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Retail therapy: How to be a retailer’s dream partner

By Kate Hubley

The first thing almost all retailers do when I show them my work is to begin scribbling on a notepad. They are crunching numbers right there on the spot. Initially, I thought it was a little strange but, in actuality, it is perfectly normal. The success of their business depends on carrying brands with the right price point, esthetic, and appeal that customers will buy.

This reality must be kept in mind when you approach retailers, especially if they decide not to carry your collections. It is not necessarily about the designs, but rather the numbers—they have to cover the expenses of a retail lease, insurance, sales staff, and marketing. The overhead can be crippling. Your preparedness in your initial pitch—or lack thereof—is a window to how strong you are as a designer-partner and what benefit you will be to their business. There are a few things you should think about and prepare before meeting with 
any retailer.

Who are you designing for?
Jewellery designers will talk about their design esthetic, their process, and inspiration, but will not necessarily take into account who they are designing for. Is it for themselves? To quench their innate need for self-expression through metal art? 

There are a few questions you need to answer before you can craft your brand story.
Photo courtesy Kate Hubley

Of course, this self-expression is a vital force for all jewellery artists, but we also need to think about who is buying and wearing our work. It is crucial if you want a retailer to pick up your line. For me, the clouds parted the moment this notion finally sunk in.

Your dream client in 25 or fewer words
You absolutely need to go through this exercise (get out a piece of paper and pen and do it). Once you paint an accurate portrait of who he/she is, you will be able to research retailers who cater to that jewellery customer: your jewellery customer.

Here are a few guiding questions to get you started:

  • Does he/she live in the heart of the city, in the suburbs, or on a rural homestead?
  • What do they value? (Family, the environment, personal fulfillment, etc.)
  • Is he/she a university-graduate or self-made powerhouse?
  • Are they professionals, parents, or both?
  • Does he/she prefer the museum or reality TV?
  • What car does he/she drive, what clothes does he/she wear, where do they vacation?
  • Is their lifestyle more luxurious or laidback?

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