Let’s play a game of picture this! Mother of two small children starts making jewelry as a hobby. Friends and family are impressed and suggest selling the handmade jewelry at craft shows or, wait a second, on the internet. Now you have your own business, a website or a listing at an online handmade marketplace and everything is selling well. After a couple years you have a great selling line of jewelry and you start thinking about selling to some stores. You book a local wholesale gift show ready to take your business to the next level. You go to show and guess what happens; it does not go according to your expectations. You take a couple of orders and do not even make the expenses. You are frustrated and ready to book some more craft shows instead of risking more disappointment. Does this sound familiar?
Maybe a general gift show is too general for your work. Specifically search for handmade wholesale shows. They may be a bit more expensive but these shows draw the right customers for your wholesale handcrafted jewelry and you are sure to do better because of this targeted marketing strategy. This is a big step and quite expensive because of not only the booth fees but also you usually need a different display so that you can display one of everything. The majority of our sales are generated at wholesale gift shows but it can take years to establish a good customer list. When we first started out it was sometimes difficult to get $100 minimum orders, but now customers come to the show specifically to see us and all our new items.
Now picture another scenario. Instead of taking a giant leap of faith, take baby steps. Gather samples of your best selling jewelry and show them to some stores in your area. This way you get to see the store and know that this is the right kind of shop that will be able to sell your jewelry well. You sell a few pieces for them to try and they even promote you as a local artisan. They do well with your work and re-order. Now picture finding ten stores and you are in the wholesale jewelry business. No muss, no fuss, just a little leg work and you are a success.
There are many ways to begin wholesaling your handmade jewelry. You can even meet gift store owners at your craft shows. We have quite a few wholesale customers that we met at art and craft fairs. When starting out there is no right or wrong way. For many years we continued to participate in our best craft shows as well as wholesaling to gift stores. Building wholesale customers gradually will not overwhelm your business, giving the needed time to learn the business to take advantage of all the opportunities available.