Category Archives: sales

Understanding Whoesale Seasons

When you start wholesaling your fashion brand it is important to know two things so that you are not competing with the stores that place order for your product:

  1. What is the correct season to take orders for (wholesale order timeline).
  2. When your client will take delivery because this is when you can start offering that product in your retail shop too.

Let’s look into the correct season first.  Typically stores place order for product 3-6 month in advance of when they want the product in their store.  Once the product is in the store they want it to be relevant to the upcoming season for another 2-3 months.  This means that they will order for Spring 4-6 months before Spring actually arrives.  In the kids market Spring ordering starts in the Fall and ends in January.  You will need to have Spring orders ready to ship January to March with the bulk in Jan/Feb.  So if you are trying to sell a Spring collection in the spring and you are not getting orders it is because you are wholesaling the wrong season.  In Spring you should actually be trying to take wholesale orders on your Fall line. (Accessories have a different schedule as they fall into a gift market category but can also fall into the clothing schedule too.)

Once your orders start shipping you can then offer your line retail in your own shop.  Shops want to offer something new to their shoppers.  If you have already been selling it for 6 month it is less appealing to a store to purchase it from you.  There are exceptions to this.  I have had many stores place immediate orders for product I have listed in my Etsy shop.  Those orders are nice but they are few so if you really want to expand wholesale you need to get on the wholesale schedule and market your line to a broader spectrum of retail buyers.

Have a specific wholesale question?  Email me at katietfbm@hotmail.com

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Filed under Business Planning, fashion, marketing, Resources, sales

A HUGE CHANGE: Selling Wholesale Direct

I am currently undergoing one of those segments in my life I love best.  A transformation period.  I have my cycles in life and they go something like this:

Curiosity, Learning, Implementing, Teaching, Understanding, Transformation, Curiosity, Learning….

I will forever be a teacher at heart, which is why I started this blog.  But I am not a traditional classroom teacher (though I have done that).  I really try to absorb the most I can out of life and extend my findings to others.  I learn with all my being, not just my brain but with my emotions and my intuition and then I share.  I think it is the socially responsible thing to do.  As a teacher I am also a life student.  Those that love to teach, love to learn.  They have curious minds and open hearts.  I have also started this blog because of what I can learn from you.  I really enjoy my interactions with my fellow designers.

Back to my transformation.  I have soaked up a lot in the last 2 years of working with showrooms to get my line seen on a wholesale level.  It has been to say the least a BIG learning experience for me.  It has consumed me in trying to learn and keep up.  It has soaked up my time and hindered my happiness.  It has led me to new level of understanding about myself and to make a HUGE decision.

I have come to understand that I feel so consumed by wholesale because it came at me too fast.  Because I was struggling to keep up on a path that I was still learning I was drawn away from my true identity as a designer and my heart’s passion, other people.  Because I was learning as I went I made a lot of mistakes that costed me time and money.  I understand that I wouldn’t change a thing about my path because it has brought me to where I am.

THE HUGE CHANGE  Last week I decided I would no longer carry my line in my showrooms.  I am taking the wholesale sales responsibilities back and in that allowing myself to design the way I want to design.  As I implement my new design cycles I will share them with you all.  But know this.  I feel in control again.  I feel empowered.  I feel that my loyal wholesale customers will have no problem with this and I feel new customers can be reached and will be excited about the new way I plan to sell to them.

It is transformation time which means I will be doing a lot about learning and sharing with you.  If you are in a position of wanting to sell wholesale but are doing it on your own with no showroom representation, stay with me.  You are going to learn a lot.

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Engage your Fans and Get More Sales!

I was going to send this information to my collaboration workshop group but thought it is helpful information to all so I am letting you, my readers, in on it too.  When you do a giveaway or a collaboration and gain new fans it is important to engage your fans to turn them into buyers.  It is also important to engage them to be sure you show up in their news feeds.  Facebook shows your posts to people that stay active with your page.  If you don’t have engaging content that your fans “like” or comment on your fans will stop seeing your posts.  It’s that simple.  Here are my top tips for engaging your fans and turn your fans into buyers.

ENGAGE YOUR FANS: Ways to get fans to like and comment.

  • Post material they can comment on.  Ask a question.  Often questions of opinion get the best response.  For example:  Do you prefer shorts or skirts?  Do you like pink or teal for summer?  Do you like fabric A or fabric B?  Do you like photo prop A or photo prop B?  What is the average price you will pay for a dress/photo shoot/fill in the blank.  These questions will also help you get to know your fans so you can turn them into buyers.
  • Do a mini giveaway for just your fans.  Giveaways to gain new fans are great but how about making your current fans feel special for staying with you?  And how about getting those fans that may not normally interact much to make a comment?  Just because they don’t interact much or haven’t bought from you yet doesn’t mean they won’t later.  KEEP THEM ENGAGED!  It’s as simple as posting “Today I am having a fan appreciation giveaway to say thank you to all my fans that support my business!  I am giving away a (fill in the blank).  All you have to do is be a fan of my page and comment below that you are a fan.  Please also share this post.”  You can’t make people share but you can ask them nicely and most will.  This gets your page more publicity.

ENGAGE YOUR FANS AND GET SALES: these ideas will get people to comment on your page and encourage sales!

  • Have an auction.  I am currently hosting an auction of all my spring inventory.  I am working on a new collection so it’s time to make room.  Maybe you have product sitting around you’d like to sell.  An auction is a great way to move it.  Pick an openig bid and raise minimum.  My advice is to start with a low bid and do dollar raises.  Your fans want a good deal so starting low will engage them.  Your lowest bid should at least cover costs and go up from there.  Have them leave their bid with their paypal address so at the end of the auction you can bill them.  Also be sure to post about your auction several times to encourage fans to outbid each other.  Here is my bid album to give you an example. https://www.facebook.com/kangacoodesigns?ref=hl#!/media/set/?set=a.10151565353971259.1073741830.355005206258&type=1
  • Ask your fans to post photos wearing or using your product.  When fans post pics wearing your goods or showing off your photos it sends a message to other fans that you have a great product!  There is no better way to encourage sales than customer endorsement!

GET SALES: bring home the bacon, make some moola, take the check to the bank

  • MAKE IT EASY TO BUY You know that little about section below your Facebook photo?  You know that little photo in the bottom left hand of your banner.  Does it clearly state where to buy your product and include a link?  If you sell only on Facebook does it say “See something you like?  Comment on it with your paypal email address and we will make it and ship it to you.”
  • MAKE IT EASIER TO BUY Even though I have a shop link on my page I always sell more when I post a photo and a price and ask people to leave their paypal email so I can bill them.  People want quick and easy and since you sell clothing or photos which are impulse luxury buys you want to make the sell quick and easy while your buyer is in the moment.  Try it.  Example:  Today only our butterfly skirt is only $30 (normally $45).  Take advantage of this great price by leaving your paypal email and size(s) wanted below.  offered in sizes….  shipping is $4 US.  Then post a pic.  For better coverage follow up with a plain text comment saying “Did you see our deal of the day?  Look at our last post!”  More people will see plain text posts so this gets your photo more views.
  • POST PHOTOS OF NEW PRODUCTS WITH SHOP LINK OFTEN Out of sight out of mind is the truth.  Are you posting photos of your goods on a regular basis?  If not you can’t complain about low sales.  You can’t expect people to know what you sell or visit your about section to find your shop.  Facebook is for sharing information and interacting.  So share and share often!

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A Fly on the Wall in a Showroom

Today I drove up to the LA California Market Center to my showroom to drop off my Fall samples for market. Market started today so I was a little behind the ball. (Oh the joys of fashion and delayed production.) It turns out my timing hiccup actually played in my favor.

I stayed to help hang and display the line (a nice luxury being so close to my LA showroom) and while I was there a store was placing an order for another collection. Once they finished with that line the rep offered to show them another well known line. They store owners kinda hummed sayng they carried the line before and that the price points were a bit high but said to show them a few things anyway. They looked and commented that the items were cute and asked for prices. Then they commented that the items were darling but designed to be layered and really only “darling” when they were layered. They went on to say that one you put the layers together to make an outfit the customer ends up paying over $100 for one outfit and in this economy it just doesn’t make sense.

They are right.

Look I struggle with cost vs profit margin. It’s tough. For most of my items I don’t make the normal “double your cost to get your wholesale price” spread. I often work backwards. I look at what a fair market price is and then try to get my labor and fabric prices down to increase my profit margin. I do this in hopes that stores will pick up the line in this economy and that it sells well for them. If I can get loyal customers now by catering to their needs (designing at price points that fit our current economy) then I know they will be loyal customers when the economy turns around and then I can reintroduce higher price point items.

I encourage you to look at your prices today. Do they fit the current market/economy?

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Are People Talking About You?

If you have a small business then surely you spend time everyday thinking about how to get your name or product seen and how to increase sales.   I started the blog to help other small businesses grow by sharing what I learn while running mine, kangacoo designs.  One area I have learned a lot in is how to bring awareness to your brand.  What works and what doesn’t.

Let me cover a few avenues I have tried to bring awareness to my brand and how they have panned out for me.

1.  Celebrity Gift Suite:  I was invited to gift at a MTV Movie Awards Gifting Suite last spring.  It cost me a few hundred dollars to participate plus I had to bring 110 items to give away.  While it was a fun thing to do and people I gifted to loved the product I did not see an increase in sales or encounter any new business opportunities (besides more gifting suite invites).

2.  Facebook Giveaways:  This has been my number one source of new fans this year and while I don’t get many sales during the giveaways these new fans stay with me and become future shoppers.

3.  Blog Reviews:  Done right this is a great avenue to bring a new audience of buyers.

4.  Photo contests:  I love fan photos!  Who doesn’t?  Ask fans to share theirs so you can share them on your wall and then have a giveaway for those that send in pics.  When others see our clothes on everyday kids something kicks in for them to uy it too.  Try it!  I always get more sales and more fans when I do this.

5.  Dress a Celeb:  I had the amazing opportunity to dress Aubrey Anderson-Emmons from Modern Family for the red carpet last year.  It created a buzz that got me and my fans excited and people talking about my brand.

6.  Email Lists:  Staying in regular contact with your previous customers and those future customers who have signed up for email alerts is so important.  Especially since fb readers are not seeing all your posts you want to be sure 100% of your target customers get info on your sales, promotions and new product releases.

7.  Pretty Pretty Pictures:  People are visual creatures.  They better your product pictures are the more you will sell.  I promise!!!!

8.  Collaborate!:  Finding others willing to promote their  product along side yours will help your business grow.  Know someone that makes dresses and you make hair clips?  Reach out to run a sale or cross promotion together on made to match pieces!

I will go more in depth in all these areas in other posts but today I want you to take this away:

1.  Get involved in fb giveaways.

2.  Find some bloggers or other brands willing to promote your product to build your audience.

3. Clean up your shop!  Make sure you have pretty pictures and a nice presentation of your product-this includes a nice description.

4.  Remember that growth is gradual and viral.  Ask yourself everyday how can I get people talking about my brand?

Onward and Upward!  ~Katie

Katie Nguyen is the designer and owner of kangacoo designs.  A children’s clothing line started on Etsy and now sold in almost 100 stores in the US and Internationally.

 

 

 

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Are you for real? International Wholesale Inquiries

Here I am poking my head out of my hole.  I have missed writing and interacting with you all.  Seems that lately my days are planning me instead of the other way around.

I recently posted on my fb page that I would write about a large (650 piece) international order I worked on for an overseas company.  Between that post and now I have received several emails asking questions about handling international inquiries.  Identifying if an inquiry is valid and if the company will actually pay you for your product should be more than just taking a leap of faith.  Here are my tips for qualifying an international inquiry before moving forward with the order.

1.  Hello Google my old friend!

It is amazing how much you can learn from googling an email address.  Even an international one.  I have been able to weed out an inquiry from Japan that was just a mom blogger wanting to offer her friends cheap American clothes.  I have been able to identify an inquiry was from Syria who we are not allowed as Americans to conduct business with.  I have also been able to find the person inquiring on LinkedIn and was able to verify they had a valid business.

2.  Will I get on a watch list for doing business with you?

Be sure to look up US Sanctions regarding the company making an inquiry.  My recent order was with Lebanon, a corner of the world the US does not have good relations with.  There are many people and companies in Lebanon and surrounding countries that the US has sanctioned US citizens cannot do business with.  If you do, your assets and the FBI will be at your door.  It doesn’t matter what you sell them, cotton balls are still a violation.  To look up a country just google “united states sanctions ______” the blank is the country you plan to do business with.

3.  Ask for a web address.

Just as you want to be sure quality retailers are offering your product in the US take the same care in other countries.  Check out their web page to learn about their company.  Some may not have one if they only sell in a store.

4.  Ask for a 50% deposit or all the money up front.

You need to secure the materials to complete the order so this will cover costs.  It will also cover you if the company backs out of the order at the last-minute leaving you with product and debt.  A company not willing to give a deposit should raise a red flag for you.

So now that you have qualified your order you can write your PO and terms.  And that my friends is a future post.

I always welcome your questions and emails to katie@kangacoo.com.  I am also on the lookout for guest bloggers.  Email me if you are interested.

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Filed under International Business, Resources, sales, Uncategorized

Revenue Streams: How to create them

I don’t talk too much about my personal life here.  But today I will give you a little insight to the woman behind the business, me.  I started kangacoo designs when I was 3 months pregnant and found myself laid off from a six figure corporate job.  Ouch!    I took my sales and marketing skills and combined them with my desire to have a creative career, then combined that with my nesting instincts and started sewing baby blankets.  With more time to surf the web I found Etsy and kangacoo was born!

ka*ng*acoo; ka=Katie my first name, ng=Nguyen my married last name, coo=what babies do and I was about to have one.  (The a just made it flow and referenced a word everyone knows to make the name more memorable.)

Fast forward 4 years and now I run kangacoo with my husband (who was also laid off from a good paying job).  We balance work and play and caring for Marlise.  It’s not always easy but it works for us.  Here’s what we look like in case you are curious.  We just took this on the 4th.  🙂

I have worked hard to grow my business and got some lucky introductions.  (But again I think that was through hard work of reaching out to lots of people.  Always give yourself credit, no one is just lucky in work success.)  Since kangacoo is the sole supporter of our household we really have to focus on making the business more profitable.  I wanted to share with you one way we are doing this.  Exploring different revenue streams.

I challenge you to explore different revenue streams for your business too.  Here are some to start with:

1.  Create products with lower price points.

Can you make coordinating hairbows to match your dresses?  Perhaps a matching doll dress to offer?  Do you make accessories?  Is there a new one you can add that is less expensive?  By creating different price points you broaden your audience.

2.  Create special occasion pieces.

Do you make every items?  How about adding a few special occasion pieces?  Special occasion shoppers are a huge part of the market.  Adding in these pieces will boost sales!

3.  Flash Sales on Facebook.

Do you hold flash sales on Facebook?  These are a huge success for me.  Offer a product at a sale price and have fans leave their Paypal address on the post.  Send a bill and ship.  It is easier to send them to the shop but I find I make more sales by selling direct on Facebook.

 4.  Find a New Audience.

And keep the old of course.  I sell on facebook and Etsy (and wholesale but I am going to stick to retail today.)  Have you thought of adding a new venue like Artfire?  or maybe Ebay?  It is a whole new shop to manage but if you think you can sell product and manage another shop give it a try.

Not ready for another shop to manage?  How about virtual trunk shows.  This is something I am venturing into.  Having others sell your product and rewarding them is a great way to spread the word about your company.

I am always happy to answer your questions.  And you just may find them anonomously featured here!  Email me at katie@kangacoo.com

 

 

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