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Starting a Clothing Company: Wholesale Triumph

By Maria Pesin | Fashion

Anytime you’re trying to generate and make sales, it can be difficult. In the beginning, everything’s new especially with things like deciding on selling wholesale or direct to consumer, needing capital, and not having the proper resources. It’s not easy. In the fashion industry there is a substantial amount of competition out there, so being known and having a product that stands out is important to have longevity in the marketplace. However, don’t despair people launch new brands everyday and build them into successful businesses and so can you. Today we will be talking about wholesale and the process of selling wholesale to stores.

Selling Wholesale/Retail:

This is where you sell to stores or retail operations that sell directly to consumers, also known as the B2B business model.

B2B-(Business to Business)

·     Advantages compared to B2C: more units sold, bigger orders

·     Disadvantages compared to B2C: lesser margin, middle man takes part of profit

I have simplified the B2B selling process down into 4 Steps:

Step 1: Compile a Target List

Compile a target list of stores that you think would be an appropriate fit for your product. This is important because say you are a luxury brand you wouldn’t want to sell your product to Macy’s and vice-versa if you have moderately priced goods you wouldn’t want to sell them to Barney’s. You want to set yourself up for success from the beginning. Then your goal should be to meet with the stores. Do your research to find names of potential buyers, their phone number, company address, and email address. This is all of the information you need to market to perspective buyers.

Step 2: Reach Out to Perspective Buyers

 There are 3 methods I always suggest to my clients in order to get stores to meet with them:

These include:

·     Sending emails,

·     Snail mail (physical mail),

·     Making telephone calls

You might have to reach out several times to stores. Your ultimate goal is to get an appointment for buyers to see your collection. With that being said, you have to make sure everything is solid having everything in place that will complete your order. You have to have good-looking corrected samples, know the fit of your product, have line sheets, and high-quality photography. The buyers might give you an order when they see you or they also might need to see you for several seasons before they actually place an order. They want to see continuity from your brand, that you have the wherewithal to place things what will sell well and work together.

Step 3: Orders

In the beginning your orders will be few and far between, but as time goes on the amount of stores you sell will increase. Stores that do well with your product will continue to buy your product and new stores will follow. You want to insure that your stores are happy buying from you. Ship on time, work on getting the fit right, and strive to ship the best quality product.

Contact your account a week after shipping and throughout the season. This way you can make sure they are happy with what they’ve received. If something isn’t selling you may switch out the product for something you know is selling. Or give them a discount on the item so that they can sell it on sale. On the other hand, if something is selling encourage them to reorder. If you have similar styles you can suggest they buy some of them. This give and take with your buyer builds your relationship with them.

Also getting this information will help you learn what’s selling and what’s not. This way you know what not to do for your next line and what to expand on.  If you are not selling product learn from it and find out why exactly it is not selling and see what can be done differently. But even more valuable is learning what sells and developing additional bodies based on that. I once had a coat that I sold 500 units on the first season out. We did so many incarnations of it that by the 6th year we sold 20,000 of the different variations.

Step 4: Follow Through With Orders

So you have your product established and you’re getting orders, what now? Use the information collected from the buyers to continue building your business with stores and refine your collection. The Fashion Industry is always evolving and you should continue to strive to keep your product relevant and saleable. Continue to follow through with buyers throughout the season and ask them if they are happy with the products they received and if they are happy with the quality of your product.

One thing I can’t stress enough is to continually evolve your line. Always test out new things to be unique and different so your line will stand out. The Fashion Industry is a big industry and you want your brand to stay on top. Make sure you trend right in the marketplace but also have core pieces. Following through with customers and building on your relationship with them is vital to success.

Overall, make sure you are selling your product to the appropriate buyer and always follow through after you make sales. This way you can develop relationships with the stores that will help continue your business with them. Having all of these components in place will ensure this will be a line somebody will buy. Success in the fashion industry can be a reality especially if you follow these 4 steps to generating sales in the marketplace.

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About the Author

Maria Pesin knows fashion, especially the business side of the fashion industry. Do you know how Manolo Blahnik got his start in the industry? How he leveraged a paltry 3 grand into one of the world’s most famous luxury brands? While she doesn’t take credit for Manolo’s success, Maria has walked a similar path on numerous occasions. The world of fashion is not silicon valley, and it has nothing to do with Madison Avenue marketing. In this industry there is ALWAYS room for something new and exciting, but you have to have your ducks in a row. If that’s what you need, believe me, Maria is the General Patton of fashion ducks!

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