How to Sell on Faire

Lela Barker

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.

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.”


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.


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.

Universally, buyers enjoy free shipping on their first order, and shopkeepers enrolled in the “Insider” program enjoy free shipping on every order. What’s the Insider program all about? I’m glad you asked.


Faire’s Insider is a recently released program that appears to be in beta testing, currently enrolled by invitation only.


For $29.99 a month, buyers enjoy free shipping on all orders, early access to new products (which increases the chances of locking in zip code protection- more on that in a bit), and free returns on every order. This program is likely to be widely embraced by retailers who frequently use Faire to stock their shelves. Buyers can cancel at any time, and the free shipping offer applies to every artisan on the platform.


If there’s anything that makes buyers happier than free shipping, it’s free returns. While returns are a rare unicorn in the world of wholesale, Faire is determined to change the paradigm. They’ll accept returns on unsold merchandise within sixty days of receipt. That allows boutique buyers to bring on new product collections with minimal risk, which has long been a thorn in the side of retailers. Offering this option is likely why Faire has accumulated so much wind in its sails in a surprisingly short period of time.


According to Faire’s return policy:
“When a retailer orders just a bit too much, we promote those items for 48 hours to other retailers through our Maker Market. This promotion is offered because the retailer doesn’t have the ability to curate the order like they do when they order directly from your page. (Note from Lela: This essentially means that they buy the returned product from any one brand as a lot of pre-selected merchandise.)

We will also redistribute returned items to other Faire retailers in our no-minimums section called the Sample Shoppe. Our retailers use this category to try new products before placing a full order with the maker. Items offered in the Sample Shoppe are first inspected by hand to ensure everything is in mint condition. We’ll only redistribute perfect representations of your brand.”

While retailers love Faire’s generous return policy, it’s been a sticking point for artisans. I applaud Faire for absorbing the returns, facilitating their shipment back to Faire and their redistribution to other shopkeepers. But not everything is rosy in Return Land. I admit to having grave concerns about the long-term impact of this return policy for those who wholesale their products both on and off Faire. I’ll elaborate more in a later post in this series.


Brand owners frequently grumble about not knowing when their products are returned, and they worry about losing control over which shops ultimately receive returned merchandise. They never see the orders for this returned product, so there’s no opportunity to reject a shop who orders it. That sometimes creates anxiety for savvy makers who worry about brand erosion or misalignment. Faire also accepts returns of personal care products, which makes me a bit twitchy. Body care products are uniquely vulnerable to contamination, and they’re perishable, too.

I imagine that Faire’s intentions are admirable, and I have no doubt that they’re sincerely seeking to resolve a longstanding issue for retailers. But the mechanics are tricky, and I anticipate that Faire will continue to evolve and iron out the wrinkles in this regard.

A recent peek inside the "Maker Market" return section of Faire, showing returned Ranger Station candles at 35% off and aprons by Wild Ink Press at 30% off
A recent peek inside the “Maker Market” return section of Faire, showing returned Ranger Station candles at 35% off and aprons by Wild Ink Press at 30% off

Julia Gold of Whispering Willow was an early adopter, selling via Faire since 2017. She also serves as a moderator for an unofficial Facebook group for makers who sell via the platform. When we spoke recently, she mentioned that Faire is beta-testing a new buyback program for makers who are uncomfortable with the current policy. This new program would transition the responsibility for returns back to artisans if they elect to participate. Brands will accept their own returns and maintain full control over them, though they’ll be responsible for refunding buyers for returned merchandise.


Another way to sell on Faire is through Elevate, one of the most popular programs within the platform, which Max Rhodes credits for much of their recent growth.


At its core, Elevate is a referral program, enabling artisans to evangelize Faire to their current accounts with some attractive mutual benefits.

Brands enjoy 0% commission when their current stockists order via the Faire interface. This allows them to concentrate their wholesale ordering in one central spot. However, this is a double-edged sword that I’ll unpack in the next blog in this series.

Buyers love the Elevate program because it essentially translates to free money for them. Buyers who use your link to join the program and place their first order earn a $200 credit. Worth noting: the credit was recently increased from $100 as of mid-February 2019.

Though the offer may seem “too good to be true,” the math actually works in Faire’s favor. Even when offering a $200 credit to new shops via Elevate, Faire recoups that money once any single shop orders $800 worth of product. Brands pay a 25% commission rate anytime a new shop places an order for their product. If Faire can get a foothold into a brick and mortar store, they’re likely to order thousands in merchandise annually through the marketplace. That makes the $200 credit a safe bet for Faire and an intoxicating incentive for retailers.


It’s deeply problematic if the shop down the street carries much of the same merchandise you offer. Diversity is key to avoid market cannibalization, ensuring success for both makers and shopkeepers. The newly launched Faire Protection program is the platform’s answer to exclusivity concerns from its retailers.


According to Faire:

“The first retailer to order from the brand will have a 90-day exclusivity for the zip code their shop is located. For example, if I’m ordering from the zip 94611, and another retailer wants to order from your brand from the same zip code, they’d get the zip code protection message. This helps ensure that your products aren’t sold too closely together. If the retailer doesn’t reorder from you within 90 days, then they forfeit zip code protection and another retailer can order.”

While I admire that Faire is tackling the pitfalls of wholesale from the perspective of a buyer, the mechanics of product exclusivity can get a bit tricky when automated. I’ll dive deeper into some of the drawbacks of Faire (including this exclusivity program) in a future post.


This blog is the second in a series about Indigo Fair/ Faire. Precious little has been written about the platform. The exception? Faire writing about themselves or articles announcing how much VC money they’ve secured. I’ve been gathering feedback from current users about their experience with Faire. I’d be most grateful if you lent your voice to the effort, too. Take my quick, 5-minute survey and then keep an eye on this blog to hear feedback from our community.


As this blog series continues, I’ll explore:

  • What is Faire?
  • Why many brand owners find Faire to be so compelling.
  • Some of the primary concerns, disadvantages, and missteps of working with Faire.
  • How makers in the Lucky Break community feel about their experiences with Faire.
  • The hard data about how much and how often they’re selling.

What questions do you have about selling wholesale on Faire? Drop them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer them either in the comments or in another installment of this blog series!

About the Author

Lela Barker

Lela Barker hails from the deep-and-dirty south (ATL, represent!), where she spends her days helping makers and product designers navigate the pitfalls of product pricing, brand development, and wholesale strategy. She launched her apothecary brand in 2003 and bootstrapped the hell out of that little business to cultivate a portfolio of 1500+ stockists worldwide, generating $12million in revenue and establishing successful distributorships in the Middle East, EU, Scandinavia, and South Korea. Lela is the keeper of a well-worn passport and the maker of the finest lemon meringue pie you’ve ever put in your mouth.

10 responses on “How to Sell on Faire

  1. Alana

    Hi Lela, I just wanted to add that as of yesterday, Faire launched beta testing for sellers to be able to see their sell through rate (in addition to recently launched conversion rates). I was terrified to look but when I did, I saw Frisky Fish was around 85% which is average for their b&b categories (they give this info too). The best part is that they list out sell through rate by PRODUCT so I was able to see for example that my Full Moon kit has a 100% sell through rate, HAPPY has a 98% sell-through rate and FLY has a 60% sell through rate with all the other products somewhere in between. While I was grumbling about their buy back program initially, my world was rocked when I had this valuable information in front of me. Also based on Faire’s algorithms on stores who order and reorder they get better at increasing brands conversion rates over time.

    1. Lela Post author

      Hi Alana… I’m so happy to see you hop into the Faire discussion!

      As I’ve mentioned in the blog series, Faire is literally changing by the day. From what I can gather, they’re ambitious in scope, pioneering in spirit, and obviously well-funded with many programs in beta mode at any given time. Just in the few weeks that I’ve been writing about Faire, the company has shifted compensation structures and introduced several new features. That makes writing about them a bit of an interesting adventure. 🙂

      I LOVE that you can see your sell-through rates and the figures you’re seeing are impressive! I think that speaks to two things: 1) How low Faire has made the barrier to entry for retailers who want to pick up new brands and 2) how well their algorithm (that chooses which brands to display for a given store) is working. That’s powerful data you have at your fingertips and I imagine it can profoundly shape who you develop and market new products.

  2. Michael Glick

    Hey Lela, I’ve been buying wholesale via faire since November 2018 and on that end it has been a great experience.

    But retailing faire products is a side project next to the leather goods that I make and retail. I’d say I run a small but respectable leather shop with a solid brand and revenue of $95k last year.

    So, I applied to be a maker with faire two weeks ago. I received an auto reply to my application that said they’d be in touch within 2-5 business days. It’ has been over 10. I’ve followed up twice via email, including with line sheets. But still they haven’t given me any indication, one way or another. Do you know if this is typical? Am I missing something ? Or am I just the sad kid who isn’t getting picked for a team?


    1. Lela Post author

      Hi Michael,

      That’s not an uncommon experience. Faire is growing fairly quickly and I believe they’re often overwhelmed. Makers sometimes wait much, much longer than the stated time to have their applications reviewed. I’ve heard of it taking weeks to months to a year… but it never hurts to ping them again. When surveying the Lucky Break community about their interactions with Faire, many are frustrated by the application process and lack of timely responses, though most are pleased with their interactions with Faire’s customer service team once they’re actually accepted.

      Keep trying- I peeked at your brand and I’m confident that you’re not actually being passed over for the kickball team!


  3. Emily

    Seems like a great site but boy it’s like all my messages are going into a black hole. I applied weeks ago, followed up twice, got an auto responder that they would reply within 24 hours but no one has replied in weeks.

    It feels a bit shocking to get pure radio silence from a company and to be honest it both makes them seem really unprofessional, while at the same time making for a really deflating experience for makers. If they are overwhelmed, maybe you can put forward the suggestion that they update those terms that indicate they’ll reply about an application within a week or to an email within 24 hours. This would help alleviate some of the application anxiety and the not knowing whether you’re shop didn’t qualify and you should move on. Why do this in a way that causes so much confusion and follow up emails when you can just be up front about your response timing.

  4. Matthew Winheld

    Hi Lela,
    I am the owner/operator of stationery company and have applied twice to sell on Faire (early and mid 2019). They have passed both times and do not provide feedback as to why. They encourage re applying in their generic response and I remember reading somewhere while applying that having a robust social media platform is a plus for consideration (something I admittedly need to improve on). I know that stationery is a very competitive category and that there are many talented makers doing it, but I also feel confident that I have a very strong line as well. I can’t tell if the work is being reviewed in earnest and passed on, or if they are just so categorically saturated as to automatically pass. I’ve waited on re applying until there is a significant amount of new work to be shown (within a couple of months). I’m just wondering if you have any insight as to what might strengthen my application (or if I should be re applying more frequently).
    Thanks so much!

  5. Kae

    This was so helpful! I have a relatively new business and was recently introduced to Faire. I’ll definitely be tapping into this entire series!

  6. Miriam

    This blog and reply thread has been very helpful: I got a email from someone claiming to be from Faire, wanting me to sell through them. It seemed strange to me so I wanted to verify if they were really from Faire. So, knowing that makers apply to Faire and it takes weeks to hear back, I am sure that it was a phishing email.
    Thanks for the info.

    1. Polly

      Hi Miriam.
      Actually Faire does have a team that has been reaching out to brands they think will be a good fit with their program. They also reach out to brands that have been referred by retailers who purchase from them. We were contacted by 2 different people with Faire in as many months, and then someone actually sent me a message on my social media. I decided to follow up on it, and now we’re selling on Faire! We’re in our first week but already have good orders with them. Give it a chance! If they reach out to you then more than likely, someone has pointed them in your direction.

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