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.

 

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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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Lucky Break- 2019 March Calendar

2019 March Calendar

The 2019 March Calendar is here. I cannot believe it is March already. We have a lot cooking this month at LBC. So much so that our designer Sarah had to rework our entire calendar template to squeeze everything in.

 

2019 March Calendar

 

 

We broke some serious ground this year, and we are only 60 plus days into 2019.  The most exciting news coming to you by way of our upcoming mastermind program- The Lucky Break Think Tank. Before we could even get a newsletter out, we sold out of Founding Membership seats.  But don’t fret, we have opened up Early Bird Memberships.  Not sure what I’m talking about? Learn more about the Think Tank here.

 

GMP Live kicks off this month.  It’s our only live class for GMP that we will offer this year, and we are thrilled to see it sold out of seats!

I’ll be at the Tennessee Soap and Candle Conference March 23rd, then coming home to prep for Craftcation in April.

My beloved BHB group has been working hard on their curriculum. They are in the home stretch with graduation at the end of the month.

 

There is an insane amount of new things happening, so make sure you are following along on all we have cooking this March via our mailing list as well as on Instagram! @lelabarker and @luckybreakconsulting

 

2019 March Calendar

 

What makers, designers and retail buyers love about Faire

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As part of my ongoing blog series about emerging wholesale marketplaces, I’m highlighting the benefits of Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). And there’s certainly a lot to love about working with this wholesale platform for artisans, from the perspectives of both a maker and a retailer. Faire has ambitiously harnessed technology to create advantages for all stakeholders in the world of wholesale, and I’m excited to dive in and share them with you.

 

WHAT ARTISANS LOVE ABOUT FAIRE

 

Product designers who set up shop on Faire praise the passive nature of the platform and the increased visibility among buyers. The application process is simple, the Faire team takes care of the onboarding logistics, and makers often enjoy an order within the first week. Because Faire charges no upfront fees, the marketplace involves little risk on behalf of the artisan. That’s a welcome relief to brand owners who’ve traditionally gambled thousands of dollars brands to exhibit at a single trade show.

 

Creative entrepreneurs often spend a sizable amount of time reaching out to stores off interest, never sure whether a specific buyer will appreciate their work or have the budget necessary to bring on new lines. Faire buyers shop at their convenience, which eliminates the guesswork for brands. If a boutique owner is on the Faire site, then they’re on the prowl for new products. Even when they aren’t present, brand owners are investing their energy into the 783 other facets of running a company that demand their daily attention.

 

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Faire has gathered eyeballs and buying power at record speed. As of early February 2019, the platform had vetted 19,271 retailers according to a post within their official Facebook community. That potential for exposure often translates to a respectable volume of orders, which helps to offset the higher-than-average commission structure. Brands currently pay as much as 28% of an opening order in fees on Faire.

 

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How to Sell on Faire

How to sell on faire

If you want to know how to sell on Faire, then you’ve come to the right place! This blog is part of an ongoing, deeply researched series about selling on Faire (formerly Indigo Fair). The first post, What is Faire?, detailed how Faire works, how much Faire charges, and what kinds of products Faire sells.

 

HOW TO SELL ON FAIRE

 

 

How to sell on Faire

 

In this installment of the series, I’m unpacking some of the nuances of the platform. Because Indigo Fair/ Faire is a rapidly evolving marketplace, it’s important to recognize that this data is accurate as of the time of publication. The Faire executive team is pioneering in spirit and ambitious in scope, so their efforts are an ever-changing experiment. It’s akin to building the runway as you fly the plane, but that’s to be expected when you’re- quite literally- trying to “reinvent wholesale.”

 

Getting started with Faire is deliciously straightforward. Whenever I speak to artisans within the Lucky Break community, the onboarding process is something that earns rave reviews. Co-founder Max Rhodes has often boasted about how easy it is to use Faire.

 

“Makers can apply to join Indigo Fair, and once accepted, they just send us their product catalogue to get their profile up and running. Most makers receive an order within a week, and they get paid as soon as they ship the goods.”

 

HOW ARE ORDERS RECEIVED THROUGH FAIRE?

 

Buyers shop through the Faire interface from a seamlessly curated selection of products that are chosen for them based on an algorithm that considers numerous factors. While only the Faire executives and the software development team fully understand the mechanics of the algorithm, we do have some clues about how the system works. The aesthetics of the shop and the frequency with which any particular brand is ordered factor into which products are displayed for any specific buyer.

 

Faire dispatches an email notification to the brand once a buyer places an order. Brand owners then log into the system to discover several options at their fingertips, including:

  • Accepting the order and selecting a ship date.
  • Editing the item availability to backorder an item.
  • Canceling the order.

 

Payment for orders is settled upon shipment. Because buyers often enjoy trade credit (commonly known as “net terms”) via Faire, brand owners can pay an additional 3% fee for immediate payment. If they choose to agree to net 30 terms to settle the invoice, then they can forego the additional 3% fee. In all instances, Faire guarantees payment even if the buyer defaults on their obligation.

 

HOW DOES SHIPPING WORK ON FAIRE?

Shopkeepers often enjoy free shipping on Faire, and I can confirm that there’s almost nothing that they cherish more than zero shipping fees. But who pays for that?

  • When you notify Faire that an order has shipped, you attach the tracking number for the parcel and notate the shipping cost. This has been the process since Faire’s launch.
  • Faire reimburses for the shipping fees alongside the settlement for the merchandise, according to the schedule you’ve selected. (Immediate payment for an additional 3% or settling the invoice in 30 days for no additional fee)
  • Faire passes the shipping charges on to the buyer unless the shopkeeper is taking advantage of a free shipping special. In that case, Faire absorbs the cost of shipping.
  • In February 2019, Faire rolled out an optional, automated process for printing shipping labels within the program.  This eliminates the need to manually input shipping costs and tracking numbers.  Swing by the Faire FAQ to read more about Faire’s new shipping program.

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What is GMP? A Quick Tutorial for Beauty Brands

When I started my apothecary brand way back in 2003, I had precious little clue about what I was doing. I’d never heard of “GMP” (good manufacturing practices) for cosmetic companies. I understood that personal care brands in the U.S. were beholden to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), and I was aware of the specific rules surrounding product labeling, but manufacturing protocols weren’t a primary area of focus for me.  That soon changed.

 

 

Over the course of the next several years, I worked hard to implement GMP protocols within my indie beauty brand. That work was a Herculean challenge, since these guidelines were written with huge corporations in mind (though even the tiniest of companies within the U.S. is obligated to comply with them). So I put my nose to the grindstone and crafted distinctive strategies for making these outsized regulations workable for a micro manufacturer like myself.

 

Teaching GMP to other beauty entrepreneurs has now become a cornerstone of my consulting practice. I often hear from indie beauty brands that they believe they’re compliant, though it’s apparent that they don’t truly understand the GMP mechanisms and how comprehensive they ultimately are. Here’s an analogy I often use to explain the actual scope and power of GMP…

 

IMAGINE THIS NIGHTMARE-INDUCING SCENARIO…

 

Imagine that you receive a call from a panicked gentleman who explains that his wife has been using your makeup remover. It was purchased at a local shop, and she’s having a bad reaction when it was applied as directed. He’s driven her to the ER and she’s being examined at the moment. Her eyes are red, swollen, and painful and she’s having visual disturbances. He needs you to send him all the information you can round up about that product ASAP.

 

That frightening scenario makes my blood run cold. If you own an apothecary company, I imagine that it makes your heart beat faster, too. I’m confident that you could send him all of your company’s contact information. You could probably send him an invoice showing when the product was sold to the shop, provided that John could tell you where his wife made the purchase. You really should be able to send him a complete listing of every ingredient in the product (I’m assuming your ingredient label is complete + accurate, yes?)

 

But could you send him…

  • The date on which that particular bottle of makeup remover was made by your company?
  • The origin of every single ingredient that was used in the formula (which supplier the ingredient came from, when the ingredient was received by your company, and the related documentation that shows it met your quality standards)?
  • The physical record which displays the exact proportions of ingredients that were used and the conditions under which the eye makeup remover was manufactured?
  • The results of any microbial testing that demonstrates that the product was free of bacteria and mold when you originally shipped it to the store?

 

I imagine that better than 90% of the artisan beauty brands in our sphere couldn’t provide that information. And that’s a HUGE problem. GMP applies to brands big and small. Brands that are created in your kitchen, in your home workshop, and in commercial space. In fact, there’s no brand that’s too big nor too small for GMP, according to the FDA.

 

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