An Interview with Max Rhodes, CEO of Faire

Interview with Max Rhodes

An Interview with Max Rhodes, CEO of Faire

 

Over the last few months, I’ve been exploring the Faire wholesale marketplace (formerly Indigo Fair) in an effort to help readers determine if Faire is right for you. In an interview with Max Rhodes, the CEO of Faire, I invited him to the table to respond directly to some of my findings and the feedback gathered from the artisan community. I’m honored that he took me up on the offer and I’m eager to share our conversation about the pros and cons of Faire, alongside Max’s thoughts about the evolution of the wholesale landscape.

 

I’ve published Max’s responses in their entirety without editing.

 

faire interview_max rhodes

 

LELA: What does Faire look for in a maker? What factors do you consider when reviewing a brand’s application?

MAX RHODES: We carefully evaluate each maker that applies to join Faire, and there are several factors that we look at to determine which to accept. Among those are the number of stockists they are currently carried in, the category and quality of products, and their overall brand aesthetic. When appropriate, we will also cross reference a brand’s social media presence to gauge how well their products might sell on our marketplace.

 

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LELA: How does Faire vet potential buyers on the platform?

MAX RHODES: Like makers that apply, we also review every retailer to make sure they are a good fit for our marketplace. We fully vet each retailer to confirm that they are legitimate retailers, meaning that they must actually sell goods, ideally in a brick and mortar environment. There’s no shortage of fraud in ecommerce, so we have a team dedicated to making sure that doesn’t infiltrate Faire.

 

LELA: What can you share about the algorithm that predicts a brand’s visibility on the Faire platform? What factors into that algorithm and how can makers maximize their visibility?

MAX RHODES: The recommendations that retailers get are informed by a variety of factors, including: the type of retailer they are, their profile and products, the kind of items they have historically purchased, and conversion rates for a given brand (in other words, whether or not retailers are ordering once they visit a brand’s page and if those items are being returned or not). The recommendations can vary greatly by retailer because they are curated and catered specifically to their business needs.

 

 

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LELA: One maker I spoke with raised a concern about tax ID numbers as it relates to her responsibility to collect sales tax. Her concern was that if she’s ever audited by the state, she’ll need to produce the resale certificates from her in-state retailers that prove that those sales were exempted from sales tax. If she fails to do so, then she can be held responsible for not having collected the appropriate tax, leaving her to settle the bill and any related penalties.

As I understand it, artisans don’t have access to that information about their retailers via Faire. How would you instruct her to handle that? Could a Faire artisan contact Faire representatives if they were under audit and gain access to the necessary certificates to absolve them of any tax liability?

MAX RHODES:  Faire is a reseller and all purchases made by it from any Faire.com wholesaler are for resale on its platform and therefore should not be subject to sales tax. Faire exercises commercially reasonable efforts to ensure that any goods sold on its platform are purchased by resellers for resale in their ordinary course of business. As such, sellers should not incur any sales tax liability for sales made on the Faire.com platform. We encourage any maker who is in need of assistance regarding a tax related inquiry to contact Faire’s customer support team.

 

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The Inevitable Downside of Faire

downside of Faire

As part of my ongoing blog series about emerging wholesale marketplaces, I’ve been exploring the potential of Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). While there’s certainly a lot to love about working with this wholesale platform for artisans, we don’t often hear much about the disadvantages. I’ve spent weeks studying this wholesale platform and speaking to retailers and brand owners who have a stake in the marketplace. I’m eager to share what I’ve learned about the disadvantages of Faire so that you can make an informed decision for your business.

 

The Inevitable Downside of Faire

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Faire executives have agreed to address my concerns, and I look forward to sharing their response in an upcoming blog.

 

FAIRE CHARGES A HEFTY COMMISSION, ESPECIALLY ON FIRST ORDERS

A significant downside of Faire wholesale is their fee structure, which has evolved over time. The rate for new makers onboarding in early 2019 is 25% on the first order from any buyer.  It then becomes 15% on subsequent orders from the same buyer. Faire frequently extends net 60 terms to shopkeepers, and makers can elect to pay an additional 3% fee for immediate payment. You can also choose to wait thirty days for payment and skip the 3% fee.

 

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That translates to a substantial commission of up to 28% on Faire orders. As a consultant who’s had the privilege of coaching hundreds of brands through the mechanics of product pricing, those margins make me cringe. Let’s explore how that breaks down for a product that retails for $30.

 

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#LBCWantsToKnow >> January 2019: Breaking Business Bad Habits

product development planning for makers

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Today we are talking about breaking business bad habits. Each month, I ask my Instagram community to join me in a focused, crowd-sourced discussion on a specific subject.  For the month of January, we’ve been rolling up our sleeves to chat about beginning of the year planning. This blog is part one of three… I’ll be collecting your thoughts and sharing them here all month!

 

Breaking Business Bad Habits

 

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 THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…

  • shoprarejoule: Not being organized. I’m learning how to streamline this year.

 

  • smallcompanyartworks: I want joy to be the litmus test for more of my business decisions. Not just the direction to take my art, but what to outsource, sales channels, etc.

 

  • bobodesignstudio: Planning and being less reactive. Even if that means planning one quarter ahead.

 

  • starblastco: Poor cash flow management and budgeting. Read Profit First last month so I got all my systems in place to never let that happen again!

 

  • bubblesbabez: Trying to leave behind procrastination, but it won’t leave me alone.

 

  • mistybluebotanicals: I’m going to embrace wholesaling this year!

 

  • maiookshop: I’m striving to be more consistent, more brave and more proactive this year.

 

  • trulyblessedmaneke: I’m leaving my perfection cloak in the dust! It was SO heavy & it slowed me down in 2018.  I’d much rather wear my cloak of accomplishment when I tackle my to-do-list like a BOSS!!!! I know I can always improve.

 

  • kidessenceshop: I want to keep a positive mindset and be better at follow-through on my plans. Towards the end of last year, I was so burnt out from focusing on my fears in my business that some of those fears became a reality. If I keep a positive mindset 100% and take those failures and turn them into successes this year, I know I can meet some great goals.

 

HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS…

I’ve noticed a few habits that many of us lug around, though they aren’t really serving our businesses. My goals for Lucky Break clients are to eliminate clutter (both mental and physical), to establish parameters that help encourage solid, focused work habits, and to help them build a support network. To that end, here are my top tips for calibrating yourself for success in the new year.

 

MUTE YOUR NOTIFICATIONS. You know all those things that buzz, ding, and whirl? The constant inundation of alerts and notifications contributes to mental overwhelm and they break focus every time they make noise. You needn’t be notified when someone places an order, sends an email, favorites a picture, likes your page, or shouts you out on Twitter. Remove all audible notifications and ensure that your email isn’t auto-checking throughout the day. Recalibrate these systems so that you’re in control of when you review information, not the other way around.

Along those same lines:  Flipd is my new favorite app. It prevents me from constantly peeking at my phone and indulging my ADD when I should be focusing on other work tasks.  Give it a try… it’ll change your life!

 

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Meet me in New Orleans!

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Have you heard? I’m heading to New Orleans next month for a special event sponsored by Stay Local + Good Work Network! These amazing nonprofits are hosting a day-long workshop for makers, artists and product designers who are keen on cracking the wholesale market and I’m thrilled to be presenting 4 solid hours of wholesale workshop goodness.  Even better? Registration for Stay Local + Good Work Network members is a mere $20, which includes refreshments, lunch and  some fun entrepreneurial swag from Lucky Break. Not a member? You’re welcome to join the fun! Tickets for non-members are just $75 and I promise to make it worth every penny. This workshop is jam-packed and I’m doing-cart-wheels-excited to hit up the Big Easy with makers on the move. Reserve your seat + let’s turn up the volume on that burgeoning empire of yours…

 

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I’ll be teaching all morning and the afternoon will see a fantastic session on branding and an expert panel hosted by some fantastically successful makers who are rolling up their sleeves to offer insight + experience.  Here’s the run-down for the day…

 

DETAILS
Time: Wednesday, September 9, 2015, from 8am-4pm

Location: Café Reconcile (1631 OC Haley Blvd.)

Cost: $20: StayLocal and Good Work Network Members // $75: Non-Member (Includes workshop, lunch, and refreshments)

 

AGENDA
8am: Doors open

8:15: Featured speaker Lela Barker of Lucky Break Consulting will explain:
– Laying the Foundation: Product Pricing + Wholesale Policies
– Putting Your Best Foot Forward: Designing Line Sheets & Order Forms
– Making the Sale: Finding Stores + Woo’ing Wholesale Buyers

12:30: Lunch catered by Cafe Reconcile

1:30: Branding Session

2:30 Q&A Expert Panel with…
– Tippy Tippens of Goods That Matter
– Tereson Duprey of Fuzzi Buns
– Molly Babineaux of Loomed

 

Seats are very limitedClaim one now and I’ll see you there!

 

How to Build a Press Kit for Creative Brands

How to Make Press Kit

How to Make Press Kit

 

When I work with creative brands of all stripes, one of the brands assets I recommend they develop is a Press Kit. You’ve likely heard of them, but there’s a good bit of confusion surrounding them, what they’re meant to accomplish and how to design a press kit. My LBU Alumni Coaching Group has been working on building press kits as one of our monthly projects and I wanted to share the project prospectus with you, too, in the hopes that it might provide some guidance and inspiration.

 

WHAT IS A PRESS KIT?

A press kit, as one piece of your brand assets, is a bundle of promotional materials provided to the media to tell the story behind a company or product. They’re sometimes called “media kits” and are designed to:

•    Introduce your products to the media
•    Give journalists a peek behind the brand
•    Show off your achievements
•    Provide journalists with content for future product features

 

They’re sometimes called Media Kits. Poe-tay-toe. Puh-tah-toe. It’s all semantics!

 

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA BEHIND A PRESS KIT?

The secret to getting traction of any kind is to make yourself easy to work with. If you’re wanting to sell wholesale, then make your brand visually compelling and blissfully easy to order from and you’ll score the accounts you’re lusting after. Want to catch the attention of editors and score free press? Do some of the legwork for them and you’re far more likely to get featured.

 

Must you have a media kit? Certainly not, but let’s meditate on this scenario for a moment: If an editor notices your brand alongside another in your product category and she’s equally smitten with both- what will tips the scales in your favor when she’s considering her next big feature? If you appear ready and eager to work with media professionals, if you have a story to tell, if you have brand assets at the ready so the editor needn’t create them… then who do you fancy who will ultimately land the plum editorial feature?

 

WHAT’S IN A PRESS KIT?

 

A media kit is typically a multi-page PDF document that you can either deliver digitally (park it at Dropbox + email the link to interested parties or post it online with a free service such as Issuu) or print in hardcopy format. Printed versions are lovely, indeed, as they can accompany sample mailings and be tucked into the press room at trade shows, but a digital version will eliminate printing costs while accomplishing several important goals, so please don’t let the cost of professional printing hold you back.

 

The core components of a press kit…

 

COVER SHEET: Something to capture attention + introduce the brand. Think: visual + dramatic. Include your logo + tagline.

 

BACKGROUNDER OR FACT SHEET: A concise, one page document detailing: the brand story, key players, sales channels, timeline of growth, achievements + company location. Essentially, this is the entire company distilled down to a single page.

 

BIOGRAPHY: Brief stories which provide a more well-rounded peek at key players behind the brand.

 

STORY ANGLES OR PRESS RELEASES: Potential story lines that you develop so that an editor can quickly + seamlessly feature your brand and/or products in their publication. Essentially, you’re doing the “thinking” for the editor. You pitch the story and they just need to flesh it out!

 

SOCIAL PROOF: Show them how press-worthy your brand is! Potential inclusions: past media mentions (i.e. press clippings), awards received, customer testimonials, etc.

 

PRODUCT IMAGES: Images should be print-ready, high-resolution images, which means a minimum of 300DPI.

Also, title images with your company + product name.

For example:
BellaLucce_ManukaHoneyDrizzle.jpg
LuckyBreak_LelaBarkerHeadshot.jpg

 

CONTACT INFORMATION: Make yourself deliciously easy to reach by including your phone, website, email, and social media handles.

 

Assemble those pieces, polish them up through careful editing, weave some compelling imagery into to mix and then throw the pretty on your press kit with good graphic design and you’re off at the races!

 

Want to see a few of my favorite press kits in action? I designed a worksheet to serve as a guide while you build your press kit. Click the image below to grab a copy and look for the fancy green hyperlinks on the second page for a peek inside the press kits of 22 creative brands in the apothecary, apparel, gourmet, paper + gift, housewares and jewelry categories.

 

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Click here to download the worksheet!

 

As I mentioned, my LBU Alumni Coaching Group built press kits as part of our March monthly project and I immersed myself in designing a press kit for Lucky Break, too.  Want a peek?  Click the image below to be magically teleported to my press kit. One thing to keep in mind: As a service professional, I’m selling ME. I am the product. This kit was specifically built to highlight my entrepreneurial journey, communicate my expertise and provide event organizers with a list of my talks and workshops. It’s decidedly Lela-centric, because I’m the product being sold.

 

My “suggested story angles” are  the entrepreneurial workshops mentioned on pages 10 + 11.  In much the same way that a creative brand is attempting to do the thinking of an editor in order to make themselves easy to feature, I’m doing the thinking of an event organizer.  Upon reading the press kit, if they feel connected to my story and decide to invite me to their next event as a speaker, then I’ve made that blissfully simple to do. They’re invited to flip to page 10, survey my entrepreneurial workshops, decide what’s a good fit for their audience and BAM! All done. The alternative? To dazzle event organizers, but then leave those same people struggling with how to work together. No bueno.

 

For creative, product-based brands, I recommend featuring a compelling product image on the cover and sprinkling great product photography throughout. But no mistake- your shining face needs to be in the press kit, as well. Editors and consumers alike want to connect to brands with soul, and its hard to communicate soul without putting a face on it.

 

Click  the image below to take a stroll through my press kit. Think I’d be a good fit for your next live event? I’d love to connect with you!

 

Lela Barker / Lucky Break COnsulting 2015 Press Kit

 

Got any hot media tips to share? Burning questions about press kits? A favorite example of a press kit you’d love to share? You’ll find me in the comments below- let’s chat about it!