Wednesday, March 5, 2008


I wanted to start this next installment with a warm thanks to the great response that I have received to the first posting about consignment. I received many wonderful comments and emails thanking me for this information and asking me to continue with this informative series. I love to share my experience and knowledge with others, and if any of this information assists you, please let me know. I would love to share that with other readers, and highlight your business successes on this blog!

Interesting side note: I have been in contact with boutiques interested in my jewelry, including some with whom I have done wholesale business in the past. With the current state of the economy, many smaller boutiques are taking a much more careful and cautious approach to how they manage their inventory and are incorporating CONSIGNMENT into their inventory plan. This is a business practice that may just be growing, and one that we as artists will need to understand and embrace to continue to drive our sales and exposure!

Here is the next installment in the Consignment series...Meeting with the Boutique! Please note that this series is also being posted on my Retail Training Consultants blog! Next installment: The First of the "BIG QUESTIONS"!

The Meeting! (drumroll, please...)

When you have a meeting scheduled, be prepared. You have every right to negotiate as much as the retailer does! I know many artists who have felt that it is up the retailer to set the terms, and they put their art and their livelihood in the hands of that retailer. That is pretty naïve, and I have heard nightmare stories come out of such arrangements. You are also in control, remember, it is your product that will make them a profit! This should be a two way conversation!

Come prepared with the following:

Samples. Bring as many as you can, with a strong representation of your work, the colors/gemstones/mediums you work in and with the variety of techniques that you may incorporate into your work. Make sure that they are professionally presented, I have heard horror stories about necklaces tangled in bags, earrings that are mismatched...not the impression you want to leave! Fetpak and other suppliers have wonderful sample cases, roll bags, portfolios, and other clever ways of keeping your samples safe and well-presented.

With jewelry, it is great to show them on displayers, if you can bring some along. It can also really showcase the jewelry if you have velvet or leather mats to lay the pieces on. It also shows the care that you take with your product, and that it is truly special.

Put the jewelry on, invite them to try it on. Jewelry is a visceral sale, and when people try on jewelry they are much more likely to buy it, including boutique owners and managers! Do you have a friend who would be willing to be a model for you? Bring them along, and have them help showcase your work!

A portfolio of your work. This could include digital pictures, postcards or catalogs you have printed. If you are featured in blogs, have screen prints, or screen prints from being highlighted or featured on other websites. If you have been featured in any print advertising, editorials or articles, this is a great way to showcase the newspaper or magazine articles. Yes, this is your opportunity to "brag", and this is a professional way to do so! A nice portfolio is a strong impression!

A new way to showcase your work is to incorporate one of the digital frames that you can plug in and have pictures of your work (and even music) scrolling across the frame. Upload your favorite pictures, set it to flash from picture to picture at the time interval that you set, and some offer you the ability to add effects. It is a high tech way to showcase your work, and the digital frames are now very accessible in price. Use it later at jewelry parties and shows too!

Price sheets. Try to use item numbers for your produdct if possible, as this makes it much less confusing for you and the retailer. While I love to have unique and interesting names and descriptions for my pieces, each one has a unique item number that makes it easy to track and communicate to retailers.

Also, be sure to note any volume pricing that you may offer, or any pricing variations between styles. For example, if I do a necklace in freshwater pearl, it is priced differently than if it is in gemstones. Be prepared to answer if you are flexible in your pricing. Also, be prepared and answer what your average price is, what the average mark up of your work is, and what other retailers are carrying your work.

Blank invoices. They should be pre-printed with your logo and business info on them if possible. This conveys that you are an established business, an invoice pad from an office store does not.

Invoices will be crucial should they want to keep any samples as well to show the owner, other partners, etc. You should never leave any samples without some kind of paper trail! Also, they may wish to create an order on the spot, and this way you are ready to write it up!

Pens, pencils, calculator, stapler, paper clips, etc. I have a small pencil bag from Staples that I carry supplies in that can assist me with writing up an invoice, with all of the supplies in miniature. Cute, and still usable! That way, I can streamline my supplies, and still get the job done!

Technology. Better yet...if you have the technology that makes price sheets, invoices and office supplies a thing of the past, go for it! I have brought along my laptop, and from one piece of technology, I can show them my website, my blog, my portfolio, my price sheets and type up the invoice and email it to them before I even leave the boutique! Whew!

I also have a PDA that can do pretty much all of the above, just on a smaller screen. Ditto for an iPhone. Be savvy with the technology that you use, it can make the meeting much easier, take much less time, and truly show them how much you respect their time and how quickly you can react to their business needs.

Recommendations from customers or other retail partners. This is a great way to show a steady track record with other customers, and that you are reliable and credible.

Good luck with your meeting! Feel free to share with me what worked, what you did differently, or any other advice you would offer for meeting with retailers!

Next posting: The first of the "BIG QUESTIONS"!