You have given your all, in the sales phase. You have met buyers, you might have exhibited at fairs and you have met all the right people you had planned to connect with, to show and sell your collection. Good job, that’s really exhausting actually, a very intense period. It is very common that you have to show your collection a couple of times before buyers place an order. You could have different packages for them, that you have picked out in advance, to best represent your collection. Pick your strongest pieces, to have a good range and diversity of your brand.
The sell/order period is usually like this:
Show collection and sales: January, February and in on March. Close sales in March and start to place orders for production materials.
Show collection and sales: August, September and October. Close sales at the end of October. Orders for production materials are placed in November.
Before kicking off the full bulk production, it’s a good idea to have the factory send you a preproduction sample in all sizes, so you can check that the last changes were made, and that all sizes have a good grading.
Now it’s kind of tricky to juggle the orders received on your styles with the minimum quantity orders for materials and factory capacity. You will probably have to drop some styles that have received low orders. It’s a risk to produce styles that buyers don’t believe in. If the orders are less than the minimum quantity of the factory or the materials, you can almost always pay a surcharge. Try to buy as accurate to your orders as you can, otherwise you will be sitting on stock that you can’t get rid of. That means you will lock up money you could have used elsewhere. But if you have your own web shop you will have to make the assumptions on what you believe your customers will like. It’s a risky game. You don’t want to have your stuff on sale. At one point you will probably have to, but for the sake of your brand, the less sales you have the better. It will cheapen your brand.
A critical point in this period is the communication. Never assume anything! Get as much information as possible, preferably by email, and have it confirmed by you or the other end. Make sure you communicate if there are any delays. If any problems occur, put them on the table as soon as possible. And do status checks with your suppliers/manufacturers from time to time, if you haven’t heard anything in a while.
Terms Of Agreement
It is a good advice to have a written agreement, called Terms Of Agreement or TOA in place with your suppliers/manufacturers describing their undertaking. Besides containing what to produce and when, it should also have a quality section. This section lists your agreed level of production quality and how to handle defects and deviations from the agreement. In many cases you will never need to have a second look at the agreement. But if you do, you will be glad you agreed on how to handle every situation when you were still happy with each other.
As with everything in business, it’s all about the relationships you build. And all good relationships are built with time, respect, honesty and kindness. Share ideas and advices with each other, set targets together so that you know and trust that you are in it for the long run. You want to grow together.