1: How long has LaDy LaDuke been in business? 3 years this January 25th.
2: When did you first start wholesaling? Immediately. As soon as we had our product ready, we approached a local boutique.
3: Please describe how you gained your first wholesale deal. We approached the Boutique Owner, and asked her is she was interested in carrying our product, and described it to her. We had one available to show her (with a clothing label). She became interested, and purchased our first wholesale order, before we even had our first retail sale.
4: To how many wholesale buyers have you sold your products? 8
5: Do you sell to brick-and-mortar shops, online shops, or both? We sell to both. We’ve had 2 brick and mortar boutiques carry our items, but they both really struggled through our economy. One had to close shop, and the other had to stop buying. The rest have been online, including drop ship scenarios.
6: Roughly what percentage of your wholesale buyers made the initial contact with you (as opposed to you calling on them)?
5 out of 8 approached us, and we’ve had numerous inquiries, who send an initial e-mail of interest, and then after responding, they never reply back.
7: Regarding the wholesale buyers who made first contact, how did they learn of your shop/products? They find us on Etsy.
8: Do your wholesale buyers insist on any particular pricing strategies (i.e. Keystone)? If so, please describe. They have never insisted. They ask for our prices, and then decide if that works for them.
9: Do you find wholesale buyers are generally open for price negotiation? We’ve never experienced price negotiations. The market price seems to really dictate what we can do on both sides.
10: Does LaDy LaDuke impose minimum order quantities on wholesale buyers? No, we do not have minimum order quantities yet. Shipping costs will dictate this as well. If they order more, they get a better shipping rate.
11: Roughly what percentage of your wholesale buyers have placed repeat orders with you? Roughly 65%.
12: Roughly what percentage of your wholesale buyers insist on private labeling your products (i.e. the buyer's name/brand on the product, as opposed to "LaDy LaDuke")? 0%.
13: Do your wholesale buyers require anything to prevent LaDy LaDuke from competing with them directly (i.e. you cannot sell to the shop down the street, you cannot market your online business to the wholesale buyers' market)? They haven’t required that, but we structured our wholesale and retail prices specifically to not compete with our wholesalers from the beginning. Also, it would just be counter-intuitive to try to sell down the street, and compromise our business relationship.
14: What would you like to improve about your wholesale relationships? More communication would be nice. Like I mentioned before, often you don’t even get a courtesy reply back, like no thank you, or that doesn’t work at this time. If I send and e-mail to check on the inventory, I do not get a reply back either. Typically, I take this as a sign of someone not to work with. A number of our wholesalers really did struggle and lose their businesses, and their lack of communication was probably due to financial reasons and possibly embarrassment. The other tell-tale sign for me is how they operate through social media. If I comment or tag them or create a post, etc., and I get no response or interaction over and over, I know they aren’t the right wholesale account for us. I believe you have to really work together at selling the products after that initial wholesale purchase. Of our 8 stockists, only two made efforts to continually market the product, and work together with us on promotion. One of those two unfortunately lost her primary job, and had to close her business. The other is a joy to work with, and the sales keep growing.
From my experiences, I am more willing now than before to find just a couple really good wholesale accounts, with great business people, and just focus on those sales increasing. The relationship not only has to be worth the wholesaler’s time, but worth my time as the vendor.
If you are considering wholesaling your handmade items, or want to get your handmade products into a brick-and-mortar boutique, please comment with your business & email below. You may also email info (at) sourcinghandmade (dot) com to request a private, pre-launch invitation to view a new boutique sourcing consultancy created by the editor of Mama-press...Sourcing Handmade, whose aim is to get your handmade products into boutiques nationwide, while solving some common problems vendors experience when going it alone.