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.