Part 5. Find your suppliers
To me the most important thing at the beginning was faux foliage!
- My first accounts were with afloral.com and Accent Decor for faux foliage and vessels and vases.
- Fiddlehead Artisan Supply offered me a generous discount on paper supplies and no Maine state sales tax. This is something you can request if you want to patronize a local shop!
- Eventually I learned of a large wholesaler in Minnesota, Rose and Meyer. This wholesaler was able to give me volume discounts on paper, but not Italian crepe paper.
- For Italian crepe, establish a wholesale account with Carte Fini.
- I eventually ditched mass-produced hard goods for locally produced artisan hard goods, again wholesale. These pieces run me on average $12 each and my minimum orders run between $200 and $400 for the artist to commit time to making a batch of vessels. She includes a maker's mark which adds value to the overall piece.
All wholesalers require a minimum initial order. These first orders can feel expensive, but they are a legitimate business expense that you should track. This allows you to see, over time, your profit from your paper flower business.
When I received my first order for paper flowers, I had a good idea of what an invoice should have on it and designed something on my laptop. The second order seemed easy enough; I copied and pasted everything into a new file and added together my expenses on a spreadsheet. This was easy! Before the baby arrived several more orders were created in this way.
I finished my first year with no website and no invoicing system, a small profit margin, and many new ideas for growth. It was time for me to get serious about streamlining different processes so that I could focus on creating and building a community of like-minded artists.