If you missed last week’s blog– I was made the offer of a lifetime after I contacted what I mistakenly thought was a shop, asking if they would stock my wares. The ‘shop’ ended up actually being a company who represented several brands, a sales agent/ distributor. She was interested in me… She would sell to (over 200) shops, market, deal with buyers, ship and represent me at the gift fair. I would have to make things in this season’s colours, sell them to her at slightly less than normal wholesale, cut ties with my normal shops, and create like crazy
I felt like I’d been blindfolded and turned in circles. It could be huge exposure but it felt like I’d be putting all my eggs in one basket. Which is where i left you… pondering the problem all week, as i had been…
Luckily for me, the crafting community is a tight nit one and I know some incredibly time generous, lovely people. Earlier that week i had been invited to join four crafter’s (only two of whom i actually knew, vaguely) to meet up for self employed crafty business meetings to share experiences and give advice- just the kind of thing i needed. The only problem was the meeting wasn’t for a fortnight and I just couldn’t wait that long, so i emailed them with my problem.
Sue jumped to action almost instantly and suggested we meet up to talk it through over coffee the next morning at The Roxy. Beverly and Monica agreed, they would see us there. This alone was enough to overwhelm me, these three women (two of whom I had never met) were willing to give up their morning to help me nut out my difficult situation. Amazing. I went to bed feeling better about the situation already, we’d sort it out in the morning. Then overnight the stress of the week caught up with my immune system and I got sick. I woke up sniffly, throaty and unhappy. It was raining outside and I couldn’t face going out feeling as crap as I did, especially as the cold wet weather would no doubt make me feel worse. Now if you thought these women were amazing before, you just wait… they met up anyway, without me, and talked over my problem for me and emailed with the results of the meeting.
I’ll just give you a minute for the amazingness of these women to sink in… it’s OK, i’ll wait…
They emailed with a large, helpful email- they suggested that instead of looking at what this woman could give me to look at myself, my practices, to ponder things like ‘How am i doing on my own right now?’ and ‘Do I enjoy selling directly to shops?’ (yes). If I get a huge demand of 1,000 orders a week (or more) can i meet it swiftly without comprising on quality? (honestly i don’t think so), and if not, do i have a line i CAN produce quicker to meet this kind of demand… could I offer her that instead? It doesn’t have to be all or nothing, test the waters a bit before jumping in.
There were so many helpful questions to mull over, most (luckily) were instantly answered in my head upon reading them: If I have to pay her a commission, pay lower wholesale prices, register for GST, or hire someone to help meet volume requirements can I absorb that into my price? Can I afford to continue if she doesn’t make any sales for me? What are my turnaround times? Payment terms- what are they!?
One of the things they pointed out, that I had already been mulling over was ‘How many orders can I manage a week?’ I have an impressive amount of origami bagged and ready to make into things, I like to keep my hands busy while watching TV, and it’s nice having something to fall back on if I have a surprise big order or if I go on holiday… but if she wants me to start, from scratch essentially, with new colours, all of that goes out the window. Then there is the clincher ‘How many orders do I WANT to manage in a week?’ it’s all well and good saying I want to be a creator, to be self employed and sit at home all day making, but if I have to make (not create) like a machine… it’s not quite the same!
However they reminded me… My jewellery would be marketed in a professional manner and I’d never have to leave my studio… That the rep can keep me abreast of jewellery design trends and give me updates on what’s selling and what’s not, suggest potential modifications to my jewellery line based on experience in the marketplace. Of course it’s not all roses… “Having an agent doesn’t exactly mean sitting back and just creating, you still need to communicate with her regularly, check how things are going, provide free samples, marketing materials and anything else to help them sell your products. Are you guaranteed presence at gift fair? if yes how much space? Is there a minimum commitment period, is there a review period?”
With all this spinning through my head, a very thorough email but perhaps one that raised more questions than answers, I realised in the first sentence they had hit the nail on the head “it’s awesome and flattering when someone wants to do business with you” I think through all the pros and cons, the talking about it, the feeling of dread in my stomach I kept coming back (subconsciously of course) to being so flattered I couldn’t even consider saying no even though it’s what I had instinctively felt since the beginning! They also reminded me that I am the one who holds the cards in her hand, not the other way round. She wants me, she isn’t going away, and it’s not a decision I have to make now, or even this year.
Sue said it beautifully ‘It’s big and overwhelming and possibly that it is big and overwhelming is an indication that this is a leap too big for now, when you are just making little jumps’