2023 in Review: Wholesale Success Stories Powered by The Folklore
When The Folklore Connect platform was launched in 2022, it was with an aim to provide brands with access to technology, education, and community that would strengthen their wholesale business and fuel them to compete globally, and give retailers a marketplace to discover and shop these brands.
As we usher in a new year, we are taking some time to reflect on the past 12 months, which was marked by significant milestones and successful partnerships forged through The Folklore Connect’s B2B wholesale platform. Over the past year, many renowned retailers have discovered, connected, and launched impactful collaborations with a remarkable array of diverse-owned brands, setting the stage for growth and inclusivity in the wholesale industry.
The Folklore Connect’s first retail wholesale launch came in February 2023 with the arrival of eyewear brand Bôhten at online shopping destination Shopbop.com. Discovered by the retailer’s buyers through Connect marketplace, Bôhten joined Shopbop’s curated selection of accessories brands with a collection of classic frames and exclusive designs specially made for the e-commerce site.
“This partnership has been a few months in the making and we are grateful to The Folklore Connect for facilitating it and we are thrilled to see it come to fruition,” said Bôhten’s retail support Elorm Amankwa.
A few months later, Bôhten also launched at fashion and lifestyle destination REVOLVE, which was the same retailer that would provide jewelry brand V.BELLAN’s first foray into wholesale retail.
In what would be a banner year for the gender-neutral jewelry line, 2023 saw V.BELLAN stocked online and in-store at four retailers in the span of a few months. Founder Vanessa Bellan’s strategic move from D2C to wholesale proved prescient, helping to increase brand reach and profitability. The Connect NYFW Showroom in February showcased V.BELLAN among 15 brands, leading to transformative buyer appointments and retail partnerships.
“I participated in the Showroom. It was a great experience and I felt that opportunity generated leads,” Bellan told The Folklore Edit. “I connected with a Bergdorf Goodman buyer at the NYFW event. That buyer was not my direct category buyer but she loved our brand and forwarded over our information to the right buying department. That led to the right department reaching out for an in-person viewing, which turned into an order.”
The gender-neutral jewelry line found its place at the illustrious Bergdorf Goodman in May, followed by Shopbop the following month. Bellan emphasized the significance of the transition, stating, “The transition to wholesale was important to my brand because it aided in amplifying my brand’s reach, enhanced profitability, and established a more stable business foundation.”
V.BELLAN’s success story at Bergdorf Goodman unfolded rapidly, with the range selling out in just over two months, prompting enthusiastic replenishment orders from the retailer’s buyers. The positive reception solidified the brand’s presence, leading to additional replenishment orders shortly after the initial launch.
Notably, enterprise retailers proved to be key retail partners in 2023 for emerging brands and diverse designers. In February, US retail giant Nordstrom furthered its ambitious goals to improve and diversify its product assortment by teaming up with The Folklore to identify and engage with wholesale brands founded by Black, Latinx, Asian creatives as well as brands located in emerging markets.
Three wholesale Connect brands made their way onto Nordstrom’s shelves in 2023: Atlanta-based eyewear designer Wisdom, Nigerian footwear and accessories label Shekudo, and ready-to-wear womenswear brand Oríré. Wisdom’s glasses also launched at REVOLVE, while Shekudo shoes and accessories brand Florian London’s leather handbags became available for sale on Shopbop.
“Shopbop saw our products on the Connect platform and reached out,” Tola Adeagbo, creative director of Florian London, told The Folklore. “They sent us an order almost immediately and we fulfilled it.”
In the three months it took between the purchase order and the product delivery window, Adeagbo has been able to develop a solid relationship with the retailer, which has gone on to place two more orders since the brand’s launch. “We have been doing great on Shopbop,” she said. “They have reordered some pieces and I noticed some items are already almost sold out. We are also receiving a lot of engagement on our social media platform.”
Retailers of all sizes, including independent businesses and concept stores were also able to discover and partner with wholesale brands on Connect. FRTWN, an independent e-commerce platform that promotes brands inspired by the aesthetic of the African diaspora, added V.BELLAN and Oríré products to its assortment this year, while beauty brands TERRA-TORY and Madame Gabriela Beauty joined the lineup at bohemian apparel and lifestyle retail company Free People.
In what has been a very eventful year, the success stories of these diverse brands underscore the dynamic and inclusive landscape that has been steadily cultivated by The Folklore Connect, which has paved the way for emerging brands and retailers to thrive in the wholesale marketplace.