to join, but Faire takes a percentage from orders placed on the site. First time store orders have a steep 25% commission, while all reorders have a 15% commission. In addition, there is a 3% credit card fee on all orders.

  • Generally, makers need to message stores through Faire and don’t have access to store information directly.

  • Faire guides makers to conform to some guidelines, including a very low wholesale minimum and a specific wholesale markup.

  • One way a maker can avoid paying commission on orders is to direct stores to their shop page with a personal link. This is called the Elevate Program and is used for current stockists that have not placed an order with the maker through Faire. It’s an incentive program to get more stores ordering through the platform.

How is Faire different from Wholesale In a Box?

While both Wholesale In a Box and Faire are tools makers can use to grow their wholesale business, there are a few things that make the two tools very different.

Most concretely, Wholesale In a Box is a tool that helps makers take wholesale outreach into their own hands. Faire is a wholesale marketplace. That means that Wholesale In a Box is a more active approach -- that doesn’t work unless you work the system -- while Faire is more passive, and may land you orders without any effort on your part. It also means that with Wholesale In a Box, all of the relationships with stores are between you and the store, whereas with Faire, those relationships are owned and mediated by the platform.

Wholesale In a Box is more like your business website -- it’s a tool that may take a little more work on your part but ultimately it is all in your hands, with just a monthly fee, no commission, and the relationships being yours for the long term of the business. You can think of Wholesale In a Box as your store scout and wholesale coach. We dig deep into each maker’s goals and preferences and then we go to work each month, hand-picking a set of perfect-fit stores to contact. We load those store leads into a super-simple but super-powerful app you use to organize your outreach and relationships with those stores -- all of those outreach tasks are set up for you to make the absolute most of your time. Plus, makers have access to us for unlimited wholesale coaching by phone and email, which is why many makers say that Wholesale In a Box made them “go pro” with their business, improving everything from their operations to their line sheet to their marketing.

Finally -- and this is me being biased, but still -- I will say that I believe there is a different motivation and guiding ethos between Faire and Wholesale In a Box. Faire is a large company funded by venture capital, whereas Wholesale In a Box is a small family company. In fact, Wholesale In a Box wasn’t something we came up with as a business idea -- it grew out of hundreds of interviews and studio visits with makers, working to help them grow. We’ve never taken a cent of venture capital, so every decision we make is guided by one question: will this help makers do the work they love in a sustainable way?

What do makers say about Faire?

We reached out to several makers who have strong wholesale businesses and a lot of experience with Faire. They were both generous and honest in sharing their thoughts on Faire, in terms of its impact on their business and what they would recommend to other makers.

Dani from Dani Barbe

Many of the stores were ordering in December, some a week before Christmas, so it was definitely a different wholesale experience than I'm accustomed to. Usually I'm wrapping up wholesale orders with established stores in the fall. I liked that it didn't require much effort on my part, and was another tool to get wholesale orders.

Dani at work in her studio. Via  @danibarbe

Dani at work in her studio. Via @danibarbe

Theresa from Boss Dotty Paper

I think there are a lot of pros to working with Faire, but I'd say the biggest one is the exposure to lots of different buyers — and types of buyers — than you might come across otherwise. I've received lots of orders from shops I never would have considered pitching to on my own.

Bill from West Park Creative

I don't mind Faire’s commission fees (25% on new orders and 15% on reorders) because I'm not spending money on advertising.

Bill in his studio. Via  @westparkcreativestl

Bill in his studio. Via @westparkcreativestl

M in Tennessee

I've gotten a lot of new retailers through Faire, which is amazing, but they take 25% of my sales, which is high when my prices have already been cut in half. So far, I've been seeing Faire as a positive tool, but part of me also feels helpless because I don't have a robust enough retailer base to not use it. Faire requires no outreach or effort after you upload your catalog. Orders come in. you have little contact with the retailer or buyer, and your responsibility is solely to fulfill the order. There is no harm in signing up for Faire and see if it works for you -- are retailers finding you? Do you get consistent orders? For many, it will be worth it. For others, it won't be worth the percentage they are losing to Faire, especially if they have a decent amount of retailers who are ordering from them consistently. For many others, like me, it will be more of a balance -- does Faire supplement my wholesale income enough for me to continue using them?

Robyn from Pearl and Ivy Studio

It’s relatively easy for a new maker to set up. I find it to be easier than Etsy and I’m in front of a lot more prospective retailers than I could be by just reaching out to shops on my own. Also, Faire seems to be promoting the marketplace a lot at the moment, so I’ve noticed more traffic on my page. Faire’s commission percentage is kind of high, 25% on new orders and 15% on reorders. Also, I’m concerned about building a business on a platform that isn’t my own.

Robyn in some of her beautiful pieces. Via  @pearlandivy_studio

Robyn in some of her beautiful pieces. Via @pearlandivy_studio

Stacey from Mineral and Matter

Most orders are small or only meet my minimum (I do have a lot that are larger though or reorder regularly.) The 25% first time order commission is high, but I feel it's offset by the ease of acquiring the new customer and the marketing that Faire is doing as well as offering services I can't offer (returns, terms.) The categories seem to be filling up quickly, but I'm sure new ways will be implemented that allow active sellers to get more visibility.

Pros and Cons of Faire for Handmade lines

Pros of using Faire:

  • Easy to use and easy to set up

  • Great opportunity for makers to get their brand in front of shops, especially those that they might not have considered for their line

  • Makers can gain stockists that they may have not reached out to on their own

  • They’re a large, venture capital funded company, with a lot of resources to develop the platform

Cons of using Faire:

  • Commission rates are quite high and are charged on every wholesale order, for every store, for the lifetime of that store relationship

  • The store accounts you don’t “go with you” if Faire changes or closes

  • Not building personal connections with stores


Things to consider when deciding whether to use Faire

If you’re deciding whether to try Faire to grow wholesale, especially as a handmade line, here are a few things to consider:

  • Dig into your numbers and make sure that Faire commissions will work for your business and products
    Faire can be a great way for makers to get exposure, but Theresa from Boss Dotty Paper Co reminds makers to make sure it works for the specifics of your business: “You definitely have to consider whether it works for you financially, and potentially adjust your pricing.” With the high commission rates, it is important to really dig into your pricing before you get started on the platform.

  • Consider Faire in the context of your overall business and wholesale strategy -- not as a “one stop shop” for wholesale
    It’s wise to view Faire as one wholesale tool among many, rather than as the entirety of your wholesale strategy. Stacey from Mineral and Matter suggests, “Don't put all your eggs in one wholesale basket, keep your own wholesale platform as well (flashbacks to Etsy Wholesale closing).”

  • Be strategic about how you use Faire
    Stacey also suggests setting up “guidelines for how/who you refer to your Faire platform and who you refer to your regular wholesale platform” rather than using Faire for all of your wholesale relationships.

How, Why, and Whether To Use Faire and Wholesale In A Box Together

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We also asked makers why use Wholesale In a Box and Faire and if they had any tips for using them together productively.

Here is what a few of them had to say:

Theresa from Boss Dotty Paper Co

To me, Faire and Wholesale in a Box are two very different companies, even though both aim to help you grow your wholesale program. Faire is a bit faster paced and has been higher volume for me, but Wholesale in a Box excels at helping you cultivate personal relationships with buyers. It's definitely possible to use both! I actually refer buyers to Faire in my Wholesale in a Box emails (via a custom link so I'm not charged commission).

Theresa with one of her rad cards. Via  @bossdotty

Theresa with one of her rad cards. Via @bossdotty

Dani from Dani Barbe

Faire is nice because once you upload your pieces onto the site, you can mostly sit back and wait for orders. I think it's a nice additional tool in your wholesale tool belt, but I'd never recommend solely relying on Faire. It's similar to makers, such as myself, who were on Etsy Wholesale. When that platform closed, many makers felt lost. I look at Faire as providing nice filler orders that come in, but I don't depend on it.

When I use Wholesale in a Box, I direct buyers to my line sheets / catalog and my wholesale portion of my website. I prefer this because I'm not dealing with a 15% - 28% commission on orders. I can offer a more robust wholesale catalog, interact with the buyers, solve any issues that may arise, and really develop those relationships and reorders. It is more legwork and I'd be unlikely to do this without Wholesale In a Box's system and help. The research component of finding these gorgeous stores, making sure I actually know about their store and the owners (we've all gotten those spammy emails where it's obvious the person doesn't know a thing about our business!), and staying organized takes time and effort. In my opinion it is worth it, especially with the Wholesale In a Box system.

Stacey from Mineral and Matter

I think I get different customers from different efforts. Some have responded to my outreach on Faire, but mostly it has brought me stores that I hadn't reached out to yet. WIAB continues to be successful for me and I send all of those leads to my own wholesale website. Leads that don't respond after a couple attempts I may send to Faire and have had some success getting a couple orders that way.

Shot of Stacey’s gorgeous studio and shop. Via  @mineralandmatter

Shot of Stacey’s gorgeous studio and shop. Via @mineralandmatter

M in Tennessee

Wholesale In a Box is about a community. It encourages you to network, explain who you are, and build relationships. I think it's possible for them to work together and supplement each other well. To me, connection is important, and Wholesale In a Box allows me to have connection to the stores I'd like to see my work in.

I have so much respect for the balanced, wise, grounded approach that these makers have when it comes to growing their businesses. And I hope that you find the right mix of tools to help you grow in just the way you want to, so you can do the work that you love now, and in the future.

Faire is a new tool, and it can be powerful. But ultimately, the relationships that create the foundation of your business are the main asset you have -- and it’s wise to cultivate those relationships in ways that are balanced and sustainable. That may mean using several wholesale platforms and tools simultaneously, and strategically.

Let us know if you have other questions about Faire or Wholesale In a Box! We’re happy to dig into your particular business goals and product line to help you explore the right strategy for you.

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Can’t Make Pricing Work For Wholesale? 5 Things to Try

Recently, I had coaching calls with two talented makers. Each maker has a beautiful and unique product line. But both had the same problem:

“I’m using a formula to calculate my wholesale and retail prices. But after I tally my costs, and add in the wholesale price, I feel like the retail price ends up too high.”

The common answer to this problem is something like: “Don’t doubt yourself! Just look at [fill in the name of super well-known brand charging a lot.] Your costs are what they are -- you need to make a profit.”

And while that might be easy to say, I believe that for many makers who are trying to grow their wholesale business, it’s not helpful advice. Independent store owners aren’t buying for pleasure. They’re creative, hardworking people facing very real challenges, like paying the rent on their shop. They need to purchase things at a price that they know will sell. Your line, in turn, has to meet that need.

So today I want to share a few things to consider if you feel like the retail price for your handmade line ends up too high, once you make “room” for both your costs and the wholesale price/margin.


First, keep in mind these pricing basics:

  • You don’t have a business unless your price is higher than your costs.

  • You also don’t have a business if you’re not making sales.

  • Product matters more than price.
    Always, above all — quality and uniqueness are more important than price. So the development of your art, products, and vision will always matter more than your pricing decisions.

  • Pricing is an art, not a science.
    That means there is no “right” answer to whether your prices are set well. And your intuition about it may be your best guide.

  • The price on your website should never undercut store owners’ retail price.
    Most handmade lines should shoot for their retail price being 2x their wholesale price. This isn’t true for every line -- some lines really need to be at 2.2x or higher -- but it’s a good rule of thumb.

  • The route to making sales isn’t simply cutting your price.
    This isn’t a race to the bottom, in which the maker with the lowest price wins. But lines with pricing that doesn’t fit with their product, brand, or marketing will struggle.

Now, let’s look at what happens when you end up with a price that feels too high.

Many makers use this formula to arrive at their retail price:

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale Price

Wholesale Price x 2 = Retail Price

BIG caveat here -- this is certainly not the only way to arrive at a price. And in the coaching that I do with makers, we talk about many other approaches to setting prices for their wholesale line. Brand, product mix, market, competition, your long-term vision, and many other factors should all play a role. We discuss those in more detail in the book we wrote on launching products.

That said, I know that many makers use the costs-based formula above. And it’s a crucial calculation to do when deciding on a price, even if you’re taking other factors into account. So today I want to focus on the situation when you, as a maker, have arrived at a price that you think is correct in terms of your costs, but it feels too high to you in terms of your market.

5 options if your retail price feels too high, but your costs make it tough to lower:

  1. Keep the price high.

    Consider your price from the standpoint of stores you’ll sell to, your current customers, and your gut sense. Often, if you think your price is too high -- it is. That said, whether to keep the price where it is or try to lower it is a strategic decision, meaning that both routes could work. You could certainly keep your retail price higher and hustle on the storytelling and brand-building end of things to really "earn" that price. That means stellar product photos, incredible production story and photos, and a super-strong product. Plus, of course, know that your market may be a bit smaller and you may have to work harder for each store account.

  2. Take a hit on margin for now, while you build wholesale for later.

    Another option is to do what many makers do -- accept a lower margin while you're in these initial stages of growing wholesale. So drop your price a bit, even though it won’t leave room for profit in the way you’d ideally want. This often makes the most sense if you think your costs will come down with higher volumes. The plan would be to take a lower margin now, build your base of store accounts, and then as your costs come down with those higher volumes, your profit per piece will go up.

  3. Cut costs.

    Of course, if there are immediate ways to get costs down, that could help a lot, too. You may have thought of everything, but it’s something to really brainstorm about. Are there alternative ways of producing your product? Different materials you could use? Elements you’ve always included but may not actually be crucial? A different supplier?

  4. Sell only a chunk of your line wholesale.

    You can also consider limiting your wholesale line to just a sub-set of what you sell retail. Perhaps some of your products have higher margins than others? Then consider making those higher-margin products your wholesale products (and not increasing the retail price) and leave the rest of the line to be retail-only.

  5. Hold off on wholesale.

    I think it’s important to have “on the table” that wholesale isn’t right for every maker. Often, one of the above solutions will work beautifully and even a maker with high costs can thrive in a wholesale setting. But wholesale isn’t right for all makers -- and sometimes giving yourself permission to focus on the things that are already working for you is the right way forward.

Sometimes makers doubt themselves and underprice out of fear that their line isn’t good enough. (Don’t!) Other times, makers bury their heads in the sand and hope they’ll sell their product, even with a price they know is too high. (Don’t do that, either!) Only you can say for sure if you’re doing one or the other.

The key thing to remember is this: pricing can shift and evolve over time. It will remain an open question -- and it’s wise to use both careful calculations and your intuition in answering that question over time.

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