Wait, Why Do You Want To Sell To Shops?

The basic question many artists never ask.

Written by Clare

To kick things off today, I’ve got a question for you:

What the heck are you doing here?

Most people start out trying to sell their work to shops with a great big fact hunt.

They google “What’s a line sheet?”

They ask their friends “How do I figure out my wholesale price?”

They join facebook groups and post “Should I attach my catalogue to my pitch email, or wait to see if the retailer’s interested first?”

And these are good questions.

But there’s something more important than all of them. If you’re not totally clear on it from the beginning, you’ll just end up wasting a massive amount of time.


Why do you want to sell your work to shops?

If you woke up tomorrow morning with ten new stockists, what would be different in your life?

I’m genuinely asking. How would things be different for you?

So many creative people want to get into wholesale. If you’re one of those people, you’ll read blog posts. You’ll listen to podcasts. You’ll take courses.

Your friends and customers might be saying things like “You must get your stuff into stores!”

You hear how other artists’ businesses have blossomed through teaming up with retailers.

More stability, more freedom, more money.

It all sounds so good. You get fired up about building your own fleet of stockists.

Yet no matter how much information you consume, it seems impossible to grow a wholesale business that’s big enough to do you any good.

One pitch email there. Two more there. Six months later you have little to show for it.

And your heart’s in your boots.

But there are some artists who do it.

You’re a tornado of frustration and despair. They’re building profitable relationships with stores.

How come?

Well, those artists don’t start with facts or strategies. They start by answering the “Why” question.

Let’s switch tracks for a second and use me as an example. What’s the “Why” behind Indie Retail Academy?

I own a gifts and fashion store called Merry + Bright. I’m also an actor working in TV, theatre and film.

That means:

I receive a lot of submissions from creative people who want me to stock their work. Some of the product pitches currently in my inbox are for:

  • Candle melts
  • Father’s Day cards
  • Moroccan-inspired jewellery
  • Mugs with witty slogans
  • Brightly coloured shot glasses

And I audition for a lot of roles. Here are just a few:

  • British soap opera (got it)
  • Anti-smoking advert (nope)
  • Space-themed animated drama (nope)
  • Horror film (got it)
  • Teeeeeny part in BBC 3 drama (got it)
  • Kids’ adventure show (nope)
  • Bank advert (got it)
  • New Scottish play (nope)
  • Airline advert (nope)
  • Supermarket advert (close but nope)

So, I have experience of both sides of the table. Sometimes I’m the pitcher, and sometimes I’m the one who says “Yes” or “No.”

I know what makes indie retailers happily spend thousands on stock, but I also know what it feels like to put yourself out there and not get the gig.

I’ll tell you the “Why” that drives Indie Retail Academy, and it starts right here:

I believe the very best person to sell your work to shops is you.

I believe that you already have the raw materials you need to get retailers saying “Yes!” to placing an order.

Your creativity and drive can unlock a bustling wholesale business that actually takes care of you.

But there are hurdles to hop over, like low confidence, self-doubt and figuring out your way of doing things. And you need to understand what retailers want from you in the first place.

My goal is for no artist to feel frightened or confused when they approach a store about stocking their work.

That’s why I’m here. Now it’s over to you.

Why do you want to sell your work to shops? Two questions to get the cogs turning:

1. What’s your goal?

Is it to quit your job and make $5000 a month?

Is it to launch a new collection and sell 500 items to stores by the end of the year?

Is it to be making 50% of your income from wholesale by next Christmas?

2. Why do you want that?

Do you want to quit your job and make $5000 a month so you can focus on making, enjoy your family or have the freedom to travel?

Do you want to launch a new collection and sell 500 items to stores by the end of the year because your sustainably produced, fair-trade products support a community of skilled craftswomen in a remote region of Thailand?

Do you want to be making 50% of your income from wholesale by next Christmas so you can reduce your reliance on Etsy, stop having to react to sales whenever they come in and finally take control of your time?

Take some time today to consider these questions. Thinking about them, and actually writing down what you discover, will make your life so much easier further down the line.

Clare Yuille Bio Picture

Clare Yuille

I help creative people like you sell their work to independent retailers, without hyperventilating into a sandwich bag. I take the EEEEK! out of wholesale and replace it with AAAAH, right up until you're making the kind of money you want to make.

Want some training? See which classes can help you the most right now in the Indie Retail store.

Download one of our helpful starter kits!