4 Secrets to Building a $1 Million Wholesale Business (One tee shirt at a time!)

From: How to Sell Online  with Alison J. Prince

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4 Secrets to Building a $1 Million Wholesale Business (One tee shirt at a time!)

You wanna know one of the things I love most about what I do? 

It’s getting to talk to entrepreneurs who have accomplished more than they ever dreamed possible…and who’ve helped others along the way. 

That’s why I was all sorts of excited to talk to Krista Jones, who crossed over the million-dollar mark in July of 2021—just 22 months after she got started.

ONE MILLION DOLLARS. She. is. crushing. it!

And she did it by building a wholesale business selling a product you can buy at pretty much any mall, gas station, pharmacy, big box store or fancy boutique: tee shirts. 

From Making Ends Meet to Building a $1 Million Wholesale Business.

To give you the whole picture, let’s roll back the hands of time a little bit before we dive in further. 

Krista, like so many of the women I work with, wanted to find a way to help make ends meet so she, her husband, and their growing family could stop living paycheck to paycheck.  (Psst! That’s where I started too!) 

Her sister had a profitable Etsy business creating embroidered products, but she was ready to do something else. Krista bought the machine ready to follow in her sister’s footsteps. 

And…what worked for her sister (aka that dang embroidery concept!) DEFINITELY didn’t work for her. 

But she didn’t give up. Instead, she decided to create designs and sublimate them onto tee shirts. She wanted her designs to have a vintage feel and her high-quality tees to be super soft—something that make you feel like you’d had it forever the first time you slipped one on. 

Her concept worked, and Rockledge Designs was born—officially launching in October of 2018. After joining my 0-100K Program and being an active participant in my Next Level course about a year later, she decided to give wholesale a try. 

And oh.my.gosh! 

Her business exploded thanks to online vendors like Faire who seek out makers like her. In fact, Krista had so much success that she had to create a whole new (and a little unconventional!) structure for her company. Take a look: 

Krista’s 4 Secrets to Building a $1 Million Wholesale Business

  1. Think outside of the business box. Krista doesn’t have a huge production facility—she never did. Instead, she found women in her local area who wanted to earn an income from home. They do all the printing and shipping so that Krista can focus on building the Rockledge brand. 
  2. Create written, detailed SOPs. There are a lot of moving parts in Krista’s wholesale tee shirt business, and she wants to make sure that everything is done properly and consistently. That’s why she created very specific standard operating procedure (SOP) documents for each and every step. She uses Google Suite to house them so that they can be easily and securely accessed by contractors and employees. 
  3. Make business decisions based on numbers, not emotion. It’s common for the ecommerce entrepreneurs I work with to put a lot of heart and soul into their businesses. Krista is no different. She’s developed each and every design used on her shirts, so letting old styles go to make room for new options is difficult. But she’s learned that too many designs overwhelm customers and cause decision fatigue. Now she relies on sales figures to determine which designs stay and which ones go. 
  4. Learn from your mistakes. Even though Krista’s wholesale tee shirt business was doing great, she decided to add a retail boutique for other types of clothes. She paid for a website and hired an advertising agency to run Facebook ads. Unfortunately, she ended up spending nearly $30,000 in ad costs with a very low return on her investment—and had to deal with a lot of clothing returns. At length, she closed the boutique, stopped working with the agency, and put her focus back on her wholesale business. Even with the financial loss, however, Krista says it was a valuable lesson for her…and she ended up using the website design for Rockledge Designs. 

Those are just 4 of the many, many, many, MANY things Krista learned as she’s built her company. So if you have ever wondered how to start a wholesale business—this is one episode of the Because I Can Life podcast you’ve GOT TO HEAR. 

She talks retail vs. wholesale, the companies (like Faire) that she works with and why, the importance of an abundance mindset, the power of consistency, and so, SO much more.

Seriously. Give it a listen.

Top 10 Takeaways

  1. Wholesale can be a game changer.
  2. It’s okay to have an unconventional approach if it works for you.
  3. Your business can create opportunities for others.
  4. Create written, detailed SOPs. 
  5. Streamline to help your customers avoid decision fatigue.
  6. Make business decisions based on numbers, not emotion.
  7. Test sales platforms…but remember less is more. 
  8. Don’t try to sell EVERYTHING—find your lane.
  9. Learn from your mistakes. 
  10. You CAN build a business without a huge social media following.
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