Are you a jewelry maker or designer looking for new ways to market your jewelry? There’s no doubt about it! A jewelry design business takes time especially if you exhibit at craft and jewelry shows which require preparation and travel. This can take precious time away from jewelry design and production. Your first love is jewelry design and you’d like to spend more time designing and less time focused on jewelry marketing. Is there a solution?
For some jewelry makers and designers, the answer is to enlist the services of a sales rep. A jewelry sales rep is a traveling sales person who carries several independent lines of jewelry that he or she markets to various boutiques and galleries. The sales rep is paid a commission by the jewelry designer of between 10% to 20% of the wholesale price. For example, if a bracelet sells for a retail price of $100, the store pays $50.00 for the item. Out of that $50.00 you pay the rep $7.50, assuming a commission rate of 15%. This may not sound like a lot, but you have to consider the cost savings of not traveling as well as the time savings of being able to spend more time in your studio producing jewelry.
A sales rep can also help you reach a national audience by exhibiting your designs at trade shows in large cities. This can be a very rewarding arrangement for you as the jewelry designer. Your jewelry is marketed in a professional manner and you never have to leave your studio.
An additional benefit of having a rep is that a rep can keep you abreast of jewelry design trends and give you updates on what’s selling and what’s not. A jewelry rep can also suggest potential modifications to your jewelry line based on her experience in the marketplace. This may result in increased sales for you.
In order to successfully sell your jewelry through a sales rep, you’ll need:
Price lists for your jewelry neatly printed up to give to the rep. Actual catalogue sheets are usually unnecessary since the rep will have samples of your individual jewelry pieces.
A statement of your terms of sale including your return policy.
Clarification of your shipping terms. Which carrier will ship your jewelry and any special shipping bonuses such as free shipping with a minimum purchase. You should also make a statement about when items will be shipped. i.e. within 3 days etc.
A brief biography of your jewelry design experience that the rep can use to promote your work. Consider including a photo on your bio to personalize it.
Representative samples of your jewelry line for the rep to show retailers. An accurate record should be kept of what samples were given to the rep as well as when they should be returned and what is owed in the event that samples are lost. (which hopefully won’t happen!)Once you’ve determined you’d like to work with a rep, how do you go about locating one? Here are some suggestions:
1. Check the classified sections of various jewelry and gift trade journals. Jewelry reps often advertise here when they’re seeking new accounts. Try checking the classified section of Lapidary Journal. Another good source is Accessories Magazine, a specialized trade journal for the jewelry and accessories business.
2. Attend jewelry trade shows in large cities such as New York, Boston, and Chicago. Jewelry reps exhibit their lines at these trade shows in order to attract new boutique accounts. Walk through the show and find reps who are displaying lines of jewelry that are somewhat similar to your own in price and style. When you find one, take a business card so you can contact the rep later to discuss carrying your line of jewelry. Important! These shows are for the trade only so you’ll probably be asked to show your credentials.
3. Visit jewelry marts and showrooms in New York City where reps display. Again, get their contact information.
4. Find retailers in your area who carry jewelry similar to yours. Ask if they have a rep who calls upon them. See if you can get their contact information.
5. Network with other jewelry artisans who market their jewelry through reps.
6. Advertise for a rep through one of the jewelry trade journals.
7. Contact The United Association Manufacturers’ Representatives who will help you locate a rep for a fee.
Once you’ve found a rep you’d like to work with, be sure to get answers to the following questions:
How long have you been in the business?
How many jewelry lines do you carry?
What is your commission rate?
Do you have a list of references? (request to see them)
What territory do you cover?
How many accounts do you service?You also want to make sure you have a rep that carries lines of jewelry similar to yours in style and price range. If you sell high end artisan jewelry, you don’t want to enlist the services of a jewelry rep who carries lower end, mass produced jewelry. It’s also important that you feel comfortable with the rep you’re dealing with and have a good line of communication.
Jewelry marketing through a rep can be a profitable and satisfying means of bringing your designs to the public. Plus, it can free up your time to be a more creative and productive jewelry designer. Why not see if a jewelry rep would be right for your particular jewelry business?