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Blog

Etsy Open Call

Paula Lukey

What a wonderful experience to have been selected as one of the Finalists for Etsy Open Call in Brooklyn, New York! I only received the invite a month before the actual event (Etsy's wholesale side of their business, where they invite 35 finalists out of 1400 applicants to pitch to U.S. retailers) - so you could imagine what was going through my mind in terms of preparing for it. I recall applying for it in June - but simply tossed the idea of even getting selected to the side - I was already preparing designs and products for the 2017 season, thinking I was moving on. But fortunately for me, Etsy gave me a chance to come and see what the world of Wholesaling was all about!

Walking Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan the first day.

Walking Brooklyn Bridge into Manhattan the first day.

The first day I arrived I checked into my hotel in Brooklyn. I  had a couple hours to burn so I went into Manhattan to check out the NY NOW trade show of product designers. So many interesting brands of products! Textile designers (like me!) and full fledged businesses of paper companies and lifestyle brands such as Printed Village - which I sometimes work with and licensing my pattern designs to.

at the Printed Village booth posing with my dog pattern tote bag!

at the Printed Village booth posing with my dog pattern tote bag!

The next day it was time to set up my table at Etsy Headquarters. What an awsome space! I had so much fun, and was welcomed by the warm Etsy staff and other sellers there.

The space we set our tables up in for Open Call (that's mine behind me!)

The space we set our tables up in for Open Call (that's mine behind me!)

The first day was workshops related to Wholesaling and pitching your line. I was already nervous, but it was good to get some educational notes as to how to start going about the process, knowing that there are resources to guide you. In the afternoon we got a tour of Etsy Headquarters - but the best part for me was the view on their roof top. I adore city scapes!

The view of Manhattan from Etsy HQ in Brooklyn

The view of Manhattan from Etsy HQ in Brooklyn

That night I can attest that I did not sleep so well. I was nervous about the pitches and speaking with major retailers such as Macy's and Wholefoods. Regardless, it is what it is - and you just have to do your best.

Do I look nervous?? My friend Samantha from Infinite Abyss took this pic of me and my wares!

Do I look nervous?? My friend Samantha from Infinite Abyss took this pic of me and my wares!

I was all ready to go and proud of my line of goods to present. The pitching went very, VERY quickly! We only had 3-4 minutes to discuss and show our line to 5 major retailers. They were looking for very specific things from what I understood. And what I learned was buyers are different in what they see than consumers are - and how they can envision your product in their stores. I got some quick but good feedback from Macy's and HGTV in particular - in terms of the visuals and brand presentation of my line and how it really needs to speak volumes on your behalf (especially when you are not there). Though things happened so quickly I was thankful for the experience and gained some knowledge - not only on my brand but how I can eventually grow my line in the future to suit buyers as well as get better media exposure. 

The afternoon was a lot more relaxed - it was a Buyers' Party - where hundreds of US retailers walked through, browsed your product line, and either did up an order or took your card for orders later. This part was a hit! I had so much fun and really felt the interaction was a lot more relaxed and conversational. And I think this is really how I envision my relationship with retailers going forward. And it helps that they were serving beer and had a super fun band playing live :-)

A closer look at my table set up

A closer look at my table set up

All in all, I am so proud to have been selected out of so many applicants. I may not have gotten a Golden Purchase Order from the 5 retailers at the pitch session, but I received other wholesale orders at the Buyers Party and more potentially on the way!  Mostly though, I gained so much in terms of producing and showcasing a product line! I still have so much to learn in the wholesale sector - but I am glad I took the chance! And the sellers I had the chance to meet were just so amazing! Like Casey of Hearth and Harrow, Samantha of Infinite Abyss, and Megan of the Invisible Kitten just to name afew! (Read this article to see all the sellers)

On a closing note, It's not easy to put yourself out there, to take the risk of showing up and presenting an authentic part of you. And honestly, I really pour my heart into everything I do in my life - and this is one part that truly is an extension of me as an artist and maker. I love what I do (I sometimes joke that i am a "Design-Lifer" but it's true!) and everything to me is an experience and an opportunity for growth. This experience was no exception. 

Onwards and upwards!

(Click here to shop my line on Etsy Wholesale).
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