Stores are going to want to pay 50% of your retail price. This is really important to consider. If you aren't pricing enough for your work, you aren't going to be able to sell your jewelry to stores and make any money. Who wants to stock a store and not make money from it? So read up on pricing if you aren't sure you are charging enough. Quick quiz: could you take 50% off your current price and still cover your materials, overhead, time and make a profit?
Two things to do if your prices aren't going to sustain a wholesale account - design jewelry at a price point that your local customers would be able to afford. That may mean using less art beads or designing simpler pieces. Or do your homework and raise those prices if you are underselling.
There is a third thing you can do, which has it's own sets of pros and cons. And that is have your work on consignment. Usually the commission is 30-40% of your retail price.
Click here for some tips on consignment. (Great read for consignment or wholesale!)
I would only consign with a shop that you actually know the owner and if you live in a smaller town where a shop may not be able to purchase items outright. Another option for consignment are galleries but they may want to take a 50% commission. Make sure you have a written agreement/contract from the shops and follow up every month to see if they need new work and to keep your display looking fresh.
Selling to Shops
If you are interested in creating a line of jewelry that you sell wholesale to stores across the country, I'm going to send you here for some wholesale basics and creating a line of jewelry for wholesale.
But I'm assuming most of you make one-of-a-kind pieces that feature handmade beads from your favorite artists. And would like to find a shop or two to sell your jewelry.
First find the right kind of store. Scout out options in your local area by visiting the shops on a weekday if possible. Don't plan to talk business at that first visit and don't plan to bring your jewelry in on that day. If you find a store that looks like a great fit, ask the salesperson at the counter if you can have a business card with the shop owner or buyers contact information. Explain you are a local artist and would like to make an appointment with them.
Look at galleries, boutiques, gift shops, botanical garden and art center gift shops and clothing shops.
I would email the buyer/owner an introduction email with a quick introduction, why you love their shop and feel your jewelry would be a good fit and a link to your website. Keep it short and sweet. Ask for an appointment to bring in your jewelry. If you don't hear back from them in a week, pick up the phone and call. Just do it. They are just people, who need to fill their store with goods that will make them money. You are helping them, not bothering them!
At the Appointment
At the appointment, have your jewelry arranged on portable trays or boxes in sets that would merchandise together. So group them according to themes or colors, the way you would imagine them on the shelf in the store. This will also help the buyer imagine how they would display in their store and can increase sales.
Dress professionally at the meeting, be excited about your work and share what makes your pieces unique. Don't ever feel like a sales person - you are sharing and helping this person and working on building a relationship. Keep their needs in mind and how your jewelry can help them. Don't worry about being perfect, just be yourself!
Terms and Business Details
Have a minimum order. You wouldn't sell one piece for half-off to the store. The point of wholesale is that sell a large enough amount at one time to make it worth the effort. You could do a piece minimum, like 12-15 so that they have a nice sampling of your work. Or it could be a dollar amount for the minimum. For myself, I have a $400 retail minimum for a 50% discount for stores.
You should also have a written return and repair policy.
Your jewelry can be on your own earring cards and have hang tags that give a little information about your line, but don't include your website on the cards. Your store will want buyers to come back to them to buy more, not head to your website.
Make sure you have receipts to write up the purchase and your Square for credit cards if you take credit cards.
After you have a local store, consider visiting towns in your surrounding area to expand and gain a few more accounts. Follow up every few months with your wholesale accounts and make appointments to bring in your new work.
I am going to take my own advice and finally find a shop in my hometown. I've sold wholesale to stores around the world but have yet to find a place that is a good fit here in my tiny tourist town. Silly me!
Make a list of possible shops.
Have your prices and terms clearly figured out before your appointment.
Set up an appointment.
Work with the buyer to find which items are a best fit for their shop.
Follow up a few months later to restock.
Rinse and Repeat.