Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To rep or not to rep- Part trois

Welcome back...

I've put together a to-do list for those thinking of going the rep route. This includes things you need to do and things you need to discuss with your potential rep.

1) Ask for references. Who else have they worked with? Can you call those artists to ask a few questions such as: What are they like to work with? Do they stand behind their artists and help them get paid if the account is slacking? How does your work fit in with their other lines? Are you the highest end or lowest? Is there a competing line or complimentary one?

2) Make sure you are clear about your policies with your rep and they can convey these to the customer. Make your line sheets and your boards very very easy to read so there is no confusion and alienation of potentially good customers down the line when you have to fix prices or you send the wrong piece because the style #'s are confusing.

3) If there is a monthly showroom fee how long is the contract? Can you get out of it if your line isn't selling? What kind of commitment are they looking for? What promotions do they do each month to get customers in? Get a list of the market/event dates to make sure you have new materials to hand out and any new pieces from your line.

4) Turn-around time. If it takes you 4 weeks to produce, make sure your rep knows this and calls you if the customer wants it earlier. I say 4 weeks even though I can turn things around much faster. It's better to under promise and ship early looking like the hero than it is to have to call with excuses on why their order is late.

5) Do you turn over all of your accounts in their territory? Can you keep one or two as a "house account"? One that you service that you don't need to pay them a commission on? If you do a trade show and you have a rep in the Texas area and a new store comes in and orders, are you expected to pay a commission to your rep and to turn that account over to them? If an account that your rep has opened sees you at a trade show and they order, do you pay a commission? Many reps have different policies on this one... some work with different % for different scenarios. Best to talk about it first and then get it in writing.

6) Which leads me to my next point: Get a contract. So you're both on the same page. If it doesn't include the points above, either write an amendment or have them included in the document. This is not so much to protect you in a court of law, but it's to protect your well being so you are both on the same page. Everyone knows what's expected, so if questions come up you can refer back to what was originally discussed.

7) Can you cover the rep fees? Figure out how much you'll have to pay on a $500 order- a $1500 order.... sounds daunting? Do you have enough wiggle room in your wholesale price to pay them 15-20% and still make a profit. If not, you will have to increase your prices.
And most importantly, trust your gut! Sometimes I don't listen and then regret it. Those little warning prickles at the back of your neck were trying to tell you something. If someone is promising you the moon, well... it's probably too good to be true.

And, trust your gut. How do you feel about them? Do you think it's a good fit? Are they excited about your line?

To rep or not to rep? Part uno

So, a friend recently asked me about finding jewelry reps. How I found mine, is it worth it, that sort of thing. I started writing her back and then thought- egads! I will blog about it.

This will probably be a 2 or a 3 parter as I tend to be a tad loquacious (can I use that for the written form?) if I'm not interrupted. Just ask anyone who has received a voice mail from me.

So many indie artists go the rep route. Pretty sweet deal if you ask me, you supply your trusty rep with boards of samples and line sheets and then you kick back and wait for the orders to roll in. Nice. Less stress then doing a 5 day wholesale trade show, and definitely better than going door to door. Let the rep take the rejection, you never have to know about it.

"Where's the rub" you ask? Well, one: you are trusting this person whom you just met with a pretty nice chunk of change- ie: your samples. They can be lost, stolen, you could be dealing with someone who isn't on the up an up.

And, two: you do have to pay them. Luckily it's after you've been paid, and a good rep will help you collect if the account is late for any reason. Rep fees range from %15-20%, and if you're in a showroom, there's a monthly showroom fee as well, and if they do trade shows there's a fee for the show too. The showroom fee is paid whether or not they write any orders that month (as is the trade show fee). And... the more samples they have to show, the bigger the orders will be. So that means more cash tied up in inventory.

Some designers do not like reps. They don't like their methods of selling. They don't do enough sales. The showroom fees are too high. They pick up competing lines.

Me? I'm all for reps, I currently have two. One is brand new and I think I already love her. :) I definitely love my Mississippi rep, as she has written with stores that were dragging their heels with me for years AND got me some great press. yay!

But a big part of why I like my reps is that they are #1 excited about my line, they like my work and think they can sell it. And #2 I like them as people. I trust them. One rep, I've never met, but I've had enough contact with her and her staff to feel like I know her.

Stay tuned tomorrow for pointers on finding that perfect rep. Not the easiest thing in the world, and there is no black and white answers, but I'll do my best.

And on day three, I've put together a to-do list, questions you should be asking yourself and your potential selling partner.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Show Pony: Show Pony welcomes Amery Carriere Designs… Romantic Jewelry with an Edge

If you're in Seattle, visit my friend Stephanie at Show Pony in Fremont, or what they like to call: "The Center of the Universe".

I've had the pleasure of working with Stephanie for a few years when she was with "Something Silver" a West Coast chain of fantastic jewelry stores that carry my work. Recently she was lucky enough to fulfill her dream of owning her own store and landed in "The Center of the Universe" at Show Pony. If you haven't been there you need to stop by. Hip, cool and really really different.

She carries clothes that people come over from Europe to get! And many one-of-a-kind items in her airy consignment store upstairs. And of course, she carries the hip, the fashion-forward, the original "Romantic Jewelry with an Edge".

Monday, April 12, 2010

Don't laugh... I'm a newbie.

Hello? *tap tap tap*

Is this thing on?

Wow, I've been thinking about blogging for quite some time and now that I'm here I'm actually quite shy.

For weeks, months even, I've
been thinking about all the wise, insightful, inspirational, helpful things I was going to post. My thoughts were rampant and varied: from sharing about the Green Sand Beach in Hawaii to do's and don'ts of a wholesale trade show. Where new inspirations come from... marketing 101.... the idiot drivers in Los Angeles.... my newest accounts... the fool I made of myself at karaoke.... funny trade show stories...

I guess I want to write about what makes me tick as a designer, why I do
the things I do: crazy, sane and everything in between. I also think this will be an excellent place to share my experiences in wholesaling that other designers often ask me about.

Honestly, what really got me off by lazy butt to finally start a blog was the movie Julie and Julia. You know, the one about the girl (Julie) who decides to cook her way through Julia Child's opus of a cookbook in one year while blogging about it all the while. I don't have anything nearly as exciting as that, but hopefully I will be entertaining and charming and dazzling and my faithful readers will be begging for more. Hopefully.

So let me start with the last thing that inspired me.

My girlfriend had this plant on her porch and it was glorious. It's a carnivorous plant called a "purple pitcher plant" or "sarracenia purpurea venosa" if you want to get technical. Frilly and girly, it's deadly to any bugs that helplessly find themselves lured by the promised sweetness.

All those pink ruffles sent me into a tizzy of sketches for a new series. I'll post some pics of the waxes once they are "picture ready".

My only question is: does anyone know how to turn metal that fantastical color?