Sunday, October 31, 2010

Studio Tour

I was writing the answer to Lara's great question about how to be prepared for unforeseen emergencies (see below, "Wholesale: It's Not as Scary as you Think") and it occurred to me that the easiest way to answer might be to show you my back stock. And then I decided that while I was at it, I might as well give you a complete studio tour.
So there I was snapping pictures, and it occurred to me that it would be even MORE fun to invite you to share yours, too.  I'd love it if you'd send me a picture of your studio or work space that I can share. I don't care if you work on a table in your dining room or have a huge studio with ten employees. I'll set up a virtual studio tour so we can all see each other's spaces. How fun is that? 
Here's my little tour:

My studio is two bedrooms with the wall knocked out between them. The left side is my office and painting table. (set up right now with a new beading project)

On the other side is my production area, a shipping station for the smaller orders, and stock and supplies. This table is where I assemble and box the clocks, on the left you can see all the labels. To the left of the desk are the cards and unfinished, unfolded bookmarks. 
Small order packing and shipping (large orders get packed downstairs in the shop) and small supplies
Here (just to the right of the work table)  is the closet full of finished clock faces, waiting to be assembled. 
And this what 3000 alarm clocks looks like. On the doors on the left are tiny shelves of finished bookmarks (about 1200 of them) and on the right, all the alarm clock labels.
Bins of magnets (about 1200 sets ready to ship).
 Now if you go outside, across a breezeway and open a door and go downstairs, there is the shop. This is where I do all my mounting, store boxes and other supplies and the clock back stock is here. It's also where I pack up the larger orders. I'm going to spare you the whole tour, but this is just a partial shot of the finished clocks. This wall is about twice this long and there are two full walls like this. These shelves are actually very empty because I just shipped a ton of orders. 
This week I'll be refilling all those empty spots. 
 Okay, now it's your turn. Please send (only one or two) images to: I'll put the post together later in the week.  And please invite your friends to send theirs too! Be sure to include your name, business name and website so I can post links!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A little bit of fun

I love my customers. I really, really do. I meet the greatest people selling my work at Pike Place Market and most days I love being there. But there are days - and those of you who sell your art for a living know what I'm talking about - that make you want to pull your hair out. So, my apologies in advance to all of my wholesale buyers and wonderful customers - I really do appreciate you all so much.
But after a long frustrating Saturday at my booth, I was inspired to to find a creative way to vent. So I made this little film and dedicate it to everyone who sells their work at crafts shows. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Determining your wholesale terms

First, let me apologize for being a bad blogger. I have the best of intentions, I really do - but so many other things really have to come first and this blog always seems to slide down the bottom of my to-do list. I'd promise to be better about it, but I know it's unlikely I'll ever be a weekly blogger. There are always going to be busy times, or weeks I can't think of anything to write about, or when the topics I do want to write about seem like such a big project that I keep putting them off until I have more time. (And when exactly is that, anyway?)

So I'll just trust that you have lots of great blogs you're following and hope you appreciate that there's one that doesn't overload you with posts.

And now, on to the subject of wholesale terms:

Every artist who starts in wholesale has to start by establishing their terms, and most are confused and overwhelmed at the thought of it. So if you don't know what 'terms' means, know you're not alone and relax. I'm going to give you a simple explanation that should make this task a lot easier.

When you start approaching buyers, whether at their store or at a show, one of the first questions they are likely to ask is "What is your Minimum?"

Minimum refers to the minimum amount you require for a wholesale order. Most wholesalers have a minimum opening order – which is the first order they place with you, and a different minimum reorder. Deciding what your minimum will be depends on a few criteria. 

1. Every order must be profitable for you.
2. Your minimum opening order should create a nice display of your work but at the same time not require a huge investment for the buyer who is taking a risk on your line for the first time.
3. Your minimum reorder should make it easy for the buyer to restock and replenish their display long before they run out.

Your opening order is always larger, because you want to make sure the store carries and displays a strong mix of your work, enough to show it off and enough variety that there are choices for everyone. You also want the store to make an investment in your work. It motivates them to display and sell it well. Having a few items scattered throughout a store does not show your work well and generally doesn’t sell it as well, so small opening orders don’t serve you or the buyer.

Your reorder minimum should be smaller. My opening minimum is $200, my reorder minimum is $100. I want my buyers to be able to keep my display full and fresh without a big investment and with a smaller minimum they can reorder more often instead of waiting until they run out to reorder. In other words, if they have sold half of their first order, buying another $200 worth at that point might be too much for them. But they can easily refresh and fill out the display for only $100. And when I introduce new items they can easily buy a sampling of those to add to the line.

So, while it’s tempting to require a large minimums, remember that if you do it will not only turn away new buyers who don't want to spend too much on a new line, but it will also take longer for the store to run low which can make it look like your work sells slowly. The faster they see it disappear, the better!

Now, exactly how do you structure your minimum? Really, this is up to you.
You can require a minimum dollar amount or a minimum quantity of items. You can also require a buyer purchase a quantity of each color, each style, each item or each design.

For example: I can require that when ordering magnets a buyer must order 2 (or 6) of each design and order a total of 4 dozen. I allow my buyers to order anything as long as it adds up to my total minimum, but not every artist does. You can require that they order 48 pieces, 10 sets, or for example, a glass earring can be sold in sets of six, with the sets available in a variety of colors.

Some stores might need special consideration. I sell to several stores that only sell pet items or ladybug or horse themed items. For those stores I allow a smaller minimum since they have a narrow focus and I only have a few items that will work for them. 
When you set your minimum, figure out what works for you, and then always put yourself in the shoes of your buyer. It’s your job to make sure your policies work for them too. As I have said here before, your relationship with your buyer is a partnership. If they do well, you do well and vice versa. 

As always, if you have any questions about wholesale or any other topic please leave a comment or email me at