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I received a great question from a reader and I thought it would help other designers out there so here goes…

Q: “I am a brand new bridal designer.  I am in talks with my first boutique.  She wants an exclusive.  I do not want to do that but I am not in any shops yet. Should I offer a regional exclusive instead?  Also, is it ok to start with lower pricing to get in the door and increase as I go along or should I start high and wait?” -Christina Fort

A: Hi Christina! Thanks for your question. Let’s start with the first part. Bridal works differently than regular women’s RTW lines. It’s pretty common to give a bridal store an exclusive in their city or in their region.

 

photo courtesy of Dame Couture
photo courtesy of Dame Couture

I asked a wonderful designer in my New Designer Program, Christen Schneider from Wed/Altered, for the latest info on the bridal scene.  She told me what she’s hearing from shop owners: they want a 4 hour driving radius exclusive. On the East Coast, it’s less, but in the middle of the country that’s the deal and it’s pretty standard.

Regarding the price issue…

I understand the urge to offer lower prices to get your foot in the door, I really do. I felt the exact same way when I started out. But here’s the problem with this “low to go higher later” pricing strategy…

  1. You develop a clientele who expects a certain price range
  2. You raise your prices later and this clientele gets confused, maybe even annoyed
  3. Your customers do not see you as a “fit” for the new prices and you have to develop a new client base at the new prices
  4. You could end up starting from square one pitching new shops or getting “re-classified” in said shops into a new category

I’ve seen this scenario play out many times and it really just wastes your time and effort. Not everyone will agree with my advice, but I say go for short-term pain (higher prices, possibly slower to build business) for long term gain (profit margins that are sustainable and a customer base that “gets” you).

And one more thing… as a new designer, is part of the reason you want to start with lower prices that you don’t have the confidence yet in your line or your pricing? I’ve been there too!

Know this: If you don’t feel confident in your pricing, your customers will not either.

I realize it’s hard to get that confidence when you’re just starting out and it’s a big issue i work on with designers (as well as in the How to Sell to Boutiques Course). If you don’t feel, deep down in your gut, that your product is worth the price, it’s a very tough to sell.

So what do you think? Is what I’m saying true to your experience? What advice do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you could tell Christina? Leave a comment below and let me know. This is a discussion I really look forward to!

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