Part 6 – From Sketch to International Distribution … in 5 Months!


So I had an order placed for 1000 Pen Rest and order for just 250.

Clearly there was work to do!

The first part of my plan was to manufacture part of the order in Black. I had previously only promoted silver and gold. My thinking here was that if I had black that I would relaunch it on Kickstarter as “The Pen Rest – back in black”. If I could sell a similar number as before then this would clear half the stock.

I contacted many independant pen shops and sent out price lists too and then one of the shops I called said … you need to contact Michael .. he’s the major distributor and will contact all the shops… So I did!

Michaels company is a major distributor to the trade with reps on the road visiting the independent shops.

On speaking to him.. he advised that the distributor needed a margin and so did the trade… and significant ones at that.

This was all new to me but Michael advised that the retail price must be set to allow for these margins if I wanted anyone to consider taking it.

I had nothing to lose by appointing him and so promptly agreed. In return he placed a first order for 100 Pen Rest. I now had a UK distributor.


Michael then put me in touch with contacts in Europe.

After a week, I was contacted by Stephan.. he loved the product. He was also a major distributor to 2400 independent shops. He also wanted to place an order, but subject to seeing samples. His first order would be based on a minimum of 100 Pen Rest.

Stephan though had a condition with the deal. The deal must be that he had exclusivity covering Germany, Switzerland and Austria…. after a discussion I agreed. We agreed too that we would review the progress of his orders, but that it would be for a minimum of 12 months.

So I now had backing for 450 Pen Rest.

Talking to a client of mine about the Pen Rest and someone that had backed it, he suddenly said I’ll take 300 with my corporate logo on the blocks!

Incredible! I now had orders for 750 and was yet to promote them on Kickstarter again.

I was contacted by Bart another distributor! He represented the Netherlands. He again wanted samples before placing the order.

Now here lay a new dilemma.

Here I was getting distributors for a product which I new would never sell millions. It was niche and would be a slow mover. I was certainly encouraged by the reactions I was getting, but also new that until it was in the shops it would not move…. and even then there were no guarantees…. but what if the distributors wanted more stock?

So this was my next worry.

I needed to place minimum orders of 1000 units at a time and clearly didn’t want to be sitting on that amount of stock with cash tied up.

I had also had some great news too regarding my costs. I discovered that the packaging and the Pen Rests were not in fact subject to duty… thus saving me 6% on the costs. It was not a lot but allowed me to keep the ratio price as low as I could whilst making a very very small margin on distributor and trade sales, myself.

Now there were other issues that needed to be addressed such as the boxes to ship out the orders, the internal packaging and coloured dots to identify the contents of the boxes. All of this was ordered in readiness for the initial stock.

Things were working out quite well now; I had kept the backers informed of progress which they clearly liked; stock was on schedule and I was assured that the boxes would be with me by the 1st June…. we’ll have to wait and see.

Find out how I get on in Part 7 of From Sketch to International Distribution… in 5 months!

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