How are you going to distribute your products? The answer will differ depending on whether you are selling Retail or Wholesale.
1. Website/Etsy, which we have already covered in Step 5
2. Shoe Box
Jewelry is a great conversation starter. When I was in High School I carried a shoebox around filled with earrings. Any time I was waiting for the bus, for class to start or for an appointment, I would take out the box and start playing with the jewelry. Within minutes, I would be surrounded by a flock of women who wanted to see what I had. Jewelry pretty much sells itself. You don’t need to use a shoebox, but always have at least a few samples of your work on hand. A small jewelry pouch goes a long way toward building a loyal clientele!
3. Farmers Markets
Farmer’s Markets are one of the least expensive ways to show your jewelry in public. They are a great way to test the water and explore the mass appeal of your designs. Not everyone will be in the mood to shop for earrings early Sunday morning, but there are advantages to displaying your work at a venue with very few jewelry booths.
5. Craft shows
Before the internet, Craft Shows were one of the only ways that artists could connect directly with customers. Today, jewelry designers have many more options, but the Craft Show scene remains vibrant.
6. Charity Events
Charity events often have bazaars attached where vendors set up and a % of their sales go to the charity. These events attract high end customers who can feel good about indulging their jewelry habit for a good cause. There is an online version of this where you create a strategic alliance with a non-profit you believe in and sell jewelry either through their website or your own with a % of revenue dedicated to them. Causes that benefit women and children are a good match. Send out a press release and you might even get media coverage. Susan Schaps combines home shows with charity themes to create highly successful annual events.
7. Mocking Bird
Mocking birds sneak their eggs into other birds’ nests. Likewise, planting your jewelry in a novel location can generate a great deal of business. When I was starting out, I made up small jewelry displays and placed them in local hair salons. The salons were thrilled because they made money without an up-front investment and I was able to sell to a captive audience. It turned out that women with cute new haircuts could not resist pretty earrings. Any location with women waiting around has potential. I know a woman who does a huge business at Dental Conferences because the wives are bored and thrilled to shop for jewelry.
8. Home Parties
Home parties are one of the lowest overhead, highest profit margin ways to market jewelry. There are large companies like Silpada and Stella and Dot that understand this and have grown by using a Tupperware Party model to spread their products around the country. You can harness the same energy to sell your own jewelry.
It helps to develop a few friends or loyal clients in different geographic locations who will host jewelry parties for you once or twice a year. After a few years, it becomes a “tradition” that people look forward to. If they know that Carol always hosts a jewelry party in early December, they will come armed with their Christmas lists!
9. Mommy Bloggers
10. Pop Up Stores
11. Permanent Store Front
If you sell wholesale on your website be sure retail folks can’t see wholesale prices. Marlene does a fabulous job on her Danialli website of offering tantalizing images and then directing retail customers to actual storefronts to make purchases.
2. Cold Calls (not as scary as they sound).
Local boutiques are the traditional launching ground for wholesale jewelry businesses. Boutiques are always looking for a fresh look. The owner of a shop that you patronize regularly will almost always agree to look at your line.
3. Portfolios sent out to targeted galleries with follow up calls & visits. Include press coverage in the portfolio, awards won, photos and pricing.
Consignment is a quick, easy way to get your foot in the door of wholesaling. Boutique owners often have tight budgets and they may be reluctant to invest in a designer who is not yet established. By offering your jewelry on consignment, you give the store an opportunity to see how well your products sell. While this is a perfectly fine way to get started, there are disadvantages in the long term. Consignment ties up capital and there is always the question of who is responsible if items are damaged or missing. If a buyer does not believe in a line enough to make a purchase, how motivated will the staff be to sell it? If you feel that consignment is your only option, agree up-front to revisit the arrangement in six months. If the store isn’t prepared to make a purchase by then, it probably isn’t a good fit.
5. Trunk Shows
Boutiques that carry jewelry will often invite the designer to do a trunk show. At these events, the Jewelry Designer makes a personal appearance and brings in a large amount of additional inventory for sale on that day only. These shows are a good way to beef up sales. It is an opportunity to demonstrate to the store buyer that there is enough demand for your jewelry to expand the line year round. If you haven’t been asked to do a trunk show, suggest it yourself! It is a low risk proposition for store owner’s because they don’t need to invest in the extra inventory and it helps generate a buzz and get people in the door. Sarah Graham sent this stunning trunk show notice out to everyone on her mailing list to generate foot traffic at the event.
A tradeshow is a marketplace with many booths where wholesale buyers gather to place purchase orders. These events are extremely expensive and require a great deal of preparation and investment. This is the Big Time. Don’t be surprised if it takes several seasons to build up a clientele.
7. Show Room/Reps
Many designers rely on sales reps and showrooms bring in wholesale business. This model minimizes the amount of time spent on sales, leaving more time to design and produce jewelry. The convenience comes at a steep cost. It is not unusual for reps to charge 25% commission plus showroom fees. As one of many lines represented, there is a danger of getting lost in the crowd.
Most businesses have more than one distribution channel. It may take some trial and error to discover what works best for you. Once you make your choices, meet me at Step 7 :Write a Business Plan.