Thursday, 5 March 2015

Boost your jewellery business - rent a shelf (reblog)

It was Business Week at the London Jewellery School last week and I wrote a few blog posts for this. Here is one I wrote that was originally published by them

If selling your work in a jewellery shop or gallery feels like a step too far why not consider renting a shelf? Jewellery artist and tutor Anna Campbell writes about the pros and cons of selling your work in shops.

Selling your jewellery online is a rewarding experience but nothing beats seeing your work on sale in an actual shop. Jewellers and galleries will often expect a low wholesale price in order to make their money and this can be off-putting. However, there are now more and more options to rent a shelf in a shop to see how your work sells.

How do I find somewhere to sell?

Local shops
I would recommend going into local shops and cafes that sell handmade items and ask. Many shopkeepers are interested in having goods that are locally made and have a story to them. Go in prepared to show your jewellery but if they are busy gauge whether they are interested and make an appointment for a more convenient time. Make sure you’re ready to answer any questions you may be asked including about individual prices.

Unusual places
Think outside of the usual places to sell. How about approaching hotels or local museums? One LJS student sells her work in a nail salon! She gave some pieces to the nail technicians for them to wear and of course customers having their nails done would comment on it and were able to buy there and then.

Pop up shop or shop share
A pop up shop is a retail trend where someone or a group sells from a vacant shop for a short period of time.
Look out for empty shops locally that could potentially become pop up shops. You could work together with other local artists to sell for a day or more. Check out We Are Pop Up for opportunities in your area or search for shop share.

Rent a shelf
Look for places you can rent a shelf in the UK. Start with your local area but consider selling in larger cities if you aren’t located there.

I have sold my jewellery at the following places that offer rent a shelf

My totem collection on sale at Things British, Greenwich

Things British
Things British currently have shops in St Pancras station and Greenwich Market. Both are in London but you don’t have to be located in London to sell there, you just need to be making your work in the UK.
At Things British you rent a shelf for a minimum of six weeks. The cost of the shelf depends on where it is, with eye level being at a premium. You receive all sales (they take no percentage) and you tend to receive your sales figures once a week.
From my experience, the Greenwich shop has quite a lot of competition so you would do better there with lower priced unusual items. For higher priced items you might want to consider the St Pancras station shop. It’s more expensive to rent a shelf there but the shop is located near some upmarket wine bars and customers are reported to be willing to pay higher prices.

We Make London
We Make London is a collective of designers. They currently have a pop up shop in Camden Lock Market. It is open seven days a week and benefits from the buzzy atmosphere of Camden which is a busy tourist destination all year round.
You can rent a space in the shop for a minimum of one month and are charged a percentage fee on your sales.
I have sold at We Make London and would recommend that you are selling lower priced jewellery items if you are to be successful there.
You do not have to be located in London as you can send your stock to them by post, you just need to be making in the UK.

How long should I rent for?
This is up to you but I recommend renting for the shortest period possible initially so you can see whether your jewellery will sell there. I have a friend who took advantage of a price reduction on a longer rental period but ended up stuck in a contract that, in hindsight, wasn’t right for her or her jewellery.

Pros of rent a shelf
Cons of rent a shelf
You can see whether your jewellery will sell in a particular marketplace
If your sales don’t cover your rental bill you will have made a loss and will have to find the money
You keep more of the profit than when stocking a gallery or jeweller
You will normally have to pay your rental up front so will need some capital to invest
You can capitalise on sales at busy times e.g. christmas, mothers day etc without having to be present
It can be demoralising if you don’t sell much, remember that it might just be the wrong location and time

A final note
Once your rental period is up review how it has gone. If you’re not successful don’t be tempted to slash your prices straight away. Consider the following

  • Time of year. Typically October, November and December are the busiest times
  • Is the location right for your jewellery and price point?
  • Ask the person that runs the shop for their opinion on your sales figures

We’d love to hear your stories of selling your jewellery in shops. Add a comment below and let us know what has worked (or not worked!) for you.

Anna Campbell is a tutor at the London Jewellery School and runs her own jewellery business Campbell Hall Designs. She sells online from her website and at the Things British shop in Greenwich, London.

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