In the beginning you’re working against maximum friction. There’s friction on the outside because no-one in the industry knows or cares about you yet, and there’s friction on the inside because you most likely feel resistance and trepidation about the road ahead.
Getting started in wholesale feels hard because it IS hard – not because you suck.
If you want 100 stockists, your goal is not to get to 100 stockists. Your goal is to get to 1. When you have 10 stockists, your goal is to get to 11.
Your job isn’t to get orders from stores. It’s to get repeat orders from stores.
You don’t need a big number of stockists to enjoy big results.
Your response to uncertainty is a major predictor of your success in wholesale. The better you manage not hearing back from retailers (even though you did everything right) the more likely you are to ultimately get all the stockists you want.
When you’re starting out, do things that don’t scale. Introduce yourself to a store by video. Grill your best customers on where they’d like to see your work. Ask your friends and family to rack their brains for stores to approach. One day you’ll have well-oiled systems for this stuff, but for now get the snowball moving any way you can.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can’t get stockists without exhibiting at a trade show, because you absolutely can. When you’re ready, trade shows can be carnivals of business-boosting delight. But you’re only ready when you can easily afford the stand, the associated costs and not need twenty new orders to materialise by Friday or you can’t pay rent.
Instead, send pitch emails one at a time. Join reputable wholesale marketplaces one at a time. Take it bird by bird.
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