Conquering Chaos

Ep 26: Getting Started in Wholesale with Jennifer Hopper

September 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 26
Conquering Chaos
Ep 26: Getting Started in Wholesale with Jennifer Hopper
Chapters
Conquering Chaos
Ep 26: Getting Started in Wholesale with Jennifer Hopper
Sep 24, 2019 Season 1 Episode 26
Erin E Hooley
Get started in wholesale with this beginners guide to market and inventory planning.
Show Notes Transcript

If you've ever wondered about how to start a business by purchasing wholesale, look no further! Join host Erin E Hooley and special guest Jennifer Hopper, the Wholesale Director at Bailey's Blossoms and Peyton Bre as they break down the basics of getting started in wholesale.



Speaker 1:
0:01
Welcome to the conquering chaos podcast. I'm your host, Aaron E, Julio president and founder of multimillion dollar e-commerce children's clothing line, Bailey's blossoms. So it turns out I'm pretty good at business, but what really lights my soul on fire is providing other entrepreneurs and mompreneurs with the tools they need to truly succeed. So if you have a business or have one on your heart, you're in good company, pull up a chair or dropping some earbuds and let's conquer some chaos today. Hey guys. So today I have
Speaker 2:
0:31
a very special guest and I'm actually very excited for this next series of interviews I'm going to be sharing with you because I get a lot of questions about how my team runs and what we do behind the scenes here at Bailey's blossoms and paint and Bri to make things run so smoothly. So I am interviewing each of the core members of my team that headed different departments to give you an idea as to what that looks like. So today I have Jennifer Hopper here with me and she is our director of wholesale. So welcome Jennifer. Thank you. Why don't you give a little bit of the behind the scenes as far as your work history prior to coming to Bailey's blossoms, what did you do before then? So I have over 13 years experience in the fashion industry. I've worked at the Dallas apparel Mart fresh out of college.
Speaker 2:
1:18
And so by calling it that we'll just put a pin and how old I really am. Um, I also have worked at a major retailer and during the course of that I was an allocator. I was at merchandise assistant, I was in visual merchandising, I was inventory planning and most recently an associate buyer before I left that retailer and came here to start this new venture, which I'm super excited about. And I just love that there's exciting things down the road now as the director of wholesale for both Bailey's Boston's and Peyton Brie, can you keep a brief synopsis of what that looks like for our listeners? Basically a big part of that. It's the markets. Finding out what market's really going to work best for us and being in those centralized locations that's convenient for our wholesale partners and getting us the exposure that we need to in those new markets.
Speaker 2:
2:12
And we also want to make sure too that we are handling the day to day questions, whether it's as easy as where do I go to sign up to become a wholesale partner? Or can you help me with my order? Or what's your top 20 items? What's working, what should I do, what should I buy? So it runs the gamut, but we're definitely here to help our wholesale partners improve processes and make things just a better experience. Awesome. And you kind of touched on it already, but a lot of the questions that do come in from our wholesale partners are very beginner, intermediate level. We get a lot of people who are very passionate about wanting to do something different, wanting to start a business, but maybe don't know where to start. What are some of the major questions that come in and what would you say any answer to those questions?
Speaker 2:
3:01
Really there are some fundamental questions that you just need to ask yourself. And of course it is what product do I want to offer my market? You want to determine what your market is, the audience that you want to sell to determine your type of business, what's gonna work for you? Is it going to be online? Is it going to be event driven, is it going to be a true brick and mortar store? And then of course the sole proprietor LLC or an inc. now once you get those big questions figured out, you also have to pick a name. You have to then apply for your business license. We can't necessarily tell you specifically where to go. You have to just look that up in your state and County and those websites will give you the direction there. Then you also have to apply for a sales tax or resale permit.
Speaker 2:
3:55
Um, those are different by state as well. So you'll definitely need to do a little Googling on that. And again, your County representative, if you're getting a business license would probably be able to lead you in that right direction. And I know those things tend to hold a lot of people up. It's scary when you're thinking, wait, I just want to be a creative person. I don't really know about the sales tax and the state resale permit and business licenses and all these things. And you want to make sure that you do set yourself up legally so that you don't have problems down the road. And I promise you it is not as scary as it sounds. So a quick phone call again to the state department to ask and say, Hey, this is what I'm planning on doing. What all does it entail? And you can be up and running in just a few weeks.
Speaker 2:
4:37
So let's go into market a little bit. What does that look like? What is market and is it important for people who are just starting out in wholesale to attend? So market is actually a one stop shop for a lot of different vendors. So if you're looking for accessories, apparel, shoes, um, it's got everything there. It's like a shopping mall. Yes. Not open to the public open specific to business owners, right? Yes, exactly. Um, some people make you make an appointment, some people you can just walk by their booth. A lot of techniques that people do use the first day that they're there, they're gonna walk the floor of market depending upon where you are. Just scope out all the different suppliers, all the products that are there and they take notes and determine what's really right for their business and which brands they want to go back and check out in more detail.
Speaker 2:
5:32
And then once you're there and you start to really talk to the people who are there, um, for those brands, those representatives, you're going to get a good feel if the company business model is right for your business. Um, you're also going to see if those product price points are right for your business and your profit. Um, you're going to see if the product is right for your market as well. And then they'll walk you through step step, those representatives. Well and show you the line and should be able to tell you what their top items are. Have you explained to them that you only want a handful of pieces? They should be able to help you lay out that assortment and then steer you in the right direction for sizing as well? Right, and a lot of people, and we've seen this quite often where people will say, man, I haven't launched yet.
Speaker 2:
6:19
I don't even know what to buy. What sizes should I get? And so we'll take our data from our online sales and say, well, for our market, which is nationwide, these are the trends we're seeing. So we can give national advice. But of course also understanding that everybody's individual business model and geographical region is going to have its own behaviors and trends that need to be considered in the very beginning. One of the things that I like to tell new polls cell buyers with us is you can always start small, test small, and then grow into it because it's less risky than if you were to spend your entire budget all up front. And then you realize, Oh wait, I've spent it on the wrong size. I thought I was going to be serving toddler markets, but everybody's purchasing infant from me or vice versa.
Speaker 2:
7:03
Now let's shift gears and talk about planning and assortment and what that looks like. So if you're fortunate enough to have any type of sales history by season or category or item that is essential and you'll definitely want to lean on that. But if you're just starting out, you might not have that information. And so again, you definitely want to start small, pick some core pieces, look at your market trends. When does your competition have out there? Is that something that you want to be competitive with? Is it a major trend that you want to capitalize on as well? Or do you want to try to differentiate yourself and offer something that your competition doesn't necessarily have? So you really need to do your research of your current and future market trends, know what season you're going into, so you can plan that accordingly. Then you're just going to want to keep in mind what kind of budget you have as well.
Speaker 2:
7:58
So you're going to look at your product, you're going to see how you want to differentiate yourself. You're going to have a vision. Then you're going to see how this works within your budget and that's going to kind of put the parameters on it to know how much you can spend, where you want to target things. Also, when you're planning out in assortment, how does everything compare with each other? Does it compliment or does it clash? You really want things to compliment each other. Say for instance, you're walking into a department store, you love a great visual presentation. It makes you want to buy every single piece of that specific collection, so you want to think that through. You want to make sure everything compliments each other. You want to make sure that you have enough pieces for a coordinating outfit because ideally you would want your customer not to just buy one piece, but to come in and buy the whole outright.
Speaker 2:
8:48
That's why market is such a huge benefit, so no, you don't have to go to market. There's a lot of brands that will allow you to purchase online. There's a lot of brands you can contact directly without attending market, but markets fantastic because you get to see things in person, you get to feel things in person and of course also being able to check the quality and make sure that there's no surprises come delivery day. Being able to match things up in person, make sure that the colors flow together and make sure that what you see online and what you see in person are actually the same thing. Sometimes things surprise you. Colors can be reflected differently on monitors, so having the ability to see it in person is such a huge benefit. Make sure that you have that constant flow and that really great cohesive look for your visual presentation, whether it's going to be online, in person or both.
Speaker 2:
9:35
And then lastly, having that face to face time with that representative of the brand to be able to make that personal connection so that as you need things in the future, you have that direct point of contact and that relationship with them. Another big question that you want to think about when you're going through and planning your assortment is the lifecycle of the item. How long do I want this to actually live on my floor, in my boutique or the online presence? Um, it's important to capture that seasonality and that's what's going to help you determine how many quantities of each item that you're going to buy. Do I want to be completely sold out in three months? Do I think that this is a core item that can live for six months? So those are questions that you really need to ask yourself as well so you can kind of gauge and my overbuying, am I not buying enough?
Speaker 2:
10:27
And how often do I want to really bring in some newness from my customer? You want to have those new items coming in on a regular basis to make yourself relevant. Absolutely. So what about performance? How would you advise people to track that performance so they can make better decisions moving forward? So it all depends on what system that you're currently using, what platforms. Some people start out with Shopify. Some just do a quick books program so it's entirely up to you, but each system should have its own type of reporting and you should be able to pull some sort of weekly sales and group it by category. You can group it within an item. You look at both of those types of selling. If you look at performance by category, that's going to help you plan in the future where you need to put those dollars for replenishing those items go forward into future seasons.
Speaker 2:
11:24
Absolutely, and one of the things that we do for our wholesale partners every week is we have a private Facebook group where every other week we go live and we tell them the top 20 bestselling items and then we showed them the new arrivals and any other updates and things that are going on and that helps a lot, especially for people who are not yet comfortable making the purchasing decisions. One of the things that I always advise people to do is, Hey, it never hurts to ask the people that are currently following you. Your data that you get in the coming months is not always to match the feedback that you got in the beginning. So take your feedback and then test and learn and move forward with that. Perfect example with us. When we launched our mommy and me in line, we did a poll on one of our Facebook group pages asking for which sizes people wanted and the results were very heavy on one spectrum and very low on the other.
Speaker 2:
12:15
But then the data of what we were actually selling was the opposite of that once we launched the line. So there's a lot to say for tracking that data, paying attention, and just being aware of the trends that are happening so you don't miss out on potential sales. Now, what's neat about you, Jennifer, is that you have had the ability to see kind of both sides of the coin, both as a buyer and now also as a brand representative. So I'd love for you to share the steps that you used when buying. So first thing is analyze your prior season sales if you have them. If you don't have them, like we said, look at competition, get a gut check, take some polls for family members, friends, your potential clients. Then you're going to determine which categories you're going to grow, maintain or decline. Is it a seasonal item?
Speaker 2:
13:05
So I just want to kind of maintain it cause I did well with it or am I getting a lot of sales from my rompers and some. Now I know that I'm going to put more investment into my romper, so I'm going to grow that. Um, also you're going to take into account any major strategy changes, events, or shifts of holidays. We've found in the major industries that when Easter is earlier in the season, our sales aren't as strong. We found when Easter's later in the season, for whatever reason, the customer really likes it and they used to spend a lot more so taken to set that into consideration. Now you're going to want to look over any of your financial plans by category. That sounds like a scary thing, but basically you have to know your budget and you have to know how much you're investing for each category.
Speaker 2:
13:56
And if I can insert in here really quick too, it's really easy to want to serve everybody and you're always going to get feedback. Um, that comes in that is going to conflict with your data. And it really, while you should always be willing to test into new things, at the end of the day, you have to do what's going to be most profitable for your business that's going to sustain you longterm. So perfect example, we have a lot of people that ask us for boys garments, lots of people, but at the end of the day, we don't sell boys garments the same degree that we can sell girls. So if I have $1,000 to spend on inventory, I can choose to try to accommodate for this group that keeps saying they want it. Or I can look at my data and say, okay, if I purchase boys I might have a sell through.
Speaker 2:
14:41
It's not going to be all the way gone and out of them off my shelves for six to 12 months versus if I take that same thousand dollars and I invested in this girl line over here, I know that I'll sell in one to three months and so you have to take some of those things into consideration. How many times do you want to turn your inventory, which just means how many full rotations do you want to process through the course of a year and the more successful businesses are turning more frequently. To that point, once you've kind of made those adjustments and you've taken that into consideration, you're going to review the assortment that you have by supplier by category because this is definitely going to help you determine your turn, your profitability, your seasonality, everything that comes into play with your major market strategies, events, shifts of holidays.
Speaker 2:
15:31
You're going to also plan your buy quantities based on your sales, based on your information, based on your grow maintained, declined strategy. Based on your projected sell through your promotional pricing and you're just gonna make sure that that all fits within your financial plan so that you're starting off on the right foot and you can check those costs of goods and your profitability with your promotion. You always want to start on the right foot. You don't want to start behind. That's really crucial. And then once you place your buys, you just wait for your merchandise to get delivered. You've set it up in your store, make this beautiful presentation or whether it be in a store or online or at an event, have a beautiful presentation to appeal for your customer. And then you're going to track your performance. And just like what we talked about based on tracking your performance, you're going to react in season as you need to. Awesome. Awesome. Jennifer, thank you so much. This has been so fantastic. There's so much of this I wish that I had known for right from the get go. I've learned a lot of this through the school of hard knocks. Um, and so I hope that this serves those of you who are looking at starting up a business, looking at doing some wholesale, whether that's in the clothing and fashion industry or another, these same principles still apply. So thank you Jennifer. Thank you so much.
Speaker 3:
16:49
It's
Speaker 1:
16:52
thank you for taking the time to connect with me here on the conquering chaos podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, will you please take a moment to leave a review? It's the fuel to my fire and lets me know that my efforts to enact change and broaden your perspective of what's possible matter. Thank you so much for your support. If you want more content like this, don't forget to subscribe and connect with me on social media at Aaron [inaudible] or at Aaron [inaudible] dot com. Have a fantastic day. Get out there and Congressman chaos.
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