Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Reflections on selling wholesale

A few months ago I entered into the world of wholesale. And yes, it is a whole new world. It's been a learning experience for me, and as my business continues to grow, I'm sure I'll continue to learn more along the way.

Many artists approach wholesale as if it were a four letter word. Why? They fear losing the integrity of creating a unique piece with every artistic effort. Now, I realize there is a difference between the business of selling jewelry, photography, or ceramics and selling candles, but there is also a strong similarity: the word BUSINESS.

If you're not in business to make money, why are you in business? It's certainly ok to have a hobby and a talent from which you can earn additional revenue. But if your goal is to earn a living from your craft, you need to approach your work as a job, and as a business.

And to do so, all business models should be considered, from online selling, to craft shows, to consignment, and to wholesale.

As each of your items is handmade, each item will be slightly different from the next, even if using the same style and materials. You lose no artistic integrity in the process! In fact, you can gain from quantities of time as you mind becomes trained in repetitive tasks, and more importantly, quantities of scale as you are able to purchase supplies in greater quantities and lower costs.

Another fear artists vocalize is pricing. An elementary formula for your pricing should be Cost x 2 = Wholesale Price, and Cost x 4 = Retail Price. The fear here is that you're only earning twice your costs in wholeselling, versus the perceived "100%" in retailing. But the part that is overlooked is volume. Not only can you buy in larger quantities and reduce the per item cost, but you're able to generate more sales. And more sales begets more sales. And more sales drives people to your website, perhaps to place a custom order. And more sales begets more sales.

And if you're not trying to generate sales, why are you in business? I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but I am trying to suggest we all review why we spend the time doing what we do.

A good friend and mentor asked me, "Are you in business to make candles or to make money?" It's a question I've repeated to myself many times. If my answer, if your answer is, "to make _____", that's ok!!!! If this is the answer, I encourage you to reflect on how you are using your time and what the return on that investment of time is. If my answer, if your answer is, "to make money," then I encourage you to review what you are doing to make money. Ask yourself, what is the return on my time?

Selling wholesale may help answer this question. My next series of blog postings will address my experiences of selling wholesale. While not an expert, I've learned many lessons, which I hope to share with you and help you grow.

Please leave some comments. Please ask some questions. Please share some experiences and lessons you've learned. I truly enjoyed the dialogue we shared in my newsletter series and hope we can have the same with the topic of selling wholesale.

So until next week,

Happy sales!

Dorene
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