by Anne Rush.
Anne Rush, with a few of the jewelry designs she’s directed. Top left and bottom right: Anne Rush and Fernanda Medina for Shop NBC. Bottom left: Anne Rush Radiance Collection / Swarovski Collaboration.
“How can independent designers get their work to the mass market without being ‘knocked off’ in the name of ‘inspiration’ by greedy corporate buyers attending craft shows?
We would love to know if there are agencies which work with freelance designers and help sell their creations for mass production.”
This is a great question asked by my friend “J” in response to my last article, Designing Jewelry in the Corporate World.
What can you do to turn this obviously negative behavior within our industry into a positive for yourself?
of the designer’s story
I agree that in the past the goal of many corporate creative merchants in attending craft shows was to find fresh ideas to inspire their own ideas.
I have no doubt that some of them did knock off designs without missing a beat.
However, over the past 10 years I have seen a significant change in the approach of industry executives when looking for the next best idea.
It’s not that they have suddenly found some scruples so much as that the business of having unique products for the consumer is hinging more and more on ‘designer names’.
The industry cannot create great ideas that have a generic existence anymore. Consumers want to connect with what they are buying and WHO they are buying from.
The story of a product is attached to a personality, which is the designer. This puts the independent designer in a very powerful position.
So perhaps when you see that corporate buyer walking past the next time, you might embrace the opportunity that it offers you to market yourself and your line in an exclusive and unique way for them.
After all, if you make him/her a success at finding the next designer to introduce to a greater audience you will also help yourself.
As you build your product don’t forget to build your own story as well. Ask yourself or your friends what makes you as a person interesting, and how does that interpret into your jewelry?
How can you show
this unique story at your booth
so that you stand out?
- Take a look at the showcases in Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.
- These stores do smaller collections that focus on specific designers that they have found sometimes at trade shows.
- See the price points they have and the way the collection is about a specific designer’s style of work.
- Try to categorize in a list each designer you see.
- Would you describe each designer as classic, trendy, edgy, colorful, or eclectic?
- What category of look would your style fit into?
- If your style fits into none of these descriptions then maybe there is a niche in the store for your look.
- If you fit into one, but there is only one other designer with that look, there may be room in the store for your interpretation.
- Do your prices fit into the prices at the store? If so, good. If not, edit your product for price.
- Remember you need to think about what you can add to the buyer’s world, not what she can do for you.
- If you are able to make statements like, “my line has a vibe similar to Chan Luu, but my style is bolder and I use resin shapes that are hand carved in my studio”. This shows that you understand what will sell for the buyer, as well as what you can offer to her customer that is totally fresh.
- It is never a bad thing to show you have researched the buyer’s environment.
Getting your jewelry noticed
by the industry
The best way to get noticed for your work is to find an independent sales representative who can exhibit your line at the major trade shows in the industry.
Good shows to be a part of:
- JCK in Las Vegas and in New York.
- Accessories the Show in New York.
- The Atlanta Gift Fair
If you attend these shows you can walk right up to these reps and ask if they are looking for more designers, or if they can give you a lead on someone else they could recommend.
As far as I know there are no agencies that work with freelance designers to promote that designer’s own work.
I do know of agencies like 24/7 in New York that represent freelance designers for the industry to work on projects for people like myself when the workload is large or a specific kind of style is needed for a project.
This kind of freelance work requires a designer to fill the needs of the client with a look that suits his or her brand.
This is when your personal taste must not interfere with the job.
Getting your jewelry
in fashion magazines
I can also recommend trying to submit your work to fashion magazine accessory editors. You’ll need to study the publication first to see if your products are a ‘fit’ for the editor’s creative style.
You can send your product sample with a pre-paid return package enclosed as well.
If your timing is right for a photo shoot, or works well with a trend she is showing then you may get some free press for your jewelry.
Make sure to include what the piece is made of, the price, and where a customer can purchase it—as well as website information.
Again, understand what you can do for the editor, not what you want to gain from her. In this way you will be able to increase your chances of gaining some press.
What other questions
do you have?
Your questions push me to reflect on my role in the creative corporate world.
I am one of the few Creative executives that began her career as an artist and studied the craft of metals and jewelry design.
So my heart is always with the designer and how to bring that unique energy to the consumer. After all, everyone deserves great design.
Author Anne Rush is currently Creative Director at Roman Company, TSI Accessory Group in New York.
She is a Professional Creative executive with over 20 years of experience in the direction of jewelry design for major companies in New York City. Brands she has directed include Monet, Kenneth Cole, Liz Claiborne, and Jennifer Lopez.
Thank you again!
by: Janine Gerade
I am going for an interview for a “test Assembler” position at a large costume design company in Providence, R.I. on Monday. I am a nervous wreck! I am also told it is a low paying job but with potential to work my way up
. I am a 36 year old mother of 1 and live over 45 minutes from R.I.
It may be a financial risk for me with gas prices and childcare. I am torn because it sounds like a job where I can assemble jewelry and get paid for it.
I am going for the interview and am hopeful it may not be so bad. Can you tell me what this position is exactly?
Great information. I just started sending pictures of my unique necklaces out there. I am honored that Wire Jewelry Magazine and Jewelry Business put my picture in there magazine and new letter. I was thinking about sending it to other magazines, now that I read your information I will send a necklace..
Many sales to all
One of a kind and wholesale
I do work in metal clay and sometimes use unusual stones. While some of my work is repeatable in design a good amount isn’t (although, it could be considered “serial” as in I do a series of a particular design but each one, while the same in theme, is different from the other). I was recently told by a fellow jewelry artist that I would likely do well at the Buyer’s Market of American Craft and I am considering applying to the summer show but my question is this: Can you do a show such as the BMAC with one of a kind, selling that item (I am familiar with this being a non-cash and carry show so I would be writing orders for the specific item, putting it away and then shipping it later to the customer) rather than having samples and writing orders based on the samples? If it is a sample only show then I will have to look into having some of my work sent out for production.
Thanks so much for your input!
Thanks So Much Anne
Thanks so much Anne for sharing your information with us. I don’t know of anyone else in your industry that is as generous as you. I read everything that you write. Keep up the fabulous work.
Trade shows in the UK
Great article. I live in the UK …are there important trade shows more local to me?