No matter how beautiful your work is, if you don’t sell it, your business will fail. In a crafty business money is sometimes not the main reason we’re in business. We do this because we love it, because we want a creative outlet, because we want to share our talents. Regardless of why you are in business, if you lose money it’s a failure.
The bottom line is you need to sell your work.
There are 3 ways you can sell your work.
- retail your products directly to the public
- wholesale to stores/galleries
- in stores on consignment
There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. Each method isn’t mutually exclusive and most successful makers use a mix of all three.
Retailing to the public.
Let’s start with retailing your products directly to the public.
- You receive 100% of the final selling price and you receive this immediately. Cash is good.
- You control the sales environment. You design your own display or store
- You meet the buying public and conduct on the spot market research
- Time spent selling is time away from the studio
- You have to deal with the buying public. You are the salesperson
- Craft shows cost money. Opening your own store or studio costs money. Selling online costs money
- You have to start up and maintain your own display or store, or website
Where to sell to the public:
- from your own studio/shop
- craft shows
- home parties/office parties
Wholesaling to stores
Wholesaling is when a store buys your jewellery outright. They order from your catalogue, you produce the work and they give you money.
- you don’t produce the work until you receive an order so you don’t have to invest as much in inventory
- you spend more time in the studio, less time selling
- unlike retail where you make a lot of small sales, in a wholesale model you set a minimum order and make fewer, but more lucrative sales
- stores expect a discount from your retail price, usually at least 50%
- you need a catalogue or line sheets
- you must have work that is consistently repeatable, wholesale does not work for one of a kind work
- you still have to sell the work, to the store buyers
With consignment, the store doesn’t actually purchase your work. They agree to display it and sell it for you. When it sells, they send you money. This is advantageous to the store as they do not have to spend money on inventory. While most of us would prefer to sell only wholesale, most stores deal on consignment. In the beginning of your crafty career, you will find that you are obliged to deal with stores on consignment.
- your work is continually on display somewhere unlike a craft show which is a few days here and there
- unlike wholesale, you set the selling price
- you usually receive a larger percentage of the price than you do with wholesale
- consignment works well with one of a kind work or with large expensive pieces
- more time in the studio, less time selling.
- As the store has not invested any money in your work, they may not be as motivated to sell it as you would like
- You must keep meticulous records of what pieces are in what stores
- Your inventory may be tied up for a long time without bringing you any return for it
- Stores aren’t always prompt in paying, it is up to you to be a collection officer
How you choose to sell depends on a number of factors.
- If you know that you are not a people person and don’t like the general public then craft shows are not a good option.
- Selling online is much easier than it used to be, however it does require a minimum of computer literacy and a lot of time.
- If selling your work for 50% of the price means that you are losing money and you feel that you cannot raise your prices, then wholesale and consignment will not work for you.
- Think about how much time you want to spend in the studio rather than in a selling position, although if you want to sell wholesale or consignment you still have to sell, only this time to a store buyer.
Sometimes it’s a loathing of selling that stops many crafters from moving forward with their business. Think of it not as selling, but as an exchange between friends. You are gifting them with your work, and they are gifting you with money.
And you have made their world a more beautiful place, that’s fair.