Monday, December 6, 2010

Getting your designs into stores

Our WonkyDolls in Pack Rats in Columbia
The goal of most, if not all designers, is to eventually see the work they've done make it into brick and mortar shops.  It gives you a sense of accomplishment and the feeling of "wow, other people think my stuff is good enough."  Not to say that anyone who isn't in a store isn't good, far from it.  But to me personally, it makes what I do seem more legitimate when I can say "oh yes, you might have seen my work in [store]"  ESPECIALLY for those who think crafting isn't a "real job."

Getting things into shops is easier than you might think.  Here's how I did it, both for our WonkyDolls (pictured left) and my hair accessories. 

First, you need to decide whether you want to do consignment or wholesale, or if you want to try both.  I would definitely choose wholesale over consignment if I had the option.  For our dolls, we went with consignment because we were getting a decent percentage from the shop and we really just wanted a place for our dolls to be seen locally.  For my hair accessories, I knew up front that I would only do wholesale.  But this isn't a consignment vs. wholesale argument; you'll have to decide what is best for your product.

If you're doing consignment,  they will have a contract for you to fill out with a listing of each item you're placing in the store.  A lot of consignment shops my husband and I looked into do a 50/50 split, which we think is crap.  Try to get at least 70/30.  Make sure you stay in touch with the shop each month, I've heard of a lot of people having bad experience with not getting paid in a timely fashion when they sold an item. 

If you want to try to get a wholesale order, you need to have a linesheet and an order form when you go into a place.  A linesheet lists all your products with pictures and prices, so they can see what they want.  Then you have the order form with all your contact information and they can list how many they want of each item. 

shops on Devine St. in Columbia, SC
In either case, bring your items with you when you go to places.  When they want to see what you've got, it's easier to grab them out of the car than it is to try to make an appointment to come back and show your stuff.  Every place I've approached has asked to see the items immediately, so it's better to come prepared.  Also, make sure you have a business card with you, in case they don't order on the spot, they need to have easy access to your information.

It was easier than I anticipated to get my hair accessories into a store.  I scoped out the area, looking for little gift shops or places that advertised handmade items.  There was a boutique about a block from my house that I decided to try first.  I had my items ready to be presented on backcards, my information and my order forms.  I went in and asked to speak to the owner.  I introduced myself and told her that I created hair accessories and wondered would she be interested in carrying them.  She told me to bring them in for her to look through, and she ordered on the spot. 
The key is to be prepared for them to order.  Make sure you have everything you need to have before you step foot in the store.  Don't be discouraged if they decide not to order, just give them a business card and tell them to keep you in mind for the future.  Know the store, make sure you think your designs would be a good fit.  Hit as many stores as you can.  I know it's exciting to get things in a store, but don't undersell yourself either.  If you're doing wholesale, have a minimum order, either # of pieces or amount.  Don't settle for 50% consignment if you don't feel comfortable with it.

It's scary, I know.  Every time I go into a store, I get so nervous I feel like a bumbling fool.  But you just have to get out there and hit the streets, and don't expect people to come find you.  Good luck!

P.S. you can find my hair accessories at Flowers Forever & Etc. in Columbia, SC

Next time: So you want to start doing craft shows?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for this post. It confirmed what I did yesterday... walked into a handmade gallery and asked them about stocking my goods! I found your blog & facebook page via etsy. New follower for both! Monique xx