Retail expert and creative business strategist Rena Tom recently offered her wholesale prep course, Retail Readiness. A two-part course, Retail Readiness helps craft business owners learn to prepare their brand and products for wholesale, which is one way to get your product in stores. I took Rena’s course, in the hopes of better understanding the demands of wholesale and maybe getting my own craft business, Zelma Rose prepped along the way.
Rena Tom (Photo credit: Sarah Hebenstreit/Modern Kids Co.)
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Former owner of the New York and San Francisco boutique and art gallery Rare Device, Rena has been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Anthology and Martha Stewart Weddings. Currently, Rena consults with craft business owners and retailers about branding, marketing, sourcing, and merchandising, just to name a few. Rena’s website is a well-curated mix of resources, interviews, expert tips, and retail trends, designed to help creative business owners work toward success. I am a big fan of Rena’s site; it's my go-to library for business-related questions.I find her worksheets to be an invaluable tool in helping stay organized and on task. Her Retail Readiness course on how to prepare to get your product in stores was no exception.
Getting your brand ready for wholesale is a lot of work, if you are doing it right! And shouldn’t it be? It is the point where we as craft business owners are putting our work out there and developing relationships with retailers and, in turn, customers and communities. Learning how to get your product in stores should be a big deal and involve careful thought! Rena stressed the importance of having all your ducks in a row before reaching out to stores. It is essential to have cohesive branding, strategic pricing, a well-edited product line and a clear target market before trying to get your product in stores.
Retail Readiness with Rena Tom
What I appreciated most about Retail Readiness was Rena’s attention to detail. For each part of the course, Rena created in-depth handouts with not just suggestions, but examples and guidelines on everything from writing a line sheet to pitching retailers and bloggers. It was invaluable to have the perspective of a retailer when thinking about how to get your product in stores. Things like including photos —not too big and not too small —in your email pitch, as well as including your primary contact info on EVERYTHING, can seem secondary, but as Rena suggested, retailers want it to be easy to work with you. The little things can make a big difference to your craft business!
Retail Readiness with Rena Tom: Coupons from Arch and Night Owl Paper Goods and notes.
Below are some of the ideas that stood out for me over the two-day course:
- Perfect your business voice in print. Be consistent when describing your products. Consider your target market, how they speak and what words appeal to them. Most importantly, edit, edit, and edit again, to avoid spelling and punctuation errors.
- Be hassle-free. Make it easy for retailers to work with you. Create straightforward, easy-to-read line sheets and include clear instructions on how to order and get in touch.
- Don’t bury the lead. Write your pitch to retailers and blogs as clear and concisely as possible, with the most important, compelling information about your craft business and products at the beginning.
- Be personal. When approaching retailers and blogs, know whon you are contacting. Use names; reference the store, blog posts, and even the neighborhood. Do your research!
- Be purposeful in which products you present for wholesale. Your entire product line doesn't have to be available to retail stores. Consider what supplies you can source in bulk, what designs can be produced quickly and easily, and what manufacturing processes can be streamlined and taught to an employee of your craft business if necessary.
- Photography can make or break you. Have great photography that highlights your product and story. Be consistent in theme and style from product shots to look book and catalog. Include products shot on models, on a white background and with props that help support your brand’s story.
I found the course to be the perfect mix of instruction and group brainstorming on how to get your product in stores. I would highly recommend Retail Readiness to creative business owners not only prepping for wholesale, but for owners new to the business and in need of an outline of smart strategies for success.
For more information about Rena Tom and Retail Readiness, please follow the links within this post.
Signing off by the Golden Gate,