Tips for First-Time Vendors with Jake Carnley of Great Bear Wax Co.

Great Bear Wax Company Tips For First-Time Vendors Makers Workshop
So you're thinking about taking your brand to market for the first time?

It's an exciting time for your brand, and the opportunities from here are endless. I am certainly no expert brand representative, but I have led my brand, Great Bear Wax Co., through the very season of business ownership that you are entering into and can tell you everything I have learned through the last few years while repping GBWC at the trade shows.

1. Relieve yourself of the expectation that you will write 1,000 orders at the show. Yes, your neighbor's daughter took her soap company to market in the '80s, and wrote so many orders she had to go out of business, but we are in different times and the trade shows are no longer the only way for buyers and customers to see your brand. Odds are, buyers will be seeing your brand for the very first time at a trade show, but the ease in which they can put in orders with you has changed a lot. In my experience, much of the call to action comes through email follow-ups and phone call follow-ups after I get back home. This leads me right into the next point.

2. Have information ready to give away. Your brand information, including pricing, variations, lead time, order form and ALL contact information should be presented in a clean format and be easy for you to hand out to folks who are walking the show. Have pens ready in case a customer does want to go ahead and put in an order with you, or if they want to take notes about your brand on the sheet you give them.

And ask for their information. Usually this will be handed to you in the form of a business card so have a place ready to store their card and take any notes you may need from the buyer. A mini stapler is a great thing to have handy, as well. You can staple their card to an order form and be ready to follow up with them via phone call or email once you’re home.

3. Be nice. It's a simple task, but these shows will be thick with ego. Don’t be like that. Be nice.

4. You will meet some incredible folks. They will likely be set up right beside you, down the hall or folks you follow on Instagram, and your shared struggle of standing around for three days straight will make you immediate friends. I have made some incredible friends while at the trade shows. I'm flying out in two weeks to stay with a friend in San Diego who I met several years ago at a show.

5. Lastly and absolutely vital — be yourself. You’re doing a good job! Your brand is cool, and it is a big deal to be at the markets so be easy on yourself and remember the steps it took to get here. Be thankful for all of the experiences that have brought you to where you are. 

Take it all in. This is a fun season, and there's a candlemaker in Birmingham, Alabama who is rooting for you and praying our paths cross sooner rather than later!


Jake Carnley is the founder of Birmingham-based candle company, Great Bear Wax Co. Pictured above are Jake and his sweet shop pup/resident snuggler, Piper.

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