Is Wholesale the Right Business Model for You

[00:00:00] Kellee: Well, hello friends and dear listeners, this is Kellee Wynne of the Made Remarkable Podcast. I hope you're doing well. So far we are off to a really good start with the podcast and I've gotten a lot of great feedback. I really appreciate that you like the new format. You like that we're doing interviews. We have a clear direction helping you be your remarkable self. 

[00:00:30] Kellee: And um, I don't know if you noticed this, but we have two episodes a week. I am still popping in every Monday to kick off your week. So check the listings and you'll see, yeah, we released one on Monday and we're releasing one today, Wednesday with our interview.

[00:00:49] Kellee: Monday's format is informal. I'm just telling you about what's been up lately on latest news offerings, insights, advice, and I'm [00:01:00] answering your questions on Monday too. So I'm gonna be opening up a format to make it easy for you to ask questions that I can answer for you on a weekly basis. I think it will be enlightening to say the least, and a lot of fun. Also, I can kind of put my personal spin on things, which is, you know, kind of how I like to do it. I wanna keep it, you know, something that we can connect every week. 

[00:01:22] Kellee: And I love these interviews. They're really fun for me to do. I'm finding that this is definitely my zone that I'm meant to be in, so I'm glad for that switch. I'm excited to bring you all these insights. It's kind of 100 ways coming alive. Speaking of 100 ways, have you downloaded that guide yet? 100 Ways to Make Money as an Artist without selling art. It's kind of revolutionary I've heard, uh, most people who've gone through it, read it and then highlight their favorite posts in there.

[00:01:54] Kellee: Like I've listed a hundred different creative ideas off the wall. Wild ideas. [00:02:00] Some of them are a little more normal in average that you might have heard of. But yeah, I really racked my brain. I didn't even use Chat GPT cuz it hadn't been invented yet, but I sure would have. If you don't know what Chat GPT is, it's the AI software that is now available at this moment it is free, and I'm kind of obsessed with it. You'll hear about that in future episodes, but I'm putting it to the test to see how to use it, and right now it's a whole lot of fun, but in 100 ways to make money as an artist without selling your art. I did that all because I love putting pieces together.

[00:02:34] Kellee: I love helping people see a vision of who they are, what they've accomplished, what their big ass big audacious dreams are yes, big ass dreams, but I'm trying to be polite here. Big audacious dreams and how it can all fit together to make your life by design, your business that's nurturing the lifestyle you wanna live.

[00:02:58] Kellee: So take a look at that. [00:03:00] Guide, please go download it. Just go to maderemarkable.com/100. Download the guide and read through it and see if it doesn't like give you some insight. Even if you've already started a business, maybe you'll be able to reformat how you're doing it so that you can be more profitable, more aligned with who you are and maybe have more fun.

[00:03:20] Kellee: So yeah, that's what I'd like you to do. And also, It would be really super helpful if you follow the podcast wherever you're listening, on iTunes, Spotify, wherever, and give it that five star review if you're enjoying the podcast, because it really helps boost us in the algorithms, and I hate to say it, but I really do want that boost because I want more people to hear how remarkable they. I mean, can you blame me? It's a lot of fun doing this. And so if I have more listeners, more fun, I can have. 

[00:03:52] Kellee: Today's episode, I am introducing you to Katie Hunt, and I didn't really know who she was much [00:04:00] until last summer, I think I was introduced to her and oh my goodness, I wish I had met her a decade ago because might have totally changed the trajectory of my career. 

[00:04:12] Kellee: She helps artists with wholesale and getting their ideas and designs manufactured into products and into amazing shops, anything from Target to anthropology or into thousands of small stores across the country so that you know, you can actually have your physical product in other people's hands.

[00:04:35] Kellee: And uh, I think it's really a brilliant way that she teaches. And I really loved this podcast interview with her. So I think that you're gonna enjoy this, and to make it even more interesting, join me on Thursday at 2:00 PM Eastern time for a conversation with Katie Hunt. 

[00:04:58] Kellee: I'm gonna try and do this on a [00:05:00] regular basis. Just pop into my Instagram every week when I have a podcast episode and see when I've scheduled a Live to be able to further the discussion and then that way you can pop in and ans ask questions and we're gonna answer 'em as we go because I think you're gonna have a lot of questions. 

[00:05:18] Kellee: Katie explains what? Her programs do and how she helps artists create these wholesale products. But if you're trying to just decipher the difference between wholesale, licensing, and if this is right for you, then you're gonna wanna tune in Thursday on the 18th of January on my Instagram account. That's Kellee Wynne Studios, and you can pop in and listen to us have that conversation. All right. Let's get on with a story introducing Katie Hunt. 

[00:05:53] Kellee: Hello. Hello, Katie. I am so excited to have you on the podcast today. This is a new [00:06:00] introduction for me and for our listeners. Maybe you've heard of her. Katie Hunt is with us from Proof to Product, so I would love for you to go ahead and introduce yourself.

[00:06:10] Katie: Kellee, first off, thank you so much for having me. It's just already in our pre-chat to this interview. It was already been so fun. So thank you for, uh, inviting me and welcoming to your space here. 

[00:06:20] Katie: But, uh, to all your listeners, hello, I'm Katie Hunt. I am the founder and CEO of a company called Proof to Product. We help product-based business owners get their products on the shelves of stores big and small. So our alumni sell to Target an anthropology. They sell to Container Store J Crew, Starbucks. But they also, the bread and butter of who their strong wholesale relationships are with are the independent boutiques located all around the world.

[00:06:47] Katie: So yeah, so we have a lot of different ways that people can learn from us. I've got my podcast called Proof to Product. It's available wherever you're listening to Kellee's show here. Uh, we also have a free resource library for [00:07:00] different, um, things that people can dip their toe on, if they're curious about how to productize their art and really move, not just in a direct to consumer fashion, but also wholesale. We've, we've got lots of resources for you. So 

[00:07:13] Kellee: I am so excited to talk about this because like, I think most artists have a dream of seeing their workout into the world and some, maybe it's a museum, but for me, you know, I never have my eyes set on the MoMA or the Met or whatever, like, I was like, can I have my art on a mug in every home in America?

[00:07:33] Kellee: That would be awesome. Like, I loved Mary Engel Bright, like the fact that she just was everywhere and abundant growing up. Yes. Like I just thought that was an exciting way to connect more globally rather than in like, you know, every artist has a different dream for me. I wish I had found you a decade ago when you were offering, um, This has been more than 10 years now that you've been 

[00:07:58] Katie: doing Yeah, we, yeah, [00:08:00] we launched this in 2011. Um, so a little backstory here. I had my own, uh, art business. I was selling stationary and office goods, so we did notepads and journals and book plates and greeting cards and things like that. And, um, I really dove like headfirst into that business. Uh, within the first six months I was exhibiting at an international trade show.

[00:08:24] Katie: I was selling my products to store. I knew straight away that wholesale was how I wanted to run this. Um, I should also mention at that point in my life, uh, I was. Having my second baby in the, like I had two babies under two years old and I had a corporate day job where I was leading business development and marketing team.

[00:08:42] Katie: So this was something I did in the fringe hours of the day and the night and you know, just trying to make it so that I could have more flexibility in my life. And, um, . And so I had that business for a long time. Um, but as I was growing my product business, I looked around and I was, [00:09:00] I was friends with all these incredible artists, talented creative minds, and the things that they would talk to me about that they were struggling with were things that were on the business side.

[00:09:11] Katie: And that was where I thrived. I had this corporate background. I have two MBAs, one in marketing and one in finance. I thrive on the business side of things, and I was struggling. I was a self-taught artist, so I was struggling with the mechanics of creating my art and maintaining that creativity, things that they were thriving in.

[00:09:32] Katie: So it was really fascinating to me to look around and be like, oh my gosh, like I can help you with this and you can help me with that. And together our businesses will grow much faster because we'll have each other's support. And how do we do this on a wider scale too. And so that was really how proof to product was born.

[00:09:50] Katie: Um, it started as four teleconference calls Kellee, like four. Yeah, it was like $25. Come join the call. We're gonna chat with an expert in the industry, we're gonna [00:10:00] ask them all of our questions. And then it grew, it grew into webinars, it grew into like an online course, a membership. We've got our podcast of course.

[00:10:08] Katie: So it, it evolved just from the idea that together we. Grow faster and easier. We'll avoid mistakes that each other has made, and we can really lean on each other's, uh, skills and strengths too in our own business. So that's kind of the backstory there too. But yeah, it's, it's been a long time. I mean, we, and it was.

[00:10:30] Katie: So that was in 2011. We started, I started my product business in 2008. In 2016. I had to make some really tough choices and that's when I let go of the manufacturing arm. That was the year I had my fourth baby. Um, you know, and I went all in on proof to product. So yeah, we've been doing this a while, but it's been an evolution. Business is always an evolution. I know, Kellee, you're going through your own evolutions too, in your business. 

[00:10:54] Kellee: Yeah, I totally resonate with what you're saying because we do have to evolve. Um,[00:11:00] to one degree or another. There are always new iterations coming from where we started to where we are. Yes. And I love what resonated with me a lot about what you were saying is, is how we grow together and how we can collaborate, how we can rise each other up, which is a, a real core value of how I've been running my business this whole time.

[00:11:22] Kellee: And, and the fact that you start small, you start with something as little as. You know, zoom conference, or I don't even know, zoom. Mm-hmm. 

[00:11:30] Katie: Zoom wasn't even a thing back then. Not to make myself sound ancient, but like no, Instagram wasn't a thing at that time. Yeah. You know, everybody was connecting on Twitter at the time, and I used Go to webinar because that was, yeah.

[00:11:43] Katie: What was available. There was not ev, the online education world has evolved so much, but my point is just. I echo what you say of we need to start with what we have access to or availability, and we need to just get that ball rolling because action begets more action and [00:12:00] progress begets more progress and everything is a step forward.

[00:12:03] Katie: Yeah, 

[00:12:04] Kellee: and it takes time, however, In 2023, it's easier than it ever was before. Like the tools that are available to me like is just so completely opposite from where it was in the 2000's and early 2010s uhhuh, like from everything from Canva and Teachable and whatever, Instagram to build your business.

[00:12:27] Kellee: Pinterest, you name it Now, now we're all on YouTube and TikTok and however it is that we show up, but the actual ability to get this kind of information of how we can get our products manufactured and into, whether it's small boutique retailers or larger businesses like that. Knowledge was not easy to come by. When I started as an artist, 

[00:12:52] Katie: and frankly I we're not gatekeeping by any means, but I would still say that. Good [00:13:00] concrete. How-tos of how to sell wholesale are not widely available. I mean, we have a ton of free resources to help people get started, but we have a core program that teaches everything from A to Z because it's not, it's not something you can just Google every aspect of, I mean, I know Google's covers everything but.

[00:13:20] Katie: It, there's nuance to it too, and the industry's changing so rapidly too. So, anyhow, I'm off on a little bit of a tangent here, but I agree with you. It's incredible how many resources are available to us now? How many tools, how many, uh, shortcuts. I mean, and business cannot be shortcutted friends, but like there are things that can make our lives easier and make things. More manageable, I guess, for all of us. Yes. I 

[00:13:45] Kellee: really think like, yes, we can Google it, we can watch a YouTube video, but there's nothing like actually having a mentor you can trust that's going to give you honest information. True. And a community that surrounds that really builds you up much faster. So yeah, [00:14:00] all the information might be, You might be able to find it, but are you getting quality information?

[00:14:04] Kellee: Are you getting the fastest path to where you wanna go with the, with the best knowledge? And so, yeah, it's worth paying for, in my opinion, the, the education that I've invested in, I really see it as a business investment. Same has helped me grow. Immensely. So having like the, whether the resource is something that's widely available and free, which there really was nothing.

[00:14:26] Kellee: I, I searched wholesale for a long time and I finally just gave up. So that's why I'm in a completely different world now. Yeah. 

[00:14:34] Katie: Well, and that ties back to what we had access about, or what we had access to, rather, what we had knowledge about. That's what led our decisions in business back then because, okay, well how do I figure this out?

[00:14:46] Katie: We did a lot of trial and error. We, you know, were reading a lot of blog posts at the time, but even that is just a small glimpse into the larger window of what's possible. And I think one of the things we really want your listeners to hear [00:15:00] today on this episode is, The possibilities are endless with your art.

[00:15:06] Katie: You know, there's so many different ways that you can make money selling your creative art, whether that's selling a physical product direct to consumer, meaning to the retail market, whether that's selling it wholesale, whether that's licensing your work, whether it's doing custom work or large, um, larger pieces that are one-off.

[00:15:24] Katie: You know, there's so many opportunities out there. And I think one thing I'd be curious, your take on this, Kellee i. I think sometimes that's overwhelming to people and then they don't know which path to take. Do you agree with that? 

[00:15:36] Kellee: This has been one of the biggest stumbling blocks I find with all of my clients, my customers, those, especially those that I'm coaching. Uh, is. You know, how do I narrow down to what works best for me? So yeah, you ha kind of have to know yourself. Mm-hmm. really well. What lights you up and what path would, would work best for you for the type of art you make for, you know, your vision of [00:16:00] whether it's gonna be a paper product or a mug, or a shirt, or think wild and, and out of the box.

[00:16:05] Kellee: There's always like really unique ideas on how you. Product ties your, your creativity. And in my case it's like, do you teach art courses? Do you wanna go and travel and teach abroad? Do you want to help people organize their studio? I'm like, there's so many ways we can hone in on our creativity and live in this creative, beautiful, creative bubble that we wanna live in all the time.

[00:16:28] Kellee: Yeah. Um, and do it in a unique and different way. I think the part that's really exciting with the product, and with what you offer is that you streamline what those possibilities are so people can see more clearly. Yeah. What are my options? How do I, not just how do I do this, but like what would make sense for me?

[00:16:47] Kellee: And I know that I rely a lot on community as I'm trying to develop new ideas and products and offers or whatnot. Like what resonates with other people? Where, where do they see mm-hmm. and then let it sit with me [00:17:00] and see how it feels and see what's right. So when you. You, someone like you as a mentor, and then you have a whole community gathered around that you really have the kind of support that you can't get when you're like a lonely solo arts.

[00:17:15] Katie: A hundred percent. A hundred percent. 

[00:17:17] Kellee: I'm like, it just, it makes all the difference in the world. So I would love to hear like what. Where would someone even get started besides making fabulous art? Let's just assume everyone's li listening. They've kind of honed in on the kind of art that they love to make.

[00:17:34] Kellee: They have a distinguished style. I really feel like, yeah, that's probably your number one most important thing to be noticed. No matter what the business is, you kind of have to like cut off the edges, narrow your niche a little. Doesn't mean that you have to cut your whole heart and soul out and do one thing solely forever, but something recognizable that you're confident in showing up with.

[00:17:54] Kellee: Then what would be the next thing that they would, so, 

[00:17:58] Katie: Yes. So we teach a four part [00:18:00] framework in our Paper Camp Program. Uh, Paper Camp is where we do a deep dive into how to wholesale, how to know if you're ready, and then how to proceed with that. And so I will run you through those four things. But I also wanted to tell your listeners if they're on the fence about whether or not wholesale is something they're interested in doing.

[00:18:15] Katie: I do have a free. Class called 'Is Wholesale Right For You?' And um, it's in our resource library, which is at proof to product.com/resources. There's some other fun things in there too, but look for the one that's called is wholesale right for you because that will take you through several questions to ask yourself.

[00:18:32] Katie: I'll explain kind of the pros and cons and what you need to have ready and kind of things you need to think on as the business owner of, is this the revenue stream i go for? Um, and if it is, then you would come to Paper Camp where I would teach you our four essentially pillars of how to sell wholesale successfully.

[00:18:49] Katie: And you hit the nail on the head. Kellee, the first step is your product. We not only wanna make sure that you have a strong product line and that it's cohesive and um, Well thought [00:19:00] out and designed beautifully, but also we walk you through, is it sized right? Is it priced right for wholesale? Can you make this at scale?

[00:19:07] Katie: If you had an order come in for a thousand units, could you fulfill that order? And if not, let's get that going. And here's how to do that. So we look at your product line first, because if we don't have a solid product line with healthy profit margins, there is no sense in us doing the rest of the sale gig, like there's no, like the next three parts I tell you are kind of obsolete at this point.

[00:19:28] Katie: So we focus on our product first. 

[00:19:30] Kellee: Can I interrupt you on that? I mean, so do you guide people in deciding what products to make and you know, cuz so that whole wholesale line is like a stumbling block right there for many people who are like, I don't even know where to start with the wholesale stuff. Like, I made some paintings, now what? 

[00:19:49] Katie: So we don't, um, we don't art direct or provide creative critiques for. Our students, but what we do provide are vendor recommendations for different [00:20:00] manufacturers. We provide sample pricing for different PRI types of product categories. We work with a wide range of brands.

[00:20:07] Katie: Everyone's selling paper goods, candles, home decor, textiles, apparel. So we do provide a wide range of, um, examples and sample pricing and details for different types of industries. So we kind of expect that people are coming in with a general sense of what they would like to create, the types of products. Mm-hmm. But we will help to make sure that that product line is strong and situated well for wholesale before we take them into the second step, which is sales. 

[00:20:37] Katie: Now when we talk about sales, there's a couple of key components people need to be successful in wholesale. The first one is a wholesale catalog, and a lot of people that come from like a licensing or fine art background mix this up with what would be a portfolio or a look book or things like that. Really your catalog's main job is to sell your product. So what we put into that wholesale [00:21:00] catalog is very different. We are putting our wholesale terms and conditions, which is another piece of the sales process, and we tell you exactly what you need to have laid out in your wholesale sales and terms and conditions.

[00:21:11] Katie: Um, but that goes into the catalog. Images go into the catalog, all of the details a buyer need to knowledgeably place an order with you goes into that catalog. So it truly is, I mean, it's going to be beautiful. It's going to display who you are and what you sell, but it's also going to be a functional sales tool that they can look at, okay, how much am I going to need to spend with this brand?

[00:21:33] Katie: How many SKUs am I going to need to pick out? All of those details go into the catalog. Uh, we also talk about where to sell wholesale you know, what kind of sales platforms? Do you wanna do it on your own website? Do you wanna do it on a third party platform? Like fair? Um, we kind of talked through the pros and cons of that and how to set that up.

[00:21:51] Katie: We also talk about working with sales representatives, so, Um, there are people that will go and sell your products to stores for you, and we [00:22:00] talk about what that process looks like, how much it costs, when you might be ready to do that. Um, so that's the sales section. We, we do a lot of like, here's now we've got your product ready.

[00:22:10] Katie: Let's make sure that all the sales pieces you need to put your best foot. Forward are ready so that you look polished and professional. I don't care if you're brand new to this, you're gonna look like you've been doing it for ages. And also if you are in expansion mode, how do we either leverage new sales platforms or a new sales team, or how do you know? What do we do there? So, So we've got stuff for starters and scalers in in there. 

[00:22:32] Katie: Um, the third piece of this is marketing. So now we've got our product ready, our sales tools are ready. Now we need to get the word out and talk to stores and really identify which stores would be the best fit for the products that we're selling. So in that section, we talk about building out your mailing list. How to do your outreach to cold leads, how to nurture your existing accounts so that they're reordering more frequently and we're increasing our average order value. There's [00:23:00] a lot of things that we can do on the marketing side, um, social media, trade shows, all these different things.

[00:23:05] Katie: But really what I try to focus on initially with the wholesale outreach is the email piece, because that is yielding the highest roi and that is giving, um, It's something that people can systematize and use templates for, and we have really great resources available to people. So you don't have to come up with, you don't have to sit down with a blank sheet of, or a blank screen rather, and write your emails. We'll give you those templates, but really it's the product, the sales. The marketing. And then we do in our Paper Camp Program, talk specifically about trade shows just because it's a huge undertaking. 

[00:23:40] Katie: But that fourth real piece of this is your operations. What are your systems, your fulfillment, how are you managing the back end of your business to ensure that you're able to support all these different stores that want to carry your product? So it's it that sounds very simplified and it is, but those are kind of the four core pillars that we go [00:24:00] through. To teach people how to have a strong wholesale program. 

[00:24:03] Kellee: That is so much more than I ever even imagined what we would be able to get out of one program that's like phenomenal. Yeah. And so actually opens up so many more questions to me. Like, so do I need a warehouse and do I need to house all of these things that I've manufactured to get out the door or are there other solutions to that? Yeah, 

[00:24:24] Katie: there are other solutions. So I would say it is expected if you're going to sell wholesale, that you have inventory. This is not a print on demand situation where if somebody places an order, you're gonna go manufacture it and send it out. Uh, if you are planning to wholesale, you should plan to have inventory on hand. Now, with certain product types, this is easier to do. It's less financial risk than others. I mean, if we're talking mugs or candles or, you know, even apparel, those things have to be manufactured in larger quantity. Um, and they're bulky and they break.

[00:24:57] Katie: The candles and the mugs can break. So there's that kind of stuff [00:25:00] that you need to consider. But most people in our community, they start, they're solo. Most of them started solo entrepreneurs. They're working outta their home. I was working outta my home for a very long time. Um, sometimes they'll then layer in some people to come do fulfillment and shipping out of their home.

[00:25:15] Katie: And I would say many in our community are doing warehousing or using a fulfillment company and things like that. But that's further down the line. You don't need to jump into that straightaway. Um, I always encourage people, start small figure out what works for you and then we can scale up as we need to, but let's be conservative with our spending and, and do the things we need to do right now.

[00:25:36] Kellee: Yeah. So my next question would be around like, The first phase, which is where most of the people listening right now who haven't actually jumped into product manufacturing and everything. Yeah. I love that your, your offer really helps spell it out and then connect people with those opportunities, which is priceless right then and there is priceless. [00:26:00] 

[00:26:00] Katie: Yeah. Oh yeah. That was my biggest hurdle when I was getting started. I didn't know where to manufacture things. Yeah. I didn't know what questions to ask. I didn't know how much I was going to expect to spend. You know, they say, how much? What's your budget? And I'm like, deer in headlights. I don't know. What do I need to spend to make this product? You know? 

[00:26:15] Kellee: Right. Exactly like, and then how would I ever even find like the manufacturing part alone? I like tried to research that once on my own and got nowhere. So yeah, just, I think that's gold. How to get the product made and then who to contact, and then how to make it all look beautiful. So it's so enticing whether you've ever sold anything or not. 

[00:26:34] Kellee: And so I wanna go back to that first part of, how you know you're ready for this. Like, besides the fact that like, I really believe that when you're ready to make a career out of your creativity, you have some mastery of it. You're like at that, that professional enough level.

[00:26:51] Kellee: Like, I'm not saying that you have to have gotten a degree at all, but I do remember, like this story, I was teaching art. It was a, it was a class on how to paint these [00:27:00] like really cute little, uh, seascapes that I was doing. And one of the students, you know, they were all just like people who are coming in to have fun and and play.

[00:27:09] Kellee: But she was like, I wanna learn how to do this because I wanna make money and I'm gonna turn around right after taking this class and I'm gonna sell these. And I'm like, you haven't even made one of them yet, . So I always am like, take some time, you know, make a hundred, then make a thousand. Like, just spend some time making sure you've mastered the craft.

[00:27:27] Kellee: So let's just, we've already established. The listeners have been making art for ages and they know their stuff in and out. How do they know that next step? Like I'm assuming then we've got like high quality resolution files. We have to decide what the product is. We have to know like, like what's the, even like the theme and the genre. Do you help people with that? 

[00:27:50] Katie: So in week two when we talk about sales, I do catalog audits. And when I do those catalog audits, I'm looking at kind of what we discussed a few minutes ago of the structure of [00:28:00] their catalog. Do they have all the sales pieces they need in there? But I'm also providing some, critique on their, their collection as a whole.

[00:28:09] Katie: Is this cohesive collection because here's the other thing I didn't mention earlier, but when you sell wholesale, you need to have a large enough collection that store owners can pick and choose from what you're selling and still put together a sizable order. If you only have a small number of SKUs, a small number of product items, they're going to have to purchase everything you sell in order to hit your opening order amount.

[00:28:35] Katie: And unfortunately, that's just not how it works. Like no one is going to ever come in and buy everything that we're offering. And so, um, one of the things we talk about in that first module is we want you to have at least 48 different SKUs so that buyers can pick and choose. They can meet your opening order amount, they can merchandise it well in their shop.

[00:28:55] Katie: There's a lot of benefits to this, but to your, back to your question here. [00:29:00] I always encourage people to focus on products that light them up and excite them personally because when they. You know, if a mug does not excite them, for example, I know that's come up a couple of times, . I don't want them making mugs because they're just gonna be going through the motions and putting whatever art they have around onto a mug.

[00:29:20] Katie: Whereas if they're excited about art prints and they hang a lot up in their, in their studio, or if they send a lot of greeting cards and they're excited about the messaging that they can add to that. or if you know, they're really into apparel and fashion and that's what they wanna do, like, I want them to lean into the things they're already interested in because their art and their products will really shine through that.

[00:29:44] Katie: You know, it's just like anything else we do If we're, if our heart's not in it or we're not truly excited about it. That's gonna come through in our sales and marketing messages and whatever else we're doing. So, I that I I hope that answered your question. I kind of went off on a tangent, but 

[00:29:57] Kellee: I mean, yes, of course. We wanna be able to create, [00:30:00] um, a business around what lights us up, otherwise Yes. We can't show up and talk about it with enthusiasm. Yeah. And we know that, that enthusiasm themselves, how do we get to that point of making that decision? Does that happen before you join your program? Do you have other like pre offers to get people like, You know, thinking about it and knowing the steps they need to just be ready to start with the whole.... 

[00:30:23] Katie: yes. Great point. So yes, we have a membership called Labs, which is our Proof to Product labs program. And that's where, that's more, um, an entry point to our educational platform where people will come and that's where they're kind of figuring out which revenue streams are best for them.

[00:30:39] Katie: So we have people in there, again, doing direct to consumer. Wholesale licensing, all sorts of things. They're honing in on their art. We have some very established businesses in there as well. But my point is just we have some more content there for those just starting out with products who are trying to identify what do I want this collection to look like?

[00:30:57] Katie: Which sales streams do I want [00:31:00] to pursue with this? And if wholesale is something that they want to pursue, that's where they would then come over and do Paper Camp with us. So, Yeah, the Labs program, people can get info there prooftoproduct.com/labs but that's where we do, it's, it's more of a community, um, focus.

[00:31:16] Katie: I mean, we do live trainings every quarter. We have great content. We have a vault of old trainings that are still relevant and wonderful, but we also have accountability groups. We have co-working, we have coaches that do coaching calls every single month, myself included. So there's a lot of support in different ways for people doing a wider range of things within their business. I know we get real granular and Paper Camp on this is wholesale and this is what we're focused on. Whereas Labs is a little more fluid and allowing you to work on sales, marketing in general, operation type topics. 

[00:31:48] Kellee: So really just getting that first proof to product, that first idea.

[00:31:53] Katie: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. 

[00:31:54] Kellee: And like solidified and. And also, of course, I love the community [00:32:00] aspect of that because that's really, like, that's something that I didn't have enough of early on in my career. And so just knowing that there's other people you can, you know, those kinds of accountability groups, uh, people that you can talk to who've already been through the trenches a bit and, and decided on their brand and their colors and their art and which collections they wanna work on and how they're gonna put that together. To be ready for something like Paper Camp, which is great. Like, I mean that's, I think that that's a really amazing, significant offer right there. Is that open all the time or? , do you have that open for joining? 

[00:32:35] Katie: Yes. Labs is now o well, so Labs is now open. It will remain open through the rest of the year. I am chuckling behind my microphone here because we did have it closed for a while and we've decided for 2023 we're gonna keep it open because I really just want people to be able to get the help they need when they need it most. We do work on quarterly content blocks inside of Labs where you have a month of learning and then a month of implementation, and then we do [00:33:00] a month of like feedback loops where it's like you have a chance to round table what you've been implementing, with other people. 

[00:33:06] Katie: And so it, it seemed to make sense to close it so people could just focus on working. But at the same time, we've had a lot of people that are like, wait, I need the help now. And we don't want to prevent them from getting that help. We want them, we don't want them to wait, you know?

[00:33:20] Kellee: Exactly. I think that that was, uh, marketing tactic that was taught in some of those membership programs that when you realize that what you really want is that, people can get the information and the access. When they need, need it and not later. That makes sense. So it seems like those who are listening, who have already gotten to that point where they know that they want to be wholesaling, they have, you know, their products in mind and they're ready to go for it.

[00:33:48] Kellee: Paper camps the right idea. Yep. What, um, what are. Remarkable stories of some of your customers. That's what I'd really love to like, oh, do some of those juicy possibilities. [00:34:00] Now, I know that results may vary, of course, as listening, everybody's gonna have a different journey, but I think when we are open to the possibility, when we are like really.

[00:34:10] Kellee: When we have that belief in ourself, that's really part of my core values is that really setting your sights and opening yourself up and doing the work. Mm-hmm. , all things are possible. So tell me some of those stories. 

[00:34:23] Katie: Gosh, I have so many stories because at this point I've coached thousands of people through this process, but there's a couple that come to mind and they're kind, they're very different stories. One is Lindsay from Inklings Papery. She is one of our paper camp alumni and she was exhibiting at her first trade show in New York and she, um, She has a remarkable line. She has a very tight aesthetic. It's you. You recognize Lindsay's brand when you see it. And she was going to this show.

[00:34:53] Katie: It was her very first show. She was on a budget trying to make it really like, and she did a beautiful job of making everything stand out. But my [00:35:00] point is it was her first show. She was nervous. She was putting a lot of financial risk out there. All these things. Lindsay's very personable and it turns out that she ended up striking up a conversation with someone and they talked about her product and other things and life.

[00:35:14] Katie: And uh, you know, we use these experiences at trade shows to really just connect with as many people as we can. That's what I always advise people to do, because you never know who anyone is or where they, that relationship could take you. Well, it turns out that that was, somebody high up at Starbucks.

[00:35:30] Katie: And so for the next like year and a half, two years, Lindsay went to meetings with them. She submitted proposals for different things. She worked very hard to cultivate that relationship. And then her products were carried in 8,000 stores, Starbucks stores, because of the, That happenstance meeting. I mean, she was in the right place at the right time, but striking up that conversation and you know, continuing to follow up with the lead and having a really strong product line and having the strong [00:36:00] sales tools, she was ready to have these conversations and she was in a place where she could easily and confidently negotiate what she wanted to do. So that was a really wonderful story that I love to share. 

[00:36:14] Katie: The other one I like to share is Alex from a company called Shek. When I started working with Alex, she was doing letter press greeting cars. She was renting studio space, but her home was her office. So she would joke that her hallways and her, you know, living room were just covered in boxes and inventory everywhere, and she and her fiance at the time, would spend, you know, nights, folding cards and set, you know, doing all the things that we have to do to keep our business running right.

[00:36:44] Katie: Alex and she came through Paper Camp and I also coached her one-on-one for a long time. Alex has now expanded tremendously. She went into candles and home decor. She went into hard goods like rocks, glasses, and martini glasses and things like that. In this [00:37:00] past six months, she launched a whole beauty and wellness line that includes lotions and bath misters And all sorts of things. She has the warehouse you were talking about, Kellee she has a team. She, you know, she is doing phenomenal things and it's because she continued to show up and do the work and ask the right questions and build the right relationships. And, she had the support of myself and our community.

[00:37:26] Katie: But really it was Alex doing that hard work and. You know, those are two shining examples of people that really followed their goals and or their dreams rather, and got into their goal situations. But we also have people that are just hitting a hu, you know, they're hitting 50 stores that they're now in, or they're hitting a hundred stores that they're now in.

[00:37:46] Katie: And we're celebrating those successes just as we are celebrating, you know, Lindsay getting into 8,000, Starbucks or Alex, you know, expanding her product line. And so, uh, that just goes to. Everything is progress, and I [00:38:00] want to encourage your audience to celebrate their wins, big or small, because everything we're doing on a day-to-day basis is ideally taking us closer to that goal that we're trying to hit.

[00:38:10] Kellee: It sounds to me like the most important thing is showing up over and over again. Yes. Taking the opportunity, having the conversation, and, and I agree with you. It's like one step upon another step, and this remarkable thing unfolds, right? 

[00:38:28] Kellee: I tried to get into licensing for a little while, but I would've loved to have come across you, Katie and met you just a few years ago. Although I love what I'm doing now. I've loved teaching and I love coaching other artists. I love the marketing aspect of it, and I love, especially what you're saying is, is it's not just being in the right place at the right time.

[00:38:47] Kellee: It's being willing to have the conversation, talking passionately about what you create. It's about, you know, continuing to take that next step. And that's really exciting. So tell us, [00:39:00] I would love to hear like any last words of wisdom or advice from you that, artists can get started now, taking that next step.

[00:39:10] Katie: Sure. So I'm gonna go a little bit off of our wholesale discussion here and talk more widely to them as business owners, if that's okay. 

[00:39:18] Kellee: That's wonderful. 

[00:39:19] Katie: I, one of the things I teach within our labs program, but throughout all my programs, is there are a million opportunities out there for you, and I know that this is both exciting and overwhelming. And so one of the things I teach is how I make decisions in my business so that other people can start to make similar types of decisions. So I make every decision based on four key filters, and the first one is what is the time involved in this thing. 

[00:39:48] Katie: So whether, let me back up. If you, whether you're considering wholesale or direct to consumer or licensing or creating a specific product or maybe, um, being invited to speak at something or whatever, these op it could be a small opportunity or [00:40:00] big, but here are the four filters I make every decision through. 

[00:40:03] Katie: One, what is the time commitment? What will this if in order to say yes to this opportunity? What does that mean? I'll need to say no to or adjust in my already busy schedule, right? So what's the time factor? Is it a lot? Is it a little time? What are we looking at there? 

[00:40:18] Katie: The second one is heart or energy level. Am I excited about this opportunity? Does it fire me up, does it, do I want to think about this nonstop and like strategize? Or is it draining me? Does it make me like, oh gosh, I wish I didn't have to do this. Or, oh really, I have that appointment. You know, like, look at what your energy level is there. What is your heart telling you? What is your gut telling you?

[00:40:41] Katie: And the third filter is money. What are the opportunities that can come about financially from this? Is this something that will bring immediate returns? Is it long-term gains? Is it something that will yield a lot of revenue or is it something that is less revenue, but maybe my excitement and heart level is super high for it, so I'm willing [00:41:00] to do it even though the money is less.

[00:41:02] Katie: and the fourth thing I consider every opportunity through is impact. Kind of impact will this have on me personally, on the business, on my students, on my community at large, on the world at large? You know what, what kind of impact will this opportunity, if I say yes to it, what will that look like? And so I like to share this because oftentimes entrepreneurs like thinking about the possibilities and they're thinking about the time commitment or the money. Those are the two main things people look at, but there's a lot more to it. 

[00:41:32] Katie: Our heart and our impact really need to play into all of the decisions we're making because if we're making educated, informed decisions, not just driven by our capacity or potential revenue that will earn, we're going to make more strategic decisions for our business. We're going to love the work we're doing day in and day out, and. Grow faster. So I know that's not wholesale specific, but I did wanna share that because I think it's a really important lesson for anyone that is in [00:42:00] business. 

[00:42:01] Kellee: It's an excellent lesson and it, it's actually helpful to me, and I'm sure everyone who's listening here, because we do get caught in that, what am I doing right now? What am I doing right now without the bigger picture? So when we have a way to, to like judge or analyze the opportunities that come our way of the decisions that we need to make. 

[00:42:21] Katie: Yes. 

[00:42:22] Kellee: Then it's much more powerful for ourselves to own where we're going with our, our whole career, you know? 

[00:42:29] Katie: Yes. 

[00:42:29] Kellee: And our whole lifestyle, like really important that you're talking about, that energy and the impact that it makes, those are really important to me as well. I love to know that whatever I'm putting out into the world makes a difference to people and of. The energy and time commitment means, you know, how is that gonna affect my family? Because you know, and you and I are the same on this. It's like family first, it's lifestyle first. Yes, we have all of these hard hurdles to jump and work that [00:43:00] we need to put into building this career. But can we do it and still show up for the events? 

[00:43:05] Kellee: Can we do it and still have time to pick our kids up from school? And I think that that's one thing that's been really amazing about having my own business, about being an entrepreneur is that I've been able to build a lifestyle or you know, the business goes around the lifestyle. Yes. I work more than 40 hours a week. There's no secret about that. We're not saying that I can do this in four hours and I have success, but I look at each of those opportunities and I do weigh them. And just like you said, weighing them with what, what do I have to say no to? 

[00:43:35] Kellee: I mean, that's like a huge, huge thing right there and And I've also noticed sometimes people get caught up in, what am I saying yes to right now? That's actually, they don't think about the future, what they're unable to do in the future because they've put all their energy into this now. Yes. So they're not prepared for the bigger or better or more juicy thing that's available to them.

[00:43:55] Kellee: So being able to analyze it like that really helps you like look at the bigger picture. Yeah. [00:44:00] And know what's like for you. Still I think it comes down to what does your heart, what does. Say is probably the most important part of it. Yeah. But sometimes we know the answer and we're not willing to admit it

[00:44:12] Katie: That is true, but I find that when I look through those four filters, I can then offset things of like, like, okay, well maybe this won't have as much money tied to it, but my energy level, uh, is really exciting and maybe the time is pretty low, so let me do this and see how it goes. And the impact might be high.

[00:44:29] Katie: So, you know, it's a, there're levers that we pull mm-hmm. and everything is going to affect each other. And as you mentioned, there's opportunity costs too. If we say yes to certain things, that means we do have to say no to other things. And what is that opportunity cost? I also just wanna echo what you said. We absolutely need to build these businesses around our life.

[00:44:48] Katie: We need to put our life first and then build out the business to support that life that we want to lead. I think, The less so now, but there was a span of time [00:45:00] where, you know, the hustle culture, the grind, the, you know, everything that was what everyone talked about, and that is not how you build a sustainable business.

[00:45:10] Katie: Slow steady growth is how strong businesses are built. Intentional decisions are how strong businesses are built and just because we're entrepreneurs does not mean we need to be working around the clock and, you know, dropping everything in our personal life to accommodate what the business need. I know I'm preaching to the choir, Kellee, but I just, I feel very strongly about that.

[00:45:33] Kellee: No, it's good. I'm glad because we have to, we have to repeat it so many times to like, Really soaks through so people on the other end are hearing about it. 

[00:45:41] Katie: Yeah. 

[00:45:42] Kellee: Thank you Katie. I am so glad we finally got to connect. I hope we connect again in the future because I think I have a lot to learn from you still.

[00:45:50] Katie: I would be happy come back anytime. 

[00:45:52] Kellee: So I'm assuming everyone can find you at proofed to product on Instagram. So if you've loved this [00:46:00] podcast, go follow Katie Hunt on Proof to Product and check out her labs offer or her paper. 

[00:46:07] Katie: Paper camp. Paper camp. Yeah. Yeah. We're at proof to product everywhere, so, uh, Instagram's where I mostly hang out, so definitely there. Our website is proof to product.com and you can get those resources I mentioned the free resources prooftoproduct.com/resources 

[00:46:21] Kellee: And we will link everything in the show notes so that you can find it easily. Thank you so much. 

[00:46:26] Katie: Awesome. 

[00:46:27] Kellee: Katie, it was awesome having you on. 

[00:46:29] Katie: Thank you for having me, Kellee, this was a delight. 

[00:46:32] Kellee: Wow. I really enjoyed that conversation with Katie Hunt, and I hope that you did as well. Here's my takeaway. Wild things can happen if you are in the right place and you get really lucky. And by lucky, I mean well prepared, planned and working hard. Yeah, it's, it's great when the magical things happen, but those magical things happen when we work for it, and when you have a plan and you have support, [00:47:00] Uh, you can be prepared for those magical moments to happen.

[00:47:04] Kellee: So when I say by lucky, I mean working really hard and then being in the right place at the right time, those things happen and they happen far more often than you would imagine. The other thing that was a big takeaway that we discussed several times was the impact of having people around you community to bounce ideas off of the support of a mentor, the support of other artists who are in the.

[00:47:29] Kellee: Boat as you, when you feel like you've got the kind of life raft that you need to keep going in your business and get the answers so you don't have to spend forever trying to do it on your own. And I would say that that's one advantage of starting a business in the 2020s versus when I did a couple decades ago where we really didn't have the same kinds of resources.

[00:47:50] Kellee: Well, there you have it. Go follow Katie Hunt and her proof to product account. That you're gonna find it incredibly insightful. And if you really [00:48:00] enjoyed this conversation, I would love it if you would share it on social media and tag me and get other people to listen. I mean, I would really love it if you would help grow the podcast.

[00:48:10] Kellee: So tag me at Kellee Wynne studios, I'll share your post and, uh, give you a good shout out and, and let's see what happens. All right, thank you very much. Till Monday. Bye.

If you'd like to listen to or learn more about the podcast visit https://www.maderemarkable.com/blog  for our show notes and links to the main players.