If you’re an Aromatherapist and have a product range, selling wholesale is something you might have thought about doing, or have been asked about.
When I first started my Aromatherapy business in the early 90s, my products were initially all bespoke. I’d formulate bespoke massage blends to use during treatments and invariably clients would want to purchase their custom blend, so that’s how I started out.
Later on, I moved into treating skin and doing facials. And I did exactly the same thing; create Bespoke skincare for clients during treatments, which they could also purchase.
I didn’t have a retail range as such, but when I started including workshops in my business, I added a range of pure essential oils under my name, which turned out to be a really good idea because people would purchase them at my workshops.
So initially, that’s where I sold my products - at my clinic and workshops.
Later on I was asked to formulate products for other brands and I decided to create a retail range for my own brand, which led to retail outlets asking if I would consider selling wholesale to them. I remember getting very excited about that and to be honest, probably didn’t think it through enough at the time.
Wholesale can be very beneficial because it exposes your products and your business to a much wider audience and that’s why I thought it a good idea at the time.
Initially, I sold my products through beauty salons, boutiques and lifestyle stores, but after some time I realised that it wasn’t working as well as I thought it would.
* Beauty Salons and retail outlets weren’t giving the correct information about my products to clients and customers. This isn’t indicative of most beauty salons, it just happened with the ones who were stocking my products at the time.
* Cost-wise, I found that I was making very little money from my products, considering the amount of time and effort I was putting into formulating them. Wholesale does take a large chunk of your profit.
* As I make products to order, it was sometimes difficult to get retail outlets to understand that process and how long it would take.
* The final straw was when foolishly I was convinced by a retailer to change the product she was selling for her store and to create a training session and video about my products, which took a lot of time and money. One month later she sold the store and the new owner was going in a completely different direction and wasn’t interested in stocking aromatherapy products.
After a while, I decided that it just wasn’t for me, and now I currently offer wholesale to just one outlet here in Brisbane - a Facialist who I’ve known for many years and who I trust will give the right information if she’s using or selling my products.
That doesn’t mean that wholesale won’t work for your business. Ultimately it depends on what you want your business to be and how you want it to grow.
Some things to consider if you’re thinking of selling wholesale:
* Pricing - making anything by hand takes a lot of time. Not just the formulating but also resourcing ingredients, researching etc, so it’s a good idea to price your products for wholesale even before you sell them that way.
* Think about the shelf life of your products, which isn’t a very long one. Because of that, you need to make sure that outlets don’t over purchase and then sell stock that might be out of date.
* You might also be asked to sell on consignment, which might sound ok but again if your products have a short shelf life, it means that you might not be able to sell those products later on if they’re returned.
* You may need to have additional insurance for your products if they’re sold in other outlets
* It’s worth getting some legal and financial advice and having a terms and conditions contract with the retailer.
* If you receive a very large order that you need to fulfil quickly, can you manage that without taking on additional staff?
This doesn’t mean wholesale isn’t right for your business, just that it’s worth looking into things before you do. It’s something that I might even reconsider at some stage myself.
If you do decide to offer wholesale, I’d suggest starting with one or two products to see how that works for you. Perhaps something at a higher price point so there is still enough profit to make it viable.
At the end of the day, only you can decide whether wholesale is right for you or your business. But remember there’s nothing wrong with trying it out in a small way, and if it doesn’t work, you can always change your mind.
That’s what having your own business is all about - being able to do things in your own way.
If you’d like to know more about how I started my business and the different directions it took me, or perhaps learn more about creating your own workshops, you can find my book Late Bloomer and my Creating Aromatherapy Workshops Workbook in the Books and Events section in the online shop.