The Etsy Wholesale Open Call 2016 was a huge success, and Zandra proudly showcased her skin care products and her own brand of awesomeness. This was a special event that gave 35 brands from Etsy’s marketplace the chance to present their products to some of the industry’s leading national retailers. Zandra was the youngest CEO selected, the only artisan skincare company for teens, and a winner of the Golder PO! All in all, it was an exciting time to embrace her craft and celebrate her own brand of awesomeness.
We asked Zandra for some insider details about the event and what advice she can offer new teenpreneurs looking for success at similar events.
From the beginning, team Zandra, including Mom and Dad, were excited to participate in the Etsy Wholesale Open Call 2016. “The preparation time flew by and it was really intense. Everyone rolled-up their sleeves and got to it. We started with a marketing make-over. How would we set up our display? What would we display? Where in Brooklyn would we stay and how would we compare to the other fantastic brands presenting on the same day? Within a few short weeks, we had prepared ourselves for an amazing sales opportunity and arrived in Brooklyn, NY ready to give it all we had!”
What were your first Impressions?
“The first thing you realize about being at the Etsy home-office in Brooklyn is that you are immediately embraced by the Etsy family. Every member was full of energy and fun. They were truly awesome! They worked so hard to welcome and help us with our set-up and preparation. At the same time, we felt that we were instantly part of their awesome, funky and relaxed environment.”
Why do you think that it is important to appreciate other brands?
“While the Etsy family were making us all feel at home and prepared, we took a moment to appreciate all of the fantastically creative people surrounding us. I really stopped to ‘smell the roses’ and saw something special in every brand presented, which made me feel so special to be a part of this event. I embraced everyone’s craft and took the time to appreciate each brand. We shared in that experience and that’s important. After all, we’re part of a movement that’s about to bring a new level of awesomeness to the world through national retailing.”
Who were some of the big retail stores that you met?
I personally met the buyers of Macy’s, Cooper Hewitt, Whole Foods, Paper Source, Giggle, and HGTV.
Were you able to share your story and how you built the Zandra brand with an older audience?
“Our story is a journey about confidently building your dreams. Being the youngest business person is now the norm for me. It tells the world that there are new possibilities to be had no matter what age you are and that teenpreneurs have something valuable to contribute. With this in mind, it’s great when Zandra stands out! Not just because of our fun, fresh and high-quality products but because we can add something unique to the marketplace, in our own funky way. We were positively received by everyone who came to our display stand and interacted with us, especially during the presentation sessions. All of the buyers were really impressed and they made me feel good about my packaging, colors and marketing tools.”
Etsy created special workshops so the brands could get feedback on their presentation (pitching) techniques prior to meeting the retail store buyers. What did you learn during the workshops?
“I learned all about Etsy’s awesome manufacturing options. I also learnt about how to pitch myself and my brand to the media in print, online and on TV. I also had the opportunity to fake pitch the owner of Clementine, Ms. Emily Blistein. She worked with us on building the perfect pitch before the actual pitch session the next day. She asked for volunteers to practice their pitch to her and I happened to be one of the lucky ones chosen. I was terrified to do it in front of a room full of strangers. But I did it, and she gave me great feedback. So happy I took the chance and did it.”
Zandra wins a Golden PO!
As a result of team Zandra’s hard work, you were awarded a Golden PO (Purchase Order). How does it feel?
“This is only the second annual Etsy Wholesale Open Call event, so you can imagine the high quality of brands participating and the high expectations from the buyers. I am still thrilled to say that we were selected as only one of 36 from nearly 1,400 entries! When we received a Golden Purchase Order from Paper Source we were ecstatic! Imagine that we began an idea using a home beauty kit and now we’re a national brand. Soon, Zandra will be in roughly 110 Paper Source retail stores this holiday season!”
What advice would you give to other Teenpreneurs ready to pitch to big brands?
“I suggest that you relax and get tons of rest before you attend. That way you can focus and be ready for whatever might happen. You’ll want to take every opportunity to get to know other entrepreneurs, learn from experienced people and challenge yourself. My experience was so amazing and it helped that I was refreshed and ready to embrace every opportunity. Go with an open mind and heart. I discovered a great partnership through the Etsy team. Events like these are great for business but they also help to build confidence and help build empowerment through entrepreneurship. It’s truly awesome!”