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Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Business Chat - time to sell

Picture this, it’s your best friends birthday and you’ve made her a fabulous pair of earrings. You’re at her birthday party and it’s time to open the presents! As she looks at the pile she picks your present up. From out of the crowd comes a comment, “oh what do you think that is? More earrings? Another necklace?” and a chorus of guffaws erupts. As you look around you realize that all your friends are decked out in your creations. When you go home you look around your house and realize you can’t find your dining room table because it’s covered in beads.
It’s time to sell some of your work.

There are 3 ways you can sell your work: retail, wholesale and consignment.
Retail means that you sell directly to the public. You are the store. The most common form of retail sales are craft shows. The next is online sales. You can also sell retail through office parties or home parties.

  • You make 100% of the profit and you make it on the spot
  • You can build a great clientele base quickly
  • Retail sales are excellent for market research


  • You have to find the buying public
  • You have to pay for a booth at a show or for an online presence
  • You are responsible for setting up/maintaining your temporary “store”
  • You have to deal with the buying public
  • You have to put on your Salesperson hat

This is when a store tells you “we will buy 10 X, 8 Y and 12 Z” and gives you a cheque when you deliver the work.

  • Less money tied up in inventory, you know exactly how much to make
  • More studio time, less selling time


  • You need to have a catalogue for a store to order from, or a sample set if you are visiting the store in person
  • This is rarely one-of-a-kind work, wholesale means quantities of the same piece, production work
  • You have to sell the work to the buyer
  • A store will expect to pay a maximum of 50% of your retail price, however the actual price they charge is beyond your control as they own the jewelry

You place work in a store, if it sells they give you a cheque after X days.


  • It’s easy to get work into a store on consignment as there’s no financial risk for the store
  • More time making, less time selling than selling retail
  • You have control over the pricing of your work


  • You invest money in inventory without any guarantees of sales
  • You must be vigilant on keeping accurate records of every stores inventory
  • Some stores are less than prompt at payment requiring you to spend a lot of time chasing them
  • A standard consignment agreement is 60/40, meaning you receive 60% of your retail cost

Most successful business use a mixture of all 3 sales methods. Retail is fast, and the most profitable however it involves a lot of time selling, which isn’t for everyone. While wholesale gives you the most studio time you do have to have a good collection nicely broken into lines and you have to be committed to production work. It is also very difficult to find stores who are willing to buy wholesale as it does involve financial risk for the store. Consignment is a good way to break into stores however you must be vigilant about record keeping.

So how do you see your business selling? Are you a people person who loves the public? Can you create a good display for a show? Do you love photography and writing and computer work for a good online store? Can you market your own work? Most importantly if you are considering selling to stores, can you afford to be paid 50% of your pricing and still make a profit? Take a long hard look at your work and think about yourself. What do you want to do?

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