Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sell Your Handmade Jewelry Post 2

My case is filled. My labels stuck on the trays. My inventory logged.
I need a few business cards so I ordered some from moo. 
I like moo because of the nice thick paper they use, the fact that I can upload my own photos of my own jewelry on the front of the cards really easily and they have nice things I use every so often, like postcards and stickers for reasonable prices.

Now I need to draft a sales letter, design a photo collage and assemble samples.

The sales letter is your pitch on paper in very few words.
This is to cement what you have shared about you and your product, leaving the potential buyer with a tangible something to refer back to.
An example;
Hello (the stores name here)!  
 The holiday shopping season is here and I have a way for you to provide your customers with unique, professionally designed, handcrafted gifts.
  We have earrings of antiqued sterling and copper paired with Czech glass and semi-precious stones, we have multi-chained bracelets with adjustable sizing and artisan beads, we have necklaces of hand hammered copper pendants paired with Swarovski crystals in wonderfully festive ways!  All of this merchandise is ready to ship, display and sell for your increased holiday traffic.
  Offer jewelry from (your business name here) for 3 benefits;
1.) Supporting (your state) based artisans is one of the best ways to stay green by reducing the amount of travel, thus reducing the carbon footprint.
2.) Today’s distrust of large corporations makes it easier for people to invest in their community by purchasing from small business artisans.
3.) The uniqueness of these designs pulls at your customers heart strings, both fascinating them and creating a “must have” purchase, thereby creating instant income for your store front.
  Please take a moment to look over the collage of photos we have assembled for you. This collage represents a small fraction of the jewelry collection available for wholesale purchase or consignment.
  We can offer you references for consignment and wholesale accounts stating we are able to keep up with large shipments, offer reasonable prices and create securely finished, quality jewelry.   This is our passion that we are eager to share with your buyer and hopefully, build a prosperous relationship with you. 
Thank you for your time,
Your full name here
email address here
maybe a skype number of phone number if you like here

You can tweak this to make it your own or just use it as a base for creating your own sales letter.
I feel both the photo collage and a sample is not necessary but my reasoning for including both with the sales letter is; the photo collage can show a few more choices and hooks the visual decision maker (most buyers of accessories will be visual based people) and the sample is awfully hard to just toss aside to become buried in a desk mess. 
(No, you do not have to have references on hand if you are just starting out but if you do have them, they are nice to back up your words.)

I created a photo collage through Picasa 3.
Available here through google. 

This is an example of one of my collages without the description and the price.

Each of the photos used for a photo collage can inserted into the collage with a few descriptive words and an approximate retail price added as text into the corners.
You can do this with whatever software you have or through the picasa photo editing software.
This should be subtle and discreet, not too large a font that it shadows the design.

Print off a few copies, not as actual photos but just on good matte paper. Staple the sales letter and the photo collage together and set them aside.
The samples;
This is optional and you can ignore this section and still acquire new consignment accounts, okay?
But I like to include samples.
They can be any type of small, fast, easy to make, inexpensive item, BUT they must show off what you do.
Zipper pulls, 1 bead earrings, charm, key chain, etc. Whatever you can assemble to a business card or a display card, slip into a zip lock bag, stick a business name and email to and attach to the sales letter and photo collage to leave with your buyer. I often use the sample for the sales clerk who gets you the buyers name. Her just wearing your piece will get someone asking and that in itself could get your ball rolling.

This advise follows the same vein as offering your hairdresser free earrings, your local book store lady a pin, a friend in PTO a necklace for so&so's upcoming pregnancy. IT ALL COMES BACK TO YOU, pressed down and shaken together.

And now the contract;
The contract serves to mainly avoid misunderstandings and difficulties that would arise if both parties had not been clear about the terms of the arrangement.

But there are also responsibilities and rights expected from both parties that need to be discussed and agreed to before entering into a contract. 
1.) Your rights as an artist.
2.) The items listed on inventory and accompanied by the agreed price (not to be confused with your case inventory but a separate list that is turned in with the items that will be consigned.).  
3.) Your descriptions are true and accurate ( in other words don't call something sterling if it's plated brass).
4.) How long will the store front or gallery hold on to your stuff.
5.) Who will transport the items back and forth from the store.
6.) The stores acceptance of covering the cost for all items that had been damaged or stolen.
7.) The store agrees to pay you before paying creditors. 
8.) The stores fee for selling your work (the percentage we discussed here.) and when they will pay you.
9.) The rights of reproduction remain the artists.
10.) A statement of accounts to be sent with your payment of what sold.
11.) How you will terminate your agreement.
12.) Any adjustments to the contract should be signed by both artist and store.

I have a fantastic contract that covers all this and stuff I didn't even know to think of already done up by a lawyer. You can contact me through email for a copy to look over for yourself or you can work with your own lawyer to put together a contract specifically suited for you and your goods. 
You will need a copy for each store you approach so print several of these contracts and place them in the manila folder with your case inventory.

This seems like a good time to mention what several people are afraid of; theft.
Yep, jewelry gets stolen.
If you had a shop yourself, you would know there is nothing you can do to completely eradicate this risk to doing business. Just as I know getting into a car means I may have an accident so too do I know selling jewelry may mean a piece or 2 is stolen. I still get into my car everyday and I still want to sell jewelry at stores. If the risk isn't worth it, don't do it. As careful as a shop owner or their paid help can be, if someone wants to steal something, they will figure out a way to do so.  Keeping your jewelry in loud crinkly cellophane bags is a deterrent as is having it attached to large display boxes.

I do not let people "try on" my handmade artisan jewelry at shows and I let the store know it isn't good to let people at their store try it on either. Holding the piece up to the body is fine (under the assistance of sales help) for giving a potential buyer a closer idea of what it would look like on as would details on the tag (size, etc.), but earrings should never be taken off the display cards and put into someone's ear hole. Bracelets are too easy to conceal under sleeves and necklaces do not need to be clasped on a persons neck against their skin or under their hair for them to get the full effect of your jewelry. The more people who handle your jewelry, the more oil and dirt is transferred to your jewelry and that isn't good for the mass produced, shiny stuff or your hand crafted artisan jewelry.

We will talk more in a future post about discussing with the store owner where your pieces should be located in the store and how they will be displayed. This plays a part in how much your items are watched and protected.

So. This is the not-so-fun part of preparing yourself to approach stores, but I really believe that once it is together, you will feel better about having all your ducks in a row and knowing you did your best to cover all aspects in preparing to present to your buyer and avoiding potential problems during the duration of your consignment agreement. 
AND if I can point out that if you have followed through with all these tasks and finished the hard work up to now, you are not going to want to just quit and give up! You are going to want to go forward!
The next post will be on Sunday the 19th. 
That gives us 1 week to order business cards, draft a heart felt but to the point sales letter, make a pretty informative photo collage of our best jewelry and print out artist protecting contracts.
June 19th's post will cover finding stores, setting appointments, presenting to stores and following up with stores. We will also put together an order form that you fill out according to the buyers wants and take to the work bench to ........


  1. Shannon, Great and informative article. Much to think about. Really appreciate the time and effort you put into writing this post. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Just wanted to say 'thank you' for the very informative 'how to sell your jewelry' posts. They're a real eye-opener and I'm mulling over all you mention as I figure out whether or not this selling thing is for me. Thanks again for being so generous with your knowledge and ideas.

  3. Shannon, I thank you so much for taking the time to share this valuable information in your blog. I have some idea of how much of your day it takes to do complicated blog posts like this. Just want you to know how much I appreciate it. Your info is fantastic. Look forward to the next installment.

  4. Great, great information again Shannon.

  5. Shannon, you put so much effort and love into everything you do! This is the most professional and thorough information I've ever seen on approaching businesses. You even mentioned some precautions against theft. Ideally, the place of business will have a jewelry case and a sales person close by, but that's not always possible. But we take the risk, we just know ahead of time that there will be some losses. We don't get the whole pie! Thanks again for caring!

  6. You are SO on the ball! You GO Shannon! I can see nothing but Success for your preseverence!! Thank you for taking all this time to type this and give it to are really generous.

  7. I have made a few attempts at getting into stores, without any luck so far. I'm hoping your knowledge will better equip me, and better informed equals better results! Thank you for sharing with us, I really appreciate it.

  8. Fantastic and thank you again for your generous spirit. This is such valuable info.


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