July 20, 2009

Wholesale Wrap Up

So we conquered the cotton prints and were so spent! It was the last day of the Expo so we had to act fast to find the rest of the fabrics we needed...velour and corduroy. Surprisingly, they were both hard to find. There seemed to be rows upon rows of booths with fabrics that had no appeal to us or our needs. Finally, we got lucky and stumbled upon David Textiles.

From our perspective it looked as though they only had quilting fabric and licensing/character type fabrics. Had it not been for a very affable, eager and humorous sales rep we may have kept walking. He looked kind of like this guy. He made us an offer we couldn’t refuse
Within moments he had more swatches of cord than we could have hoped for and the perfect velour!!! He let us run them over to the Seven Islands Fabric booth to see if it worked with our cottons and it was perfect.
Next we needed buttons…we needed the perfect blingy button, not too big, not too small but just right. In spite of the overwhelming plethora of choices we could not find what we needed.
Natalie was all out of annihilate and I was “swamped” as usual. She was wandering aimlessly from booth to booth and begging me to leave. I knew if we didn’t pick something we would kick ourselves later…buttons are pricey man! So, we saw, we overcame, we conquered. Buttons…check! They were so inexpensive I don’t think I could pay retail again without complaining all the way to the cash register.
So to wrap it up, if you are interested in buying fabric or all things crafty at wholesale for your fledgling crafty business this is what we recommend:
Find a trade show as close to home as possible…no need to pay more than necessary for your first experience...unless of course it is in Vegas.

• If you already have your business license and tax identification number then you are golden. Just register for the trade show under the category that best fits your trade. For example, retailer, buyer, manufacturer etc.

• If you do not have all your ducks in a row yet (translation: AMATEUR) then see if you can attend the trade show as a representative of a company that is not an amateur. If you ask VERY NICELY I am sure they will be more than happy to accommodate you. Be sure to represent them with the utmost professionalism. We were honored to represent Pattycakes Kids...an awesome place to find that perfect outfit or have a princess tea party

• If someone is nice enough to allow you to ride their coat tails (Patty Zimmer you ROCK!!!) then make sure you DO NOT make a purchase using their credentials unless they have given you prior approval. In the end it all comes down to the tax burden and who is going to carry it. When we sat down to make our first wholesale purchase we made it very clear that we were a new business and in the process of getting our paperwork. The vendors and exhibitors were more than happy to help us with our order; HOWEVER, our order would not be shipped until they had the required information from us.
• Be laser focused (like Natalie)! Be perfectly clear in your own mind as to why you are there…do not get distracted (like Carrie) by all of the options. We stepped through the doors knowing exactly what we wanted and did not leave until we had conquered! It helps to preview the exhibitor booth layout online so you don't waste time wandering around searching for your favorite designer.
• Our smokin’ deal with David Textiles is a perfect example of what happens when you wait until the last day and hour of the Expo to make your move. Many exhibitors will be more likely to negotiate in the 11th hour. Remembering that we are AMATEURS, we did not plan that, we just got lucky.
• Finally, have a blast…we laughed so hard at ourselves and how lame we were!

July 8, 2009

Can You Say Wholesale?

When a cheetah hides in the tall grass waiting to pounce on a herd of cute little antelope it can encounter a phenomenon called "swamping effect". As the hundreds of antelope fly by it becomes so overwhelmed with it's options it can't focus on any one antelope. Before he knows it dinner has passed him by. All he sees is a bunch of antelope butts in the distance. Due to his inability to commit and focus he ends up with nothing and, really, any one of them would have been just as tasty as the other.
I am the cheetah, Carrie the Cheetah... the antelope are really bolts of fabric and...well you get it. I am a decision making nightmare...there are so many beautiful options...ugh!
Natalie on the other hand, well, she is the kind of cheetah who starts killing antelope right away...she is Natalie the Annihilator...she picks off the antelope she wants and never looks back wondering if she got the tastiest, fattest, or yummiest antelope...she is full and completely confident in her decision.

So Carrie the Cheetah and Natalie the Annihilator step into the International Textiles Expo...although it sounds like a match made in hell it works...there is balance. Seriously I was sooooo excited...I felt like an insider and was sure we were going to uncover some ancient Chinese secret of the fabric world. Armed with our swatches of jewel toned knits we bought on our LA Fashion District trip (again, a story for another time) we hit the floor. Our goal was to find the perfect compliments in corduroy, velour, and unique cotton prints.
It became evident very quickly that we were in for a long day...so many vendors...so little time. Luckily, we knew what we did NOT want and that was basically the same options we could find at the local quilt store. Not that there is anything wrong with quilt shop fabric...it's just not going to provide options that will set us apart. Many a late night has been spent searching the internet for unique fabrics...they are out there but they are just soooo expensive! And then we saw it....smack dab in the middle of the expo....corner booth TA DA!!!...Seven Islands Fabrics.

As we flipped through the bevy of swatches we knew right away we had found EXACTLY what we were looking for. There were so many amazing options that even if we closed our eyes and did a round of eenie meenie minie moe we still couldn't go wrong. Every single print was slightly retro with a Japanese vintage flair...girly, soft, amazing colors...PERFECT.
As the "swamping effect" started to overwhelm my senses, , I remembered we had swatches to work with...yes, a starting point, a foundation to build on. Nevertheless, I sat there with a huge pile of choices and my brain went into shut down mode. From Natalie's perspective I was probably drooling and my eyes were rolled back in my head. Seeing my distress, she suggested we break for lunch.
Three helpings of tortellini later, we had refreshed and renewed our focus. Sketches and swatches in hand Natalie the Annihilator and Carrie the Cheetah sat down with Lisa from Seven Islands Fabrics and placed our first wholesale order. Natalie was genius at sorting through my indecision and the end result was perfect! We found beautiful fabric and paid 1/5 of the price had we purchased it retail or online. Yay for us! We will be back in September!!!