From a Retail Perspective, Episode 3
Time to Submit Work!
So, you’ve done your research and have a list of people to email about your work.
What do you need?
1. Letter of Introduction
Well, first off, you’ll need a letter of introduction (this will be your email). It doesn’t have to be too elaborate—introduce yourself, state where you’re from and what you do, followed by why you think it would be a great fit for that gallery/shop. You can also include where you currently sell, including shops and wholesale or craft shows.
Wrap it up with, “I have attached my ________________ (line sheets, photos, wholesale list, website link, etc.). Please have a look, and let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you.”
2. The Attachments!
· Option A: Linesheets:
These don’t have to be super complicated. You can build line sheets in Microsoft Word easily enough, in a table with columns for a photo, item/style number, description of the piece, dimensions, and wholesale price (some artists present a retail price, and state that they expect to receive a certain percentage—more typical for gallery sales than retail stores). Save this document as a PDF.
Here is an example of my old line sheets from ten years ago (don’t laugh!) I created these in Microsoft Word, with a simple table:
If you have experience in InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, etc., you can create a more intricate line sheet that has images of the work with the details next to them. Some artists will have images of the work with the style numbers, and on a separate document have everything organized into a “wholesale list” with style number, description, dimensions, and wholesale price.
Generally, both these documents are organized either into collections or type of jewelry (necklace, bracelet, etc.). The trick to this is to keep everything cohesive between the line sheets and the wholesale list.
Personally, I prefer the first option—to have the details and price next to the image. BUT having a line sheet without prices is nice so you can show it to customers who may want to special order something (more on special orders, etc., soon), without them seeing the wholesale price. Some of our bigger artists will send both—a wholesale linesheet and list, as well as a “customers” catalog or linesheet with no prices.
NOTE: These options are generally for production style work—pieces that can be made again and again.
· Option B: Website or Photos
Say you create one-of-a-kind work, or small batches. Be open and honest about this. Making one-of-a-kind work does not put you out of the running to sell in a retail shop or gallery. In some situations, it will give you more of a boost since many customers love to have pieces in their collections that no one else has.
This does, however, mean that you most likely do not have line sheets. No worries! You can easily send photos of your work (professionally done), maybe some screen grabs of your website, a list of wholesale prices, and a link to your website.
Your screen grab may look something like this, with your wholesale prices stated in a different document:
As far as how to sell your one-of-a-kind wares to a shop, many artists will often send pick-boxes. Or, if you’re local, bring your pick-box in in person. Do always have wholesale prices (or a standard take of 50-60% of the retail price) with you so that your retailer knows how much they’re spending.
3. Send, and wait!
· As stated in the previous episode, once you have your email and attachment ready to go, you’ll send it off and wait. Be patient. If you don’t hear from them, check in after a couple weeks. If you don’t hear from them again, wait a couple months. Connect on social media in the meantime to keep up to date on what is happening with their store/gallery.
A few details:
You'll see that I have a statement at the top of my line sheet. That statement of terms and conditions should be somewhere in the line sheets or wholesale list, and can be personalized to what you want. I’ll talk about consignment later, but if you are open to consignment, do state that in your terms and conditions. Or, you can put in that you will start consignment and after x orders, move to wholesale. It’s up to you!
Also: If you don't know how to create tables in Microsoft Word, or take screen shots, tap one of your friends who does, or look it up on youtube! You'll be surprised at what you can accomplish once you take control of your skill set!
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to sharing more with you.
Next Up: Episode 4, Moving Forward: I haven’t heard back from anyone! (Or, I've been rejected!)
Note: The above is the opinion of the author, built from years of experience and discussions with customers, shop/gallery owners, and fellow artists. This is not meant to be a formal guide into how to run a business--there are plenty of those written by people with degrees and successful businesses.