Makers Monday - How I Find My Vendors
In today's Makers Monday I dig into all things Vendors. How to find them, how to keep a good relationship, and how to save money! Check out the video and transcript below.
Transcript was auto generated. Please excuse any errors.
Hey hey hey! Welcome to the reinstatement of Maker's Monday IG Live! So every Monday I will be doing a Makers Monday IG Live and basically what that is is me talking about a topic and hopefully you guys are chiming in with questions about that topic. So anything I can share that might help you on your creative business journey I'm here for you.
So today we're talking about venders, so what is a vendor? So vendor is somebody who provides a service to you so when you are a creative business you probably need supplies so you might need somebody to print your cards you might need somebody to get your stickers or all those kinds of things -- those people are called vendors--the people who get you the goods.
When you’re looking for vendors there's a couple of things to keep in mind when you are buying from vendors. It's really really important that they know that you are a business because they often will have a discounted price for you so you, once you have your business license, you can apply for a--it has different names it's called a reseller's permit or a wholesale license. It's a form, and you can get it on your state's website, that says “hey I'm a business so you don't have to charge me tax and I count for the business rate” so instead of paying I don't know like $1.50 for an envelope, you only have to pay 75 cents.
If you're not quite there yet and you don't have your business license yet I would just look for bulk pricing if you're making a lot of products. Sometimes if you buy more you can get a cheaper price per piece so it just kind of depends on what you are doing. Of course you don't want to have too much either. Once you have your wholesale license, you need to let your vendors know that you are a legit business and you shouldn't have to pay tax that's huge.
The next big question is all about finding your vendors so finding your vendors can be really tricky and it can take a lot of trial-and-error I know we have tried a couple where -- we've been working on trying to get this thank you note log, it’s a really cute idea but it's just hasn't come to fruition yet because I am very picky about the spiral apparently. Gotta have the right spiral so we're looking for the right place to have this done.
You might have to do a lot of research and try a lot of places. Not to be cliche but Google is a really good buddy when you're looking for new vendors I will start on there. There will be a lot of ads and it's okay at first to look at the ads and compare prices but I'll try to find a blog post from someone who has done something similar to what I'm trying to do. Sometimes that blog post might leave a link to a discount to the vendor that you're trying to connect with so that could be helpful. I just like to see a picture and be like “oh yeah!”.
Another thing you can do when researching your vendors is to call them. I know this can make some people nervous, but this is a great way to connect. I love to chat and stuff so I will call them and I'll say “hey what's your scoop tell me all about this” I’ll tell them what I'm trying to do, and I know people can find this to be really intimidating but honestly these folks are small business too and usually they're happy to help. You are a customer to them so they want to help you. So don't be intimidated.
I remember calling like over a year ago I was trying to get these tote bags made for us because I was making a design for a garden store and I called Tyler from Seattle Custom Printing and told him, “I don't know anything please tell me what do you think would be the best type of printing for this type of design” and Tyler walked me through the process and it was great and now we use him for all our totes, like our mommy and me tote bags.
Once you get to know these vendors, then they kind of know what type of work you're doing like our paper vendor, we use Perfect Press here in Bellevue, Washington and they know what kind of paper we like so it's not like we have to reinvent the wheel every time. Miranda just gets right on it and it's awesome.
So another thing that you can do is call a vendor and ask for samples. You’ll want to get samples so I pulled out a couple of samples packets to show you. I have a watercolor stationery shop so most of mine are paper related I know we have other types of artists in here so I know there's a cookie maker and your samples are probably going to look different and be more than paper. So this [sample] is from our paper place Perfect Press and it just has a binder ring and these are all the colors and the weights of the different paper and a little description so I can feel it in my hands.
Some places will have a more official like a package--this is from Printswell. I don't use them a ton but it looks pretty and it has envelope samples and stuff like that so don't judge the book by its samples I guess. I just keep all my samples in a little box!
Jo's asking--”do most places offer free samples?” so it really depends on the vendor. I’ve found that most local places will offer free samples but if you're just some random inquiring through email sometimes you have to pay for them. I got some samples of some kind of funky envelopes and those ones are a little bit fancy so I had to pay to get the samples for that or like if you double paper to it to make it thicker it’s more of an ordeal so you pay a little. So it depends on the place and you can always ask. A lot of places will have info on their websites where you can where you can order what you need. They're not super expensive it's good to have on hand especially if you like the vendor, especially when you're working with them I like to have the samples because then you know what the options are.
Renee you asked if I’ve ever tried giclee printing--I have there is a local place Northwest Fine Art Printing because Renee you’re local-ish and it's really really nice but it is much much more expensive than just a basic print. I would do to giclee if I was making a copy of a custom portrait, but for my regular prints I wouldn't use it because of how much you're paying for it versus how much you could sell it for--It is not a good ratio.
So whenever you're researching and working with people you've got your samples you found the place so another good thing to do is to get a mockup. A lot of places will do digital mock-ups, which is great and it's good to see that first but I really really like to have a actual mock-up in my hands especially if it's something that I haven’t done before so we definitely had a situation where we ordered a ton of stuff--the thank you log where the spirals were not up to my standards and we can't sell that. They just they look like garbage so now we're stuck with a door stop. So it's good to get a physical, tangible product mockup of what you're going to do.
Occasionally, this would be something that you might want to skip if you are running low on time. This is why when working with venders it's really important to kind of give yourself a lot of lead time because people have different time frames. You really want to try to get the tangible proofs if you can, you might want to get the sample packs first and then think about it and if you are thinking about adding a new thing to your Christmas line now might be a good time to start to think about it. I know that sounds just like--it's not even summer yet!!!-- but as the holidays get closer it's only going to become like longer lines for your vendors
Jo said if you want to donate extras Seattle Recreative will take products that don’t sell and have workshops and offer free supplies to teachers and BIPOC folks. Thanks Jo!
Once you have a vendor that you like we are going to really focus on loving up on these people-- this can make the biggest difference is your business if you have a good relationship. You know, you say please and thank you you are shouting them out in your stories and give them a lot of love. It helps if you’re communicating in a clear, efficient, and prompt way it's going to go a long way. We have definitely had our print shop kind of finagle some things because we do so much business with them, they've been willing to kind of help with some wiggle room on deadlines and stuff.
Knowing their names really helps to address somebody like “Hi Miranda” instead of “hey you” so that can really go a long way and maybe around the holidays you want to send a little gift basket or something. You don't have to but if you are one of those people and gifting is your love language that would be a really really nice gesture especially if you have a very close relationship with them.
Another thing that you can do to help is just making sure you're clearly communicating properly like making sure you're attaching files and you know don't make them wait a week or whatever. A conversation is a two-way street.
Some things that I like to do with my vendors is I like to focus on local vendors whenever possible so the closer the better. There are at least two advantages. One, you're benefiting your local economy and two, you can save on shipping costs. So Andy my husband will go and pick up our supplies so we don't have to pay for that heavy shipping. If it's going to be something where you're driving like an hour and a half in traffic and you wouldn’t be there anyway then maybe consider shipping costs vs. your time. That’s kind of a YOU question.
Times when you might not want to go local is if there is something that is better for your margins. So if it just makes more sense financially to maybe do something in a different state or (we try to keep everything in the US if we've gotten one thing from Canada but that's just my personal policy and to each their own) so if you found a place and you like them you know if it's better for your for your bottom line then do it! We’re ultimately here to make money!
I know we talked about Googling and researching, but another thing that you can do is asking your business friends. So people who are doing something similar. This is like a fine line, something that I learned while becoming a part of this community is some people really like to play their cards close to their chest and aren’t super into sharing because they have a lot of people asking “what type of pen did you use” or whatever and sometimes it's like kind of proprietary knowledge. They do the research, they took the time they really want to protect that and that's totally makes a lot of sense. So as you're thinking, especially if you're new to this game, think about starting to develop some business friends. There's difference of peoplewho are your business friends, like if you were local you would meet up for coffee and be like hey how's it going what's going on? Versus like “oh I like your stuff what are you using” do that makes sense?
So I have a couple of business buds that I that I feel comfortable asking like Jill from Studio Soprano she had she had a contract for an assistant and she was happy to share that with me because we have a business bud relationship.
Another thing that you can do, and I can’t hype this enough, Biz Birthday Bash is the podcast so with Cami and Elizabeth and they've created A to Z directory and this is basically everything you could possibly think of for the stationery world and beyond. Vintage stamps, zipper pouches, all kinds of stuff--they have a list you have to pay for it but it is worth it. They have a Facebook group or you can ask questions if there's something that's not on the list. This has been a huge resource for me--the people in the facebook group alone make it worth the subscription cost. So you might want to think about doing something like that.
I feel really comfortable sharing my vendors that I found independently from that list but I don’t share ones that I found on the list to protect their intellectual property. I want to be respectful of their resource so he is so if you ever have any questions I would definitely be happy to share mine but that's kind of where my where my line is. It’s nothing nothing personal, I just want them to get their money, honey!
So yeah as a little way to wrap this up I just like to give a shout out if you are local to Washington are, Perfect Press in Bellevue has been an absolute delight to work with they do a great job they have lovely paper options and they're really great at responding promptly and getting all of our paper items. They have a lot of capability for different items there at their shop.
If any of you guys have questions before I close it out I will give you a second type it in. I'll do a little wrap up and address questions afterwards.
If you want more of this type of content hit me up. I have an email list that will go out every Monday morning before we go live to remind you that the live is coming out and the email is called the Biz Buds Newsletter had a great idea from Renee to call it the buzz. So the buzz will be coming out every Monday morning to remind you of the live. I'll also link to my bi-weekly blogs that cover similar kinds of creative business people topics. I give handouts that you'll get sent right to your email so you won't miss a thing. You'll get all of the goodies that I create and that's just for you guys!
I want to make sure that I'm hooking you up! I love to share this information and I'm excited thank you for joining me on this journey! Next week's topic is about prepping for a YouTube channel. We are filming for our first video today! So I don’t know much yet, but I’ll give you the scoop once I’ve figured it out!
A final question, do I let the vendor know right away you’re a small Biz? Yes -- for the wholesale prices as I email them or call I say “hey I'm a I'm a small-business I was interested in hearing about your wholesale prices.
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