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343 – Are You Ready and Should You Even Consider Wholesale? with Emily Kerr-Finell of Wholesale in a Box
Episode 3436th November 2021 • Gift Biz Unwrapped • Sue Monhait
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selling handmade items wholesale Is selling handmade items wholesale a good idea for your business? It's not always the right fit. How do you know if it's for you? That's what we'll explore in this episode. Emily Kerr-Finell is the founder at Wholesale In a Box and One Mill School. A seasoned strategist, Emily has helped over 1,000 creative small business owners grow. Her fresh approach to business has been featured in The Oprah Magazine, Forbes, and Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Maker’s Summit. Emily walks us through figuring out if wholesale is right for you and your business.

BUSINESS BUILDING INSIGHTS

  • Do the work that you love sustainably.
  • For you to thrive in business, it's crucial that what you have is unique and has a good story.  Your product should be consistent, compelling, interesting, and exciting.
  • Be able to shift to marketing your products on online platforms so you can adapt to different circumstances.
  • Make way for a cohesive experience, regardless of whether somebody is interacting with you online or in person.
  • Part of being a successful marketer is sticking with the ideas that are already working.
  • It's okay to narrow down. Weed out products that are not consistent with what you're really trying to do. That will give the other things room to thrive. <-- Pro Tip!
  • Your product is the foundation. If you're trying to be all things to all people, people will be confused. Fewer items always mean more efficiency, fewer costs, and better profit.  Having a line that is focused, powerful, potent, and vibrant is crucial.
  • Listen to your customers. What are the things that people rave about?

Selling Handmade Items Wholesale

  • The biggest barrier to selling wholesale is when store owners are confused about what you do. Focus and amplify on your bright spots. What do people love about your product? Highlight the things that make people's eyes light up.
  • You're NOT ready to go wholesale if:
    • You do not have a product or a line (yet) that can compete nationwide. If your product is not unique compared to someone else doing a similar thing, you're not ready.<-- Tune in for the full discussion on what this means and how to differentiate yourself.
    • Your packaging and photography are not beautiful and professional.
    • You can't offer wholesale pricing at 50% or less than your retail price
    • Everything you're doing now is working personally, energetically, and financially. If you love your business as it is - don't change it!
  • If you grow with independent brick-and-mortar shops, you grow one by one. It allows you to grow in more incremental ways. It allows you to more organically scale up your production process.
  • With any order you get from a marketplace, make sure you build an actual human relationship with the store owner.
  • Wholesale is a slow and steady long-term growth.
Listen to the whole conversation for all the tips for deciding whether selling handmade items wholesale is right for your business or not. 

Resources Mentioned

Emily's Contact Links

Website | Website |Facebook | Instagram

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Become a Member of Gift Biz Breeze If you found value in this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you automatically get the next episode downloaded for your convenience. Click on your preferred platform below to get started. Also, if you'd like to do me a huge favor - please leave a review. It helps other creators like you find the show and build their businesses too. You can do so right here: Rate This Podcast Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify Thank you so much! Sue Know someone who needs to hear this episode? Click a button below to share it!

Transcripts

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Gift biz unwrapped episode 343.

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What People love about your product when they're walking by your

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craft market booth,

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what causes them to stop and comment to the friend next

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to them At Tinton gifters bakers,

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crafters, and makers pursuing your dream can be fun.

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Whether you have an established business or looking to start one.

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Now you are in the right place.

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This is gift to biz unwrapped,

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helping you turn your skill into a flourishing business.

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Join us for an episode,

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packed full of invaluable guidance,

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resources, and the support you need to grow.

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Your gift biz.

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Here is your host gift biz gal,

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Sue moon Heights.

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Hi, it's Sue and welcome to this week's show.

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As we end closer and closer to the holiday selling season,

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I hope you've been putting your plan together for how to

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capture your fair share of sales.

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As we've talked about many times only posting your products available

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for purchase online,

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isn't going to do it just because you have a website

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or a social shop set up doing that alone.

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Doesn't bring in customers.

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What it is,

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is an avenue to conduct the final sale,

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not the attraction and connection necessary to get people to buy

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and posting on social over and over again about your holiday

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products available as gifting options.

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Well, we all know the low percentage of our followers who

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actually see these messages as a handmade product creator.

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The fourth quarter holidays are the perfect time to get in

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front of buyers.

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Through holiday craft shows and church bazaars entry costs vary,

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but there are options to fit every budget and holiday shoppers

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need you as a handmade small business,

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even more this year with all the supply chain issues we're

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experiencing. I encourage you to sign up for your local shows

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and get in front of your soon to be customers because

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we need you this year more than ever.

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I talked about this in my recent tips and talk episode,

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number 34,

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go back and take a listen to hear how you can

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both help your business and customers get gifts for the holiday

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shopping season.

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We are going to need to depend on you this year.

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So the time to act is now,

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today, we're talking more about wholesale,

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just a few weeks back.

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The topic came up in our Q and a over in

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the breeze,

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by the way,

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if you're new here and don't know I do a weekly

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Q and a every Thursday morning in my Facebook group,

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gift biz breeze,

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consider this your invitation to join us there.

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Anyway, what you'll hear about today is whether your business is

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right for wholesale and our discussion will help you decide if

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you want to add this as a sales channel or not.

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There are some businesses who aren't cut out for wholesale and

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for others,

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it's just not a fit for how they want their business

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to blend in with their life.

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But if wholesale is for you,

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it's a great avenue providing tremendous opportunity for enhanced visibility and

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sales Today.

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I'm so excited to introduce you to Emily.

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Kerf Danelle.

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Emily is the founder at wholesale in a box and one

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mill school,

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a seasoned strategist.

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Emily has helped over a thousand creative,

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small business owners grow.

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Her fresh approach to business has been featured in the Oprah

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magazine, Forbes and entrepreneur magazine,

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and also at the makers summit.

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Emily, welcome to the gift biz on wrapped podcast.

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Thanks Sue.

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I'm thrilled to be here.

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I am so excited to dive into this conversation,

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but before we do,

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I want to do something.

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That's become tradition here on the show.

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And that is to have you describe yourself in a creative

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way through a motivational candle.

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So if you would help us in a vision,

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what a candle would look like that speaks totally to you,

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Emily, what would it look like by color and quote?

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Yeah, I love this question because I'm a big proponent of

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setting intention.

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And I think this question gets at that I would choose

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for the color white because people say,

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oh, I hate a blank page.

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The fear of a blank page.

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I love a blank page.

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I love possibility and starting new things and openness and freshness.

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And for me,

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the color white represents those things.

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And the quote I think would be,

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there is no path.

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The path is made by walking,

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but just with the idea that in life in business,

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I so often find that we're looking for the answers and

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not only are there often not any answers,

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you find them by finding your way forward and living each

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day, but also the best place to find the answers is

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within ourselves,

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especially in business.

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That's a great one.

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And I feel like so many people,

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and I don't know if you'd feel the same way,

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but when they get started in one way,

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I mean,

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they have some direction,

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like they've picked a path to start walking,

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but it always changes.

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So what you think you're initially starting doesn't necessarily end up

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where you are.

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Like, I would have never thought in a million years,

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I'd be doing what I am today,

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you know,

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and it's changed along the way,

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but what's the,

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It's still in your hands to change it.

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It's not totally in your hands,

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how it comes out,

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but you can always change it if it's not working for

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you, which I think is very fun about having your business

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in your own hands.

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If it's not working for you or you see new opportunity,

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like my first business was going great,

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but I ended up closing it down because I saw another

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opportunity that really excited more and I saw greater potential.

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So back to that blank sheet of paper,

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and you can write your own story and choose your own

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path and all of that.

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I mean,

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that is,

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what's so great about being an entrepreneur,

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don't you think?

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Yeah. I mean,

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for me it is,

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I think different people struggle with different aspects of it for

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some people that's the hard part,

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but that's the part that I love about it.

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Yeah. Well,

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we all come at it with different angles,

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different skillsets,

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different thinking that we were brought up with or just feel

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over time anyway.

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So share a little bit of your back.

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Sure. Well,

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I have done a little bit of everything.

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I started off teaching and I've worked in nonprofits,

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but at a certain point I realized what a force in

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the world,

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businesses for both good and bad,

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and I wanted to learn about it.

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I wanted to learn what tools business owners were using.

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And I worked to get into this really high powered management

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consulting career.

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We did banking and financial services consulting around the world.

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I was in charge of their Latin-American projects or special projects.

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And I did that for several years and learned so much,

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you know,

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just as I was trying to.

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And then while I was there toward the end,

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I started my first business,

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which was kind of like an international farmer's market,

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connecting organic farmers in Latin America,

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directly to folks here in the U S.

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And that was the start of my entrepreneurial journey.

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Over that time,

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I've had side hustles and side jobs,

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but the common thread,

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I also was a small business advisor for the U S

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government for the SBA.

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So I've gathered all these experiences,

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a business at all of these levels,

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super high level management consulting,

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super in the weeds.

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Like how do you run a food truck?

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But realizing,

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looking back that the common thread that I love is helping

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passionate people do the work that they love sustainably in terms

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of their energy financially.

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So being able to take somebody that has a passion,

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a business,

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they started based on a passion and helping them with that

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moment where they say,

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oh, now what,

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you know,

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maybe they can't get it to grow.

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Maybe it's growing beyond their wildest dreams.

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And so I had done that in all these different capacities

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and then started wholesale in a box about six years ago,

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which is a tool to help makers and artists and designers

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get their products into brick and mortar stores.

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And then last year started something called one middle school,

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which is a comprehensive community and training program for creative,

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small business owners.

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So it's been an evolution right now.

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Summary, I run those two businesses wholesale in a box and

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one middle school.

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I love that right now.

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Summary. Yeah.

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And I definitely want to get into,

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I think mostly wholesale in a box because I think that's

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going to serve our listeners the best.

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But I just have one sideline question because I was so

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curious about this going way back to that global farmer's market.

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Was it a totally virtual program that you were running there?

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Yes. Well kind of,

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I mean,

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it was physical products.

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So we worked with,

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I would go to the Dominican Republic and Mexico and we

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would work with chocolate and coffee and hibiscus producers,

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and then we would sell them to people here in the

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UK. That's so fabulous.

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I've seen a couple people do that type of thing and

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supporting other countries and bringing it into the U S is

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fabulous. Did you ever show at New York now in their

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nonprofit area?

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No, I never did it.

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I was working with another woman who had a business similar

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to that.

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She wasn't sourcing as much food,

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but more like designer fashion accessories.

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And to see everyone who's trying to assist in that area

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and just sheer all the artistry that's out in this world

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and other countries is amazing.

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So that was like a personal dive into hearing what you

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did. I just wanted to know.

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So we're going to talk about wholesale,

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but before we do that,

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I'd love your perspective on what's happened post COVID.

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What have you seen with people that you're working with in

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terms of how they tackled this challenge and who you've seen

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be successful,

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where you've seen people struggle and what your comments would be

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on this whole thing?

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It's a big question.

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I know.

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Just pick one that you think would be most relevant.

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So I would love to talk about how makers can thrive

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in this time,

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but let me start with what I'm seeing,

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how I observe the landscape of wholesale post COVID or mid

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COVID, depending how you look at Got it.

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So we're not going back in time.

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We're starting with where we are here,

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which is fall 2021.

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Yeah. Where we are here,

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fall 2021 is a very uneven experience.

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So we work with hundreds of makers and you can find

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almost any experience within that group right now,

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people who have lost their entire business to COVID people who

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have 10 times their sales in the last year,

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people who have started a brick and mortar people have closed

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the brick and mortar because of what's happened is that we

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expected it to be this big tsunami that hit us,

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and it was going to affect everyone in a similar way.

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And what actually happened is it was very regional and there

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were a lot of huge challenges,

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but there were also a lot of huge opportunities with COVID.

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And so people's ability to adapt to that both based on

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their business,

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their product,

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their personality,

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their region varies dramatically.

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So the first thing I want to say to anybody who

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is listening to this,

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if you are having an experience right now that is dramatically

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different than your peers who you're talking to,

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you're not alone and you didn't do something wrong.

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So I would say we can circle back to,

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like, I have a lot of specifics about how I'm seeing

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retailers buy differently now than they did two years ago.

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So that's really interesting.

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Okay. I want to talk about all that,

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but just to clarify,

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to make sure that I'm understanding,

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because if I have a question,

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then I think sometimes maybe our listeners will also have that

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question, but I think what you're saying is the reason you

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may be seeing different Results.

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And we're just keeping it,

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I guess,

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right in the U S for the time being is that

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state mandates are different.

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If your industry is a little bit different,

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obviously if you're a restaurant it's very different than if you're

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an online jewelry maker.

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So by industry,

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by what's going on regionally,

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just because of what the numbers look like,

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how your state has decided they're going to deal with this,

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you know,

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all of that,

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with those,

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be some of the reasons why we're seeing the differences.

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Those are some of the reasons other reasons are related to

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a person's product and price and marketing.

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So, as an example,

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I've seen lions that are very,

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very affordable thrive over the past little bit.

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And I've seen lines that are very unique and interesting and

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tactile and have a great experience and backstory to them also

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thrive. I've seen the middle chunk struggle right now where it's

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pretty affordable,

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but not terribly unique.

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Sometimes that can be a really one group that has struggled.

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So it's yes,

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the external thing of mandates and region and how that's all

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changed. But it's also related to the specifics of the person's

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product, as well as marketing.

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So one of the things I've been seeing is that with

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COVID the hybrid nature between online and in-person and the ability

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to shift seamlessly between marketing your products on Instagram,

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but also doing a pop-up when that becomes available,

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but also selling to stores,

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being able to shift in an adept way between the in-person

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and online context was important before COVID crucial during COVID and

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has remained crucial after COVID.

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So that's another thing is that if somebody has not been

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able to do that,

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I've also seen them struggle.

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Yeah. I mean,

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if nothing else we've learned that we need to have all

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these things in play so that we're ready to adjust at

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any given time.

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Right. And same for retailers.

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I've seen the same thing there.

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I think about there's a store in Memphis called falling into

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place who I really admire,

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and she almost immediately switched to this thing.

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She didn't close down.

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She adjusted her hours.

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She shifted to,

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you know,

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a lot of the things that we've seen be successful of

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delivery and Instagram story shopping,

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right. She just made it this comprehensive fluid experience between how

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I interact with falling into place,

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the shop online and how we interact with the falling into

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place, the brick and mortar shop.

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And I think that applies to both retailers and to makers

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having a cohesive experience,

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regardless of whether somebody is interacting with you online or in

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person, Right.

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And a cook cohesive experience,

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meaning that no matter where the touch point is,

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the experience will be similar.

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The product looks similar and you use multiple channels also as

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you're communicating with a customer.

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So it might be in store might be email,

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et cetera,

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That your story comes across it.

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So yes,

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it's consistent,

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but that it's compelling and interesting and exciting because it's one

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of the funny parts of funny contradictions of coven.

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You would think that during such uncertain times,

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people would just hunker down and only want practical stuff.

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But what we've seen is that yes,

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they want practical,

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affordable stuff,

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but everybody's also hungry for interesting stories,

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exciting products and things that can bring a little joy to

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a tough time.

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Absolutely. Cause we're looking for that entertainment now in some of

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the light-heartedness and interest,

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because we were hunkered home for so long,

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you were all just searching to feel good right now.

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I think too.

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So that begs the question then what are the elements?

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How do we make our product compelling?

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Interesting and exciting in general?

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Cause I know this is a whole nother topic,

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but just someone who's listening in and says,

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okay, that sounds good.

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I don't even know what that means.

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Like what's one thing that I could be looking at to

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do to fit the bill here.

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Well, I always say focus on your bright spots.

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So it's a little bit different if somebody hasn't started at

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all, but for somebody that has been selling their products,

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whether that's on Etsy or at craft markets or through whatever

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channels, I would turn the question back on you and say,

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what do people love about your product when they're walking by

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your craft market booth,

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what causes them to stop and comment to the friend next

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to them about it?

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What do you say about your lining,

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your products or your production process that causes people's eyes to

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light up?

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What are those little details?

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What are the individual products?

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What aspect of your packaging,

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what are the bright,

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shiny spots of what you do that people love?

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And there's always going to be several things.

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And usually people can,

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if they think about their actual experience,

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interacting with their customers,

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again, whether that's online or in person doesn't matter,

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they'll know what these things are.

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And then what I often work with people to do is

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say, great.

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That's our foundation.

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What we need to do is amplify those bright spots,

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weed out,

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anything that state looting,

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watering down,

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those really strong points and add to them,

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tell that story more,

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make it clearer,

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have the photos on your website,

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be of those things that people already love.

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Have your story on your about page,

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highlight the things that make people's eyes light up.

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So bringing out the bright spots and then really building on,

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I love this for so many reasons.

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First of all,

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I'd love the name of it.

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Focus on your bright spots.

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So that's beautiful,

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but also you're getting the feedback from your customers.

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So often I think we fall in love with something that

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we're making and our customers like it.

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Okay. But they might like that other thing that we think

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is just common,

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cause we've been doing it forever,

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but that's really to use your words,

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the bright spot.

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So you need to stick with it.

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The other thing,

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as I'm listening to what you're saying is I think all

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along these same lines,

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we can start getting tired of some of the things we

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keep talking about because we say it over and over again,

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but not everybody sees everything we're putting out.

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So we have to forget about that part.

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I know you get tired so much sooner than your customers

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get tired of what you're saying,

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especially if you know what you're saying are the things that

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people respond to,

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you have to do it so much more.

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And I think the other challenge of that is we are

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creative people.

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The people listening to this are creative people and creative people

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tend to want the new idea.

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And so part of being a successful marketer is countering that

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tendency just a little bit and sticking with the idea that's

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already working,

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Bringing up the jewelry line Brighton,

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and they have used hearts as a symbol for their business

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for gosh,

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as long as I've been following them,

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which has gotta be more than 15 years.

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I mean they have new designs,

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but one of the things that they are known for is

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that heart that's integrated in Well.

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And it's interesting too,

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like speaking about wholesale and focusing there because everything that we've

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said is true for probably any business,

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but certainly any handmade business it's selling products.

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But when you start selling nationwide and you're selling to brick

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and mortar stores,

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it becomes 10 times more true.

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I have found that the biggest barrier to selling wholesale is

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when store owners are confused about what you do.

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And so getting everything cohesive and aligned with your bright spots

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and not having a bunch of products that all a million

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price points are bunch of things that a bunch of different

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aesthetics are having six line sheets,

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those things confuse store owners and they wander away.

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And so I think with wholesale,

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all of the things we're talking about are even more exaggerated.

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Okay. Okay.

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So I want to dive into the details of wholesale,

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but just to stick with this for one second,

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because you're saying this is the biggest issue is your line.

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Shouldn't be all over the board in terms of pricing,

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you should be claiming a price position.

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If you will,

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your low cost,

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your middle,

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your high-end,

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and you stand for whether it's the quality,

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whether it's a certain product aesthetic,

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all of that,

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it should be very clearly defined.

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And that's what you need to think about with your business.

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And that's part of the message that you always want to

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be relaying forward.

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Right? And so many people,

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when I say this,

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their mind skips to their about page.

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So they say,

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oh, I need to say my values,

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or I need to say what the brand is about on

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my, about page,

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but about page and what you say about your company directly,

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and explicitly is a small piece of it.

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There are so many other elements of having your message and

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your ethos and your story come across.

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It's everything down to the colors.

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You choose,

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the fonts you choose,

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the wording that you use in your Instagram,

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captions, the photos you post on your feed,

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the styling that you use in your product photography,

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right? What jewelry the model is wearing.

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If you're selling blouses,

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right? All of those things contribute to what I'm talking about.

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So sometimes I'll even encourage people to do kind of a

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once they get a sense of,

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okay, what are those bright spots then move to a bit

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of an inventory.

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So what are all the places that people come in contact

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with my brand or my products and assessing them with kind

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of a clear eye,

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you know,

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bit of a,

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just like a little bit of distance and say,

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this is the heart of my story.

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These are the bright spots.

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And then here are the 25 places that people are interacting

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with. What I do for each of those 25.

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How aligned are they with that heart of the story and

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for the ones that are weak,

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bring them into alignment.

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And it sounds small,

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but it can make a huge difference.

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Sometimes it means weeding out products that just aren't consistent with

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what you're really trying to do.

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Sometimes it means tweaks to the website.

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Sometimes it does mean tweaks to your about page or your

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story. But sometimes it's small things like,

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again, Instagram caption wording,

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or Right,

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because you want to be showing up with the same style

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of messaging,

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the same vibe behind and underneath the words,

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because that's how you develop trust with people because they know

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what to expect.

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They're attracted to you because that's what they like.

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And so if you veer off or you do different things,

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then who are you to somebody,

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there's one thing that you said,

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and you said it really quickly.

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And I was thinking it while you were saying it.

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So I'd like to carry on with this for a second

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relook at your product line.

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And if there are some things that don't really fall in

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line with that anymore,

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let them go pull them off.

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And I think that would be a little uncomfortable.

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I know for a fact,

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there are people who are listening,

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who have that because as makers and especially when you're starting

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and defining what your brand is and validating which products are

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going to sell,

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you have so many products because you're testing so many things.

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Talk a little bit more about why it's worth doing that.

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Cause I know there'd be resistance there.

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Well, there are a bunch of reasons to do it.

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The biggest reason is that there's this old marketing adage from

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like the mad men days that the confused mind doesn't buy.

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And so it sounds a little harsh,

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but when I come to your website,

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most online shopper,

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like let's just focus online for a second.

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It works the same when somebody wandering through a craft market.

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But if I come to your website,

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you have one to five seconds for the person to quickly

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assess what is this?

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And is it for me?

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Is it something I would be excited about?

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And so what that means is that having a line that

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is focused and powerful and potent and vibrant is crucial and

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your product,

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which is both your product and your photography and your packaging,

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right? That's all kind of part of your product in some

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ways is the foundation of that.

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Yes, there's the branding and the marketing and the messaging,

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but your product is the foundation.

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And so if you have kind of 10 years worth of,

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you know,

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some products are weak.

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This was from an era when I was on maternity leave,

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I was trying this certain thing.

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And you just have like this mix with the idea that

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you're trying to be all things to all people,

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people will be confused.

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People will not be as passionate about what you do because

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it doesn't feel as unique or exciting.

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And then the other thing is it's actually quite hard to

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manage. So in the restaurant industry,

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bear with me,

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this will apply in the restaurant industry when consultants do profitability

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improvements for big restaurant chains.

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Their first thing that they do is cut their menu.

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Maybe they have 30 items on the menu before they make

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them have 12,

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because fewer items always means more efficiency and fewer costs and

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better profit.

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Not always,

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not in every single case,

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but in many,

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many cases,

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honing your product line will also mean more sanity and more

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profits for you.

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So those are all really good reasons.

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Are there exceptions?

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Yes. There are people whose product line is too small and

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they need to build on it.

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But I would say you're right.

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The majority of the people that I work with could stand

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to kill off some of their beloved products so that the

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other ones can really thrive.

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Yeah. I mean,

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I know it's so hard to do,

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but that's one of the reasons I was thrilled that you

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had included that as you were talking,

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because if you have all these different products and unless you're

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a gift shop where you have gifts,

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like that's what you do.

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You correlate all these gifts that you sell.

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But if you're a handmade product creator and you have knitted,

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scarves, watercolor paintings,

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and some essential oils,

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who are you like,

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I don't even know.

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Right? Cause those are so different from each other.

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Well, and it's not bite be by product type.

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That's probably a recipe for failure,

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but I've seen people do something like that.

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Well, when the vibe,

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the ethos,

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the aesthetic of those three product categories are very,

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very aligned in the same person would be thrilled to buy

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all three.

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And there is a cohesive narrative about how those three product

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types fit together.

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So it's,

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it may be like focus on one product type or it

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may be that you need to focus on one product aesthetic.

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It's not necessarily formulaic.

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It's a matter of bringing it all into focus.

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And that means different things for different lines.

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I would say,

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I don't know.

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What do you think They buy into it?

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Because then what your brand is,

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is not product directed.

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It's aesthetic directed.

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So it's still one thing I don't know.

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I do go back and forth because if you are known

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for your quality candles and you do this and you do

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this by adding multiple products,

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your specialty gets diluted versus being this amazing candle maker,

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like all the cents,

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whatever is in the line and you are known as a

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candle maker.

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So if you go instead to an aesthetic,

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you are known for one who provides atmosphere,

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changing, calming products for your home.

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You know?

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So it changes in the messaging like that.

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But I buy into it.

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You've opened my mind to that,

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Emily. So I like that,

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but I want everybody who's listening now to think through what

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they're offering and define for yourself,

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what that really is.

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Well in nine times out of 10 people know,

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like I just asked them,

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But do they really say it to themselves?

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That they know?

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I know you just have to admit it.

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I know.

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I always say like I have a baby,

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I have a two and a half year old.

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And you know,

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everybody always says,

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oh my businesses,

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my baby,

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your business is not your baby.

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Your business is your business.

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And it's okay to cut,

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kill narrow down.

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It's okay to do that.

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Just like weeding your garden in taking out the things that

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you and your heart know are weak,

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weak, for whatever reason we could statically or weak.

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For any of the other reasons we've talked about,

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you will give the other things room to thrive.

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Just like you're saying,

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you know,

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the roots can grow with the things that are moving.

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Well. The other thing is,

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if you have a product that's sitting on your website and

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has not sold for three years,

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take it down.

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You're not selling anyway.

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It's not that great that you just have an additional product

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sitting there.

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So I think we've covered this well enough.

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What do you think We're both passionate about it.

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I know that you just really want to get the message

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across, but yes,

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I think we got it.

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Well, yeah,

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we're going to,

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I had it for like three different angles just to see

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which one's going to resonate with.

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So let's move on to wholesale and talk about wholesale in

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a box.

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And what do you want to share with us here?

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I wanted to pause this discussion for a second to let

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you know that I recognize you may be feeling overwhelmed right

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now. I mean,

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I bring on great guests who are specialists in their fields

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and we get into fabulous conversations that,

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you know,

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can help grow your business.

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So after the show,

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you have all the full intention of grabbing a download,

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making an adjustment to your website or any other number of

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ideas that arise as a result of the podcast.

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But what happens,

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you get back to all your other activities and the momentum

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you had gets lost.

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What you plan to do is forgotten.

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Then you feel bad because your business is going on as

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usual without implementing anything that you know,

Speaker:

would help grow your business.

Speaker:

You're just too busy doing all the things like a robot,

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moving from one thing to another without thinking,

Speaker:

because you have to,

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I get it.

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I've been there,

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but guess what?

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There is another way since I recognized this exact behavior in

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my own business,

Speaker:

I set out to do something about it.

Speaker:

And now what works for me,

Speaker:

I'm sharing with you.

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It's the inspired daily planner made specifically for gifters bakers,

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crafters and makers,

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that's you,

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but it's not your ordinary planner.

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First off,

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it comes with a video explaining my productivity strategy,

Speaker:

plus it's undated.

Speaker:

So you can start using this planner.

Speaker:

The second it arrives at your doorstep and that's not all

Speaker:

included for each day is a motivational tip and plenty of

Speaker:

space for you to write down your intention and then schedule

Speaker:

time so that you can actually take action on all those

Speaker:

ideas that are now getting lost.

Speaker:

It's the perfect solution to truly act and move your business

Speaker:

forward. And yes,

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I'm offering you a special discount to get you started with

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the inspired program,

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because it's my greatest joy to see you make progress and

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grow, go to gift biz,

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unwrapped.com forward slash get inspired and enter code sale in all

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caps to get 40% off of the inspired daily planner.

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That means for only $21 plus shipping,

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you'll have a hard copy planner along with my power of

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And if you're already using the inspired program,

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grab a fresh planner with this discount to gift biz,

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unwrapped.com forward slash get inspired and use the code sale.

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Remember in all caps,

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this offer won't be available forever.

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So don't forget to do it right away.

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Okay. Let's get back to the show.

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Great. Okay.

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So we'll tell in a box started out as a subscription

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service that gave people software and connections to stores.

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It worked differently right now today,

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fall 2021 wholesale in a box is a comprehensive training course.

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It is literally everything that we have learned in the last

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10 years of working with over a thousand makers to help

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them grow their wholesale business.

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Everything we've learned in a box in a course,

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and folks can either choose just the course and it's self

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paced, or they can choose the course.

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Plus one-on-one coaching via email to help,

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you know,

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review their line sheets or review their emails to stores or

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that kind of thing.

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We focus very specifically on helping independent,

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mostly makers,

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but some people do outsource stuff,

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sell to independent brick and mortar shops.

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And so we're not teaching people how to get into Nordstrom.

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That's outside my wheelhouse really,

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we're helping you build a base of 30,

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7200 amazing mom and pop shops across the country of whatever

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aesthetic or ethos resonates with your line.

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And so it's really exciting because so many people say to

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me, I expected to grow my sales by working with you

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and I did,

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but I got two huge benefits I wasn't expecting the first

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one is that I went pro with my business.

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I did all the things that we've been talking about.

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So I got my photography professionally got my marketing professionals.

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So I went pro and the second thing is they made

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all of these incredible connections across the country with store owners,

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these amazing creative people.

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And so that's one of the really satisfying parts of what

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we do.

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Oh, that is Very,

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very exciting.

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Are there certain people who shouldn't go wholesale?

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Yes. There are certain people who shouldn't go wholesale,

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a few reasons to not go wholesale are the following.

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You do not have a product or a line yet that

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can compete nationwide.

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We can return to exactly what that means,

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but it's competing while to craft market.

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But when you think about competing with people who make your

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product category all around the country,

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you know that you can't compete.

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Let's stop There.

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Cause I'll forget to come back so that you can't compete.

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What are the ways that,

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how you would know if you can compete or not?

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Well, you might not know.

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And so it might take a little bit of experimentation,

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but if you can't say what makes your product unique relative

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to somebody making something similar in Idaho,

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San Francisco,

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New York,

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et cetera,

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then that's probably a good indication that you're not yet ready

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to do it.

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Okay. Because you're not offering something different than what's already available.

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Yeah. Because when you're selling it,

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your local craft market,

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your farmer's market,

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you're the person that makes handmade soaps there.

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And you know,

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you're competing with the farmer.

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You're selling tomatoes,

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but you're not competing with any other soap maker.

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Usually when you go nationwide,

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suddenly you're competing with hundreds of handmade soap makers to sell

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your product to shops.

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And so there has to be a reason that a store

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would buy from you rather than somebody else.

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Okay. So wonderings of soap makers,

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how can I possibly be unique if there are hundreds already

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out there?

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Well, it comes down to all this stuff that we've been

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talking about.

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So is there something that people love about your product?

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They come back to you,

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maybe it's the formulation.

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Maybe it's the efficacy of the soap.

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Maybe it's that you have 105 cents,

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maybe it's that you have one set,

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but your packaging is absolutely gorgeous.

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Maybe it's that you have this really beautiful story of how

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things are produced.

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And you tell that story over and over again,

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three times a day on Instagram.

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So it's not necessarily thing.

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And it's not necessarily some like Trump card.

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It's not like a magical thing.

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It can be something kind of humble.

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But if you're making a to stay on the soap example,

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average soap,

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that's pretty good at a pretty good price with pretty good

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packaging, with a medium story,

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that's going to be tough.

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Well, what I'm hearing from you is what could be the

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standout is a feature in your product,

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like an ingredient.

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It could be a story behind the product.

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It could be a cause relating to your product.

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So there could be a lot of soft.

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I don't know how to say that.

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Right? But you know,

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soft features versus hard features,

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which is actually the specific of your product,

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because your soap,

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maybe similar to other people,

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soaps has a little transition,

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but you differentiate yourself in other ways,

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that sounds doable,

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right? Everybody like everyone can find something like that.

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And I think you'll agree with me,

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Emily, but you can contradict if you would,

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it has to be something that's natural to you.

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Like you can't make up that you have a passion or

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care about something.

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If you really don't or you can't create a story that

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will sound good behind your brand,

Speaker:

if it's really not true.

Speaker:

So that's the easiest part is look inside yourself.

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What you love,

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what you're passionate about.

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Why did you start your business?

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What is the story?

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Maybe that's it.

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So it's not creating something that's not already there.

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It's just identifying and finding what that is and then telling

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people about it.

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Yeah, I think that's true.

Speaker:

And then it also goes back to that thing of listened

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to your customers.

Speaker:

So what are the things that people rave about?

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So this is why often it doesn't make sense to do

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wholesale from day one,

Speaker:

because when you sell direct to consumer,

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whether it's through at sea or through a craft market,

Speaker:

you get so much feedback from actual individual people buying your

Speaker:

thing, that it helps you play that game of hot and

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cold. Oh,

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I tried this,

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that didn't work.

Speaker:

Oh, I tried this.

Speaker:

Ooh, people like that one and go farther in the direction

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of what's working so that you have a clear idea when

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you start doing wholesale of what are those things that make

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me unique?

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You know,

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if this is a total question,

Speaker:

mark, for you,

Speaker:

of what people like about your product or what makes you

Speaker:

unique. It may be too early to do wholesale,

Speaker:

but if you have some hunches,

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then you know,

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those are things that you can build on and you may

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well be ready.

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All right.

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What's another reason why we wouldn't.

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And I'm just trying to get people to think of things

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that they could work on.

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If wholesale is something that they're interested in and then walk

Speaker:

them into potentially being someone who's interested in wholesale in a

Speaker:

box you might already be there and you don't even really

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realize. Yeah.

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I mean,

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just to contextualize this conversation,

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usually people think they're not ready when they are.

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I would say so just to give that little encouraging fact

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number two,

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I would say packaging and photos.

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So when you are selling wholesale,

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the majority of the time,

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especially these days,

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you're going to be interacting with store owners remotely online.

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You're not usually sitting with them in their shop showing them

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your line.

Speaker:

And so that means that your photos need to be great.

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They don't need to be perfect,

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but if they're not showing your product clearly and in a

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beautiful, exciting way,

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then it's going to be really hard to get that to

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come across.

Speaker:

So photos are big thinking about how your line is going

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to sit on a shelf.

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Sometimes this matters more than others.

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If you make jewelry,

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it doesn't really matter at all,

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is the truth.

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If you make a strange product that nobody's heard of,

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the package needs to explain what it is.

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So just thinking through how it's going to sit on the

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shelf is important.

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So I would say those are big.

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And then the third one,

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I would say this,

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these are kind of the three PS at the end here.

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The third one is pricing and your costs.

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And so as people know,

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when you sell wholesale,

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if your product costs $50 retail,

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so let's say it's a necklace and you sell it at

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craft markets for $50.

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The store owner will want to buy it from you for

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$25 or less.

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And for some people that means they need to increase their

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prices across the board,

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or they need to get to a bigger volume so that

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their costs are lower.

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We have some articles on our website of what to do.

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If you can't make your pricing work for wholesale,

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but I can stop there to say that one way or

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another. You need to be able to charge a 50% or

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less wholesale price relative to your retail,

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Right? Which then means your making cost and everything that goes

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into keeping your business running,

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including making the product should be somewhere half of that,

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half of the wholesale cost.

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So think of your costs being about a quarter of what

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the retail price would be on average.

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Obviously there's some flexibility there.

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So that is one of the reasons why,

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even if you're at home and you're just starting out with

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your product is to consider that as you grow,

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because then you don't have to go back and increase your

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prices. And everyone's like,

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wait a minute.

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It was only $8 last time.

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And now it's 12.

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Like what's up,

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you know,

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if you start at that right point,

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thinking wholesale might be in the game for you down the

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road, it's much easier.

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So there's that one other question for you?

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Production people who are the sole person,

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or maybe they have a team of maybe three people making

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the product right now.

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What are your guidelines on volume for wholesale?

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Okay. So this is why I like for people to grow

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with independent brick and mortar shops,

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rather than trying to have this big splash of getting into

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target or Nordstrom or anthropology.

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Because when you grow with independent brick and mortar shops,

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you grow one by one and each shop is placing relatively

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small orders.

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You know,

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it's more like 10 times a retail order or 20 times

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a retail order,

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not like 2000 times a retail order.

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So to me,

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and what I've seen is that it allows you to grow

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in a more incremental ways.

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So you get one shop,

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then you get another two shops and it allows you to

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more organically skill up your production process.

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You hire a part-time assistant,

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you get bigger volumes,

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you know,

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your assistant goes full time.

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If you sell to anthropology,

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you've got big production issues right off the bat and cashflow

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issues actually.

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Cause they're not going to pay you right away.

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That's right.

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Yeah. A lot of people get caught there,

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don't they?

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Yeah. Yes.

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And that's why like productions and issue,

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but only if you're going that route,

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because if you go the other route,

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you just have so much more control over it and you

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can take these baby steps forward.

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That's why I didn't mention it is because I almost think

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that other route of going that big is going from selling

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on Etsy to selling an anthropology.

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It's just dicey.

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It wouldn't be for me to make that huge leap.

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And then what I find is,

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you know,

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a maker says,

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yeah, but I have those big dreams.

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I want to be in those nationwide retailers.

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That's great.

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Get a base of 30,

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7200 shops.

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It will prove to the nationwide retailers that you can be

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successful and it will allow you to skill more organically and

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with less risk and less stress.

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And then those nationwide retailers will come to you.

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I've seen it happen over and over again.

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Right? Well,

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think about it this way too.

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Like if your very first one let's say,

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because it just worked out was anthropology.

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They place a huge order and you screw it up,

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then where's your future because they already know they're not going

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to use you again.

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You couldn't even fulfill it or you go broke because you

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don't have enough money to actually produce it all.

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So I love what you're talking about with scaling it up,

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getting your feet wet,

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learning the ropes,

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setting up your systems,

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which I'm sure is what you do wholesale in a box.

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That's probably all the stuff that you teach.

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It's safer.

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It's smarter all the way around and really a more solid

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way to grow.

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And I don't think it has to take that much time

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either. Like if someone really wanted to do it that way,

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it doesn't mean that you're sitting for years before you would

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get into bigger shops,

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either That at all.

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But that's why I don't mention production because I'd rather folks

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avoid that problem.

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Right. For sure.

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I mean,

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if you are already using a factory and you've got the

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capability to produce product because you invented a product versus hand

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making a product,

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then you're further along probably to getting in through some of

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these bigger locations.

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The other thing I'd say is I've had a number of

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people that I work with,

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who don't want to get into that because their job changes.

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They love the making and they can make a fine income

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at a certain level.

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And that's where they want to cap because things change as

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you get bigger and start doing wholesale to the masses.

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And I want to say that too,

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that if you are that person and you want to double

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your income,

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but you don't want to spend all your time managing a

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team that's okay.

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And you can grow to a certain number of stores and

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then not add stores.

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You can give stores a minimum order,

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a maximum order.

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So you're really in control of how you grow when you

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grow to independent shops and do wholesale.

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It doesn't have to mean that you're not making any more.

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Wonderful. And then you also don't surpass that place where you're

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happy with what you're doing.

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And then all of a sudden it's like,

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what do you do then?

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So I was recently out at a conference and I was

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hearing from a number of people,

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how successful they've been on fair,

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surprisingly successful.

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Where do you see or an organization like that fitting in

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here. Okay.

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So that has changed so much over the past three years,

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I would say,

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you know,

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when we started wholesaling a box six years ago,

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there was Etsy wholesale,

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which was a wholesale marketplace that has since closed,

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but there wasn't anything else.

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There was in-person trade shows.

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And so we have always taught kind of a way of

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reaching out to stores directly and pitching your products,

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which I still think is really a good way to grow.

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But we also,

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at this point,

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there are,

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I would say a good handful of great wholesale marketplaces,

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including fair,

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fair is the biggest,

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but there are others bulletin,

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Tundra bound.

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And if you go to wholesale and box.com,

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we've done a lot of comparison and reviews and maker reviews

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of the marketplaces.

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If you're trying to figure out is this right for me?

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Which one is right for me?

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But overall,

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in terms of wholesale marketplaces in general,

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yes, they can be a great part of your strategy.

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They all have different pros and cons.

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They reach different demographics.

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They have different aesthetics.

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You may not get into all of them.

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You may not like all of them.

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You may not see results on all of them.

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So it takes a little bit of experimentation,

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but it's a wonderful way to connect with store owners for

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many people.

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What we like to talk about though,

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is that it's a passive approach.

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So once you put your products on unfair,

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you either get results or you don't for the most part.

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And it depends a lot on their algorithm and you know,

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where their products are falling at that particular moment in time.

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And so we always recommend complimenting a passive approach with an

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active approach and taking relationships with store owners into your own

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hands. So that means any order you get from a marketplace,

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making sure that you build an actual human relationship with that

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store owner,

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that you know,

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what store they are,

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you have their contact information that you follow up with them

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immediately, and then frequently over time.

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And that you're also reaching out to stores yourself outside the

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marketplace so that you have a little bit of a diversification,

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how your growth is happening.

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And you're not completely dependent on some venture capital funded company

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in San Francisco,

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which is what fair is,

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right? Yeah.

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Very smart.

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I mean,

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just like with anything you don't want to be relying on

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one person or one thing,

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you know,

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we often talk here about,

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don't just have a site on Etsy.

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That's great.

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And you're going to get a certain audience there,

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but always have a website,

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something that you control.

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So that sounds similar to this same logic.

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Okay. You were going to share a story.

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I think,

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Well, I was just going to say with Etsy wholesale,

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they had a wholesale marketplace.

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What is more legit than Etsy wholesale?

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That sounds so reliable.

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You would just think they'll be around forever.

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So we saw all these people build their wholesale businesses completely

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on Etsy wholesale.

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They had no idea who these shop owners were.

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They were not building relationships with them.

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Everything was within Etsy wholesale.

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Well from literally one month to the next at T wholesale,

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completely closed and many people's wholesale businesses closed as a result

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of that also.

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So I think,

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you know,

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it feels like fare can do no wrong and they're the

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Goliath in the space,

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but they can change on a dime and you know,

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whether it's changing their algorithm or closing or changing their business

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model. And so you just want to make sure that you're

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not deeply affected by that if that were to happen.

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No, that's a great example.

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Cause you're right.

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Who would have expected?

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Not nobody for sure,

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for somebody who has been selling direct to consumer this whole

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time, they go out to craft shows.

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They sell on their website.

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I think that's a common structure that we have here.

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When you start doing wholesale,

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do you flip a hundred percent over?

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Can they still be doing craft shows?

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How does it change what they would be doing day to

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day? If they decided that they wanted to investigate wholesale,

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I guess would be the way to say it.

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Oh, it doesn't flip over.

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You keep doing the rest of the things that are already

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working for you.

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Wholesale is a slow and steady long-term growth thing in 99%

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of cases.

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It's your two to five-year plan.

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So you'll still be at craft markets.

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You'll still be selling direct to consumer for a long time

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to come.

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Even if your goal is to eventually be a hundred percent

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wholesale And your goal can be any percentage,

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right? I don't have to go a hundred percent if I

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didn't want to,

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You don't have to go a hundred percent.

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And I think you're leaving money on the table and relationships

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on the table.

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If you do a hundred percent,

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because one of the really neat side effects of growing wholesale

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is that when you sell,

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let's say even in 50 stores across the country,

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you are touching customers and they are getting to know your

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brand in all of these regions and towns and cities that

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you would never interact with otherwise.

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And so what happens is this snowball effect where you get

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into one store and sometimes it takes a long time to

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grow into one store into five stores into 10 stores.

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But each of those stores has this ripple effect of other

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store owners seeing you in that store,

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consumers, seeing you in that store and then buying their second

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purchase from you online.

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And so there's this really neat synergy between the direct to

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consumer piece and the wholesale piece.

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Absolutely. And you can make that combination,

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whatever you want.

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You know,

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if you like going out to craft shows now,

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but let's say three,

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four years ago,

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you're like,

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I'm done with all this traveling setup,

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tear down,

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even though you might love it.

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Maybe you reduce how many you do,

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but you've it with wholesale income or certainly online.

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I think another question,

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if someone hasn't really ever been thinking about wholesale before could

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be, why would I do that?

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If I'm making so much less on a wholesale piece versus

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one I sell direct,

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That's actually one thing I wanted to return to,

Speaker:

which is there are two answers to that.

Speaker:

I also think another reason people should decide not to pursue

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wholesale is if all of the things they're doing are working.

Speaker:

Like if they love going to craft markets and their online

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business direct to consumer is thriving and they're making the kind

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of money they want and they have a diversified growing business.

Speaker:

It's very possible.

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They should not distract themselves by delving into wholesale.

Speaker:

I mean,

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yes, diversification is important,

Speaker:

but I'm describing someone with a thriving already fairly diversified business.

Speaker:

So not everyone should do wholesale.

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If what you're doing is working that well,

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I have told person after person,

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you know what I used to do calls with people before

Speaker:

they signed up with us.

Speaker:

And often I would say,

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girl, you that's working for you just don't,

Speaker:

you know,

Speaker:

unless something changes.

Speaker:

We're something about what you're doing is no longer working for

Speaker:

you personally,

Speaker:

or energetically or financially then keep on.

Speaker:

So that's one thing is that maybe the answer is they

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shouldn't do wholesale.

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On the other hand,

Speaker:

if someone is just concerned about the cut,

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you know,

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I sell my necklace for $50 at a craft market.

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How is that fair?

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Or how is that?

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Why is to sell it to $25 to a store that

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I can address?

Speaker:

Which is if wholesale is a part of your vision,

Speaker:

let me explain to you why it is totally fair and

Speaker:

totally wise to sell that necklace for $25 to a store,

Speaker:

the store is taking the marketing distribution storytelling,

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hiring of the shopkeeper assistance,

Speaker:

all of that off of your hands.

Speaker:

And so I think what a lot of independent business owners

Speaker:

do is they don't count their own time of going out

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to the craft market,

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selling their products,

Speaker:

all of the things that have to do with marketing and

Speaker:

distribution. And so they're not realizing the value of all of

Speaker:

that. So when they sort of outsource that to the store

Speaker:

owner, by selling wholesale,

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they're thinking,

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oh yeah,

Speaker:

but they're not really doing anything,

Speaker:

but it's because they're not valuing their own time and seeing

Speaker:

that comparison.

Speaker:

And so when people grow wholesale successfully,

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they grow to see,

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yeah, this is a great deal.

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You know,

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I do the making part and the vision and the design

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and the creative part.

Speaker:

And this store owner is hustling to do all the other

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pieces for me.

Speaker:

So that's where the 25 versus 50 comes in.

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Yeah. You know,

Speaker:

and I also am thinking that when you're sitting in on

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the shelf of someone's store,

Speaker:

there are all these other products around and people are coming

Speaker:

to the store for a variety of different things.

Speaker:

And then they may happen upon your product where you would

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have never had a connection with them before ever.

Speaker:

And as you were talking about earlier,

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they get your product because it's attractive that packaging,

Speaker:

all the things you've talked about because they were physically in

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a store.

Speaker:

So you're making less off of that product,

Speaker:

but then they take it home.

Speaker:

They love it.

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They check you out online and then they're a direct sale.

Speaker:

So that all starts to average out because we're so much

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more used to now being online.

Speaker:

So purchasing online has become less and less of a barrier

Speaker:

for some people who were concerned about it in the future.

Speaker:

And we don't go out physically all the time,

Speaker:

either listen,

Speaker:

some of us live in a place where it's snowy and

Speaker:

you don't want to go out,

Speaker:

but you still want the products.

Speaker:

Right. So it's the combination.

Speaker:

I think that's a beautiful synergy for sure.

Speaker:

So talk with us a little bit more about wholesale in

Speaker:

a box and where people can find it if they want

Speaker:

to understand more.

Speaker:

And then also let's talk about your podcasts.

Speaker:

Yeah. So,

Speaker:

and I'm saying this,

Speaker:

honestly, not as a means of self promotion,

Speaker:

if you're interested in wholesale,

Speaker:

go to our website,

Speaker:

it's wholesale in a box.com

Speaker:

and click on training and inspiration.

Speaker:

I've had people say to me,

Speaker:

I've gotten an entire wholesale education start to finish from your

Speaker:

website for free.

Speaker:

And I don't throw about that if you're a DIY person

Speaker:

and you just need a little bit more background,

Speaker:

as you're deciding whether to tackle wholesale,

Speaker:

we have a ton of free resources.

Speaker:

So do that.

Speaker:

We have a free email course that you can sign up

Speaker:

for on there too,

Speaker:

called grow your wholesale,

Speaker:

which has like the most important principles that we found in

Speaker:

growing wholesale.

Speaker:

Also, if you're somebody who feels like,

Speaker:

look, I would rather not reinvent the wheel myself in every

Speaker:

single area of my business.

Speaker:

I don't have the time or energy to do that.

Speaker:

Then I think our course and training and coaching that is

Speaker:

paid is a really,

Speaker:

really good value.

Speaker:

And it's really well organized.

Speaker:

And it's just the action oriented things.

Speaker:

You need to know,

Speaker:

we're not trying to fill your head with a bunch of

Speaker:

information. We're trying to get you from point a where you

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are to point B,

Speaker:

which is a thriving wholesale business that you're in charge of.

Speaker:

So, you know,

Speaker:

kind of wherever you fall,

Speaker:

I think we can be of some kind of support to

Speaker:

listeners. We're also on Instagram at wholesale,

Speaker:

in a box Facebook,

Speaker:

everything is wholesale in a box.

Speaker:

And how about the podcast?

Speaker:

So we are out of hiatus from the podcast right now,

Speaker:

the podcast is called making do,

Speaker:

and you can find it on all of the podcast players,

Speaker:

apple, and everything it's called making do.

Speaker:

And those are great episodes to listen to.

Speaker:

We did two seasons of interviews with how people were making

Speaker:

do during the challenging times of COVID.

Speaker:

And it was really cool.

Speaker:

It's so cool to hear the ingenious things that people have

Speaker:

been coming up with,

Speaker:

the challenges they face,

Speaker:

the very honest stories.

Speaker:

So take a listen to that.

Speaker:

And then eventually we'll,

Speaker:

we'll come back from arthritis as well.

Speaker:

That Sounds really interesting because sometimes just by hearing what other

Speaker:

people are doing,

Speaker:

it doesn't mean that you're going to copy what they're doing,

Speaker:

but it sparks a new idea for you.

Speaker:

You know,

Speaker:

it was just like that little trigger that gave you this

Speaker:

idea. So that sounds very,

Speaker:

very interesting,

Speaker:

Emily, thank you so much.

Speaker:

I really appreciate your time here sharing about wholesale,

Speaker:

giving us some insight,

Speaker:

you know,

Speaker:

I know usually go the negative way,

Speaker:

like about who shouldn't,

Speaker:

but sometimes that's fun because it opens up just a different

Speaker:

type of conversation.

Speaker:

So that was really interesting for people to kind of think

Speaker:

about whether it's time for them or not and what the

Speaker:

opportunity and potential is for the future.

Speaker:

So this has been an amazing conversation,

Speaker:

Emily, thank you.

Speaker:

Once again,

Speaker:

for being on the show.

Speaker:

Thank you.

Speaker:

I had a ball.

Speaker:

It's a thrill.

Speaker:

And you know,

Speaker:

if there's anything I can do for your listeners,

Speaker:

as they're figuring out is the wholesale for me,

Speaker:

is it not for me?

Speaker:

I'm more than happy to help.

Speaker:

They can send me an email through the website and I'll

Speaker:

get right back to them.

Speaker:

Fabulous. Thanks again,

Speaker:

Emily. Thank you,

Speaker:

Sue. So what do you think,

Speaker:

are you considering wholesale?

Speaker:

Are you already in local boutiques and have something to add

Speaker:

to the discussion?

Speaker:

Feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.

Speaker:

Next week,

Speaker:

we're talking branding from a woman who's worked with the big

Speaker:

guys. You'll hear what they're doing,

Speaker:

that you can incorporate into your business too,

Speaker:

and where you have the advantages that the big brands just

Speaker:

can't match.

Speaker:

That's all coming up next Saturday.

Speaker:

Thanks so much for spending time with me today.

Speaker:

If you'd like to show support for the podcast,

Speaker:

leaving a rating and review helps the show get seen by

Speaker:

more makers.

Speaker:

Here's a nice one from Ashley.

Speaker:

She says there are so many podcasts for service providers,

Speaker:

but not many for product business owners.

Speaker:

I love how Sue's podcast provides actionable tips to help grow

Speaker:

my home decor business.

Speaker:

Thanks for those kind words,

Speaker:

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