Posts in wholesale
120 | Managing a wholesale & retail e-commerce shop with Kaitlin Fontenot, Kait Studio

On the Proof to Product Podcast we cover so many topics, from marketing and operations to tradeshows and product launches, but today I’m super excited to have Kaitlin Fontenot on the show to talk about what every product-based business absolutely needs to be successful in our modern world - a well-built eCommerce platform. Kaitlin is the founder and lead designer of Kait Studio, a branding and web design company specializing in retail. Kaitlin is passionate about helping entrepreneurs feel more confident with their online presence so that they can show up in other areas of their business where they are needed daily. In addition to running a successful studio that develops e-commerce sites, as well as digital marketing, social media, and branding strategies, Kaitlin is also a mom and head of a rapidly growing team. 

On Episode 120, Kaitlin and I sit down to talk about how you can best prepare before building an e-commerce site and ways to manage both online wholesale and retail shops. We talk about hiring, building a team with intention, and the importance of delegation. Kaitlin and I also discuss some misconceptions some product-based business owners have about e-commerce platforms and she shares a few important social media marketing strategies you definitely should start leveraging today. 

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119 | Sustainable sourcing in fashion with Kelly Shanahan, The Ziran

Behind every great business is an even better story. Kelly Wang Shanahan, creative director and founder of the Ziran fashion design company has just that - an amazing story. Kelly officially started her line in June, 2016 after becoming disillusioned with the luxury fashion industry, particularly its waste and fast fashion mentality.

While researching ancient fabric techniques in China, Kelly discovered a special fabric called Xiang Yun Sha silk and instantly fell in love with its luxurious beauty and cultural significance. Today all Ziran pieces are made from this special silk, which is imported from China, and designed and manufactured locally by Kelly in Los Angeles. 

Today on Episode 119 of Proof to Product, Kelly shares the long process of finding the silk, building a relationship with the silk boss in China, and gaining exclusive rights to use it with our products. Kelly shares her passion for sustainability, what inspired her to keep going through this long process, how she leverages story and influencer marketing, and why relationships are a key component to business success. 

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118 | NY Now & National Stationery Show Summer Recap with Katie Hunt

This past week I traveled from Los Angeles to New York for two trade shows — the National Stationery Show and New York Now. We had just over 35 alumni exhibiting between the two shows, and while I was there, I had the chance to catch up with them about their exhibiting experiences.

Today’s compilation episode features interviews with 8 of our Paper Camp alumni. We talk about why each chose to exhibit where they did, they walk us through their decision-making process, what their goals were for the show and… tips they want to share with you all! Hope you enjoy!

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111 | Realizing You Don't Want an Empire with Kiwi Schloffel, Craft Boner

On today’s episode of Proof to Product I’m sitting down with a gal I greatly admire, who I have had the pleasure of working with for a few years now through Paper Camp and my Proof to Product Mastermind coaching program. Meet Kiwi Schloffel, the brains and brawn behind Craft Boner, a stationery gift brand with the sole focus of making people chuckle. That’s a common theme in greeting cards, Kiwi takes it seriously. Her goal, in her own words, “Is to make you laugh. Not in the ha-ha-I’m-being-polite kind of way but actual big belly laughs that make your eyes water and give you an annoying stomach cramp because you just can’t stop.” 

Over the course of the last eight years, Kiwi opened a retail space then decided to leave that retail space. She expanded her product line to more than 300 SKUs across multiple product categories and then recently discontinued over half of those products. She amassed an Instagram following of over 16,000 people just like that, and today we are talking about all of it. Kiwi and I sit down to talk about the transitions, the fears, and how making these shifts have allowed her to do fewer things even better within her business. Kiwi acknowledges that she's still figuring out her next steps, and that’s why this interview is so important. At the end of the day, no matter how successful, aren’t we all just trying to figure it out? I hope you enjoy this fun episode! 

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5 Tips When Applying for Scholarships with Katie Hunt

Scholarship applications for our Paper Camp conference opened today, July 5th and will stay open until July 12th so I wanted to hop on here and share 5 tips for how to put your best foot forward when applying for scholarship opportunities, like ours.

A little background first…. Giving back is an important piece of the Proof to Product mission and we offer one full tuition scholarship to each and every Paper Camp conference and e-course that we offer.

Since 2011, I’ve awarded over $100,000 dollars worth of scholarship funds to our students. And, in that time my husband and I have reviewed tons of scholarship applications.

Here are our 5 ways to stand out in your scholarship application.

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109 | Discontinuing an entire product line & starting over with Alicia Heater, Slightly Stationery

Do you remember when you first started your business? How about your first card? Do you ever go back and look at work you were doing in those early stages and wonder, what was I thinking?! I know from experience it can be cringe-worthy or just hilarious, but that’s the beauty of the business journey!

Today on Proof to Product we’re welcoming Paper Camp alum, Alicia Heater of Slightly Stationery, to share her business beginning. When Alicia started Slightly Stationery, it was with the belief that women be encouraging and loving to each other through the timeless art of handwritten notes (Oh, and that these handwritten notes should make people chuckle, and also be super cute, too.) Today, continuing this spirit of mutual support, a portion of all Slightly Stationery proceeds go to the Malala Fund to help girls around the world receive a good education.

On Episode 109, Alicia talks about how she started her first line, the changes she made along the way and what she learned at Paper Camp. We discuss the financial challenges of business and why giving back is a key  part of Slightly Stationery’s mission and values. Alicia also shares the importance of taking advice, not being afraid to start over, and what it’s like today to have cards in more than 400 stores throughout the U.S. including Paper Source and Anthropologie.

We hope you enjoy this fun episode, and that it inspires you to look back at how far you’ve come in your business journey too!

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106 | Product diversification and scaling wholesale with Alex Gagne of Chez Gagne

Today on Proof to Product we’re welcoming Paper Camp Alum, and founder of Chez Gagne, Alex Gagne! Alex attended our Paper Camp Conference back in February of 2015 before debuting her wholesale line at the National Stationery Show. Since then, Alex has gone on to expand her product offering, add new team members, and achieve her vision for the Chez Gagne brand.

Chez Gagne is a paper and gift brand that offers greeting cards, wine and spirit tags, mugs, wine glasses, candles, and rocks glasses. Alex currently sells to 1,500 stores throughout the world, works with sales reps nationally, and exhibited at six trade shows this winter alone. With more than 93% of Alex’s annual revenue coming from wholesale, much of her time is spent planning, prepping and traveling across the country for trade shows.

On today’s episode, Alex is sharing with us how she does it all. We talk about how greeting cards became more than just her creative outlet and how Alex made the jump from paper goods to other products. We also how Alex decides which new product categories to pursue, challenges she faced in her business journey and key factors to Chez Gagne’s exponential growth.

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104 | Turning a Hobby Business Into a Thriving Retail Shop with Audrey Woollen, Urbanic

Hey Friends, have you had the chance to visit the famous Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Los Angeles? This mile long street located in Southern Venice is home to amazing creative galleries, internationally recognized brands and one-of-kind local shops like, Urbanic Paper Boutique. Audrey Woollen founded Urbanic thirteen years ago, and since then, her original lifestyle brand and retail shop has attracted a great deal of press, a large social media following, and has developed collaborative signature lines with some of the nation's top designers.

On today's episode, Audrey shares how she discovered her passion for paper and product based business. She tells us how she got started, how Urbanic has evolved over the years, and how she turned her weekend hobby into a thriving retail shop. Audrey also talks about the challenges she faced along the way, including an IRS audit in her third year, and the store getting robbed at times. Audrey brings us into her journey, talking about the passion she has for her industry, the creative community which she's in, and why creating a strong customer experience is so important to her and the brand.

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094 | Creating strategic business plans with Emily Marks, Carina Paper Co

This week we have a great episode in store for you – one that will definitely resonate with any of you who are hustling through a day job to fund your dream job. Emily Marks, once a forensic accountant, took the leap and left a stable job to pursue her passion. She is now the businesswoman behind Carina Paper Co., a stationery company inspired by her Italian heritage and from her heart as a new mom, wife, daughter, and friend.

On today’s episode, Emily gives us all the details on how she turned her side hustle into a full-time gig. She tells us the reason she left her job with a major accounting firm and how her former role actually helps her in business now. We talk about the importance of strategic planning, project management, and how being in a state of discomfort provides space for personal growth. Finally, we talk about the danger of overthinking things and why sometimes, you just have to go for it.

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Wholesale strategies and developing your product line with Katie Hunt

For our Thanksgiving break, we’ve lined up something special just for you.  We’ll be airing two episodes I recorded with my friends Kelly and Caroline at Creative Biz Rebellion.

These ladies were kind enough to have me on their podcast, not just once, but twice. The first time we talked about all things wholesale, and then then invited me back to talk about trade shows. This week we’re running both episodes over here on Proof to Product.

Big thanks to Kelly and Caroline for having me on their show.  If you’re not already familiar with Creative Biz Rebellion, go check it out. Kelly and Caroline do an amazing job of supporting product based businesses through their programs and podcast. They were also guests on Proof to Product — visit the links below to find them over at Creative Biz Rebellion and here on Proof to Product.

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How to know if you’re ready for tradeshows with Katie Hunt

For our Thanksgiving break, we’ve lined up something special just for you.  We’ll be airing two episodes I recorded with my friends Kelly and Caroline at Creative Biz Rebellion.

These ladies were kind enough to have me on their podcast, not just once, but twice. The first time we talked about all things wholesale, and then then invited me back to talk about trade shows. This week we’re running both episodes over here on Proof to Product.

Big thanks to Kelly and Caroline for having me on their show.  If you’re not already familiar with Creative Biz Rebellion, go check it out. Kelly and Caroline do an amazing job of supporting product based businesses through their programs and podcast. They were also guests on Proof to Product — visit the links below to find them over at Creative Biz Rebellion and here on Proof to Product.

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078 | Working with a fulfillment house & sales reps with Taylor Elliott, Taylor Elliott Designs

Taylor Elliott is the founder of Taylor Elliott Designs, a fun desk accessory and gift company. Taylor started this company as a side hustle while working a full-time job, but through a lot of hard work and persistence, she has grown this into a thriving gift company whose products are sold in more than 450 stores nationwide.

On today’s episode, Taylor talks about why she decided to use a fulfillment house to store and ship her products, what questions she asked when she was choosing a partner and what her priorities were for outsourcing this piece of her business. She also talks about how she’s brought on 40 sales reps and how working with them and attending markets with her reps has enhanced her business.

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075 | Shifting from wholesale to licensing with Shelley Seguinot, I'm Inkpressed

TSBC alum, Shelley Seguinot began her creative journey in 2013 when she opened I’m Inkpressed, a wholesale stationery company specializing in children’s products. As the paper industry evolved and she saw the digital market expanding, she adjusted her business to focused her effort on the art licensing world. She now licenses her art to various companies that put her work on a wide range of products.

On today’s episode, Shelley shares how she left a 20-year career in law enforcement to start her businesses. She tells us how she got her first licensing deal, fears she had when she first started licensing her art and why it’s so valuable to find mentors and community if licensing is something you want to pursue for your business.

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Special Edition | Reaching Wholesale Buyers

This week is a special one in that we’re bringing you a series of episodes that closely mirror what we teach during our signature Paper Camp program.

We’ve cut together some of our favorite episodes featuring our Tradeshow Bootcamp alumni and speakers where we discuss product development, sales strategies for wholesale and exhibiting at wholesale trade shows

During this episode we hear from:
Kimberley Yurkiewicz, Crow & Canary
Katie Wilson, The Good Twin
Rebekah Tennis, Wild Ink Press
Rosanna Kvernmo, Iron Curtain Press
Jeanette Champion-Fanning, Sweet Perversion

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073 | Launching to wholesale with Catherine Hildner, Kitty Meow Boutique

Catherine Hildner is the founder of Kitty Meow Boutique, an online stationery show where you can peruse beautifully designed paper goods based on your many moods. Catherine came through our Paper Camp conference in 2017 and since then she’s undergone a rebrand, built a new retail website, revamped her product line and she launched to the wholesale market!

On today’s episode Catherine shared how her product line has shifted over the years, fears she’s had during the last year of growth and how she combatted them and how she reaches out to her wholesale buyers.

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069 | Reinventing the letterboard with Johnny & Joanna Galbraith, Letterfolk

Johnny and Joanna are the husband-and-wife co-founders of Letterfolk, a contemporary American brand whose mission is to create meaningful products inspired by simpler times. Letterfolk started in June 2015 while the couple searched for a unique way to capture their daughter’s monthly baby milestone photos. They designed a modern, versatile letter board that was tailored and repurposed for today’s home. Letter boards are now a staple of social media art direction, home decor, and milestone photography.

As Letterfolk has grown, so has the brand vision and product offerings. Letterfolk products are proudly made in the United States with premium materials, craftsmanship, and processes.

On today’s episode we’re talking about how Johnny & Joanna reinvented the letter board market, their thoughts on copy cats and how they leverage social media to nurture their customers and share their company story.

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063 | Managing critics with Mary Bruno, Bruno Press

Mary Bruno is the owner of Bruno Press, a printer, artist, and advocate for her local creative community. She grew up in a small town in central Minnesota and learned the love of printing from her father Don Bruno. Mary has an irreverent line of greeting cards that is sold nationwide and she teaches the old school art of letterpress printing the way her father taught her. Mary loves to collaborate with other printers, poets, musicians, kids, designers, you name it. And, we’ll talk about some of those collaborations today.

On today’s episode Mary tells it like it is, shares her story and how she organically grew her business through hard work and learning as she went. We also talked about her personal growth—why she no longer let’s the criticism of one person overpower the praise of hundreds. She also shares about why she’s her ideal customer.

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060 | Ways to save money on printing costs with Ronnie Williams, DeFrance Printing

Ronnie Williams is the owner of DeFrance Printing, which is a full-service commercial print shop located in Southern California. Ronnie grew up in the print industry and is the third generation to own and operate DeFrance. His grandfather began printing in the late 1930s, followed by his father in the early 1970s, and Ronnie was a fixture in the print shop by the young age of five. Ronnie’s background brings a unique perspective, in that he has expertise in both the print process, as well as the outcome.

This episode is a little bit different than most, in that we’re diving into some of the technical aspects of printing, common mistakes that people make in file setup, ways to save money on your print runs, and how DeFrance helps a wide range of industries with packaging, catalogs, marketing materials, and more.

Ronnie, and the team at DeFrance, have recently expanded their services to include warehousing and fulfillment, helping independent brands with not only printing, but also storage, fulfillment, and distribution of their products. They have particular expertise handling orders for big box stores, such as Paper Source. Ronnie, and the team at DeFrance, have been strong supporters of our Tradeshow Bootcamp community and advocates for education around the print process.  I know you’ll learn a lot from Ronnie!

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