1 MASTERING WHOLESALE MODULE 1 VIDEO 2.1 Transcript Module #1: How to get started (or restarted) in your wholesale business /the basics Video # 2: Developing a Collection for Wholesale that Blows Buyers Away Success in wholesaling your jewelry brand starts with your collection. A lot of designers who have a hard time with wholesale are stumbling right here. Each factor of your collection -- the way it is designed, merchandised, priced and delivered -- is fundamental in whether or not your designs ultimately sell and buyers know this. So if you don t have the whole package, you won t even get their consideration. That means you can t just wing it. Your designs, packaging, and prices need to be planned carefully with a strong purpose behind each decision. In this video, we will show you how to develop a collection for wholesale that blows buyers away! Here s what you ll learn in this training: Merchandising and Designing Cohesive Collections that Sell Identifying and Owning your Signature Style Determining Your Collection Category Planning Ahead: Collection Development Timelines
2 **************************************************************************************************** Merchandising and Designing Cohesive Collections that Sell Let s begin with collection development. Having a strong and cohesive collection is key for all designers, but especially IMPORTANT if you want to wholesale your work. Buyers want a line that they can merchandise easily and which tells a story to their clients. Your ability to tell a story with your collection is the exact thing that will convince retail buyers to add your collection to their assortment. But more importantly, your ability to tell a story with your collection will ultimately be what attracts your the end purchaser or your DREAM clients to buy. The story can take a variety of motifs such as: Color stories Stones Your Inspiration A design pattern, shapes or aesthetic A certain element that ties it together A theme Metal colors A proprietary technique Packaging or how your collection is presented These are just a few of the ways to tie a collection together. As a designer, the world is your oyster. Be creative and tell your own story. After you ve created your story, it s important to think about how people will be buying your work. (Tracy) One of my first key accounts in San Francisco back in 1998 told me something very important about designing a collection. At the time, all of the pieces in my collection sold really well at her store, but they were all pretty much in the same price range and size scale. There wasn t much variety. Her advice to me was to push the limit and design a few statement pieces that would draw a buyer s eye into the case. She said even though it might not be the piece the client ends up buying, it is the foundation around which the collection will sell. The statement piece is the piece that attracts the clients attention and leads them to buy other pieces in your line. What I didn t know then, but put into practice immediately after I received this advice was that there is actually a formula for designing a cohesive collection!
3 The formula consists of having a statement item, a gateway item and an upsell / add on item. The rest of your collection is built around these. Each of these pieces works together towards a common theme or story. The collection should also tie into your signature look. 1. The Statement Piece The statement piece, as I mentioned above, is the piece that grabs all of the attention and becomes the focal point of your collection. Statement pieces are interesting, bold and usually eye-catching. They tend to be unique and are often the first thing your buyers and DREAM clients notice. Statement pieces are the headline in your story, the piece that will give you the wow factor in your line. But it s not necessarily what people will buy, in fact, you may not sell many at all in comparison to the rest of your collection. Its purpose is to create the interest and excitement that will get your buyer s attention. If you design statement jewelry as your signature style, YOUR statement piece will be the most over-the-top runway piece. If you design daintier jewelry, your statement piece might be something that has loads of gemstones or details, even if the scale isn t super large. Regardless of your design aesthetic, you ll always want a statement piece (or a few) in your collections. 2. The Gateway Piece A Gateway Item is that piece in your collection that everyone knows you for. It s your best seller, the piece that people actually buy after they drool over your statement piece. The Gateway piece is generally priced in the middle of your collection s range. You know you ve got a winner when you can hardly keep the piece in stock! So the statement piece is what draws buyers and the press in, and the gateway piece is what your DREAM clients all purchase It s the bread and butter of your line. 3. The Up-Sell or Add-on Piece Ok this is a REALLY bad example, but I am going to use it anyway. Let s pretend we you are on a road trip and you pull into a fast food joint because of lack of better options. You order your veggie burger or whatever, and what do they immediately ask you? Do you want fries with that?
4 I hate to equate beautiful jewelry with French fries or even fast food at all, but its exactly the same concept. You should be designing with the YES I d like fries with that mentality. Think about pieces that you can design in the low end price range of your collection that can easily be added onto an order. The Up-Sell or the add-on pieces are those that you can suggestive sell. Hey are also the perfect gift pieces in Your price point. Remember these concepts run throughout designing any sort or collection, regardless of your top price-point is $100 or $100,000. Your up-sell item well be relative to your brand. The Up-Sell item is usually fairly inexpensive for YOUR price-point. It can be added on to increase the sale and usually your clients don t even think twice about it. When I was wholesaling my collection, I had a very simple up-sell item as part of my core collection and almost every buyer purchased it. It was just a simple earring style that matched well with just about any of the necklace designs I had in the collection. They sold like Hot-Cakes and were an easy way for my buyers to build orders with their clients. When making design choices, you should consider these categories as percentages in the make-up of your collection. Remember, at a minimum each of your collections should have different designs or exclusive of color options. A good rule of thumb: 20-25% of your line should be Statement Pieces (High Price Point) 45-50% of your line should be Gateway Pieces (Mid Price Point) 25-35% of your line should be Up-Sell Pieces (Low Price Point) The percentages can also be used when building your pricing structure. First, determine your range (a costume jeweler will obviously have a different pricing range than a fine jeweler) and then integrate the category percentages. The Pitfalls of Adding Pieces to a Collection Adding to an existing collection that is successful can be a great way to capture new sales. However, be aware of the possibility of overwhelming your customer and cannibalizing your business. You do not want to do that. Here s an example of what I mean.
5 A company Robin had worked with had very successful collections within their line. The designer got super excited with one collection that was blowing sales out of the water. She decided to take the top sellers within this collection and add 10 new very similar styles. The new pieces sold OK, but took away sales from the existing tops sellers. Adding 1 or 2 more styles (in both silver and gold) in the collection would have been perfect to help increase sales rather than adding too many which just diluted sales all together. ************************************************************************** Identifying and Owning Your Signature Style Defining your signature style is a very important starting point to creating collections that sell. Your signature style is what will put you on the map as a designer. We are going to describe some general categories below that capture different types of designers in a moment. However there is one word that really speaks to me about creating a signature style: and that is innovation! Innovation There are so many jewelry designers out there these days, it s completely insane! But we want to say this again...there is room for all of us. Adding on that, these days, just about everything has been done. For thousands of years artisans and designers have been sourcing inspiration from an amalgam of elements. And certainly you are too! You stand out as a designer because of your ability to interpret something in a new, fresh and cohesive way. It may also include coming up with a proprietary technique or design aesthetic. I wanted to cover a few designers who are truly pushing the innovation boundaries with their design aesthetic. Polly Wales I have been obsessed with Polly Wales for the last year. Not only is her work fascinatingly beautiful, but she has developed a branded technique with her stones cast in place signature style.
6 Her work is HOT right now because of her ability to mix color combinations and to innovate the way stones are set. She is pushing the boundary to create a look that is fresh and new. Pamela Love Pamela Love burst onto the scene with her collection of tribal jewelry and everyone took notice. Her collection is innovative because even though it is native American influenced jewelry, she tied in signature looks that made the designs her own. She was so hot on the scene that she immediately captured the attention of 9 West who did a design collaboration with her practically out of the gate. I. Ronni Kappos We love what I. Ronnie Kappos is doing with vintage German Glass. She is a great example of using color and form plus turning something old into something new. Her colorful jewelry is tied together by just that:: color. Her work is all very limited edition (take notice all of you OOAK designers out there) so each style has very limited quantity. The cool part about IRK is that she has sold in some of the most sought after stores because of her status as a limited run designer. It just shows you how being unique and innovative with your signature style can set you apart. Here are some questions to ask to help define your signature style: Who am I designing for? What are my design inspirations? What are my design influences? What ties my collection together? What do I enjoy designing the most? What are my proprietary techniques? How do I utilize themes or elements? How am I innovating? Am I pushing any design boundaries? What makes my collection unique and different? And the list of questions goes on from here. Sit for a moment and answer these questions as fully as possible. Your answers will be useful in just about everything you do when designing and selling your collection. **************************************************************************
7 Determining Your Collection Category There are many different ways to extend and hone on your signature style and brand category. Determining your collection category is just another way to find the right types of buyers and tighten your designing skills. Let s break it down into types or categories: Fine Jewelry Bridge Jewelry Costume Jewelry Fashion Jewelry Fine Jewelry The cool thing about fine jewelry these days is that designers are continually breaking the boundaries of what is considered fine jewelry. The fine jewelry category can include anything from super High End harry Winston Style jewelry to some of the more contemporary fine jewelers we are seeing on the market today such as Polly Wales and Cathy Waterman. Typically, fine jewelry is defined as anything using high end precious metals such as gold and platinum or palladium and fine gemstones such as diamonds and sapphires. The boundaries are starting to blur a bit as semi precious Gems are often included in fine jewelry collections. However, the standard is still pretty clearly defined by the DREAM client, price point and materials. Bridge Jewelry Bridge Jewelry is what I consider anything made with Silver and semi-precious stones. It is the bridge between the high end and costume materials. Some well known bridge designers include Paige Sargisson and Gorjana. The Bridge category is usually priced in the middle range price points using silver, gold filled or gold vermeil and semiprecious stones.
8 A bridge designer may be contemporary or considered a fashion designer, as well. But this also runs the gamut of anything done in semi-precious materials. Costume Jewelry Costume jewelry is anything that is made out of non-precious metals like brass, bronze, white metal or pewter (and the like). As I mentioned earlier, some of the categories have blurred because brass and bronze can also be incorporated into a Bridge collection and it might still be considered bridge. Typically, costume jewelry is made with alternative materials like Swarovski crystals, plastic, resin, and enamel. The common thread is the base material: it s not precious or semi-precious. Some well known costume designers include Alexis Bittar and Erickson Beamon. Fashion Jewelry The term fashion jewelry is tossed around a lot these days and it really covers many of the categories. I would exclude fine jewelry from the fashion category but a Bridge designer and a Costume designer can both be considered fashion jewelry designers. Fashion jewelry is often trend focused. We used the examples of Gorjana, Paige Sargisson, Alexis Bittar and Erickson Beamon previously. These are all fashion jewelry designers as well. Now we can consider what kind of Designer you are: Collection Designer Item Designer Custom or One-of-a Kind Designer Vintage Redesign Designer Collection Collection designers typically have a very strong signature style. Usually a collection designer will create many different designs and styles that coordinate together. In general, the pieces are more collectible and personal. Great examples of a collection designer are Gemma Redux, Heather Moore and Melissa Joy Manning. Item
9 If you are an item driven designer like Viv&Ingrid, Chan Luu or Dogeared you'll find that most of your pieces can stand-alone. Item driven designers will develop one style (or one concept) and go deep into colors and metal types rather than varying the design. The great thing about designing items When your item is a winner, you can sell a lot of volume! Custom and One-of-a-Kind Many designers are more inspired by designing one of a kind pieces and custom work. Right now, I love designing custom work as well. Custom and OOAK pieces require a lot of time and effort and should command a premium price-point for your range. While your designs might have a signature look, you may have a range of styles and inspiration that you create from. From a wholesale perspective, designing OOAK and custom work can be a bit tricky because buyers are typically purchasing from a line. However, we ve both seen really successful OOAK designers at the wholesale level when presented right. Wholesaling one of a kind work IS definitely possible, but it will take a little more innovation, a careful weeding out of the wrong types of accounts and a planned strategy. OOAK also works really well if you have an existing collection or line. You can add a OOAK element and charge a premium price point for the designs that are exclusive. Vintage Redesign Vintage remnants and jewelry reproductions are H_O_T! and there are many designers who have burst onto the scene by taking old pieces and turning them into something new. One of the first to do this was a designer who launched her brand in the 90 s named Sage. She is now venturing off into other things. However, the trend has not died down. We know that many of you are doing such this Diane Cotton is a well-known designer in California who has had great success wholesaling vintage redesign jewelry. She categorizes her work in different segments from vintage redesign, collected vintage jewelry and vintage reproductions
10 Take a moment to decipher your signature look and your design category. From there determine if you are designing collections, items or custom/ooak vintage redesign. Within a well developed collection you can have all elements as well. What will ultimately allow you to stand out as a designer is your signature style. It s the LOOK you want to be known for or the special way you finish a piece. Regardless of how you design, you want to create your own signature style in your collection. Here are a few tips to get you started: Think of your DREAM client. What would she buy? Take a look at the pieces you LOVE designing the most, how can you expand on those? Is there a key theme or element that runs through each of your pieces? Do you have a specific signature way to finish each piece (for instance, do you have some element that is an added detail)? What makes your line special? Ok now that we ve covered designing your collection, let s move on to Collection development timelines. ************************************************************************** Planning Ahead: Collection Development Timelines Designers are always asking about how often they need to come up with new collections. The Timeline for new collections depends on you, the designer, and whether you classify your line as more of a gift store line or more of a jewelry store line. If you are a gift store line, you could probably get away with just two collections a year - January and August. But if you are interested in being in the more fashion side of things, we recommend 3-4 (and possibly 5) new collections per year. The collections would be considered: Spring, Summer, Fall 1, Fall 2/Winter and Resort/Holiday Here is how it breaks down: Here s your timeline:
11 Your Spring collection will start selling in January so this collection should be completed in December. Your Summer/Fall 1 collections will start selling in April and May so this collection should be completed in March. Your Fall 2/ Winter collection will start selling in August so this collection should be completed in July. Your Resort/Holiday collection will start selling in September so this collection should be complete in August. No matter when you introduce your collections to buyers, keep in mind that press needs to see new collections about three months out. If you are designing two collections a year, Have one collection ready in December for January Sales and Your second collection complete by June for Later season sales. Evaluating I just want to mention that you should evaluate your line on a quarterly basis (at least) to see what is selling (or not selling). Keep in mind whenever introducing a new collection, you should also look at what you can discontinue. Keeping your line clean and readable can be helpful to a buyer. Once, when Robin was meeting with Nordstrom, one of the seasoned head buyers said that, on occasion, Nordstrom will take a well-selling (possibly even top selling) pieces off the floor to create demand for it, and then bring it back in a year (maybe longer). We loved hearing this! When we shared this bit of information with designers they found it comforting that they didn t have to say good-bye forever to any of their designs. When evaluating your line, we recommend looking at reports that give you the real story. You may feel like you are selling a lot of 1 item, but it just may be that you are seeing a combination of sales from both in your wholesale biz and online. Make sure you you look these separately as well as together. You may be selling a certainpiece of jewelry super well and your website or you may have one customer who was buying necklaces for all of her sorority sisters so you get a great sell through on that piece, but it s a bit of false advertising. The same holds true for wholesale. You could be working with a corporate event buyer and her order was for 200 quantity of one style bracelet. Again this will skew your true numbers. The sales are great and we love them, but by evaluating your biz you can really see the buying trends, which are magical when planning your future collections as well as you sales strategy.
12 Another reason we LOVE using reports to help us see where opportunity is. For example, if you have a lot of online customers in let s say Dallas, TX, but don t have any wholesale accounts there, then you a have great excuse to contact stores in this untapped area. A buyer loves to know that they are buying a product that already has an audience and a demand. The truth is in the numbers. You ll want to look at not only sales figures, but also at quantity. In addition, I suggest looking at the locations of sales. Like I mentioned earlier, know your top 5 10 cities you sell to. On a final note: On occasion, you might find that you want to design pieces that are exclusively for wholesale that are not sold on your personal branded retail website. or vice versa, you might design certain piec.es for JUST retail or direct to consumer. This can be tied to pricing as you ll learn more about in the next video. If you are finding that designs can t be priced for wholesale, maybe you just design some limited editions that you do not design for your retail consumers. ************************************************************************** All right, we have some more for your Toolbox! We have some worksheets for you to help you with your signature style and your collection development. Your Signature Style Worksheet Collection Development Timeline Worksheet Take Action Now! Download The Worksheets And Get Started!