118 – 5 Tips for Getting Started in Wholesale with Heather Bourque

In our last episode, we introduced you to Heather Bourque of Paper and Wings, an artist and illustrator that sells physical products via wholesale. Did we mention she does this all on her own while still having time to travel the world each year? Heather is back this week to share her five best tips on getting started with a wholesale art business. We know you’ll be inspired to give wholesale a try after you hear Heather’s great advice!

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Laura

0:06
Hi, this is Laura Lee Griffin.

Laura

0:08
And this is Nikki May with Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:30
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours.

Laura

0:39
Last episode, we introduced you to Heather Bourque of Paper and Wings, an artist and illustrator who sells physical products via wholesale.

Nikki

0:50
If you haven’t had a chance to listen to that episode yet, we know you’ll get a lot of great useful info out of it, so definitely check it out.

Laura

0:59
Today, Heather is back to share her five best tips on getting started with a wholesale art business. Heather, welcome back to the Startist Society, we’re so excited to have you share your tips with us.

Heather

1:11
Thank you, I’m excited too.

Nikki

1:13
So Heather, what’s your first tip?

Heather

1:15
First tip, I would say, is have a solid portfolio. It can be super small, I’m talking five prints or five cards. It doesn’t have to be very big at all. But make it solid, make it awesome. And show off your style.

Nikki

1:30
Yep.

Laura

1:31
So don’t put in everything in the kitchen sink because you have 20 things. Pick your five best or your 10 most solid ones that go well together and use those as your portfolio.

Nikki

1:42
Be a good critic.

Heather

1:43
Exactly, exactly.

Laura

1:45
All right, what’s your second tip for us?

Heather

1:48
And my second tip would be price your work in line with other artists and make enough money for the wholesale pricing?

Laura

1:53
Right?

Heather

1:54
Yeah, you’ll be letting wholesale pricing go at 40 or 50% off. So make sure that you’re in that bracket. The way to do so, I would suggest, is see what other people are selling for. Talk to boutique owners and require a minimum order of units or at a set price for a minimum amount.

Laura

2:13
Yeah. So you’re not giving somebody a 50% discount on two prints.

Heather

2:16
Exactly. And make sure you’re priced accordingly. Make sure you’re making enough.

Laura

2:22
Yeah. And this is an interesting thing. Do you have ranges of pricing? Like if somebody wants to buy 500 of something versus buying 20 of something? Do they get an extra discount?

Heather

2:34
It’s not on my website, but absolutely, if they go higher quantities, I offer a bigger discount.

Nikki

2:39
Yeah. And if somebody orders 3000 calendars, they’re gonna get a little discount, I think. Okay, all right. So what’s your third tip for us, Heather?

Heather

2:51
I would say approach boutique stores with limited work. But before going ahead and doing so, look at what they require. Look at their website, call them, ask them how they want you to approach them and how they want you to apply. Because most even the smallest stores, you’ll find they have an application process of some kind and limit what you’re sending in to them for sure.

Nikki

3:11
Right.

Laura

3:12
So go find out like on their website, is there anything about reaching out to them. Call them and just ask them for their submission guidelines to be able to be in their store so that when you’re presenting your information to them, it’s in a way that they want.

Heather

3:27
Absolutely, exactly. And everybody has their criterias like I said, even the smallest boutique stores usually have a little bit of experience with that.

Laura

3:34
Go give us an example for something that you’ve submitted to before. What did you have to submit? What were their requirements.

Heather

3:40
Requirements – limited amount of work sent, so two or three samples and then sending them to your website, they didn’t want to be uploading 20 photos off of an email, those kinds of things. And then your about section, basically your history, how you got there, some of them will want to know how you became an artist.

Nikki

3:59
Basically they want to know your Startist story.

Heather

4:02
They want to know your Startist story, exactly.

Laura

4:04
I kind of like that idea, though, of sending like a little package to people, have three physical products so they can see and feel like what it’s really like versus just sending an email.

Heather

4:14
Yes, and I’ve done that, but always approach them in advance to drop off the product. Most people don’t like somebody randomly coming in dropping stuff.

Laura

4:20
Like cold calling.

Heather

4:24
Yeah, exactly. Exactly.

Nikki

4:27
Yeah,who wants a bunch of free stuff? Unless it’s like bourbon.

Heather

4:33
Yeah, exactly.

Nikki

4:34
Or food.

Heather

4:35
Nobody will ever say no, but it’s nice to ask.

Nikki

4:39
Definitely follow their procedures.

Laura

4:42
Yes, but free chocolate wouldn’t hurt.

Nikki

4:46
Chocolate never hurts.

Heather

4:48
I’ve done trades for chocolate just to let you know.

Laura

4:53
All right, what’s your next tip for us?

Heather

4:55
Okay, yes. Next tip. And this is one that I kind of learned as I went is, once you have your work in stores, make yourself a schedule of when to approach them. So do you want to approach them before the summer? Do you want to approach them before Christmas? Maybe quarterly, whatever works for your timeline, I would put that in there, but consider when they will need product.

Nikki

5:16
Yeah, I would say ask them what their buying schedule is, you know, when do you buy for holiday? When do you buy for whatever season? That’s great advice.

Heather

5:26
Yeah, do you need to top up and it can be simple. Once you’ve been accepted in their store, they know where to find you. But it’s good to remind them, hey, this is the time I have new stuff kind of thing.

Speaker 1 5:37
Excellent. And I think you have one last tip for us.

Heather

5:41
Okay, this is one has been challenging in the last year, but create new work regularly. And that’s where you can keep up in the store you’ve already been accepted in, they will take more work of yours. But if you don’t stay on top of those things, eventually they don’t want your old work in there. That’s the reality. They want something new and fresh and ready for the next season.

Laura

6:03
Well, it makes sense. Because you know, a lot of boutiques have loyal customers that can’t… the same customers are coming in over and over again and if they’re seeing the same stuff, they’re not going to buy it if they’ve already bought it before, right? They want to see something new. So that makes that makes sense to do. But it also means it doesn’t have to be 50 new pieces of work. Like you were saying you could keep it small and just say okay, this season, I’ve got five new pieces. You know, it doesn’t have to be something like overwhelming.

Heather

6:31
No, nothing has to be overwhelming. I think it’s the tiny steps that make it work for me.

Nikki

6:36
And creating new work is the most fun part of it all.

Laura

6:39
Yes. Heather, thanks so much for coming back and sharing your wholesale knowledge with us.

Heather

6:48
Thank you guys for having me. It was a pleasure.

Nikki

6:50
It’s been great talking to you in both of these episodes. It’s always good talking to you. We need to get back to a schedule of doing it more often.

Heather

6:58
Absolutely. With a little bourbon I hope.

Nikki

7:01
Always. Sometimes with a lot. To get a downloadable PDF with Heather’s wholesale tips and tricks, visit startistsociety.com/wholesaletips.

Laura

7:14
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

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