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Diversifying Your Product Line

Lesson 27 of 32

How to Build Relationships


Diversifying Your Product Line

Lesson 27 of 32

How to Build Relationships


Lesson Info

How to Build Relationships

So now we're going to talk about how to build relationships ok, which is often easier said than done because relationships will be nowhere kind of can be a minefield um my nugget of wisdom on this is never go into a business relationship with them and us attitude I know a lot of people I've interacted with over the last kind of fifteen, twenty years or so not a lot few have gone into it's just like oh, you know, suppliers manufacturers there you know, break you down there the evil person on dh surprise surprise things don't work out you know, my experience with manufacturers is always extremely positive and suppliers always extremely, extremely positive is very respectful you know, it's it's a good solid business relationship there's given take and it's understanding they're part of the process I think and we talked about that earlier understanding your process of actually making something well then make it so much easier when you're communicating with the manufacturer or the supplier ...

you step into their shoes you understand exactly the information they need and that is really I mean it's kind of obvious, you know, but it's something which needs to be mentioned over and over again because that's really they are the red thread throughout this is building partnerships, building relationships shine and also mentioned it when we when we spoke to her earlier so I starting out tips is you know, sometimes this is this is not always possible because if you're if you're working with raw material supplies, they may not want to share a lot of this information this is really if you're working with manufacturers and you wanting to really embrace them as a partner, this is where this can really kick in starting out tips start with an enquiring mind about their company one and learn about who they are as a company I find because every company's made of individuals that there's a history in a story behind it its good to under sunday is kind of stepping into their shoes I think understand their strengths and weaknesses not every manufacturer or company can do everything you know no everyone has as a super powers and have some of our people in the chat room yes, they had a few super power issues going on some companies some manufacturers do research and development some just manufacturer same with raw materials some will give you a lot of help and development someone just like you want it or don't you want it it's a simple is that so understanding their strengths and weaknesses is an absolute key central because it saves you having to ask the stuff which they won't do well they won't send you explaining your strengths and weaknesses that's often hard because we all think we can do everything or well thing we can do nothing this is I'm terrible illustrator and photo show. There you go. I've said it. I have no patience for I'd love to be able to do it rubbish. Okay, don't ask me to protect pack with a really detailed sketch, because I will just do a little hand thing made out pencil and that you'll be laughing at it. That's, my that's, my witness, um, send correctly formatted emails the number of times I would with teams, and they said they've sent emails to manufacturers which have been so rude and so badly formatted. Yeah, it just drives me nuts. It doesn't. It's not hard to write. Polite email resonate with you, chris, believe me, there are plenty of e mails that you get that just aren't polite and it seems like the easiest thing that's what earlier? Talking about having the templates, I think that people just need to find out what works for their voice and how they do it and stick to that template. Yeah, definitely. Teo each industry has its own type of voice and as well, because stationary it's pretty casual, right? So I can contact a paper company or a wholesaler and say, like a what's up how's it going which might not fly and another industry yeah, no, I completely agree I think there's a fine line between being kind of list I saw these two fine lines is like super casual kind of like hey how's it going yeah and then there's uh kind of dear sir slash madam I would like to purchase your materials and kind of like I need materials now explanation right on guy I've seen all three of those on dh so it needs to be a hybrid I think yeah, I think I think once you get to know someone once you've gone through that initial conversation with them I think it's great to kind of have that familiar to hey you know, how are the kids how they can you know, we really need some more more paper and really looking for this kind of deadline, you know? Can you help me? Oh, no okay totally understand, okay, but there's balking down an email at someone and say I need it now where is it? This is like, dude that's not going to get you anywhere I struggled with being a small company and trying to get something that isn't that isn't the norm for letterpress printing because I want to try to do something really unique it is, I can't say because then everyone was still steal my brilliant idea okay, um but they're they're a large manufacturer, a specific type of ink and it's hard to get them too they won't get back to me right? Because I'm just me and so I've called it e mailed and I'm not giving up are they? Are they local too you know, because you can't just kind of hoping that they're in florida tio so it's a big vacation but I find that to be sometimes difficult as well as hard yeah that is it's ah perseverance I think is the only solution for that or trying to find a connection I kind of like an inroad can I blinking like a first kind of secondhand connection that you can have a look an intro and then get by other you know, the front desk yeah could be away um and arlington will be useful for that oh, maybe you could say that's a good till was definitely could tell I'm always a big fan of fallen of sending up follow up correspondents you know someone ships you something someone kind of gives you some good information I was follow up with like, hey, thanks so much really helpful, you know, not overly, you know kind of like you're my hero you're amazing but just, you know, a polite kind of finish off of the conversation s o might those of my tapes it kind of sounds obvious, but I always like reiterating them because sometimes you kind of forget when you're in the middle of kind of more material chaos tio to be uh to send formatted email to follow up to be courteous people respect that and we appreciate it begin we spoke about this earlier pick up that phone, email and in person a lot of people don't like it but it's a great way of building relationships, articulate your vision to your supplier, enable them to be proactive and even advocate your product. This is this is something that I from experience I have learned working working in brands that especially when you've got concept board if you're building a concept board and we talked about that in the beginning of session middle of session one is if you share this concept board and I've I've done this and it absolutely works if you share it there's you know you're going to a new manufacturer or a supplier and just say, you know, you don't know me, but this is this is what I'm looking for I'm looking to build this this brand this is my vision this is what I see. This is the kind of things I'm looking for if you engage them at the beginning with this kind of information, they're more inclined to feel part of the process and really engaged in the process from the beginning, especially if they see the kind of things you're looking for maybe you can't articulate it verbally but visually this may see something maybe a color or quality or fabric or an idea which may be very similar to what they've already produced so you could you could by sharing this information often get a better product a better reaction from from that supplier or manufacturer it also helps them to understand what your end goal is a swell and if they can't help you on something maybe they know someone who can but if you don't share the information if you keep the information very guarded just I just need silk that's it then I'll go we don't have silk okay but I need silk for scarves and I'm looking launching this and this is my ende then perhaps they will come back so we don't have any however but we work these two other people and they also produce did a and that's how the conversation goes so never be too guarded with your information you know obviously don't give away all your trade secrets if you've got the kind of this big master plan which is in your head you don't wantto announce it on a creative live work shop but you know you might you know you may get the answer to all your dreams bike and I'm not gonna put you there but this this definitely works you know articulate your vision t your supplier it's one of the easiest and the best things to do to really engage trust engage the business partnership and also to start building a relationship there's really simple people I say please and thank you it costs nothing on dh it's a lot of thing that people forget signing off on e mails have just kind of, um I needed wednesday that's it this is like me think thank you, it's. A simple two word thing clear in respectful with your suppliers you think is key to building relationships, be clear and respectful understand from their position, you know, there's a reason why they can't help you. Maybe they don't have the materials, maybe they maybe they don't have the time, maybe a million things it's not that they hate you, it's because there's other there's a bigger picture going on, but respect that it's not always about you there's always a bigger picture, it's a clear and respectful communication we talked earlier about really understanding what your product need it's our understanding what your role materials are that clear communication comes from that it's it's picking its remembering to be articulate and don't manufactures aren't mind readers, so players aren't mind readers that can't imagine what's going on in your head right now, so remember that it's again, I kind of call them really kind of clear, simple, straightforward tips, but it's nice toe emphasize, I reiterate them every now and again. Okay so think of three things that you can share with your suppliers about the products that will strengthen the relationship this is this is a good one everyone's got I think three things that they can share that's kind of checked with the chat room on dh then actually what is you're kind of looking for new suppliers right now what would you say you don't have to come up with three cc's I'm putting in completely on the spot here but what what what do you think you could share with the new supplier I choose my fabric space on the designer well partly based on the design but also for who designed them and so I feel like that's a big part of the community that I'm in with being a quilter also right is that a lot of I know a lot of the people who designed the fabric that I use so that's also kind of a nice that could be a nice kind of common thread between a supplier and myself so the designers who so that designing the fabric fabric and they are they work for a large I mean there large come fabric companies rights in the u s so like you know windham free spirit okay those kinds of companies and then the people the artists who designed the fabric you know they designed the lines of fabric important companies okay, so those fireworks available wholesale as well as just installed as far as I know ok, so you could a cz you're scaling up you can still keep with the same kind of the brand it's taken and the whole vision how that's great. Yeah. Okay, um that's definitely something you can share that so that's really kind of building a community that way. Catherine what a what? A one thing or two things that you could you feel you could share your suppliers to really, uh you know, I just think he right um I make these out of mdf masonite leading density fiberboard thank right. And one of my colleagues at techshop who works in this material a lot did a whole lot of research into which lumberyards have the best quality because not all the same some of it um just chars and crumbles really badly and the color is kind of odd and it's not consistent it's like it's made of inferior materials or something and so he found some suppliers that are pretty consistent brother some lumberyards were pretty consistent about sourcing the best quality and would be good for them to know that I'm planning on using it unfinished I'm laser cutting it yeah, that it's not just going to be part of somebody's cabinet with painting it rights yeah now that's definite that's a key thing because to understand the end use of of a raw material can really it can adjust thinking to just the quality in the price and the yeah, the situation definitely on, but what can you what could you change for what we dio are in my little paper world is I ten did not have a whole lot of proprietary questions, you know, I think it's the one that I just don't want to tell you about, so I really feel like we didn't go behind us aboard, and I'll tell you later, all right? Um, is it like, I feel like that everything I do is a relationship like every everyone that I used, whether I'm buying my ink, it kelly paper, or and buying my paper at legion, that that I am using those sources, and then I'm telling people about those sources because I feel like together, we all rise, and it makes a stronger community in a stronger business for all of us, if we're all working together, utilizing each other and making, you know that whole market bigger and bigger and better so I often will call out on social media, you know, I share my sources, you know, for example, use a gold inc that most people, when they print gold ink on flat paper, it looks flat unless you're using foils, right? The golden get kelly it's amazing and will still give you a shimmer so I tell everybody we're going to give you a discount, but I tell everybody and their mother, like I'll put it on instagram everyone's like, what are you using, you know, and it's like, well, kelly paper, but that's, what that's great that's a great way to really builds from relationship I was in really is definitely the way to do it, and when I need something, I'll call and they know it's me? Yeah, they're like sure we'll get it for you. We can have before you the next day or like, let me get you some samples or my paper. I work with legion on a million things legion paper and there in new york, and they're in l a and my rep will actually call me and say, thes, these great new papers that you have to see and you'll send me a packet great, because I'm constantly talking to them about them or with them that's perfect. You know, chris, what do we have from the chat room paintings by k e? Gilmore says that it's tricky, wanting to strengthen the relationship without feeling like you're wasting their time with less urgent emails because, you know some people. They really just want to get to the business and they may not be open to different things like that to strengthen the relationship so that's something that I think is a really struggle, but abby lynn acts really close is something that could be a great solution, she says, to ask more specific questions about their needs do what you can within reason to meet those needs and also, if you feel like if you're more of a people person, maybe ask more specific questions about them and how they're doing and follow up on those things and even send out cards on special days that you know for their business or for them personally sending a card to remember that yeah, I think I think all of those great I mean, you just have to you have to kind of test the water a little bit and see what is appropriate. I mean, when I when I talk about kind of sending sending e mails it's not like, hey onto weekend yeah, you know, I kind of hung out on this wedding with dog on it's like it's, all business completely and it's being able to define exactly what you want out of that kind of transaction, but it's also saying hi, how was your weekend, then straight into business and like, great looking forward to speaking to you soon you know, thanks and can regards its zx that amount of fluffing us it's not over fluffy it's polite is courteous it's you know, enquiring how they are and then it's getting down to business. It's definitely a fine line, but and some people you always find a more amenable to other some people just like they're from the reply to you guy buying ready on tuesday. Dunn likes it ok kind of failed on that one, but, you know, I'm like when you allow them to be the expert yeah, that there's a lot of appreciation that, you know, that's a really, really, really solid point allow them to be the expert. Yeah, so like, if I call my paper company and I say, you know, I'm looking for something that will allow me to do this and then that oh, this paper will do this and great or let me try it because then it's like it's a trust thing like you're talking about, you know, really not relationship with you like it's respectful. This is like these these guys make paper this this is what they do know that they know more than me, yeah, and he's understanding it's respecting that absolutely that's that's um, yeah, I couldn't agree with you more on that

Class Description

Once you’ve established your business with a single, successful product, imagining what else to sell can be daunting. You don’t want to end up with a disjointed collection of products, but you do want it to be fresh and exciting for existing customers. In Diversifying Your Product Line, you’ll learn the art and science of expanding your offerings and growing your business.

Susie Breuer is the author of Blue is the New Black: The 10 Step Guide to Developing and Producing a Fashion Collection and in this class she’ll help you generate ideas and make smart decisions about expanding your apparel and/or accessories business. You’ll learn how to:

  • Research the market to understand both price and your customers.
  • Build a concept and action plan for starting out
  • Manage multiple product lines
  • Source raw materials and manufacturers

You’ll learn how to accurately assess a product's viability before you waste time and money developing it. Susie will also teach you how to develop a consistent, logical pricing strategy you can use again and again.

Susie makes the complex process of developing a financially solvent product and production plan easy. You’ll get expert-level insights into all aspects of developing a new product and walk away confident that you know everything you need to know to expand your business.



Thank you for an excellent class on a key pivot point no matter what industry you are in. One stellar quality of this course is how collaborative, friend focused peer culture and (rather than hostile competition or dysfunction competition environment and psychological atmosphere). The structure suggestions enable creativity and acknowledges different mindsets required in different phases. Susie honors the joy that comes from making and creating. She celebrates the interdependence between all stakeholders and the fun and flow as well as learnings and choices from being a 'business'. She is pragmatic but high on the inclusiveness of fun and satisfaction. She is interested and interesting: safe, enjoys being a customer as much as teacher and expressions of creative generation for herself. You can be caught up in the delight of her view of the world if you have become jaded or burnout. This brings perspective and empowerment to your desire and goals.


Susie has this most amazing experience in business - she is fashion royalty - but has an amazing ability to put all her knowledge across in a way that you can learn so easily. I was so pleased that she could show you how to learn from her experience and it would make sense for your business. Pretty much whatever you are doing. I came away from these sessions with so many ideas. But of course ideas are cheap. She has made me understand how once you have an idea, how to make it real. So many great learnings about avoiding pitfalls, practical check lists and honest to goodness 'know how'. I am already putting her advice into practice and can see I am going to transform my business just because of these classes. I am going to come back to those videos again and again. Thank you so much for making this great resource available.


I LOVED THIS COURSE. After being a small business owner for 10 years it is easy to focus on what's right on your desk at that very moment instead of evaluating the bigger picture, to forget how to look at what is working as well as what isn't and how to improve upon your process. Courses like this make me want to jump up out of my seat and get back to work. Susie kept me engaged and focused. It can be a long day but time seemed to fly by. I am really glad I got the opportunity to take the course, not only would I take it again but would highly recommend future Creative Live courses and Susie's latest book. Thank you again for the opportunity and now I gotta get back to work!