If you are looking for a way to jump start your jewelry business consider wholesaling your jewelry to boutiques and galleries to make a profit. Wholesaling (selling directly to store) is a very proactive approach and can help you drive more sales. With this approach you are not waiting around for people to find your website or see you at a local craft fair. With the right tools this can be a great way to earn faster income and get your brand noticed at the same time. There are a few things to consider before deciding wholesale is a good route to go.
1. Are you priced appropriately, so you can make a profit at wholesale?
The number-one hesitation many makers may have when considering wholesale is that they don’t want to “give away half their price to a store.” But this is the wrong approach to pricing. Retailers don’t take half of your retail price; they mark up your wholesale price. (The markup is usually between two and three times your wholesale price, with 2.2-, 2.3- and 2.5-percent being pretty common in our industry.)
To make sure you’re priced appropriately, your wholesale price should account for your materials, time, labor, and PROFIT. You’ll need to mark up your own retail prices from there to be consistent with the stores that carry your work.
2. Is your jewelry line cohesive?
You want to make sure that when a shop owner looks at your line it looks like it has been made by the same person, and the designs make sense together. You want to avoid your line having too many ideas going on. A lot of makers have certain aspects of their design, like a shape, that will be found in a pair of earrings and then also used in a necklace as well as a bracelet. This strategy ties the line together and makes a cohesive look.
3. Have you set your wholesale policies?
The advantage of wholesale is that, while you’re selling your jewelry at wholesale instead of a retail price, you’re sending out multiple pieces with every order. In order to make wholesale work for you, you’ll need to set a minimum that makes each order worth your time but also makes sense to a store. Your minimum order can be a dollar amount (for example, $500) or a per-piece minimum (such as 12 pieces). You can also set minimums for individual styles (such as requiring someone to order four of a certain style of earring.)
When setting your minimum order, it’s important to consider what is going to make a cohesive and eye-catching display in a store. Don’t be tempted to set low minimum orders to encourage stores to buy from you. In my experience (and many others’ as well), you’ll sell better in a store when they have more product (a higher minimum order) and that will encourage more re-orders.
4. Do you have a way for stores to view your jewelry line?
In the old days of selling wholesale, this meant a line sheet, which featured basic images of your work paired with descriptions and wholesale pricing. This is a simple and easy way of showcasing your work and can be printed and mailed, as well as transformed into a PDF to email to stores. (There are a lot of different ways to create your line sheet. I use Photoshop and Illustrator to create mine, but I’ve also found that PowerPoint or Keynote are great if you aren’t as tech savvy.)
While creating a traditional line sheet can still be incredibly effective, it’s now easier than ever to create an online platform where buyers can view (and order) your products. Sites such as Brand Boom let you create a virtual line sheet, and Etsy now has Etsy Wholesale, where buyers can register, view, and order products from multiple sellers. You can also enable wholesale ordering on your own site. (I do this with a third-party app, called Wholesale Hero, installed on my Shopify site.)
5. Do you have a prospecting list of boutiques you want to target?
Once you have your line sheet together it is truly a numbers game and the more boutiques you send your line sheet to the more orders and boutiques you will hear back from with interest in caring your line. I like to keep my prospect list in a spreadsheet form with as much information as possible. Email address, contact’s phone number, address, owners name, buyers name, last date of contact, hot/cold, etc. This will keep you organized and give you a database to work from, so next season you will have everything ready to go. I also have a hot and cold list of boutiques that I keep track of. Some boutiques will respond to your emailed line sheet with, “love your line, but don’t have shelf space to take on another artisan.” This is a boutique you will want to touch base with again in a few months or next season.
Once you have your list of stores, it’s time to start reaching out. There are a number of ways to get in touch with stores, and I recommend experimenting with a few different strategies to see what works best for you. You can email stores individually with a brief introduction to your work. (You should never do a mass email or add a store to your email list without permission.) I’m a fan of doing postcard mailings because stores get an immediate visual of your work, and it’s a cost-effective way to reach out to your entire prospect list at once. For stores that are really high on your priority list, mail your line sheet or catalog.
6. Dealing with Rejection
One last thing to keep in mind: Don’t let the fear of rejection hold you back from reaching out to stores! Buyers have many reasons not to buy (for example, they might not have the budget or shelf space at the moment); most of those reasons have nothing to do with whether they like your work or not. If you don’t get a definitive “it’s not the right work for us” response, keep the store on your list and follow up again in a few months. Once you’ve gotten a wholesale order, don’t forget to follow up and stay in contact with the store. What makes wholesale a truly profitable business strategy is not just the new orders, but the reorders from stores that can continue for many years!