“Building that relationship with your buyer is so essential because the stronger relationship you have that buyers going to stay with you for years and years and years.”
You’re listening to Thrive-By-Design business marketing and lifestyle strategies for your jewelry brand to flourish and thrive. Let’s get started.
Tracy: Welcome to the Thrive-By-Design podcast episode #42. I’m Tracy Matthews the Chief Visionary Officer over at Flourish and Thrive Academy and today I have a very special guest. Guess who it is? Well you might still be guessing but today Robin is with us, Robin Kramer my co-founder over at Flourish and Thrive and the wholesale expert over here.
Robin: Hi everyone. I’m really excited to be here.
Tracy: So super fun story as this episode airs at the end of May I am going to actually be in Italy; it’s a couple of days after my birthday. Robin and I are both Gemini’s and her birthday are next week. So I really wanted to have her on the show for the next two weeks to talk about wholesale for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that Robin is the biggest fan of anyone I know of selling jewelry into stores. So I’m excited to have her here to talk about that. The second reason is that she’s the wholesale expert over at Flourish and Thrive Academy and what a better way to celebrate your birthday than to have her here right?
Robin: An awesome podcast.
Tracy: An awesome podcast about how to sell your jewelry to retail stores or more specifically how to get your jewelry in stores. Twelve strategies to increase wholesale sales. So I am in Italy right now as this episode airs as I mentioned and Robin is doing something super brave because we usually do webinars together but next week to celebrate her birthday because she told me right Robin? That she would not have a better way to celebrate her birthday or maybe we’ll just say the day before her birthday because we both take our birthdays off over here then to present you with a webinar about increasing your wholesale sales.
So next Tuesday, May 31st Robin is going to teach you an amazing Master class for those of you who want to join. It’s called how to win wholesale accounts and influence buyers and the whole premise is how to get more of your jewelry into retail stores in the next 30 days. So it’s awesome training. We only have taught it once before to a private audience of designers.
We never really announced it to our community so I’m really excited to share it with you. It’ll be the first run and there’s tons of valuable information in there including how to leverage the new economy of wholesale to identify and pitch the right stores for your jewelry brand, easy relationship-building tools that will leave you feeling confident and courageous.
Even if you’re super shy and get buyers calling and emailing you back which I know is a huge struggle for people because they feel like they’re just sending emails or calling into a void and they’re not getting a response.
So we’re going to teach you how to get responses. How to stand out in the sea of competition, open doors to get more meetings with buyers, and turn every no into a resounding yes. The four tools that you need to be sorted now to look like a pro regardless if you’re a newbie or already selling wholesale and a glimpse inside the heads of retail buyers by learning the five biggest turnoffs that get you blacklisted.
This insight alone I want to say is going to be one of the most important things and it’s definitely going to 10X your results here. These mistakes jewelry designers and any product-based business people actually make all the time and they don’t even realize that it’s a mistake and then she’s going to teach you how to build a holistic wholesale strategy that elevates your brand recognition and maximizes your credibility.
So these are all, all great options and before we move on to the nuts and bolts of this training today we’re going to send you on over to www.flourishthriveacademy.com/wholesalesuccess to register for that webinar if you’d like to join us. Plus we’ll have a link over in the show notes.
Once again that’s www.flourishthriveacademy.com/wholesalesuccess or you can grab it over at the show notes over at www.flourishthriveacademy.com/episode42. Alright, let’s jump into how to get your jewelry in stores. Twelve strategies to increase wholesale sales. Alright, I think I’ve done enough talking.
Robin, before we jump into this episode why don’t you tell me a little bit more why you’re obsessed with wholesale and why you’re excited about this episode today.
Robin: Oh my gosh I’m smiling so big because I really do love wholesale. I think it started when my mom had a store. So I was always fascinated by the by-product and the buyer and relationship with the designers. So I was always meeting designers and saw the whole process and how it’s really a partnership and I thought it was so cool. So I get very excited but I’d love to jump in and share with you'll what we feel is really going to make you shine in the business. So shall we just go ahead and dive in?
Tracy: Yeah let’s jump in. So we’re going to talk about twelve strategies that are going to really improve your impact and make a huge difference in your wholesale business. So shall we start off with number one?
Robin: Number one. First and foremost be prepared. What does that mean? Well, you want to make sure that you know how to produce your product. I know that sounds kind of silly but sometimes designers get really super creative and then don’t remember how they made the product and so make sure you’ve got your production in line. You know how to make everything; the timing of everything and the next step I would say.
Tracy: Can I stop you there just for a minute?
Tracy: So with the production yeah you definitely want to have your production manual and instructions for the pieces but let’s say a lot of designers are making everything themselves and that’s definitely not a problem for wholesale especially if you’re approaching some of the smaller stores but what’s your recommendation?
I mean one of the things that I think is important is we did production in house for Tracy Matthews Designs for many, many years and we didn’t have a huge factory making stuff until we started getting big orders from Anthropologie’s. So what would be some plans to be able to ramp up maybe for production if you were to get some orders and you’re doing it all on your own and you want to be able to get things out more quickly?
Robin: That’s such a great question. Well, a couple of things you definitely should have relationships with your vendors. I think that’s really important because you want to know how fast they can get your components. That being said if you’re making everything in house and you still want to make everything in house which is great. Dogeared did that.
In fact Dogeared has a very large production team but you want to make sure that as you grow that you have people that you can contact that
you can bring it in. So it’s never too early to start especially if you have big plans to start getting those people in line. It doesn’t mean you have to hire them but definitely get those feelers out and there are some people who love doing production work and who are out there so I would say be prepared for that and also be really well prepared with production notes and how to do everything.
Tracy: And that’s going to be your secret sauce right there. Is having
the detailed production notes on how to make the pieces of jewelry that you do because when it is time to get someone on board it’s going to be so much easier to train them and to set expectations and standards of how you expect the pieces to be made rather than just saying oh here’s how to do it or copy this piece with a picture. You’re going to run into a lot of problems. So that’s an important thing that you want to have lined up even if you’re not ready to hire as Robin said. So I know there are a couple of other things that people need to do to be prepared for wholesale. Why don’t you dive into some of those?
Robin: Absolutely. So pricing is a big thing. We see a lot of times designers are not pricing their work appropriately especially for wholesale. So it’s not just a matter of looking at what you’re
charging retail wise.
Tracy: Why don’t you recommend that?
Robin: Because most retailers are doing more than keystone. Keystone is doubling the price. So most retailers do anywhere from 2.25 to 2.5; sometimes even 3X the wholesale price and you don’t want to kind of undercut them and you don’t want them to undercut you and all of that stuff. We really recommend that you have your pricing in line, have your wholesale price and you can actually sell your product online
on your site as well but we recommend doing it at a 2.5 increase.
Tracy: Yes, absolutely. So I know that another important thing is to
have great images and that’s going to lead into the next thing
that we’re going to talk about right?
Robin: Images are so key for many, many reasons but you want to
present yourself with really great images and not only for your line sheets because that’s really important but also a lot of times buyers want to be able to share images. Maybe they’re going to do internal and sometimes advertising, internal messaging. The cleaner and clearer the images are the better and also if you do start working with a rep group it’s important for them to be able to have images because a lot of times
they’re going to be emailing buyers and they’d love to send images just embedded in their emails. So those are great tools to have.
Tracy: Okay so let’s talk about number two which is we are having a
whole episode dedicated to this next week and what is it? Drum roll, please.
Robin: Drum roll, please. Creating a stellar line sheet. So really
important to be able to and what does a stellar line sheet mean? Having a line sheet that really communicates everything about your brand and taking the guess work out for the buyer. You’re providing them with everything they need to know about each piece. That means that I’m just going to give you a quick overview of what that means. So you’re going to have a title page, you’re going to have a bio.
Your brand journey it’s always great to have there. Maybe what inspires you. So a little bit about you is always great and then, of course, the meat and potatoes I like to call it. All of your collections; the jewelry, the images of the jewelry, and what’s going to be included in that are the materials that you’re using. You can have the pricing on that. You can have the style number absolutely super important and things like that and then of course terms. You want to make sure that you have terms of what are your terms to work with you. I think that’s super important.
Tracy: And one thing we want to mention there is that you want to
make sure that you have the types of payments you accept, your opening order and reorder minimums, and how long it takes you to produce an order right?
Robin: Yeah. Those are just a handful of things that you want in there and then you want a page; you definitely want to put your purchase order in there. You want to make sure that they can actually fill out an order if they want to so that’s always a helpful tool and last but not least if you have some press it’s always great to include the press and provide it. It gives you a little more validity. It shares with the kind of where they have seen you or where they should see you. So those are great things to do for a line sheet.
Tracy: Alright. So Robin let’s talk about your favorite thing. I hear you
say this at least 30 times a week.
Robin: I do.
Tracy: So what’s the number three thing that’s an important wholesale strategy?
Robin: Research. Do your research. Learn about the stores. Learn about the buyers. The more you know about the store the more; you’re creating a relationship when you do outreach and you’re contacting the buyers. So don’t go in there blindly. Know about the store; know about maybe where the buyers come from. LinkedIn is a great resource. Yelp is another great resource. Researching their website. Be prepared and be
educated about their store.
Tracy: Yeah and I think the other thing too is that remember your the collection is not for everyone; it’s not for every store. So I remember I’m just going to give you the short version of the story. You’ve heard me talk about it forever but when I was; some of you have probably heard this before if you’ve been following us for a while but I was one of those people who actually really wanted to get my jewelry into Barneys and me didn’t understand why the Barneys buyer wasn’t calling me back. I’m like oh my God I have this great collection why isn’t the Barneys buyer calling me back or emailing me back? I didn’t understand it until I was a little bit more separated from the situation and realized that the collection I was designing at that time while it was really cohesive and sold really well and I had a really amazing business with it it just wasn’t right for the Barneys customer and so I think sometimes I spent so much time barking up the Barneys train or tree. What do dogs do they bark up a tree?
Tracy: I was like a dog barking up a tree trying to get into Barneys and it just wasn’t a good fit for my collection at that time and that’s okay. You’re not going to be the right fit for every single store but I think it’s really important. It’s sort of like you need to be investigating who your ideal clients are, your dream clients as we like to call them. This goes hand in hand with that. Where are your dream clients shopping in retail? Find out where those stores are and approach them because you could have a massive store list of 3, 4, 500 stores and try to contact
all of them but your efforts are really going to be watered down and so I would rather have you start with a real hotlist of 30 to maybe 40 stores that you want to go after and then the 10 hot, hot stores that you want to for sure be in and go for that and I wouldn’t start straight with Anthropologie.
I know everyone wants to sell to Anthropologie; great company, wonderful business really hard to work with. So that’s not the entry starting point. I would start with stores like Anthropologie if that’s like your target or what are some of the other ones or if Sundance is your target I would start with stores that are small that are like Sundance Catalog and start there and then build up because both of those types
of stores are going to need you to have a following already before they even more than likely accept you into their catalog or store.
Robin: You’re going to need to have some things under your belt before you.
Tracy: Yeah a few things under your belt.
Tracy: And the ability to finance huge orders so.
Robin: Little details.
Tracy: Little details.
Robin: Start off locally it’s an awesome thing to do
Tracy: Yeah perfect. That’s the best way.
Tracy: That’s how I would recommend almost everyone to do that and I just want to mention that if you’re listening to this and you’re already selling wholesale but you’re not really getting the results you want or you’d like an expansion to think about it. Who are you reaching out too? Is it really the right store for your brand and this is like an investigation that you can bedoing literally with everything in your business is to always be doing your research and re-evaluating all the time.
Robin: Oh yeah I couldn’t say it better. I feel very passionately about that and should be moving on to number four?
Tracy: Yeah let’s do it.
Robin: So number four is to have a plan or map out a strategy. We touched base a little bit about kind of research and having a plan kind of go hand in hand with that but really planning out and I love being specific. Be specific in your strategy. If you want to be in five wholesale accounts and it might not sound like that many but five wholesale accounts that you have great relationships with that you can grow with can be amazing. So really map out what you envision, how you’re going to get there. It’s not just about writing it down. It’s about taking action on it.
Robin: That’s all the different elements of emailing and calling and newsletters and getting in front of them. So there are so many different things you can do but have that plan.
Tracy: And also having a plan is a sort of like setting goals and you want to make sure that you’re setting goals for success and I read this somewhere I think it might have been from Melissa Cassera because I love her emails and I don’t read them all but I read one recently that she was talking about how to set goals for success and one of those is to make sure that you’re setting goals that you can control and not goals that you don’t have control over the outcome on because you can set these lofty goals and financial numbers are great but you could set a
goal like be in five retail stores but you need goals that are going to back that up like in order to do that I am going to reach out to three stores a day or ten stores a day because this does take time. It’s not a short plan. It’s the long plan that you need to be going for.
Robin: It’s totally true and having that plan and mapping out that strategy is going to go hand in hand with actually putting in that information in your calendar and blocking out that time to do those revenue-generating activities that are so important. You can’t expect to take one day and make phone calls and be in stores. It’s a process and it is an everyday activity.
Tracy: And I also just want to mention this to is that you have control over your actions and that, in turn, gives you a little bit more control over the results but in the end, you don’t really have control over the results. All you can do is put your best foot forward. Alright so let’s move on to number five.
Robin: Number five very important. Be professional. Now I know that’s kind of a broad term but and everyone; I kind of feel like be professional I’m always professional. Well, what we mean by that is you should be professional in your verbal and written communication and be respectful in it as well. So when you are being approached by a vendor how do you like to be approached and what do you want the outcome to be? So how do you want people to perceive you? So always good to look at that. Sometimes it’s just short and sweet and to the point is really important. Buyers have limited time and so if they do choose to read your email make sure it’s really to the point, very respectful, and you get everything out and the same thing with your verbal communication.
I think calling is a great way to get to know a buyer but also know when hanging on the phone is just not going to; you’ve got to be respectful of their time and I also have included in that presenting yourself. So presenting yourself in person it’s really important to dress appropriately. I know that kind of sounds like 101.
Tracy: Dress the part.
Robin: But yeah dress the part. Dress the part that you’re successful and whatever that means to you and how you want to come across but I think it’s different for everybody but definitely dress the part. So all those things are really important when we talk about being professional.
Tracy: Alright so the next strategy is; so we’re going to backtrack a little bit. We talked about doing your research and part of your research is finding the contact information of these store owners and buyers. A lot of that information is often available on their websites but they don’t often necessarily list their email address and stuff so you have to do a little recon to try and find some of that but I think or if you can get your hands on an industry list that’s another way. I mean it’s going to take a little bit of resourcefulness there but now once you start reaching out and either emailing or calling and I just want to mention this we’re going to talk about it a little bit more at the end.
We’ve linked underneath in the show notes over at www.flourishthriveacademy.com/episode42. We’re going to link a bunch of our best blog posts about wholesale so you can check some other strategies about reaching out to buyers and stuff like that really work that will help you sort of maximize your strategy here but we only have a short period of time to get through this whole thing.
We want to make sure we get through the twelve points. So once you sort of have your strategy and you’re professional and you start reaching out what’s the next step Robin that’s really important?
Robin: Oh my gosh. You’ve got to be persistent and consistent. So it’s
really important not to; we get this question a lot. Well, I sent an email and I haven’t heard anything back. Well, can you imagine how many emails a buyer gets? So don’t take it personally and just remember that it is being consistent and persistent in what you’re doing. It is something that will if you want it bad enough I’m a true believer if you want it bad
enough and you’re consistent with it and you’re persistent without being annoying. We don’t like being annoying but to really continue with that because one and done does not work.
Tracy: One and done does not work and you want to when you send out an email you definitely want to follow up about a week later with the email and if they don’t respond maybe follow up a month later. Definitely don’t be annoying as Robin said. That’s not what we’re talking about here. So let’s talk about the next step which I think is really important and for me, it’s also fake it till you make it move that makes you get or have a little bit more credibility so the buyers respect you and want to work with you because you sound like you know what you’re
talking about and I think this is really important even if you’ve never sold to a wholesale account before and even more important as you start to grow a business is to have these things nailed down. So Robin why don’t you talk about that
Robin: Having solid policies. Really important to have and what we mean by that is know before you go in. It's funny when you’re working with a buyer and buyers they’re in it for their business. So keep in mind when you’re working with a buyer that you want to make sure that your policies are in place and that you know them before you start working with them because it’s their job to get the best deal that they can and it’s their job to have it their way.
That doesn’t mean you have to give it to them. I learned a lesson about this one when we did just a little side note. We did our first; Dogeared did their first order with Anthropologie and they were doing large quantities with us and one of the things that they did is and we got them higher quantities because they wanted a discount and I wasn’t going to give it to them unless they did a certain quantity.
But then they in their vendor manual they had another whole percentage off and I had no idea so I wasn’t prepared and I was bending over backward to kind of do business with them and it really wasn’t in the best interests of our company but it was in theirs.
So keep that in mind and if they want you bad enough they’re going to still; they’re not going to hesitate to do business with you. But it’s just something to really know your policies before you get started and one other thing is consignment is something that is brought up all the time and there are some great stores out there that are doing consignment but keep in mind that means that your inventory is sitting there and if
they’re not selling it you could have hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars worth of your jewelry, your inventory just sitting there and not moving. Not a big fan of consignment and neither is Tracy. So know what your policies are around that.
Tracy: One other thing that I want to mention about policies that’s really important is that you want to make sure that you have order minimums in place especially when someone is taking an opening order and the reason being that order minimums are so important is that you want to make sure that your jewelry is represented in a way that it can actually sell.
So if someone wants to buy three pieces of your jewelry and put it in their store more than likely unless they’re ginormous statement pieces that are really taking up a lot of space or they’re like sculptures that you wear or something like that it’s not going to sell because it’s not telling a story and there’s not enough product there to actually make a difference and the people who are walking into the store or seeing it online are going to be like what’s the deal with this PC.
It’s called PC collection. Why are there only two pieces left? They’re going to think that those are the pieces left over that didn’t sell. So really important to have order minimums in your terms of service and policies. That’s super, super important. Alright, let’s talk about number eight Robin. Your favorite thing. Your first favorite thing I think. I think a lot of these are your favorite things.
Robin: I would say the relationship is definitely my favorite.
Robin: So building a relationship. When you’re in the wholesale business; every business relationships are super important but in this business especially building that relationship with your buyer is so essential. Because of the stronger relationship you have that buyers are going to stay with you for years and years and years and also provide you with great feedback and they’ll want to work with you. I mean building that relationship is so key and quite honestly it is so much better to have buyers that you work with that come back to you again and again and again and that you can nurture instead of one and done. That one and done’s not really good for business.
Tracy: Not really good for business. Relationship building is the key.
Tracy: We’re going to talk about a few more strategies on that which all these kinds of help to build the relationship but I think these are really important because if you want to continue building a relationship with a store you need to do what?
Robin: You need to ship on time.
Tracy: Which is number nine
Robin: That’s right. Ship on time. So it happens, things happen. In fact, we had a designer today that was freaking out a little because; she had a family emergency and she was going to be shipping some orders later than what she had originally told the buyer. You know what? It happens; life happens.
It’s about communication. So making sure that your communication is on target and that you can; don’t hesitate with calling, going ahead and calling them up and saying you know what I have this situation. You are very valuable to me. Keep in mind what we’re doing is jewelry. It is not life-threatening. So communication is super key. So shipping on time and if there’s anything that’s going to not ship on time just communicate it.
Tracy: Which brings us to number ten which is?
Robin: Ship complete.
Tracy: What does that mean Robin because I’m sure that’s such an industry term? What does that mean ship complete?
Robin: Ideally when you’re shipping an order you want to ship complete. That means that you’re shipping what they ordered. Going back to shipping it on time but shipping it complete again there are going to be situations that have.
Tracy: But what does that mean because you’re not really describing
Tracy: So it means that if they placed an order for 12 pieces that the
12 pieces are in that order
Robin: Yes. Sorry for not.
Tracy: I’ll dumb it down for you
Robin: But again things happen. If you are having any sort of issue
with shipping complete communicate, communicate, communicate.
Tracy: Or sometimes a stone gets discontinued and you’ve; someone wrote an order three to five months before and you can’t get the stone anymore. People understand. It’s really about communication which goes back to building a relationship which I think is really, really important.
Robin: Yeah. They all are intertwined aren’t they?
Tracy: Yes and so that brings us to number eleven which is all about
communication and follow up and customer service. Robin
let’s talk about that.
Robin: Follow up, follow up, follow up. Yes following up and having
great customer service and once you send that order to communicate. Again it’s that communication thing. How is it selling? What’s going on? Staying in touch with your buyer is really important.
Tracy: And that’s also key to building the relationship to make sure
that it’s selling well and giving them the tools; everything they need to sell. So if they need more education on the product you’re available for them. If they need fill-ins because they’re selling it like hotcakes which is all the hope that we all have that you’re available to produce a quick reorder to fill in and to help them sell the product more because that’s really what you want and I think that really brings us into the final strategy which is the power tool. Robin do you want to reveal what the
power tool is?
Robin: The power tool is the reorder. Oh my gosh reorders are like the
the icing on the cake aren’t they?
Robin: And the only way you can really get that power tool and use
that effectively is by all of these things that we just talked about. Following up, being really persistent and consistent and giving great service and providing. It’s really helping your buyer along the way and providing them with a partnership because it is a partnership. So definitely continue with reaching out, asking for the reorder, and being that best partner you can be for your buyer.
Tracy: Yes because all wholesale is really developing partners who are
going to be in business with you for a very, very long time hopefully and as far as growing your business and expanding those repeat customers and getting their reorders is really what’s going to sustain your business.
Robin: 120%. I mean that is it.
Tracy: Okay so Robin that was awesome. Should we do a quick recap
to go over the twelve strategies?
Robin: Let’s do it.
Robin: Number one.
Tracy: Be prepared for wholesale.
Robin: Number two.
Tracy: Create a stellar line sheet.
Robin: Number three.
Tracy: Do your research.
Robin: Research, research, research. Number four.
Tracy: Have a plan or map out a strategy. Why don’t I say number
five and you can list out the rest. Number five.
Robin: Be professional.
Tracy: Number six.
Robin: Be consistent and persistent.
Tracy: Number seven.
Robin: Have solid policies.
Tracy: Number eight.
Robin: Build a relationship.
Tracy: Number nine.
Robin: Ship on time.
Tracy: Number ten.
Robin: Ship complete.
Tracy: Number eleven.
Robin: Follow up and give great customer service.
Tracy: And number twelve.
Robin: The power tool the reorder.
Tracy: Alrighty. That was fun, wasn’t it?
Robin: That was great.
Tracy: Okay so make sure that you join Robin next week. She’s going
to be doing a pre-birthday celebration on May 31st. So when you’re listening to this I want you to give her a shout out and wish her a happy birthday.
Tracy: I’m still celebrating my birthday month in Italy right now. So
she’s going to be doing this alone because I fly back that day but her and Abby are going to teach you a little bit more about how to win wholesale accounts and influence buyers and it’s a really, really awesome training so we hope that you join that Master class and you can check it out over at
So I know there was a lot of information in this podcast. So we want to
make sure that you go over to the episode post over at episode number 42. You can grab that over at www.flourishthriveacademy.com/episode42 and we have a full-on the transcript that you can download and just grab it. Super cool so you can keep track of all these little notes.
Plus I mentioned earlier that we have a bunch of links to other posts that we’ve written to help you with your wholesale success so jump on over to the podcast post because we’re going to get a lot of value over there. We have some video blogs. We have some tactics for email strategies to get buyers' attention. You’re going to love it. So join us for those training and you can pop on over to the Master class join Robin next week. Wish her a happy birthday. Alrighty.
So one more thing before we go. We hope you’re enjoying listening to the podcast as usual. Depending on how you found it maybe you’re listening on iTunes or maybe you’re listening to this because you’re already in the Flourish and Thrive community; cool either way but if you haven’t subscribed yet if you’re on iTunes make sure you go over to iTunes and subscribe to the podcast. It’s called Thrive-By-Design which
I’m sure you know by now and we’d love to hear a little bit more about how you’re enjoying it. So we’d love for you to give us a little review, share what you love about the podcast with us, or give us a little bit of rating or do both. So anyway I wanted to thank Robin for being here with me today.
Robin: Yay. I loved it.
Tracy: It’s so fun to have her on. I haven’t had her on enough and I
want to have her on so much more if possible.
Tracy: Yeah and we’re going to talk about wholesale and other sales
strategies since she is the sales expert. Anyway, I hope you guys are enjoying your day and I hope this really helped you elevate your wholesale strategies. So until next time, this is Tracy Matthews signing off and.
Robin: Robin Kramer yay. I’m so excited. Please join me.
Tracy: Alright you guys take care