May's Colourful Brands to Know

It looks like it's warming up for the bank holiday weekend. To celebrate, we've created an edit of brands that are brightening up our season. Which brands are getting you excited for the warmer weather?

 

Lillian Farag

 
 Photo credit: www.instagram.com/lillianfarag

Photo credit: www.instagram.com/lillianfarag

 

Based in Brooklyn, Lillian Farag is a self-confessed free form and free spirited artist. Taking inspiration from New York City, her brand specialises in bright, colourful prints. She's currently collaborating with some really well known retailers including Anthropologie, definitely one to watch!

 

Toolally

 
 Photo credit: www.instagram.com/toolallyjewels

Photo credit: www.instagram.com/toolallyjewels

 

One of our very own clients, Toolally, are renowned for their effortlessly wearable earrings - all being handmade in Yorkshire. With striking and abstract designs, each piece is created with the aim of making a statement. We're loving their limited addition Rainbow Hoop Drops. They're a spring must have!

 

Ark Colour Design

 
 Photo credit: www.instagram.com/arkcolourdesign

Photo credit: www.instagram.com/arkcolourdesign

 

After years of buying for their Cambridge store, Ark Colour Design was founded in 2015 by Jane Richards and Amy Lindsay. The brand offers playful, distinctive gifts which are all produced in Scotland. They say as each piece finished with hand embossing, everything is slightly special and unique!

 

Nikki Strange

 
 Photo credit: www.instagram.com/nikkistrangedesign

Photo credit: www.instagram.com/nikkistrangedesign

 

Print designer Nikki Strange founded her eponymous label in 2013. Based in East London, her designs use a range of mediums with themes from astrology to landscapes. Covering stationery, travel bags and greeting cards, it's no surprise her pieces have been picked up by leading department stores. 

 

Nathalie Bond Organics

 

Photo credit: www.instagram.com/nathalie.bond

 

Nathalie Bond Organics, run by Nathalie and her husband, was established with the aim of providing a natural alternative to high-street skincare. Produced in their studio in Sheffield using organic ingredients, all products are free of chemicals, ethically sourced and aren't tested on animals. Besides being just amazing products, we love their spring pastel packaging - perfect to brighten up any shelf. 

 

desmond & dempsey

 
 Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/desmondanddempsey/

Photo Credit: https://www.instagram.com/desmondanddempsey/

 

Desmond & Dempsey founded by one of our favourite brand couples, Joel & Molly, are all about the celebration of Sunday's with seasonal assortments based on their travels and places they love. Their newest collection, Le Jardin, is based on their intrigue with Morroco, and definitely gets us thinking about the warmer weather on the horizon. 

5 Ways to Increase Sales at Your Next Trade Show

Participating at Pulse, Top Drawer, Bubble, or Scoop this year? 

Trade shows can be a great way to grow your business and get your brand out into the world. While there are a lot of benefits, trade shows can also be a huge investment of both your time and money. To help you make the most of your efforts, I’ve pulled together some of my top tips for trade show sales success.

Say hello & be positive.

This may seem basic, but there are so many times I walk past a stand at a trade show and find the brand representatives so focused on their cell phones or in a conversation with each other that they don’t even look up to say hello.

While it’s fine to look busy, stay engaged with the visitors that walk by – even when they don’t stop immediately at your booth. Smile, say hello, and ask them how the show has been for them.

Pay attention to everyone, whether they are a prospect or not. If you look like you are having fun with the crowd, people will be attracted to your energy.

Take time to understand your prospective retailers.

When someone stops by your stand, it’s easy to jump right into a monologue about your brand, backstory, bestselling styles, ect. Rather than going into too many details about yourself at first, try to make an effort to ask questions about the visitor’s businesses before making any recommendations.

Where is their store located? What type of customers do they have? What time of year are they the busiest? What other products and brands are working well for them?

The more information you find out, the easier it will be to put together an assortment that makes sense for them. Taking time to get to know a new stockiest also builds trust, and is the start to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Be sure your prices are attractive.

Are you confident in your pricing? What markup are you offering to retailers?

First thing first, always include VAT in your recommended retail price. Even if you aren’t VAT registered, stockists will expect that whatever retail you suggest will already account for VAT.

In terms of markup, after VAT is removed stockists will expect to have at least a 2 – 2.5 x markup (margin of 50 – 60%) depending on the industry and type of product. Need a pricing crash course? You can grab my free Pricing Guide here.

Stop talking minimum order, start talking optimal collection.

While having a set minimum order is a common practice, I challenge you to think about your minimum order more in terms of what assortment best represents your brand.

For example: If you’re a jewellery brand, does your brand look best when a retailer showcases 12 pairs of earrings, 6 bracelets, and 4 rings? What would an assortment like that (with back-up quantities) cost for them?

This is where your minimum order amount should come from and when you show a retailer why they will be much more inclined move forward.

Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Not all the magic happens at the show! Be sure to grab all visitor’s details and reach out in thoughtful ways. Send personalised thank you emails to everyone who stopped by, and even if they aren’t interested for the moment, send updates or info on future events periodically throughout the year.

Did you receive a lot of initial orders? Congrats! Now the real work begins. Be sure to follow-up consistently. Create a schedule so stockists hear from you on a regular basis, every 6 weeks or so. It shouldn’t always be to sell, it’s nice to ask about them, their store and work towards building a stronger relationship!

That’s where the real sales results will come from. 

Looking for more support as you prep for your next trade show? I’d love to help! Feel free to connect with me here.

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5 Ways to Increase Your Coverage Chances

I've asked the lovely ladies of PR Dispatch and LFA to share their top tips for increasing your chances of coverage, read their top tips below!

 
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Media, magazine and press coverage is one of the best ways to get your company noticed in the eyes of the consumer. And sometimes it is the smallest of changes that can see your product onto the pages of a glossy magazine. Below, we have given you 5 great tips on how, through a more targeted approach, you can enhance and increase your chance of gaining press coverage.

Be prepared.

It is important that your product imagery meets the industry guidelines before you start contacting the press. Cut out imagery is printed within magazines and uploaded onto online publications (no pressure). Product must be displayed on a plain white background with crisp edges. We always recommend that brands invest in a professional photographer or rent a studio space, like Ushoot, so that their cut-out imagery is of a high quality and won’t be turned away by editors.

Be targeted.

Editors will only feature you if they know their readers are likely to be interested in your products. Therefore, it is important that your target market aligns with a publication’s readership. It is worth looking at past publications. Would the products featured interest your target market? Is the price range similar to your product pricing? If the answer is yes, go for it!

Be organised.

Lead times refer to the time between starting to compile a publication and the date it is published.

  • Short Lead Publications are compiled one week to three months before publishing. These include Stylist, Grazia and Sunday Times Style.
  • Long Lead Publications are compiled three to six months before being published. These include Vogue, Home & Gardens and GQ.
  • Online Publications can be compiled on the same day to two weeks before they are published. These include Guardian Online, The Pool and Elle Online.

This means that Long Lead Publications will be finishing their Christmas publications in late August / early September. If you start pitching your seasonal items in November, you’ve missed the boat, and it is SO easy to be caught out!

It is worth taking some time to identify the lead times for your target publications and set reminders on your phone or PC’s calendar for key PR points in the year. We have compiled a full downloadable calendar, included in the PR Dispatch course, have a sneak peek at what we offer here.  

Be friendly.

“Our attitude towards others determines their attitude towards us." - Earl Nightingale.

Unfriendly, blunt emails are likely to be ignored or deleted. Keep your emails informal and friendly but still concise. For example, say...

‘Hi Sophie, (not Dear) Hope you are having a lovely Friday’.

Be genuine and show that you have done your research before introducing your product. You could even mention why you loved one of their previous features. It is important to build lasting relationships between your brand and the press, this increases the possibility of future coverage.

Be proud.

You’ve been featured. Amazing!! It’s important to promote your success through social media. This increases your brand reputation with consumers and promotes your press worthy product to other Editors, who may also be interested in featuring you. You can see our recent subscriber successes here.

Ready to maximise your chances of press coverage? Carousel & Co. has partnered with LFA & PR Dispatch to bring you an amazing day of workshops on September 21st that will not only cover all things PR, but will teach you everything you need to know to get your products successfully stocked in your dream retailers. You can find all the details here

 
 

What if the prices I need to charge for my products are too high?

Have you downloaded my FREE Wholesale Essentials Pricing Guide yet? If not, stop what you're doing and download ASAP - it's going to take the guesswork right out of the basics of pricing your products for both wholesale and direct to consumer (download here).

So you've run through the exercises in the guide and you've come away with your costs, wholesale costs, and recommended retail.

What should you do if you've followed my advice, set yourself up to actually make a healthy profit, but the retail price ends up being higher than you're comfortable with? I don't recommend you drop your prices much lower. Operating on a slim margin only leads to slow growth and resentment in your business.

Here are some ideas you can think about instead:

  • Is there any way to negotiate with your manufacturer or get better pricing on your materials? Sometimes you assume the answer is no before even asking the question. Explain the situation clearly, and ask how your prices could decrease as you purchase bigger quantities. This helps you to plan more efficiently for the future.
  • Is there a way to increase the products perceived value without having to drastically increase the retail price?
    • Is there packaging that can be added that may not cost you much, but would really increase the value?
    • Does your messaging on the products (hang tags, packaging, ect) explain clearly your unique selling point and why the item is priced the way it is?
 
 Example from People Tree of hang tag clearly explaining the items value & USPs

Example from People Tree of hang tag clearly explaining the items value & USPs

 

When all else fails, and you don't think you can keep the item at the price it needs to be:

  • Are there alternative products in the assortment where the price can be increased to make up for the slim margin on another? When you completed the exercises in the guide there may have been a few items that left you with padding room. Do you sell enough of them to make up for other items in the assortment?
  • You may not be able to wholesale the item. If you can't figure in a healthy margin for both you and your stockists, you only be able to sell this item direct to consumers. 

Looking for more guidance on pricing and all other things wholesale? Looking for more support as you prep for your next trade show? I’d love to help! Feel free to connect with me here.

-Rachel x

How to Know if You're Ready to Wholesale

 
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Wholesale can be a really profitable & great way to increase your revenue stream. It's also helpful if your brand is relatively new and you're looking to build brand recognition while getting your products in front of a wider audience. It isn't always an easy process though, so before you jump in, here are some important initial questions to ask yourself to confirm wholesale is the right step for you:

 1. Do you have a developed line that will appeal to a retailer?

It's important to offer variety within your assortment in order to allow retailers to select products that align with the aesthetic of their store and appeal to their clientele. Having a developed line shows retailers that you’ve invested time into your collection and are serious about it's future success.

2. Can you produce your products in large quantities?

You don't necessarily need to be able to produce mass quantities when you are just starting to wholesale, but it is important to have a real understanding of what your current capacity and ability to scale is. It's also important to evaluate your lead time in terms of getting products out to your stockists. While it is normal to have a longer lead time before your first order ships, retailers will expect that you'll be able to replenish best sellers rather quickly. 

3. Is your brand material cohesive & professional?

It's important to make sure you have a cohesive message across all your brand materials. This means having packaging that is thoughtfully considered and executed. It will be important for a shop owner to see you not only have beautiful products but also packaging that will look great on their shelves. This is something you should be thinking about even for your direct business and can really give added value to any product. 

4. Do you have an understanding of your product costs?

It's important to have a full understanding of the what the true cost is to make each of your products. Be sure to figure in the cost of materials, labour, overhead, and have some padding for future growth (such as a sales agent). Knowing where you stand on costs will allow you to appropriately price you products from the start. It's important to be making a large enough profit for wholesaling to be worth it!

5. Can you cover upfront costs?

It's common for retailers to not pay till the order is ready to ship. For bigger retailers and department stores they may even require a 30 day credit line from the start of your relationship with them. This means you'll need to find a way to cover all the production and material costs upfront. Take time to evaluate what you realistically can fund and use this as a measure to how large your initial wholesale launch should be. 

Ready to put together your wholesale strategy? We have an amazing day of workshops planned with LFA & PR Dispatch on September 21st that will not only cover all things wholesale, but will teach you everything you need to have in place to get amazing PR for your brand. You can find all the details here

Father's Day Gift Guide

With Father's Day right around the corner, we've put together our top gift ideas from some of our favourite independent brands & designer-makers. Find the perfect gift for all the dads in your life while supporting small businesses!

FOR A NEW DAD:

 
 

First Father's Day Baby Animal Footprint Kit - £20, www.coggleandbear.com

FOR AN ARTSY DAD:

 
 

The Sketchbook Project 2018, $30, www.brooklynartlibrary.com

FOR AN ANIMAL LOVER:

 
 

Personalised Pet Portrait - from £40 www.makelikeabandit.com

FOR THE DAD WITH A SENSE OF HUMOUR:

 
 

Daddy Milestone Cards - £9.95 www.thismamadoes.co.uk

FOR THE DAD ON THE GO:

 
 

NatThakur w/V&A Canvas and Leather Bag - £75, www.natthakur.com

FOR THE KITCHEN ENTHUSIAST (WITH IMPECCABLE DESIGN TASTE):

 
 

Aluminium Large Bowl - £140, www.gracesouky.com

5 Events on Our Calendar for June

5 Events on Our Calendar for June

With summer right around the corner, and the weather starting to cooperate (at least a little bit), there is a lot to look forward to in June. We've pulled together some of the events we'll be attending around London next month - a mix of educational programs, gorgeous markets, and open art studios all with the purpose of supporting independent brands and designer-makers.

Sell More at Your Next Fair or Pop-Up

With many Spring markets popping up all over, we wanted to give a few of our best tips for optimising sales at your next fair or pop-up shop so that you're able to get the most out of every sales opportunities.  A few changes here and there can make all the difference!

 1. Limit the choice in what you display.

When a customer is shown too many products to choose from, they can feel overwhelmed and end up not being able to make a decision. They could end up ‘having to think about it’ and wander off to be distracted by all the other booths. When you keep the assortment to a minimum of best sellers in a few different price points, you take the hard work out of shopping and make it an easy decision.

Can the shopper still not decide between all your amazing products? Offer a buy 1 get 20% off the 2nd item so that they don’t have to choose.

2. Include entry price point items.

Remember that a lot of customers are connecting with your brand for the first time, and have not yet established trust with you or your products. Having only high price points at a market can be very limiting and you may lose the chance to connect with a future customer base.

An example of how to make this work? If you produce gorgeous sleepwear that retails normally around £120, consider carrying an intro product such as an eye mask made out of the same material in the £20 - £30 range. This way shoppers are introduced to your brand and can later move on to your core pieces as they establish more of a connection.  

 3. Make sure your products are focused on gifting and showcase any beautiful packaging.

Shoppers will be looking to make a dent in their Christmas list and the more your products appear to be ready to gift the easier the decision to purchase will be. Combine a few single notebooks into a set with a ribbon or have your beautiful jewellery boxes out on the table for customers to see. Don’t have packaging? Consider offering free gift wrapping on the day.

4. Encourage repeat shopping by offering your customers a discount on their next purchase online.

Hand out business cards with a special discount code or free shipping offer when someone shops with you during the markets. This will not only allow you to see how the event drives business to your website, but it is also a way to continue the relationship with the customer long after. 

5. Make sure you share with your current customer community where you will be!

Spread the word in your newsletter and social media channels, your fans will love to support you and have the chance to meet you in person. Give your mailing list a discount by having them share a 'secret' word when they visit your booth. 

Would love to hear any tips I missed or some insights you may also have!

 Love this simple assortment of prints displayed by the Brooklyn art library! 

Love this simple assortment of prints displayed by the Brooklyn art library! 

An Easy Way to Increase Sales During Christmas

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What's an easy way to help increase sales this Christmas season? Create a gift guide highlighting best sellers in multiple price points. If you want to go a step further, you can highlight gift ideas specifically for the person they may be shopping for or the age range if you are focused on children. This can be applied whether you are a pop-up shop, own a brick & mortar, run an e-commerce site, or even if you just have a table at a weekend craft fair.

When customers have too much choice and aren't able to focus, they tend to feel overwhelmed and may end up walking away, or needing to 'think about it'. 

If you have a physical space, have your gift guide near the front entrance or hand to customers as an extra way to engage. If possible, I would even pull some of your items from the gift guide together, for a super easy shopping experience.

If you sell online have your guide easily accessible on your landing page, and have the images link directly to the products. 

Here are some examples to help you get inspired. If you need a bit of help pulling this together, reach out for a chat!

 

Learn to love 'Basic' Stock

What can we learn from some of the top retail brands in the world? While they always have newness & fashion styles on hand, if you look closely a lot of their inventory is made up of 'basic' bestsellers that are always in stock.

Basic doesn't always mean the same exact product though and can also be updated versions of a customer favourite. While known 'basics' retailer such as J. Crew may have close to 60% of 'basic' styles in their stock, even 'fashion' retailers such as Zara keep close to 15-25% of their stock in re-orderable 'basic' styles. 

First step to stabilise your retail store or wholesale collection? Define what your 'basic' stock will be and ensure that you're able to keep the products in stock without any issues.

Here are some examples to get you thinking about what this stock could be made up of:

  • You're an online children's clothing boutique or shop that sources & carries the freshest brands. Many of your products are one of a kind or not re-orderable. Your 'basic' solution? Be sure to stock onesies, t-shirts, and leggings in 2 of your best selling colours from your top brand at all times. Pull them aside into a 'basics' category on your website or within your store. Evaluate seasonally, and aim to have this make up 10-15% of your inventory budget.

  • You're a handbag brand selling into small boutiques. The majority of your products are super colourful & made of alternative materials. Many are even one of kind. Your 'basic' solution? As much as it may pain you, develop a more timeless everyday product in a few neutral colours. Use the silhouettes or materials of your more 'fashion' driven items, but be sure to build some type of footprint in more timeless styles so that you're able to transition as trends change.

Once you pinpoint what the 'bread & butter' will be in your inventory and provide consistency, your customers will know they can turn to you for these products as well as for the exciting 'fashion' newness. This also provides massive stability to you as trends and consumer buying habits shift. 

Feel free to reach out for a chat on how to make this work for your specific business model!

 

 

How to Increase Store Sales? Take Really Good Care of Your Existing Customers

 

What can you do this week to make your customers feel special? Here are some quick tips for happy, loyal customers.

Make Your Customer Feel At Home

Dedicate yourself to acknowledging each returning customer. No matter the size of your business, find a way to remember some key names and facts for each person. There are some stellar computer assisted tracking systems, but sometimes attentive staff can be even more effective.

Handwritten Note

There is nothing like a handwritten note thanking them for their purchase or inviting them to an exclusive event. In our oversaturated, impersonal online world, nothing has the same impact on connecting with your customer as a personalised message.

Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are not just for coffee shops these days. Entice your customers to repeat shop by offering a small discount or gift after a target spend is reached. Anyone else a Space NK addict? I didn’t become N.Dulge De Luxe member by accident…

Need help establishing your customer retention program? Reach out for a chat. 

Is Your Shop Ready for Christmas? Top Tips To Make 2016 Your Best Holiday Season Yet

Is Your Shop Ready for Christmas? Top Tips To Make 2016 Your Best Holiday Season Yet

This year has just flown by. Halloween is just around the corner, pumpkin spice lattes fill my Facebook feed, and major department stores have had their full-on winter wonderlands set up for more than a month! (visited Selfridges yet?)It is officially time to get all your reindeer in a row and get ready for the busiest time of the year.

Be All In. The Reasons You Are Not Giving 100% and Solutions to Help

While we would like to think we are giving it our all every day, sometimes it can just feel as if we are going through the motions.

It’s very easy to become discouraged or unhappy when we are feeling unfulfilled at work or in a relationship. This leads to less of an effort and the cycle only worsens.

The Time Management Ninja has outlined the five reasons he sees people not giving 100 percent. These points are a good start when reflecting on exactly what’s holding you back:

  1. You Are Too Comfortable – We all like to live in our comfort zones. Perhaps, you have become too comfortable. It is only by going beyond our boundaries that we learn, live, and expand our experience.
  2. You Have a Bad Attitude – A bad attitude can impact your entire world. Don’t underestimate the power of a positive attitude to keep you going and lift your efforts. If your attitude is lacking, find someone who has a positive outlook. The feeling is contagious.
  3. You Don’t Care – Not caring about your job or work can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. I have encountered many people like this in the corporate world. When they begin a downward slide, they don’t realize that it is because they stopped caring and thus stopped performing. If you do not have passion for what you are doing, then by all means go find something else for which you do.
  4. You Are Scared of Failure – Kids like to think that their parents, and adults in general are fearless. (When in reality is it the other way around.) When was the last time you failed? Is fear of failure keeping you from trying your best?
  5. You Aren’t Hungry – What do you want to achieve? What do you want to accomplish? If you don’t have goals, you may not have anything to give 100% of your effort towards. Make sure you have aspirations that stretch your limits.

I also find these additional reasons from The American Genius to also be very relevant especially when it comes to work or your career:

  1. Personal stressors – If your life is out of control or out of balance personally, it can have a deep impact upon your work. If finances or tight, a new baby is coming, a divorce is pending, a spouse is ill, a child is in trouble, it is difficult to give 100 % to anything – distractions can be horribly destructive to professional momentum.
  2. Forgetting to visualize success –If you can see the finish line of your career, a project or just the day itself, but you fail to visualize the successful outcome, you lose focus of why you are running the race in the first place.
  3. You’re burnt out –You’re worn down at work, you’ve taken on too much, you’ve said yes too many people or you’ve set poor short term goals for yourself that would get yourself to that finish line. You may be at an entry level job wondering why you’ve been there for six years and people keep being promoted over you or simply performing better than you have.
  4. A bad environment – You have a new boss that is a jerk, your clients are all high strung and frustrated, you’re headspun because of layoffs all around you, or everyone in your office is negative which is contagious. You don’t have to be all sunshine and rainbows all the time, but a bad environment can be the cinder block tied to your ankle, pulling you underwater.

There are ways to work past these obstacles. The first thing to decide is if you are in or out. If you decide you are going to stay in the current situation you must BE ALL IN. If that is completely impossible, a plan must be put together that moves you in a more positive direction within 3 months.

Here are some immediate things to do to become an active participant in your life:

  1. If personal stress is the main issue, simplify everything as much as possible. Learn to say no to people. Stop making extra plans on the weekends and taking on too much. Eliminate negative and draining people from your life, and ask for help from those you can trust. Accept your current situation for what it is and worry less about what others think or have.
  2. Find a creative outlet. This may be something athletic, joining a book club, or taking up photography. You can even wake up 15 minutes early to go for a walk in the morning. Find something new you enjoy doing and incorporate it into your life a few times a week.
  3. Set clear goals. Where do you want to be in 6 months? If you want a new role or responsibility at work, discuss with your boss now. Ask them what they would like to see from you over the next 6 months for you to reach your goal. Connect with them halfway through to evaluate your progress. Want to start your own business this year? Spend your next free Sunday breaking down the steps to getting there. Set both short and long term goals, and a clear idea of the savings you would need to make the leap.
  4. Avoid negative people and work gossipers. This is a tough one. I love gossip just as much as the next person, but nothing can be more detrimental to your career and confidence then these energy drainers. Just smile and walk away, or try to offer an actual solution. You will find the chronic complainer doesn’t really want a solution after all.

What has helped you to BE ALL IN?

Online and In-Person Courses That Could Help with Happiness and/or Promotion

There is something therapeutic in the ritual of buying new school supplies. If you’re busy “adulting” these days and feel left out of the back to school frenzy, I have some ideas that will not only earn you a fresh notebook, but will more importantly, provide you with some awesome professional and life experiences.

Brands That Got Me Excited Last Week...

Welcome to the 1st edition of #FridayFeelings.  Here you’ll find a shout out to some of the brands and businesses that disrupted the week, pushing creative boundaries in very competitive and over saturated markets. I’ve included key takeaways to apply to your own work (or life).  Bring on the feelings!