This last year saw a lot of change for me and my brand, MCreativeJ. Many of the intentions I had set at the beginning of 2020 had to be cancelled, put off, or revamped all together. One of those 2020 intentions was to expand my audience by teaching and vending at more out of state craft fairs. While I started the year out strong by applying to new markets and contacting new craft spaces to teach at, these well laid plans quickly fell through as the global pandemic took hold of the world. Like many people, I was pretty crushed. And after feeling sad for a while, I realized I could still realize this intention- so I decided to pivot.
Instead of focusing on in-person markets and workshops, I chose to go online. I researched online platforms and started offering online workshops. These were some of the highlights of my year!
Another way I pivoted to realize this intention, was by connecting with Tundra, EGG, and Abound to start selling MCreativeJ kits and patterns to more small businesses. I was pleasantly surprised at how excited other small business were to carry my brand!
MCreativeJ quickly grew from a handful of retailers to more than 34 stockists. This wasn't an overnight success, and there were a few bumps along the way, but overall, it was a big step forward for me and my brand. These partnerships and have been amazing and have helped me to see that MCreativeJ can grow into the small business, I've always known it can be.
This quick growth, has also shown me that it's important to make sure my brand is accurately represented by each of my retailers. This means that the newly redesigned kit packaging and all aspects of my branding were displayed accurately.
When I saw that one of my new retailers was sharing photos of my kits on social media and their website without my branding and had removed my company name from the kit descriptions and information, I was crushed. I felt like I was being taken advantage of. I stewed over why they would do something so hurtful and got even more upset and glum.
After sleeping on the problem, I decided on a way to approach it. Instead of quickly sending off a mean email to my retailer, I decided to approach them with kindness and gratitude. Maybe this was a mistake or misunderstanding? This was a new relationship and I didn't want to ruin it. I also wanted to ensure that if this small business were to continue to sell my products they would do so in a way that best represented my brand.
So I emailed my contact at the small business. I shared how I was grateful to have them as a wholesale partner and that I was excited to see their social media posts about how popular my embroidery kits had been with their customers. I then shared that I'd noticed my company name was missing from the photos they'd shared on their social channels and on their website. Instead of being accusatory, I asked that it be added to their future posts and have their website updated. I even offered to send them new photos for use on their social channels and website.
And after sending off that email, I felt nervous. I wondered, "Was that the right way to approach my retail partner? Was I being too soft? What if they ignored my request?"
As I was thinking these things, I also realized that if my retail partner didn't honor and represent my brand in the way I intended, then I didn't want them as a retail partner. My brand is more important to me than any large order they could ever place.
Thankfully, my retail partner emailed me back and apologized for the error. They also updated their website and have tagged me in future social media posts. Their response made me feel much better about our partnership and my ability to speak up for myself and my brand.
While it's not always easy or comfortable, it is important to make sure your brand is represented how you want it to be represented.