Wholesaleing OOAK Jewelry


Published On: 11-18-2011 03:09pm

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I do allot of wholesaling to small boutiques in a couple of high end areas and I love it.  It is finally becoming profitable and it has allowed me to not only stop doing all day craft venues, but I can make the kind of jewelry that I love to make and make some money on it too - the best of all possible worlds !

I have several outlets for my jewelry and most of them are consignment and I know that most people don't like that, but that is the way that it is in my area and it is generally 50/50, which I feel is really unfair to the artisan, but it is well established here, and I would have to be much more in demand, and much, much cheaper to hope to have my jewelry purchased outright by shop owners.  The nice part about this is, I receive monthly checks from my shops and that spreads the income out and I can't just "blow" it on new supplies.

I make mostly OOAK pieces of jewelry, and therefore, I cannot take advantage of volume discounts, so I have to be very careful with my pricing, because I am only going to get 50% of what I would get if I could sell it myself.  I use a formula that I got in "Lapidary Journal" and I follow it faithfully.  I may sometimes "fudge" my retail price, but I never fudge my wholesale costs.  Wholesale costs are two times supplies, plus $5.00 for profit, plus time at a very fair wage, then add 10% of this total for overhead...and that is my wholesale cost.  I have not had one shop that felt that my costs were out of line.  The downside here is that your website ends up with relatively high prices, because you cannot undersell your shops...and you are competing with other shops that either do not know how to price, or are selling at wholesale in a retail environment, but that's another whole blog in itself, so we'll leave it there.

Finding shops is an ongoing journey.  Now that I am in several shops, I always ask the owners to recommend other shops - some are willing to and some are not, but that has worked well for me.  When I first started, we went on allot of day trips, driving around and just looking for shops where I felt that my jewelry would fit, and then I would try to get an appointment with the manager or the owner.  This can be a long, drawn out process, or as easy as my last shop - I called the owner, told her the owner from one of my other shops told me to call her and thought she might like my jewelry, and she wanted me to come in the next day to show her my line.  Couldn't make the next day, but when I did get in to her shop, I knew that she liked it, but neither of us was prepared for her clothing client who came up and purchased 2 of my necklaces before the owner had fully committed to carrying my jewelry. Needless to say, I didn't have to go into my spiel about how easy my jewelry was to sell.

When I was starting along this path, I tried many approaches.  I did allot of Google searches and emailed shops.  I called resorts and hotels and tried to get direct lines or emails to the retail managers.  I spent days and days on the telephone trying to set up appointments to get my foot in any door.  There was allot of rejection and that could be a problem for some people, but there was enough, albeit slow, acceptance that I persevered and it has really paid off.  I had one shop that took me seven months to get an appointment  with, but it was worth it because I am now there and  they buy outright.  I have another shop who saw me early on, and kept telling me to call back because there was a renovation going on that wasn't completed, I did this for 8 months, only calling when she told me to.  I made some stuff especially for her shop, who would have you keep calling for eight months if they weren't going to buy??? In the ninth month, she told me that "she would call me" if she was interested, and I have not heard from her since. Needless to say, I was dissappointed and decided not to count on ANYTHING until it is signed, sealed, and delivered.

Although I don't sell much from my website, it has been invaluable to me for this project.  It is my catalogue. It is where I send prospective clients to get a feel for my jewelry.  It makes me seem professional - who doesn't have a web site today?  It allows my out of town shops a place to look at my line with out me having to make a long trip to visit them and often I can just mail to them.

I have learned so much from my shops. Each one has a distinct personality and I try to gear my jewelry to that.  I am happy to trade pieces - if it doesn't work in one place, it will generally work in another.  Having just returned from Tucson, I can  make some duplicates and that has worked out well for everyone.  I will not go into a shop that is close to one that already sells my jewelry. Someone sometimes wants a piece that is too pricey for their shop, but they have a client that they think will be interested, and I let them have the piece for as long as they want.
Since I do make mostly OOAK pieces, I vary what shop that I see first with new pieces, so that one shop is not always getting last choice.  I do anything and everything to keep my owners happy with me - so my jewelry will be the first thing they think of when it comes to accessorizing.

Very few shops want artisan bracelets in my experience.  I do not have one bracelet in a shop at this point.  I think that in general, earrings are not good for consignment.  Unless they are very expensive, I do not want to mess around with small things with small returns, that take as much time and bookkeeping as a $300.00 necklace. Not one of my shop owners care what anything is made of - they just want an artistic piece that goes with their clothes.  I just started using large pewter hook clasps, rather than the sterling silver that I have always used, and everyone is excited about them because they are so easy to use and no one has commented on the fact that they are not sterling. 

This has been an interesting journey, but a year ago, I was in two museums, selling(?) on the web, and doing craft shows.  Today I am in seven shops, making a fairly steady income and have the ability to make the kind and quality of jewelry that I want to make.  This may be a road that you too, might like to travel.

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