One of the hardest lessons for me and struggles for success has not been the building of The Crochet Crowd, in fact, it’s been trying to market selling my finished goods. I needed extra money at the time and so I invested into making jewelry and selling my pieces. For a reasonable price of $40 you could have a one-of-a-kind bracelet… Over a summer my prices were forced down to the point of only $10 so I could get my initial investment back.
It was a very difficult summer but did I learn something this summer. I learned through a fabulous East Indian vendor who taught me the important of engaging, sales pitch and presentation. The lessons I learned from him went much further than just this failure of a summer for me and ended up changing my outlook on life in the crafting marketplace.
For me, when I hear people are selling jewelry or crafts, my heart goes out to them as I am unsure whether they have already learned the lessons I did.
Getting Your Materials, Displays & Packaging
- If you want any hope of selling your jewelry or crafts, you cannot buy your jewelry components or yarn at retail prices. If you want to make any money and be flexible on your price. You need to look into finding yourself a wholesaler or use great sales to keep your raw materials investment low.
- I’ve had amazing luck with online wholesalers and getting jaw dropping wholesale rates. Even with shipping, I have paid 10 – 20% of the price so I can make more money on the finished product.
- Your crafts must be designed with your customer’s purse in mind. Will someone pay $150 for that or could you have changed some components or yarn to be cheaper and affordable.
- Don’t throw your items on a table without considering a design element to your table. Your customer needs inspiration and see value in your products.
- When completing a sale, how will the customer leave with their item? Some may opt to wear their finished product or have their own bags. Again, a wholesaler for packaging is an absolute must.
Picking Your Venue
This is probably thee most biggest factor for my success or lack of. I committed to a summer of selling my jewelry at a farmers market. For those who sell jewelry or crafting items, you know where I am going with my comments below.
- How much rent do you need to pay to be at the venue? Do you think you can achieve the sales you need to pay this rent, transportation and possibly food if you eat there.
- With farmer markets, people are primarily looking for a rock bottom deal that will go below your wholesale. I know first hand because I could have clubbed a lady who offered me $5 for my bracelet. I wished her a very nice day. She can’t have my jewelry if she doesn’t think my creativity and my bottom line costs aren’t worth anything.
- I find other vendors lie to consumers about the origin of their products. If you can buy 3 blown glass necklaces that have a unique design for only $10. It’s not North American made. People get suckered. This false information wrecks it for all of the vendors as consumers expect everyone else is trying to scam them. This realization finished me at the farmer’s market as you cannot compete with deceptive consumer marketing.
- Education of the consumer is a huge thing. I had this one lady bitch that my bracelet was too expensive at $20 in my final days. She showed me a necklace that she paid $30 for and they gave her 2 more for free. She was on cloud nine. She told me that vendor hand torches the beads themselves. Knowing bead torch makers in person, there was no way a vendor would give three necklaces for $30. So I closed up early out of curiousity and found the vendor and this woman had been duped. It wasn’t hand made by the vendor, it was a Chinese import.
- Consumers cross compare your stuff with other vendors. One vendor was offering buy 3 Bracelets for $10. That’s fine but my bracelets aren’t a black cord with some knots with three beads on it. There’s a huge difference. Besides the vendor had 1000’s of them on display. There’s no one-of-a-kind with these.
- The best places for sales I have been medium to high end craft shows. These shows usually come with a cost of giving up a portion of your revenue and table rental. One show, I did more sales in 4 hours of just under $1000 verses the farmers market. I made $800 at the farmer’s market over 8 weeks. With these craft shows, people are expecting to find one-of-a-kind and draw in an audience who appreciates creativity and artwork. I had a lot of fun on that day as the type of people who appreciate my creativity were surrounding me and it made for an exciting and rewarding day.
After a while you start to realize who your target audience is.
- Understand the type of person who would be inclined to buy your goods. Once you know who the type of person is, you can save your breathe in trying to sell to people who are wasting your time. Many people try to reverse engineer your creativity and devalue your goods knowing they can figure out your work. Annoying I know.
- “Oh, I wish that one small colour wasn’t used!” Another opportunity to club someone when 1 minor colour in the deciding factor. Creativity is about uniqueness. Bottom line, this person is looking for a reason to snoop but isn’t your customer and will waste your time. You have to get a thick skin and leave your baseball bat at home or you may just lose your temper and start going psycho on someone!
- Signs are really key. We are in a society where saying ‘Hello’ is a big deal. I said good morning for 8 weeks straight and you will not believe my statistics of people who turned away after looking me in the eye and not wishing me good morning in return. They heard me but feel I am about to sales pitch them. Common courtesy is perceived as a sales tactic. Human courtesy of being acknowledge is free. If they asked me a further question, I was happy to educate.
- When speaking to people, don’t jump into your sales pitch immediately. Say “Hello”, “Are you enjoying this venue?”, and whatever you do, don’t complain about anything. Offering a negative comment will bring you back a negative comment. Example would be, “Really quiet here today at this venue!” It makes you look like you are whining. Negativity attracts negativity.
- Know when to shut up! I think I have talked myself out of so many sales by trying to oversell the benefits of owning one of my jewelry pieces. Sharing too much of my creativity process and thoughts about jewelry pieces. I needed to duct tape my mouth shut a few times as I knew in the very moment… ‘Shut it Mikey… you just crossed the line and lost a sale!’
- Do NOT sit down behind a table. Position yourself either on a high stool or stand for your venue. Sitting down in a lawn chair hides you behind a table. It also gives a look of you don’t care and are bored out of your mind. Sitting on a high stool and/or standing gives you the look that you are ready to help in a moments notice. I stand BESIDE the table and not behind it so the table isn’t my barrier between my customer and I.
- There’s nothing ruder than a vendor sitting with a friend gossiping or using their cell phone. Though I always went to the show on my own, it bugs me half to death when you approach and exhibitor and they have brought a friend or family member and are sitting behind the table gossiping. You immediately feel like you have intruded on their space. Most of these situations, they don’t stop talking and continue their conversation. As a consumer, I tend to walk away regardless of their product as I think it’s rude.
Biggest and Ultimate Lesson That Finished My Market Experiences
I told you in the very beginning the prices of my bracelets went from $40 and then eventually fell to $10 as the summer drew to a close. I had 200 bracelets made in the early spring. I sat for weeks with a friend making these up. The costs of the bracelets were about $16 each. I couldn’t afford to go any lower than $20 due to venue rent, transportation and my time. Even at $20, I wasn’t hardly selling anything. Essentially, now I am in a mode to get my money invested back.
- Realizing that my stuff wasn’t selling fast enough, I dropped the price throughout the summer.
- I had to offer several refunds to people who would run into me again the week later when I had lowered my price from the week before.
- One lady who I remembered purchased a bracelet for $45 at the beginning of the summer demanded a refund of $25 for me over charging her in the beginning of the summer when I thought my creativity and bracelets were going to sell.
- I called my whole jewelry selling quits after this encounter.
Ultimately, I love making jewelry and I love the pieces but I didn’t do a good enough job to figure out what the general public would want. Though I did well at the medium to high end craft show, there isn’t enough of these shows to make a living for it for what I was doing. If I were to re-attempt this again, I would do the following:
- I would do formal marketing research to what people are looking for. Many people settle on Jewelry at Walmart for $19.99 and these are the same types of people at the Farmer’s Market. So my mission would be to make jewelry to fit the $20 budget but be produced for $5 – $10 maximum.
- For higher end shows, I would obviously change my price point and offer more higher end materials to match this demographic.
- My explosive colour palette isn’t for everyone, the pieces that sold the fastest were boring plain jewelry as 100’s of people commented that they thought the colours were really pretty but they were too bold to wear.
- I would be more selective on where I displayed my products and not settle for a farmers market because it seems like many people are there. Fact is, I think many people go to those things to waste a morning and you see 1000’s of people walking around with nothing in their hands.
Consign Your Jewelry
Try doing your jewelry on consignment with local fashion stores. I have had a lot of luck in that.
- I offer my jewelry at a wholesale price and whatever they increase the price to is their business.
- I have had several re-orders in short time periods because the jewelry tends to sell quicker.
- You don’t have to haggle or be there as the shop owner basically sees the profit that is potentially there and will do the work.
- Just keep accurate records of what you take to the store so that you can keep inventory.
- Listen to the shop owner to what sells in their store, they know their customers and know the colour trends that are coming out in the following season. Your jewelry can be made to match their store theme colours to quickly sell your products.
Have you had experiences with this type of selling? Share with me below your thoughts and advice you would share to someone else!
- How to choose the right handmade jewelry Wholesale Jewelry Manufacturer (jewelrysuppliesblog.wordpress.com)
- Lessons Learned About Accessories (miketendstotravel.com)
- Fashion Jewelry Wholesalers-Difference between Chinese and Indian jewelry (jewellerysupplies.wordpress.com)