I’ve kind of been procrastinating on this post because honestly, I don’t have a super high success rate with booking new retailers. Heck I’m still trying to figure out how to get existing retailers to buy from me again. But this blog is all about growth and showing that we all have to start somewhere, so I’ll tell you what I’m doing right now.
Whenever I’m out and pass a boutique that sells cute stuff, locally made goods, or tchotchkes, I’ll usually go in and check out their selection. If I find that the vibe of the store and the kinds of brands they carry align with my brand, then I’ll jot down in my Notes app to reach out to them. I’ll also usually go up to the counter and ask who the buyer for the store is. If they’re not there, I’ll leave my card to be passed along. I also try to get an email address of someone to contact directly because who knows if my card will actually make it to the right person and not the trash. Later, I’ll follow up on the inquiry with a link to my catalog, mention that I spoke to someone at the store (I always try to get their name), and my usual pitch.
As I currently see it, wholesale outreach is a numbers game. For every 20 (or less on a good day) cold emails I send, I get some interest back, so my current tactic is to send as many emails as I can to increase the likelihood that one will bite. I’ve been sitting down every Friday morning to research new retailers and reach out to them. I look up brands that I aspire to be like or think are similar to mine and look at what stores they’re stocked at. I’ll browse these stores’ websites for the kinds of products they carry and see where my products would fit in well or potentially fill a gap in their offerings. If I don’t have any particular connection with them, such as if I was actually in the store or a friend referred me, I’ll send them something like this:
My name is Chanamon and I'm an illustrator based in San Francisco. I recently came across your lovely store and I am reaching out to see if you would like to carry any of our goods at [store name].
You would be joining national chain Attic Salt and dozens of other boutique shops in successfully spreading color and cheer with our products.
Our products are fun, colorful, and a big hit with kids and adults alike. I feel that our [products I think fit best] would be great additions to your collection. I’ve attached some photos below.
You can view our wholesale catalog here: https://madebychanamon.faire.com
Please let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!
Thank you for your time and consideration,
Now, I’ll be honest that I’m starting to reconsider this template. It was working for the first few weeks I was doing these weekly outreach sessions, but now that I’ve sent out more and gotten fewer responses, I wonder what I can be doing better. Recently I added this one-pager with some photos of my top selling products, to try to draw immediate interest from a potential buyer without them needing to click into my catalog link. I’m working on how I can improve this process and increase my rate of return, so I’ll update you when I have some new tactics to share.
Sometimes it takes a few emails to get a store’s attention, so when I can, I’ll go into a store and put a face to my name. This way, I stand out more among the sea of emails they surely get every day. I once passed a store while on vacation in San Diego that I had happened to email a few weeks before. I went in and spoke to someone who vaguely recalled my email. He seemed interested in buying from me. I followed up again after that conversation, didn’t hear back, and was too chicken to pursue it further. Almost a year later, I emailed them again and they placed an order that same day! You never know the reason that a retailer doesn’t buy from you, unless they actually respond and tell you no (which does happen), so I’ve gained some courage to follow up a couple of times. If they ignored my first one, they can ignore my second one or just reply and tell me no. Or maybe they didn’t see my first email or forgot to come back to it or so many other reasons. You never know!
I’m focusing more of my efforts this year on wholesale, so I hope to have more information to share as I get farther in the process. For now, my biggest tip would be to find Stockists pages for brands you admire or are similar to yours and reach out to those retailers! You can start with my Stockists page.
If you have any stores that you’d like to see my products in, please mention me to their staff and/or send me their info. I’d really appreciate learning about more stores, especially ones that I don’t physically have access to.
Good luck and thanks for reading!
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