Wondering how to get your shop ready for wholesale? "Sell Your Products to Retailers", Megan Auman's CreativeLive, advertises that it will help you understand the ins and outs of wholesale. So we asked jewelry designer and metalsmith Amanda Lockrow about her experience going through the CreativeLive, especially since she had already taken a few of Megan's classes. She's shared her insights with us below (and an example of her own wholesale line sheet)!*
Q: Introduce yourself and what you make.
A: Hi, I'm Amanda the designer and metalsmith behind the jewelry collection Amanda K Lockrow. I grew up in a coastal town in Maine, found my passion for metalsmithing at Syracuse University, and moved to LA in 2005. I started my company in 2008 and have been steadily growing it ever since. My earlier work was much larger and more sculptural, but as I learned more about the business side of the jewelry world my designs evolved. Most of the pieces in my current collection are dainty and simple which makes them perfect for every day wear. But I always have one of a kind and limited edition designs that let me play and experiment!
Q: How did you hear about this Creative Live?
A: I'm on Megan Auman's mailing list and follow her on social media so I heard about the class through there.
Q: What info was helpful?
A: There is a really in depth workbook pdf that you get if you buy the class as well as a private Facebook group, which I really liked because it gives you something to go back to after the class ended. She also had us create ideal customer profiles and talked about finding the right stores which was perfect timing for me. She used her own examples but also picked out designers in the audience to come up and worked on it with them.
The information about cost plus pricing vs. value based pricing was also really helpful. She broke down pricing with her own jewelry but also brought up some of the designers from the audience and broke it down step by step with their products to really drive the point home to show how value based pricing is so much more profitable than cost plus pricing. This tied in well with creating your ideal customer profiles and finding the right stores. I think a huge part of growing your wholesale business is finding your niche and remembering that not everyone is your customer and that's okay.
Q: What info did not seem applicable to you and why?
A: I wouldn't actually saying anything wasn't applicable to me, but there were things that because I already have an established wholesale business I kind of glossed over. That was mostly just the first three segments because those were geared towards people thinking about adding wholesale or just starting out. The rest I could look at from the perspective of how can I improve what I have already. For example she talked about order forms, policies and line sheets and here I could just focus on how I can make mine even better or see if I was missing something.
Q: What surprising information did you learn?
A: I think the most surprising was that she made trade show sales techniques seem easier and more fun. I've done trade show sales for a designer I worked for at Couture and JCK but never did great at using what I did for someone elses designs to sell my own collection at the Gift shows. I've already felt more relaxed doing sales at shows since I took the class.
Q: What was the most valuable piece of information?
A: For me segments 13-14 & 19-21 were the most valuable these were focused on how to talk about your product. She honed in on getting your unique selling proposition (USP) down and then using stories to sell your product. During these segments she put designers from the audience in the hot seat and brought in an actual store buyer to help make selling your product easier and more fun. She also brought two San Francisco store buyers in and talked with them and did a Q & A so you can get the perspective of actual buyers! Selling my work at shows is definitely my biggest struggle but these parts of the class gave some great actionable tools to help make everyone a better salesperson.
Q: Do you think it was worth the price?
A: Definitely. Especially if you are new to wholesale or thinking about starting wholesale her class can save you from a lot of the mistakes and headaches most of us made along the way. Most of my business actually comes from my wholesale accounts now but I wish I had Megan's classes when I got started! Along with the class videos you also get a course workbook, trade show list, sample trade show packing list, sample order form and terms, Facebook group access & a sample store prospect list.
Q: You've taken some of Megan's other classes... was there a lot of overlap in this CreativeLive?
A: I've taken three other Megan Auman classes over the years so there was definitely some overlap. But for me that's actually good because my business was at different stages with each class. She teaches a lot about pricing for profit and I think that's a lesson many handmade designers need drilled home a few times anyway. I actually liked the Creative Live format the best so far because it had a live audience and guests. If you are going to start with one of her classes I think the Sell Your Products to Retailers is a great place to start for $79 (note: the website advertises $79 when this was written, but that it will soon go up to $99).
Megan's way of teaching business to creatives and makers has been really helpful over the years to me. I really recommend checking out her site Designing an MBA. The other classes I've taken are Marketing for Makers, Business by Design & Wholesale Academy. She offers a lot on her site and through her mailing list for free too if you aren't ready to invest in any of the classes.
Q: Where can people find your stuff?
Q: Anything else?
A: From my own experience of jumping in to the world of wholesale when buyers found me through Etsy and the Renegade Craft Fair site without a clue, I think classes like this are a great value! I learned about the world of wholesale through books an blogs, asking for advice, jobs as a buyer and production manager, and online classes. I had terrible digital camera photos I took myself, no line sheets, no wholesale pricing and no wholesale policies when I started. The point of sharing this is that I know firsthand that the world of wholesale can seem so overwhelming but that no matter how you start you can always change it later. Good luck!
*This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and eventually purchase something, Academy of Handmade will receive a small percentage which will go toward the continued support of handmade businesses.