A guide to successfully selling your products wholesale to retailers
Libby from Diament Jewelry
Please give a warm welcome to our very first guest blogger here at Craftsposure! Libby from Diament Jewelry has been selling her beautiful handmade and vintage jewelry since 2009 in New York.
Today she wholesales her jewelry to over 60 retail stores and she has been kind enough to offer her advice on building successful wholesale relationships.
LIBBY: I started my career working in corporate cosmetics in my early twenties doing various jobs from being an assistant to planning events. It was a magical experience because it opened my eyes to the inner processes of a big company. And I was able to do amazing things like work backstage at fashion week!
But like many corporate gigs, I felt trapped.
My creativity was stifled.
And I didn’t have the freedom to express and implement ideas.
While working 9 to 5, I attended a jewelry school on the side and I never looked back. Slowly, I made the switch to becoming a full time jewelry designer.
Fast forward five years and I’m now doing what I love every single day.
I also have one full time employee (my amazing cousin Jean!) and an amazing bunch of retailers who stock my products.
A huge part of Diament Jewelry’s success lies in wholesaling my products to retailers. I started out stocking my items in 5 stores and now you can find my jewelry in over 60 retailers. This includes brands like Urban Outfitters, Simons in Canada and an amazing number of small boutiques around the globe.
Let’s make one thing clear. Wholesaling isn’t just about luck or good timing. There are many things that you can get started on today to help you find your own success.
So let’s cut to the chase and discuss how to develop and grow a healthy wholesale business.
Starting a relationship with retailers
There are many ways that you can approach retail accounts that you would like to work with. For Diament Jewelry I use a combination of strategies including hosting and attending tradeshows as well as approaching retailers directly.
Approaching them directly
From my experience approaching your target is the best approach to get their attention. Consider:
- Calling retailers
- Emailing retailers
- Sending printed material to retailers
- Knocking on doors
The key thing to remember here is that if you want to wholesale your products, you need to get out there and hustle.
Don’t wait for your work to be “discovered”.
Don’t sit there wishing your items can magically find their way onto retail shelves.
Get out there.
Pound the pavement.
And make yourself known to retailers.
Some of my most successful wholesale relationships started because I marched right into a shop with a huge bag of jewelry and simply asked if I could show them a few of my things.
Polite is not always the best approach.
Sure, I could have called and tried to get an appointment, but chances are they wouldn’t have even seen my email.
I have a healthy self esteem and I want the store owner to get to know me. There is no shortage of designers out there to compete with so personality can really set you apart.
And guess what? It paid off!
The store owners could see that I was insanely passionate about my line of jewelry. I was ballsy, and they seemed to appreciate the direct approach.
The second approach for starting good wholesale relationships is to attend tradeshows.
But tradeshows can be incredibly expensive.
You will need to factor in the cost of entry, travel and displays. Don’t forget the intense amount of energy you will need to put it to talk to people and sell your products.
But you will build relationships.
Don’t fret if retailers don’t place an order right away. Because you will leave the show with a lot of great leads and contacts. People that you can follow up and grow relationships with.
The more shows you do, the more leads you will gather. That being said, we did trade shows for several years and it was a great adventure. Unfortunately, they are just so expensive that we recently had to put them on hold because we really need the funds elsewhere in the business. The joys of having a small budget!
Growing the relationship
Getting that big order with a new account is one of the most exciting things for a small business owner.
And the smile on my face that I hope that never goes away.
The real challenge in wholesaling is being able to maintain these relationships.
My first and most important suggestion is to be absolutely genuine in all your interactions.
Over the years some of the retailers that I work with have turned into close friends.
It’s crucial to be professional in the beginning. But I truly believe that my success has come from being myself and believing in the jewelry that I sell. It’s all about the fine balancing act; being able to be serious and professional, yet fun and laid back in meetings.
If you ever get nervous before a meeting with a retailer just remind yourself gently to be yourself. It works like a charm and it’ll keep you grounded and friendly.
Getting repeat orders
Once you have established the relationship, it’s time to follow up.
Following up is very critical in order to get those repeat orders.
Don’t be that annoying maker who follows up too often, though. A friendly message every now and then to remind store owners that we are here ready to provide them with great products works great!
My last tip would be to make sure that your orders are done quickly and correctly.
If it’s too much work for the store to work with you, they will simply move on. We are all human and things happen, but staying organized and accurate is key.
Proper Etiquette with Business to Business Relationships
In the previous section, I talked about being genuine. But don’t forget that this is a business relationship!
No matter what, when it comes down to business, you are there to provide a product or service.
Basic things are key to a successful business relationship:
- Responding to emails quickly and politely
- Providing invoices or any paperwork quickly and accurately
- Fixing any issues with the order as fast as possible
- Answering questions that the store may have
All of the little things really matter in a long term working relationship. It shows that you are professional, and that you most of all you care. Treat the store like they are gold and you will succeed. Be as accommodating as possible!
Tips on How to Succeed
There is no true formula to how to succeed long term with a wholesale account.
I have had many successful relationships, and others where I was left wondering what happened.
The truth is that you only have control on your end.
You may never know truly why something ended. And it’s not fair to beat yourself up over it.
Perhaps it wasn’t the right fit.
Or the store’s budget didn’t allow for a reorder.
I can only try my best to create a solid relationship using all the tips above.
We have been working with Urban Outfitters for almost four years and we are so lucky and grateful to have worked with them for this long. Here are my parting tips:
- Always be honest if there’s an issue with the order. Most retailers will be willing to work together to fix the problem.
- Ask questions. Asking questions is incredibly helpful for planning. I may ask for a time frame about an order, without being pushy, so that I can provide a product for them when they need it.
- Never give up! You just never know what may happen. It’s ok that you haven’t worked with an account in awhile. Touch base and show them some new products. The key is to have constant communication without being annoying or pushy. Remember that people are very busy and sometimes just need a friendly reminder that you are there.
- Tailor your communication with each account. If you know that someone responds best by phone, then pick up the phone and call them.
I just wanted to say that I am so proud of being a small business owner and I admire all of the other small business owners out there. Cheers to you and your success! We all have to help one another learn and grown, and all of our success should be celebrated. If you’d like to speak further or have any questions please email me at [email protected]. You can find us at www.diamentjewelry.com.