Soap Making Business

Marketing and Selling Your Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetics - Wholesale Opportunites - Part One

To sell your products wholesale means simply that you are selling them to a business who will in turn sell them to the end customer. Bath and body care products can be sold wholesale to a variety of businesses including gift shops, health food shops, gardening shops, camping shops and gift basket companies. Shops that buy products wholesale generally expect to purchase products at about 50% off of the retail price. What this means is that if you make a bar of soap, and you think that the retail price should be $4.00, you would sell it to the store owner for $2.00. Of course, as with anything, there are exceptions to this rule. Some owners will mark your products up for more than this, others for less.

Local Opportunities To Explore

The easiest way to start selling wholesale is to begin near home. Here is a look at some of the types of companies which may be interested in what you have to offer.

Bath and Body Boutiques

A bath and body boutique is a small store that sells bath and body care products. They may also carry robes, slippers and other associated items. Some bath and body boutiques are part of large nationwide chains that sell only their own brand (like Bath and Body Works® or Crabtree and Evelyn®). Don't bother trying to sell to these. Look for independently owned bath and body boutiques that carry an assortment of products from different manufacturers.

Bed and Breakfasts

Bed and Breakfasts are small establishments that are run like a hotel. Usually they are run by one or two owners and they specialize in offering personalized attention to their customers. Some Bed and Breakfasts may want miniature sizes of the products you offer. Others may want special gift baskets for special occasions. A soap maker featured in a recent issue of a major crafts publication makes most of her sales through a bed and breakfast in her area. To find out about bed and breakfasts in your area visit your local chamber of commerce or tourism office.

Clothing Boutiques

A clothing boutique is a small clothing store that caters to a specific clientele. There are several different types of clothing boutiques including: boutiques that carry expensive upscale clothing, boutiques that carry clothing made by the owner of the boutique, boutiques that carry only natural baby clothing, etc. Clothing boutiques are good prospects for bath and body products.

Gift Basket Companies

Gift basket companies are excellent prospects for selling your bath and body care products to. Gift basket companies buy bath and body care products for their "pamper baskets." These are especially popular around Mother's day. Many small gift basket companies are looking for vendors which will sell them quality bath and body care products in small quantities at reasonable prices.

Gift Shops

Bath and body care products make excellent and inexpensive gifts. If you want to sell your products wholesale, don't over look gift shops. There are stand alone gift shops as well as organizations, like hospitals, museums, and zoos, that have gift shops.

Health Food Retailers

Many health food shops also sell natural cosmetics. If your handcrafted bath and body care products fall under this category you may want to investigate selling your products wholesale to health food shops in your local area.

Approaching Businesses In Person

The easiest way to approach any business near your home is to call up the business owner and introduce yourself. Let him or her know what you have to offer. Ask if he or she has a few minutes to see your products. If so, make an appointment to show your product line. When you come, bring plenty of samples. Set up your products and let the store owner look at them. Be prepared for an order. Have your price list typed up. Have several order forms. Know what your ordering terms are (when you expect payment and when you will deliver) and have this information in writing.

This type of approach is called "cold calling." It is an excellent way to establish business relationships with the retailers in your area. Many retailers like to support local business owners and will buy from you simply because you made the effort to contact them. However, if you are uncomfortable contacting the business owners yourself or if you simply do not have the time to visit the stores in your area you might want to consider hiring a sales rep (see the next page for more information).

Notes To Remember When Contacting Store Owners

If you decide to approach some of the stores in your area, keep the following in mind:

  • Stores have buying seasons. For most gift shop owners, the biggest buying seasons are in January-February (for spring) and July-August (for December). This is because many of the big trade shows for the gift buying industry are during these times. Try to make appointments during these times.
  • If you sell your products at stores and also at craft malls or consignment shops be sure that you don't have your products competing at different prices in the same geographic area. If you sell your products at a store for $3.95, don't sell them yourself at the local craft mall for $3.50. This is the best way to make the store owner angry and cancel your account.