In keeping in line with the last few posts, I thought I would continue my thoughts on ways you can diversify your small businesses to boost your overall sales and appeal to many different audiences.
Today I will talk a little about wholesaling. For me, wholesaling is when another larger company distributes and sells my products and patterns in exchange for receiving them at a reduced cost. There are several advantages to working with a company and wholesaling your patterns and products, and I feel that it is a good way to offer at least a percentage of your items this way.
There are many variables that are involved with wholesaling and many things to consider. I think the first and foremost thing that you need to consider is that you need to have trust in the company you are dealing with. I have heard many instances of colleagues of mine that have been misrepresented or ‘burned’ by unscrupulous companies, and I have even been victim to it myself in the past. It is imperative that the company that handles your work is honest, reliable and trustworthy or it could cause you a great deal of problems.
Selling wholesale can involve selling patterns only, wood surfaces, or both. Many companies in the woodworking and pattern industries prefer to produce their own copies of your patterns, etc. “in house”. This means that you send them the patterns and they are the ones who print and distribute them as they are needed. Once you send them the original design, you don’t have to do anything else. This is good for the distributor because it saves them the investment of having to pre-purchase stock as well as the shipping costs for getting the patterns from you to them. It also saves them the guesswork of having to to decide how many of each design will sell. It saves them from having ‘back orders’ as well because they print on demand so there is never a shortage of popular designs. This is a very convenient option for all parties involves.
You can see however, how it is very important to work with reliable companies who you can trust when working on an arrangement such as this. You have to be absolutely certain that they are reputable and honest and keep good records of sales. Honesty and integrity is a huge part of this relationship and you have to be completely certain that you are not being taken advantage of. Keith and I have several companies that sell our patterns and kits this way and we feel confident that we are dealing with these types of companies. I strongly suggest that you really do your homework before offering your products to a company to be sure that you will be treated fairly and honestly. This is where networking comes in handy, as word gets around among other designers as to who is honest and who isn’t. Having multiple opinions and speaking to others who have worked with these companies goes a long, long way among designers. Nothing speaks louder than personal experiences.
Another thing that I want to mention is that I feel it is a good thing to share what you learn with others. I find that most designers are very helpful in sharing their own experiences with others who may want to follow in their footsteps. Most successful designers are comfortable in their position and don’t mind helping others through the complicated process of selling and being in business. As you know, I enjoy sharing my experiences with others here every day in my blog, as I feel that others can learn from what I have experienced in my many years of doing this. I have had others ask why I would give away all of my ‘trade secrets’ here every day, and I usually answer them by telling them that what I really do here is no ‘secret’ – it is common sense. If sharing my thoughts or experiences can help someone else, than I am happy to do it. I realize that the bottom line is that there is no replacement for very hard work to achieve success. Everyone has to do their own work, as everyone’s situation, abilities, talents and goals are different. I know that people who are dedicated to hard work will be successful, and those that want a quick and easy time of it will not. That weeds things out considerably and as a designer and an artist I realize that there are many different styles that people follow and having new and exciting designs in ANY crafting field only serves to help it grow and that helps ALL of us! Anything that I can do to help either scroll sawing or painting grow will ultimately come back to my own business. If not directly, then perhaps some other way. I am not the type of person that needs an eye for an eye or keeps score, and I think that in the end things have a way of working out the way that they were intended to work.
Yesterday I worked on some Summertime Bunnies that I am wholesaling to Artist’s Club as kits.
I initially designed these darling bunnies last year, but I missed the cut for the Artist’s Club catalog. They are lovely pastel bunnies with Buttermilk crackle over them and a lovely stroked motif in a contrasting color painted on their necks.
I offer them as a Pattern (SPDP212), a Kit (SLDPK211) of 10 wood blanks, or as a Combo Pack which includes the full color painting pattern as well as the wood pieces for a price break. (SLDPS212) With the spring and summer months approaching, I think they will do very well.
I was happy that they picked them up this year, but they wanted them without the added rhinestones. I spent the day re-painting them yesterday so they will be ready to send off to them for photography for their catalog.
I love doing business with the Artist’s Club because it gives me the opportunity to reach new customers, and work with a terrific company that I have trusted and loved since I began to paint many, many years ago. They are honest, fair and reliable and I always feel honored to have my designs represented by them. Their people are also a pleasure to work with and they treat their designers with a great deal of respect. They are also willing to consider newer designers, as they recognize the value of bringing new people into the business and how it helps the industry as a whole grow. I have been very satisfied working with them and hope to do so for a long time to come.
I hope you are seeing a pattern here in these last several posts. As a designer, I feel that (especially in this economy) it is necessary to wear several hats and be willing to explore several distinctly different directions in order to diversify your customer base and grow. I know it is a lot to cover, but it is what I feel necessary to ensure that I will be able to continue designing. Artist’s Club is only one of my distributors, as I have a couple of companies that handle our woodworking patterns as well. Each one plays an important role in the structure of my company and each one helps make my company stronger. I hope you consider this when mapping out your own business model.
With that said, it is time for me to get to it. Today I will be doing some writing for the magazine. I had intended to do that yesterday, but my plans changed and I was better off painting the bunnies. (There’s an example of the flexibility that I talked about the other day!) As long as I was pushing the pile, I felt the day was good and productive.
I wish you all a productive day as well. Happy Wednesday!
Today’s Featured Product
This is the counterpart of the painted version of the bunnies. I decided to make a scroll sawn version for those who do woodworking. These cute bunnies would make wonderful little gifts, plant pokes, etc. or would look wonderful on a beautiful spring or summer wreath, tied with a brightly colored bow. They are quick and easy to scroll saw and can be embellished in a number of ways.
-- Contributing Editor, Creative Woodworks and Crafts, Sheila Landry Designs http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com "Knowledge is Power"