Small businesses are often referred to as the backbone of the US economy. During the past year, that cornerstone came under pressure like never before. As the pandemic posed unique challenges, retailers were forced to adjust and adapt in true entrepreneurial fashion. In celebration of Small Business Month, Klarna is spotlighting a selection of small businesses within our network to share their stories of resilience and innovation.
Discover Bulletin Wholesale: Ali Kriegsman is the Co-founder of Bulletin Wholesale and Author of “How to Build a Goddamn Empire.” Founded on the belief that retail thrives on relationships rather than simply transactions, the team at Bulletin Wholesale has cultivated a commerce community where retailers discover, meet, and shop the most coveted brands. Pairing creators with those who’ll market their wares expertly, the New York-based marketplace makes wholesale fun and hassle-free.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Alana and I began Bulletin as an e-commerce newsletter in 2015 as a way to spotlight the best emerging brands and help them scale. We were both obsessed with the indie brands and small businesses we’d meet and shop at flea markets all around Brooklyn and wanted to help them thrive and make more sales. We eventually launched an outdoor pop-up market and stores to further support our mission, but in 2019, we decided to build and launch our own B2B wholesale marketplace to connect brands with retail partners all over the US and Canada. Retailers use Bulletin to meet, support and source inventory from thousands of vetted, premium brands, and brands use Bulletin to expand their wholesale business and secure new online and physical retailers.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business as a result of the pandemic?
Maintaining company morale was definitely a grind! It has been hard to stay motivated, keep everyone else motivated and adjust to our new normal. When your employees are juggling childcare and COVID diagnoses, or chronic anxiety, you feel for them and want them to feel understood and supported at work. Balancing that with our aggressive 2020 and 2021 goals has been a delicate balance, for sure.
Name a digital tool you couldn’t do business without.
Salesforce. Hands down.
What have you recently read or listened to that has been an inspiration for your work?
I’ve been re-reading Yrsa Daley-Ward’s poetry book, “bones.” It is NOT a business book – though I just published one of my own called How to Build a Goddamn Empire – it is an incisive, thoughtful, delicate book about love, loss and mental health. I find that reading poetry helps me get out of my own head and feel rejuvenated and inspired about my work.
What do you view as the greatest benefit to being an entrepreneur?
Being able to challenge yourself so often and as a result, learn new things about yourself – both good and bad. I think entrepreneurship is a remarkable vehicle for self awareness.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs on building and running a successful business?
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. You have NO idea what’s in someone else’s toolkit – who they know, how much money they started with, who their family is even! – and for that reason, comparison will always be misguided and unhealthy. Force your own path, do it with confidence, and keep your blinders on.
Are you a small business owner? Apply for your chance to be a part of Klarna’s Small Business Impact Initiative here.