Live & Learn: The Downside to Running A Creative Business

live and learn, wholesaling handmade, mee a bee, keep calm gallery

by Jacqui Miyabayashi of Mee A Bee

When you are selling things you’ve made yourself it’s hard not to take things to heart. You feel like you’ve bared your soul to the world as you lay your lovingly created items out for sale. When you sell something you are ecstatic.
So when I was approached by a ‘friend’ about the possibility of selling my handmade bags in her new shop I was flattered and extremely excited. I jumped at the chance to be one of the select suppliers. We’d met in an online business networking forum and by all accounts this woman was successful and someone whom I aspired to be like.

Right before Christmas I was packaging up her final order of the year. I hastily mailed it off hoping that it would arrive in time for the last minute Christmas shoppers. Foolishly I did not confirm payment before I sent it. That was over a year ago…I was never paid for those bags.

My point here is not to name names. I simply want to advise creative business owners to be safe and take measures to protect yourself and your company. I’ve since learned that the person concerned has been involved in many suspicious business situations and that I was not the only one duped. Small consolation. I still feel embarrassed and foolish to have made such a fundamental mistake.

As a result I now have a strict policy for all sales. I always confirm payment has been completed before sending items. For large orders I use a track and trace postage service. I require my wholesale customers to sign contracts and be registered business owners. I keep stringent records. I am cautious and sensible. I still feel extreme joy over every sale I make but I don’t let it cloud my judgment.

Don’t make the same naive mistakes I made. It only takes one rotten apple to spoil the barrel! I hope you can learn from my missteps & keep your business safe.


It’s OK to ask questions of the applicant to determine whether they’re a good fit for your brand and to get a sense of how reliable they might be. Google is also your friend! Research their business and make sure they can answer questions like these 5:

-What attracted you to {my brand}?
-Could you tell me more about your business, is it online or brick ‘n mortar?
-How long has it been established?
-What other brands or type of goods are you selling?
-Tell me about your regular customers.

Make a list of questions like the ones above specific to your business & develop a wholesale agreement that protects your interests!

{image credit: Live and Learn cards from Keep Calm Gallery}


  1. Angie Allen says:

    Wise words. I had a similar situation with a long time client. I made an assumption in haste and good faith. I was a wrong. My experience prompted me to create a sales checklist. An airline pilot wouldn’t dream of taking off before completing a checklist. Why should we? I zip through mine before my orders ship and I haven’t had a problem since!

  2. woolies says:

    Yes, sad to say, there are dishonest people out there. I sent items on consignment – they’ve stolen my products (and over 100 other etsy sellers as well). I sent samples to a sales rep. She stole them too, as well as others products – a professional thief. The lesson learned – you cannot trust. Sad.

    • Jessika says:

      I m sad to hear of your experience! Maybe it’s not that you can’t trust but that you need to be careful & do your research before you give your trust too freely. If only it weren’t so!

  3. Tracy says:

    Great info! Sorry you had to go through that… Being a people pleaser myself, I often fall into the trap of giving an emotional “yes” rather than taking time to research. I enjoy your blog!

  4. Carrie says:

    Like you said, “small consolation” to know that I’m not the only one who had a similar experience. I was excited to get my items off the internet and into a kiosk at a mall via a friend’s friend. I received my first payment from her after 2 months (after a number of times contacting her), but she still had about 50% of my items not yet sold. I never received final payment nor any of my items back – it’s been 9 months and I haven’t heard back from her!

  5. Kristine McCorvey says:

    Thanks for your comments about selling. The bad thing is that it goes in both directions. I purchased fabric from Robin of P**** Bebes and she never delivered. When I got insistent on receiving my fabric, she claimed that I was rude and that she didn’t deal with rude people. Hhhhhhmmmmm – I am thinking that is quite an interesting way of deflecting the truth.

    I have been corresponding with her for over a year and I have to believe she is ripping off other people too.

    So, for those of you sell on the net beware and when buying on the web know your sources too.

    • Jessika says:

      Hi Kristine, I am so sorry for your experience! I have definitely had some bad online buying exchanges like that & it is really frustrating & sad. I did edit your comment to blank out the details of the name because I really don’t want us to call people out here, just to share our lessons so others can learn from them. Hope you understand!

  6. April says:

    I had a similar experience with Anointment, I sent off a sizable order to a regional retailer under the false assumption that local retailers would support other local retailers and offered her net 30 day terms on her first order. She never did pay, and shortly after I started calling for payment, I found out her business had gone into receivership. I learned my lesson. Prepayment.

  7. Lisa says:

    Don’t forget REFERENCES. If someone is selling your product they need to be trustworthy, and have a good reputation, after all they need to be good enough to sell your hard work!

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