7 Steps to Start Selling Wholesale and Bring in the Big Bucks!

Unlock a Profitable Handmade Business
in Just 12 Weeks Without Using Etsy
or Social Media

FREE WORKSHOP

This workshop is for anyone who makes and sells a handmade or physical product, including jewelry designers, artists, paper designers, bath & body product makers  and more!

What You'll Discover

The #1 mistake people make with Etsy & social media that causes shops to FLOP

 The secret to making it with your handmade shop so it's no longer just a hobby

How to make sales in your handmade shop with ease so you can finally get to 6-figures

TAKE ME THERE

  1. Vanessa says:

    There are some gift shops that I’ve been eyeing but they use a consignment model. When is it better to wholesale vs. consign? I’m hesitant in consigning because I don’t feel like the store has any sort of incentive to push my products.

    • Mei says:

      I would only ever do consignment if you know that the store treats their artists well.

      For example, I Like You in Minneapolis only does consignment but through the grapevine I know they always pay their artists on time and do a very good job selling their work!

      You’re absolutely right, if a store carries both wholesale and consigned products, they are more motivated to promote their wholesale products.

      I’ve heard many experiences with consignment that stores don’t pay you on time (if at all), or they go belly up and your inventory never gets sent back to you.

      I would also consider consignment if you feel the store is a REALLY good fit, then you can offer to the buyer that they try your product out on a consignment basis – that way they don’t take on the risk, you do.

      Eventually, a consignment relationship can grow into a wholesale relationship. When the store has confidence in your products and wants a bigger cut of the sale.

      Hope that helps Vanessa. Great question!

  2. I’m struggling with photography. A lot of my products are white and look washed out if I try to edit the background to be white. I feel like I need to choose between a washed out product, a grey background or a backlit product. Which of the three would be best?

    • Mei says:

      White products are definitely more challenging to photograph. I have a few lighter colored designs and even those can be difficult. BUT I have this awesome tutorial that I follow every time to photograph white products and it works like a charm. Basically you’ll need to photograph on green or blue screens, then follow this video to Photoshop edit the rest: http://www.photoshop.com/tutorials/605

  3. Coco says:

    Thanks for your post, Mei! I would love to wholesale, but I think i need to get all my ducks in a row before I do that. By that I mean, getting production figured out, getting the pricing formula right, work out packaging etc. It’s not easy in the city I live in to find sewing contractors, at least not for small quantities.
    I have any etsy shop. I still don’t know how I can continue to run the shop at the prices there and still give wholesale discounts to retailers.

    Lot of things to figure out!
    Best..

    Coco

    • Mei says:

      Hey Coco! Thanks for sharing! There’s definitely a lot to think about before embarking on the wholesale journey.
      However, I do know of a lot of successful shops that started on their own doing wholesale, and only started to tweak and expand with a team after they hit a limit (which is a good thing!)
      Great pouches by the way. I can see your products doing well in stores!

  4. Linda Fedewa says:

    This is so interesting! I’ve been notified that Whole Foods will begin selling our Bake it Best Gluten Free Flours in their East Lansing store when it opens in April. Woo hoo! You gave me so much to think about. Order forms, return policies, etc. Our manufacturer will be shipping to them directly, so that’s taken care of. We felt we needed to learn from the first one, so haven’t been targeting other stores yet. Perhaps we’re loosing sales that we could be capturing. Mei, this was loaded with great information!

    • Mei says:

      That’s super awesome great news Linda! Congratulations. I hope it all goes well, and when it does it’ll be a lot easier to get into the other Whole Foods. Good luck!

  5. Eva Antonel says:

    Thanks for the very informative article. The quandary I’m facing is whether I should charge the same retail price to my retail customers as my wholesale account sells to theirs. I feel I shouldn’t undermine their business in any way but that doesn’t give me much leeway when setting up special prices for shows etc. Any suggestions would be welcome.Thanks,

    • Mei says:

      Hey Eva!

      Think about it this way instead:
      You set the retail price and wholesale price.

      Your retail prices are suggested retail prices for your wholesale accounts. If you want, you can require your stores sell at those prices, not more, not less.

      But I would recommend to just let them price however much they are able to.

      So instead of trying to have the same retail price as your stores, you decide on your own retail price and they will try to match you.

      You can totally have special prices for sales or shows. Normally stores are OK with this if it’s just a limited time offer, so don’t worry about it! :)

  6. Danielle says:

    Fantastic article! I’m trying to decide how I should go about processing payments for wholesale orders once I launch and start selling. I have Shopify but there’s no real turnkey way to handle wholesale. I’m thinking maybe through PayPal or Square, but I’d love to hear what’s worked/not worked for you. Also, how do you handle the shipping cost? In my mind if I want to protect my bottom line I would charge them for shipping based on weight and not eat the cost, but I’m not sure if it violates some unspoken wholesale “best practice”. I suppose if they’re really good customers it would be good to give free shipping eventually as customer appreciation!

    • Mei says:

      Hey Danielle!

      I use StitchLabs as my inventory management and invoicing software. I create the wholesale order in there and it gives me an invoice I can email the buyer. The invoice email will include a link to pay via Paypal – but they can use their debit/credit card too.

      StitchLabs also allows me to manually type in the credit card details and process it through them.

      I’m willing to bet Square and Paypal can do this too. Most orders I get however have the CC details attached, so I just bill them manually when the order is ready to ship. Some stores will ask you to call them for a card.

      It’s totally OK to charge for shipping by weight. My products are light and don’t cost too much to ship, so I always give my buyers a flat rate shipping fee.

      • Jen says:

        Hi, this is great info! And I’m a couple years late to the post… I was wondering, my items don’t have barcodes, is this something I should take care of or will the retailer take care of it?

  7. Amy says:

    What a wonderful article. I have had a small business contact me about wholesaling and I was in a fog about how to do this.
    We have an online presence so I don’t have a paper catalog. Are you suggesting I need one to send to those who want to buy wholesale? If so, any ideas on how to do that?

    Thanks again for the article.
    Amy

  8. Thank you! You share a lot of really helpful information!

    • Mei says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Veronica! I hope you got tons of marketing takeaways from here!

      • serena says:

        Hi Mei,

        Great Article – I’m looking for some advice from you, I’m negotiating with a manufacturer to purchase large quantities of sample jewelry, a lot of the pieces will be one-offs, and I wont have multi-quantity however I will have a large spread of jewelry, this makes it challenging because a lot more effort will be needed to sell. Therefore I am thinking of selling in bulk like a mix and match type of thing do you think this is a good idea ? and if so do you have any advice as to which platform would be best to sell like that … I’m starting small so wont have my own website

        Thanks x
        Serena

  9. Mendi Yoshikawa says:

    I am thinking about crossing over into wholesale (I’ve had several people request it), but I’m wondering about how to handle large volume orders in the beginning since I am a young business. The items are expensive to produce and take 4 weeks to manufacture more. Is it ever acceptable to ask for pre-orders and payments beforehand so I only order what I actually need? I have some inventory to sell through now, but if it disappears quickly I’m not sure I have enough capital built up at this point to order massive re-orders. For one of my items I already have enough built in profit to offer it at wholesale pricing, but for the other half of my products it would require volume orders to even offer it for wholesale. Thanks so much for your help. Such a great article! :)

    • Mei says:

      Hey Mendi!

      As long as you communicate your turnaround times, the store will understand and respect that! I normally do prepaid for my own wholesale orders, so I collect on the payment before I ship. Stores normally expect you to charge their card closer to the ship date, so that’s the only other nuance with your business that you’d have to spell out clearly to them. If payment needs to be made when the order is placed, I think that’s perfectly acceptable!

  10. Danielle says:

    Great Blog! Can you give us an example of the pitch email you send out? I am having the hardest time for some reason,

    • Mei says:

      Danielle,

      Here’s a general idea for what I would do:
      —-

      Hi FIRST_NAME!

      I’m Mei, the owner of Tiny Hands scented food jewelry (http://tinyhandsonline.com), a line of handmade jewelry that look (and SMELL!) just like candy for food lovers and the young at heart.

      My line can really thrill your senses and can make any girl or lady smile, even on those bad days! Your customers would love our line because it’s so different, unique, girly and make absolutely wonderful gifts.

      Since our jewelry is quite the sensory experience, would you like a sample? Just reply to this email with your favorite necklace from http://tinyhandsonline.com!

      I look forward to working with you!

      [embedded photo] [embedded photo]

  11. Tong says:

    Hi Mei,
    Thanks for all information. They are very helpful. I have plan may start the next year to working on the wholesale. Now I am thinking about the packageing. The jewellry packages like yours, where can I find them? Because mine is kind like yours, but mine is origami locket necklace.
    Thanks for any information.

  12. Layla says:

    Mei, I would so love to have dialogue with you!
    We have a business that purveys high demand products.
    But there must be something we are missing… and I jst cannot figure out what it is!
    EMailed 500 businesses that would potentially purchase our products.
    only 5 replies
    We are both well educated my hubby is a double Phd in business…
    and has incredible experience.
    I have been a business owner for 40+ years… freelance & brick & mortar…

    I said to hubby last week… must be something we just cannot see that we are either not doing or doing in a wrong way.
    Help! Please!

    • Mei says:

      Hey Layla! Thanks for dropping by. You and your husband both do not lack in the credentials and experience. But I do agree, as you mentioned that sometimes we may just miss some things because we’re too close to our own business.

      If you’ve spent the time to email 500 stores and only got 5 replies, there’s definitely something awry and I would love to help! I have openings in my calendar this month for a consulting call. If you’re interested, please book your session here: https://dev.creativehiveco.com/consulting

      Hope to help you get to the bottom of this and get you guys making more sales!

  13. Katherine says:

    Hi Mei, I’ve just found your article and it’s packed full of greatness! Just one question, do you discuss prices in your initial email to new stores? Or leave all that info in your order form PDF? Thank you!

    • Mei says:

      Hey Katherine!

      Thanks :) I don’t normally talk about prices right away. In my initial email I just see if they are interested in the product itself and/or if they’re interested in procuring a sample.

      Once they’ve seen the product, then we talk prices – usually I send them my full catalog and price list for them to review.

      Hope that helps!

  14. Vanessa Santos says:

    When do you send out the line-sheets, I have sent my to two different boutiques and I was turned down. I feel like going back to the drawing board, but I’m also thinking am I sending them at the wrong time?

    • Mei says:

      Vanessa, being rejected twice is not enough to warrant going back to the drawing board! It could just be that the boutiques were not a good fit for you. Don’t give up, keep trying. Stores are always looking to buy new products, especially over the holiday seasons. Don’t give up too easily :)

  15. Beth says:

    I am not sure what to buy to display the jewelry – and I feel like the stores I will potentially be approaching will want to know how it will be presented to the customer…. if a necklace, for example, has just a tiny hanging tag with the price, or its hanging from a necklace card? (I don’t mean like in a box or something…I know wholesale is different from an Etsy sale)
    When I start thinking about that, I think I have to find the hang tags, then have a stamp made so I can brand it, or buy pre-printed tags with my logo – or buy a printed sticker with a logo to put on the hang tag?
    Every time I think I’m ready to start approaching stores, I start thinking about the myriad of things I should have ready first and I get completely overwhelmed!
    Or do smaller boutiques not expect that – they just want the raw product in a small bag, so they can do the rest themselves?
    Thanks!!

    • Mei says:

      It’s a good idea to have some sort of packaging figured out ahead of time. This will help your line sell better. But, if you’re starting to get concerned over a lot of different things that might hold you back from ever taking that first step into doing wholesale, then just go for it! You’re right. Smaller boutiques are more understanding and don’t always expect packaging. They can price tag the necklaces themselves.

  16. Erica says:

    Hi Mei,

    Thanks for all of this information you are so generously providing. My question is, what do you do during an in-person meeting with stores in your area? Do you bring in samples, your line sheet, everything at once?

    • Mei says:

      Sure, you can do that with in-person meetings. Just be sure that you’ve booked an appointment with the buyer ahead of time!

  17. Hi Mei. Thank you for sharing your tips on succeeding in your handmade business. I have a line of soap and body care and just started selling wholesale. I emailed 3 more stores and didn’t hear back. After a week, I sent a follow up emails to all three. I received a reply from two stores and have appointments. I really love the third store and think my products would be a great fit. Do you think it’s appropriate if I give the store owner a call to say I was just following up on my email? It’s been a week since I sent the second email. Thanks?

  18. Julian says:

    Amazing Article Mei!! So much great info! Thanks for sharing!

  19. Retina says:

    Hello Mei!

    I am so grateful to have found you site! I have just decided today that I would like to begin doing wholesales of my Handmade Handbags made of leather and/Fabrics. I am clueless about how to package my product since the sizes can vary??? Any suggestions? Right now I attend and vend at Craft Shows and Local Events. So my packaging thus far has been a decorative bags from the dollar tree and some tissue paper.

    • Mei says:

      Hey Retina! You could probably get away with just using a hangtag for your handbags since your type of product doesn’t usually need packaging. In fact, it would probably deter shoppers from buying at a brick and mortar store!

  20. Nikki says:

    Hi Mei! I’m so grateful that I found your site. Perfect timing. I recently had a Brick & Mortar inquire about weather my handmade business offers wholesale? I have never done wholesale but it’s something I’m preparing to dive into, in addition to already working on my Linesheet and look book. I’m an independent handbag designer specializing in leather crafting/making leather bags etc. My retail prices are reasonably priced, nothing outrageous, just enough to profit. After sending my Linesheet to the company, I wasn’t aware that wholesale is usually 40-50% off until they mentioned it – being that my pieces are custom/made to order, my Linesheet listed them with only a 10-15% discount. Although the company could have easily turned me down, they’re still very interested in my products but are inquiring if those prices are wholesale? I’m stumped! And have no clue how to answer them? I feel like 40-50% would leave me with no profit? How would you resolve this – I seriously need assistance!

    • Mei says:

      Hi Nikki!

      I was just checking out your cool bags after I got your email!

      It sounds like you weren’t priced correctly to begin with and that your retail prices now are more like what your wholesale prices should be. Your retail prices should be much higher than what they are now. Have you seen my pricing guide? https://dev.creativehiveco.com/pricing-handmade-items-guide/

      I don’t think you’ve lost the client yet, but you need to make it clear to them that your retail prices are 2x your wholesale price and the prices they are seeing in your catalog are wholesale prices.

      Take some time to do the math with pricing your bags. You’ll get an exact number for what their wholesale vs retail prices should be!

  21. Hi Mei,
    You have helped me so much with my business. Thank you! I’m thinking of venturing into the wholesale market , I sell jewelry–bracelets, necklaces and earrings. I noticed in your picture that you actually would supply the stand for your jewelry to hang from. Is that what is expected? Or do boutiques usually have their own displays?

  22. Voo says:

    Hi Mei!
    I have been reading and listening to your blogs/workshops! Lots of great info! However, I really wish one day to have my line of apparel in many retail stores/boutiques and wished to have a success selling my line wholesale to reach my goals. My shop currently is listed within Etsy because it helps me keep my costs down.. however.. my shop isn’t busy at all since I opened it in 2012!
    Please check it out and let me know what you think and if you see my apparel in retail shops?

    Thanks!
    Voo
    http://www.voochic.com

  23. Anjuli says:

    Mei, this post is so helpful!! Thank you for shedding light on the wholesale market. It comes at the perfect time for me and my business goals. I am downloading the free template here — thanks for that! And I’m also wondering if you have any advice on a Wholesaler agreement / contract? I’d like for the terms to be stated clearly between myself and the potential wholesaler. Unfortunately, I’m not finding much help from Google.

    Help!!

    • Mei says:

      Hello Anjuli! I’m glad you found this helpful! We don’t usually have a contract/agreement but most things you’d want to have in writing would be covered in “terms and policies” that buyers automatically agree upon placing an order. My terms and policies are on my order form itself. Good luck!

  24. Raviraj says:

    Hi Mei ,
    You really help me for my little business, i am very glad for this important topic who describe our business.
    I have never done wholesale but it’s something I’m preparing to dive into, in addition to already working on my Linesheet and look book.

    Please keep continue your article!! I hope its very helpful for a businessman.

  25. Wow! Thanks for a great article! You have really got me thinking. This morning we were approached for the first time by a wholesale possibility. We are an artesan skin care company, specializing in skin care for sensitive skin, and we create anti-aging type products, but without all of the parabens and synthetic colors and fragrances. We just began online about a month ago…we are newbies! I believe that we are priced ok for a venture into wholesale, but the company that approached us was a one store site, not a chain, and they have limited space for us. I am stumped as to what an initial order would look like for them. We currently have 8 products…would I have numbers required for each product in the line, or total numbers in dollars for purchase? Very confused. Thanks!! Kirsten Thomas, ayrskincare.com

  26. Hi Mei!
    How am I just finding you!? Just this one article has answered so many questions I’ve had since considering going full on Wholesale. I’ve been online for six years and have been doing 90% custom pieces. Now, the market is flooded with hand stamped jewelry and I am slowly transitioning into higher end, fabricated, metalsmithy (pretty sure I just made up a word) jewelry. I love the very clean, straightforward look and feel of your site and can’t wait to dig into all the info you have to offer.
    Monica Donohoe
    http://www.monicadonohoe.com

    • Mei says:

      Hi Monica!

      I’m so glad you found the article helpful! Your jewelry is beautiful. What have you done for marketing your online business? I feel like you have a ton of potential to be doing more online with your existing custom stamped pieces if you’re still passionate about that.

      Good luck with everything!

  27. Mei, from a to z you literally covered all the topics a noob might need haha. Organization and persistence were key factors in me becoming a full time wholesaler but it never hurts to keep improving, thats why I love articles like this!

  28. Hello..Mei. I’m at a Loss..I started McCloud9 in 1994, to date I have over 4,000 original hand carved wildlife Jewelry Designs from pendant-earrings-pins-No one comes close to what I do,I may need a Manager to manage Marketing?, I sale on Etsy.com { https://www.etsy.com/shop/McCloud9Jewelry } and E-bay, Iv been selling wholesale for 10 years but can not seem to jump to the next Level?Im a one man show,design-Master mold maker and caster,finishing/shipping..I have paid good money over the years for wholesale outlets and sold nothing??LOL.I just need to find the right person to take control and point this business in the right Direction my website I did my self and that good for what I know when it comes to computers LOL.In most cases Id like to Run from Computers ..I have a very wide range of items and new items that I design every month lately i put on Etsy..My problem to me is i have so Meany areas to offer stores.It can be overwhelming on my own.. I need Help…My website is http://www.mccloud9.net Thank you for your time Marvin

    • Although I have not been doing it as long, I too am a one woman show. I make candles that glow in the dark and pop to color in blacklight.
      https://www.uvcandles.com
      I am just beginning my look at wholesale. Awesome products, Marvin!
      Photography is hard since my product looks best on a black background.
      Great read to the author! I certainly felt as though I gained knowledge from the article.

  29. Diana Henry says:

    Hi, really I just feel good to find this blog, very informative and give you a new wholesale goals. Some how I just connect with this your blog because I do same kinds of things like you explained. I am also connected with one a usa wholesale clothing suppliers house. So for that this is a right one.

  30. Vivian says:

    Hi Mei:
    Your article is very professional and covers all the parts of a wholesale business. Thank you for sharing it.

    I am going to sell a unique key chain. I don’t have a website and I am planning to go to the stores in person with my samples.

    Do I need a website before I start selling it? How can I prevent other people to sell the same key chain, although it is not made by me, it has a unique shape and nobody owns it. Can I trademark or ………?

    Many thanks,
    Vivian

  31. Chris says:

    Thanks for sharing with us this article :)

  32. Aira says:

    What a meaningful work this is. Very inspiring and moving. Thank you so much for sharing this incredible work of yours. We will continue to support you. Meanwhile, are you looking for wholesale market? Feel free to check and visit our site and look for our affordable items with a very nice quality. Thank you and God bless!

  33. Richard says:

    Great tips for doing wholesale and make great money. I really enjoy reading this article and get some insights and use them to my business. As I can see nowadays, many people are buying wholesale for resell locally with the fast development of Internet. For me, I mainly do fashion jewelry resell business here, and your shared ideas offered me more inspirations. I decide to contact my wholesale jewelry supplier to improve my jewelry packages with my own logo so that I can develop my own brand awareness here. I also will design my jewelry products packages to make it more beautiful and unique. I have been working with my wholesale jewelry supplier here for over 6 years and I love their products and service, maybe anyone who wants to sell wholesale can use my jewelry supplier – JewelryBund.com. Again, informative article to read. Hope to see more great articles from you there.

  34. Awesome Work, I just feel good to find this blog, very informative and give you a new wholesale goals.

  35. Hello Mei! This is a great article! Very informative and this will help a lot of people. Kudos to you!

  36. Intern says:

    My hobby is reading blogs and articles because I love it when I gain another useful information that can add into my brain, I just want to tell you that when I’m reading your work, for me it was a real good job! I suggest if you want direct supplier just ask me.

  37. Erik says:

    My hobby is reading blogs and articles because I love it when I gain another useful information that can add into my brain, I just want to tell you that when I’m reading your work, for me it was a real good job! I suggest if you want direct supplier just ask me.

  38. Tony Hisir says:

    Professionally written blogs are rare to find. Great points mentioned about selling jewelry wholesale. There are advantages and disadvantages to selling wholesale.

  39. Chris says:

    Can definitely say that I picked up a few golden nuggets here. A well rounded write-up!

  40. Jessica says:

    Hello Mei! This is a great article! Very informative and this will help a lot of people.
    jcfashionjewelry.com is good stainless steel jewelry and tungsten ring wholesaler.

  41. Mohammad says:

    Very Informative and precise article, appreciate your effort in educating and helping start ups, i have some question Iam searching , Could be very helpful if you shed a light on it.

    1; How many products should a wholesalers buy from manufactures at the initial stage of the the wholesale business.
    2: is it necessary to hire employees at the beginning stage of the business.
    3: Are retailers wailing to pay advance payments to fresh wholesalers of new products on orders, if yes, how much would be the percentage.
    4: what is the minim delivery time of order.

    thanks

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