This question landed in my “Ask Jane” box from a jewelry designer, named Eva, currently enrolled in my “Sell to Boutiques” course. I get this question a lot so I thought I’d post it here for all to see. While there’s no perfect answer I can give Eva, I can give her some relevant info to help her make a decision.
Q: “Dear Jane, I started my jewelry business a year and a half ago and I can say that in the first year I was not 100% focused on what I wanted my business to be. It started as a hobby but it became clear to me that I want to do the things on brand level. I do not want to look like the housewife doing pretty stuff at home, I want to create a business and a company with its own branding, packaging, high quality of materials and standards. I noticed that it is easier to get into smaller stores but the problem with them is that many of them do not have budgets and suggest consignment. I feel I have to do this at this stage.
However my aim is to get into really big stores, like Neiman Marcus, Harvey Nichols, Anthropologie, etc.The main reason is that while it’s harder to get into those stores, they do have big budgets to order and buy. So what is your advice for a small growing jewelry business – to aim BIG (big stores) or to try to “swim” with the fishes its own size (small boutiques)?” Thanks! Eva
A: First of all, Eva, let me just tell you that you’re not alone. You mention that “that in the first year I was not 100% focused on what I wanted my business to be. It started as a hobby but it became clear to me that I want to do the things on brand level.” This is normal! It takes time to get clarity on what we want, understand our customer etc. And props to you for going from a HO to a BO (a la Suzanne Evans), a hobby owner to a business owner…
Let’s get to a smackdown between Big vs. Little cuz in this case, size really DOES matter. Listen to the rest of my answer by clicking on this link.. Listen to the full podcast right here:
In this episode, we’ll cover:
- Pros and Cons of selling to big stores
- Pros and cons of selling to boutiques
- What department stores want to see happening before they’ll even consider your line
- How to know if you’re ready to sell to big stores
- What factors t consider when you decide how you want to sell
- Why there’s no perfect answer and what that means to you
4 things you need to know about selling to big department stores:
- Dept stores want to see a proven track record before they’ll consider buying from you
- Prove to yourself and to them that you can ship a product – on time, high quality, that SELLS at retail
- Make sure your production capabilities are rock solid. Again, do you have a PROVEN system to deliver on time?
- Shipping policies are a killer for Dept Stores – EDI software, chargebacks, markdown money.
Selling to big stores truly is swimming with the sharks so my main advice for Eva is to “swim with the fishes” before you get into that potentially bloody water. If you want to know my exact step-by-step approach to getting your line into boutiques, you can check out our “Sell to Boutiques” online course right here.
It gives you the perfect email template, info on how to approach buyers, how often to follow up, and the EXACT script to use to talk to a buyer on the phone.
So now it’s YOUR turn. Did you like this episode? If you did then please LIKE it and SHARE it. I would appreciate it a lot because I want to get this information in the hands of more struggling designers.
What do you think? How do you weigh in on the Big vs. Little stores? Are you a NO WAY department store person? Or someone who prefers to sell volume and get huge orders? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
The BEST PART of my day is hearing from YOU!
As always, thanks for listening and reading!