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How a Lost Bag Inspired the Idea for Katydid Wholesale

Written by:

Esther is a business strategist with over 20 years of experience as an entrepreneur, executive, educator, and management advisor.

How a Lost Bag Inspired the Idea for Katydid Wholesale

Katy Messersmith, the CEO and creative director of Katydid.com and KatydidWholesale.com, shares her remarkable journey from a serendipitous start in Ghana to leading a successful fashion and accessories brand. This interview delves into her innovative strategies for staying ahead of trends, overcoming wholesale distribution challenges, and the pivotal role of social media in brand growth. You will gain valuable insights into effective online marketing, quality control, and Katy’s advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, along with a glimpse into Katydid’s exciting plans for future expansion.

Katy Messersmith

The Inspiration Behind Katydid Wholesale

SBS – What inspired you to start Katydid Wholesale, and how did you identify your niche?

Katy – It began by accident. My luggage was missing while I was on a mission trip in Ghana. I quickly started working with seamstresses in the village to make vibrant skirts and puffy bags. My creativity was sparked and made me realize I had a love for design. From then to now, I have designed hundreds of products every season for the brand.

Staying Ahead of Trends in Boutique Fashion and Accessories

SBS – How do you stay ahead of trends in boutique fashion and accessories?

Katy – Social listening, seeing what other brands are doing, participating in boutique discussion boards, taking feedback from large customers, and following the trends, but making a version of our own.

Strategies for Effective Online Marketing and Sales

SBS – Can you share some strategies for effective online marketing and sales?

Katy – Our marketing and sales strategies are varied. We work with sales reps, use paid social ads, collect leads, and email/text campaigns several times a week. We time our releases using data from previous years and optimize online listings based on customer feedback.

Overcoming Challenges in Wholesale Distribution

SBS – What challenges have you faced in wholesale distribution, and how did you overcome them?

Katy – When the market dips, we have to act fast to combat this. Surprisingly, while many businesses went under during COVID-19, we felt this pain but managed to quickly design our own fashionable face masks. These kept us afloat. Goes hand in hand with staying up with trends. This was an unfortunate historical trend we were forced to follow.

Ensuring Quality Control and Customer Satisfaction

SBS – How do you maintain quality control and customer satisfaction with a diverse product range?

Katy – Samples, samples, samples. We always test the product ourselves before moving forward. I would never produce a product I would not purchase myself. We have a phenomenal customer service team who knows that our customers come first.

The Role of Social Media in Business Growth

SBS – What role has social media played in the growth of your business?

Katy – Social media, paid and organic, provide ample brand awareness. During the slippers phenomenon, we chose to run ads and post organically every slipper we had. Facebook Shops had just developed, and our Leopard Happy Face slippers somehow made it into the carts of thousands all at once. We are thankful for how social media brings our brands to so many faces we never would have met otherwise.

Approach to Product Design and Development

SBS – Can you describe your approach to product design and development?

Katy – It starts with social listening. What do the people want? What is an up-and-coming product type? We also run numbers — what sold well last year? How can we change the product — or do we run the same style as the previous year? We make creative prints for our best-selling products and then order samples. Then comes quality control. We check for any mistakes and fix them before they go into production.

Balancing Evergreen Products and Seasonal Items

SBS – How do you balance between stocking evergreen products and seasonal items?

Katy – Seasonal items for us are mostly apparel items. These items could be jackets — more fall-oriented, or swimsuit cover-ups — more summer-oriented. We tend to lean towards more evergreen products but have prints that fall into a variety of seasons. For example, we constantly keep slippers in stock, but in the spring, the floral designs do best. In the fall, we keep our reindeer and Santa slippers in stock. It’s a good balance to keep things new but to keep people happy if they love old products. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken, right?

Successful Products and Collections

SBS – What have been some of the most successful products or collections, and why?

Katy – The most recent successful product types are slippers, tumblers, and puffer tote bags. All of these products became popular with a variety of brands worldwide. We jumped on the opportunity to make them our own. Take these trends, but design our own styles of it. If you see something you love, but one step better, you’re bound to love it one step more.

Managing Inventory and Logistics During Peak Seasons

SBS – How do you manage inventory and logistics, especially during peak seasons?

Katy – We run inventory on a weekly basis during peak seasons, keeping track of what is selling best and what needs to be pushed further. For items that are selling best, we manufacture more products, hopefully before the first round runs out. If a product isn’t selling well, we may run an offer or market it more in our campaigns. It’s a tough battle between incoming and outgoing products, but we have a great system to keep track of where we are at and can forecast where we will be in future months as well.

Building and Maintaining Strong Relationships with Retail Clients

SBS – Can you share insights on how to build and maintain strong relationships with retail clients?

Katy – Sometimes, having a face-to-face conversation is best, but for a business at our scale, sometimes, that’s not possible with everyone. We have a definite brand voice that is consistent. This allows the customers to have trust in our brand. Our voice is friendly and welcoming. We have a phenomenal customer service team who is always kind and understanding of situations should they occur.

Advice for New Entrepreneurs in the Wholesale Market

SBS – What advice would you give to new entrepreneurs entering the wholesale market?

Katy – It’s a tough world but very rewarding. Find your niche, and don’t stress if it doesn’t work out. Try something new until you find what you’re meant to do.

Future Plans for Growth and Expansion

SBS – Looking forward, what are your plans for Katydid Wholesale in terms of growth and expansion?

Katy – We are moving into a new 25,000 sqft warehouse! We have officially outgrown the two warehouses we are working out of now, and are looking forward to being able to keep our most popular products constantly in stock and trying different avenues, now that we have the space to do so. One day, we’d like to grow more into the retail side of our business. But for now, we are doing well in terms of growth and can’t wait to see what’s next.


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How a Lost Bag Inspired the Idea for Katydid Wholesale