March 01, 2008
Where do I go?
In answer to Danielle, who left a comment asking where I go on my business trips.....
Once a month, I drive the 100 miles into the mountains where I used to live to visit the stores that carry my jewelry. Since I lived there when I began selling to them, they think of me as local and I think it's good PR to stay in touch.
Rather than answer Danielle's question directly, I thought I'd post about this as it may be helpful to Etsy sellers who are interested in selling wholesale.
As much as possible, Go In Person, not necessarily to try to make a sale (always be prepared though), but just to let your stores know you are interested and available. Buyers want to feel they are important enough for you to call on them regularly. Don't pester your shops for a sale, but show up. And listen to comments from the owners and sales staff. You will pick up clues that will be very helpful.
The best piece of advice I ever got, although it was not intended to be, was from the owner of my best-selling store, on my very first visit. Together, we were admiring the jewelry she buys from other artists, and she made a comment about the one we both liked the best. Even though the artist lives in an adjoining state, about 400 miles away, the owner said to me, "I love her jewelry, but she never calls on me, so she must not need my business". Wow! That was worth it's weight in all the jewelry she has since bought from me.
When I left the mountains, I was actually hoping to just mail a box of jewelry now and then, but another comment made me re-think that approach. While rummaging through my bag of necklaces, the buyer commented on how much she loved going through all the jewelry herself and seeing everything. Loving jewelry as she does, it's touching it and seeing it in person that excites her. And I'm sure it also leads to a ton of impulse purchases that she might not make if she were just thumbing through a catalog and had plenty of time to think about it. Never underestimate the attraction of being able to fondle the jewelry!
Visiting your shops regularly will also keep you in touch with what is selling and what is not. You may have a great design that is selling well in one shop but not in another. It's all about the clientele. Different shops attract different shoppers. As you become familiar with the trends in each store, you can gear your presentations accordingly. Owners are busy people. They may not always notice which pieces of your jewelry are selling best. Educate them. Keep track for yourself and mention to the buyer that you've noticed a particular design is selling well. They'll appreciate that you are knowledgeable, not just about your own line, but also about their store.
Try to be flexible. Getting stuck in one particular design aesthetic will limit you to only being able to sell to shops with a compatible style. One of my stores sells only long, dramatic, dangly earrings. Another considers them much too dressy and buys only simple classic styles. If you can design in several different styles, it will expand your sales possibilities and probably keep you from becoming bored with your own jewelry too!
These trips are so important to me, not just to make a sale, but to refresh me and renew my enthusiasm for making jewelry. Appreciation is a great motivator and you don't get that from waiting at home, hoping the phone will ring with an order from someone you never actually see.
(Oh, and don't forget, the mileage is deductible!!)
Posted by Carol at 11:18 AM