Seeing Jewelry Consignment in a New Light

Your Business Investment Portfolio

by Laura Christensen Wells.

Ebony wood, copper, and turquoise earrings by Laura Christensen Wells

Yes, sadly I have been bitten by the negatives of jewelry consignment.

My unsold items would come back looking like a chimpanzee wore them for a month.

Items didn’t sell quickly, so I would get too comfortable and forget to check in with the shop.

One month turned into three months and I was almost too embarassed to return.

Boy, I was done with consignment.

But, after four years of living like a wayward gypsy at art and craft fairs and avoiding consignment, I became compelled and enlightened to “rediscover” this selling option in a new light.

Think of a Store as a “Stock”

These little gems and jewels that we create represent our valuable money that can be invested into a “stock” or store. As your mother always said, “don’t put all you eggs in one basket.” So, carefully choose a group of “stocks” or stores. Good stores are key. See other articles in this section in regards to finding the right store for you and your creations.

Think of a Group of Stores as
Your “Investment Portfolio”

This carefully chosen group of stores becomes your investment portfolio. Two or three stores are good to start. This number will grow eventually with the natural ebb and flow of networking with your crafty friends, but you must always be certain that it is not more than you can handle, and each store is a good fit for your work. This is your business investment portolio; treat it wisely.

Think of the Difference in Stores
as “Diversity”

Like an investment portfolio, also relating to the eggs and the basket advice, we need “diversity.” The locations and different types of stores you choose will represent the diversity.

Make sure your stores are geographically spaced. A unique retailer in most cases does not want to carry your work when their competitor two doors down already has it.

In the beginning experiment with different venues – for example art galleries, boutiques, gifts shops. Like a stock, give it time and pay attention to which ones do best for you.

Tangle Bangle by Laura Christensen Wells

Turning Negatives into Positives

  • The fact that many stores take up to forty percent from the retail price seems unfair.

I have re-evaluated and validated this fact by considering this; One afternoon I received a call from a shop regarding a question about one of my pieces, when I was peeling my daughter’s lunch off the kitchen floor. I wasn’t even thinking about jewelry at the time but someone was buying it!

The simple fact is, a store is open more hours than you can sell yourself. Imagine the possibilities when you are in six stores. All those shoppers appreciating and buying your work when you are busy at home creating more, or heaven forbid, having a bubble bath.

  • Consignment is not immediate money in the bank for your business.

I now think of jewelry consignment as a building block to a wholesale relationship with that store. After many trips to refresh items and diligence to match a pair of earrings for that special necklace their client bought, the store owners will get to know your items that sell best, and think of you first when their seasonal buying spree comes around. That will mean money in the bank.

  • Too much time passes with low sales.

If you invested money into a stock, wouldn’t you want to know how it’s doing? This is my new-found way of thinking. Check your stores often. You should be able to visit or call the stores every two to three weeks. Any store owner who gets irritated about this will reveal it is not the place for you.

If your sales are low in any store for too long, it’s a good idea to bow out gracefully with a simple thank you card signed with your contact information. ( A great photo of one of your pieces on the front wouldn’t hurt.)

Remember, the relationship is professional, not personal. One should never burn bridges – they might recommend you to another shop who is more suitable for your work sometime down the road; this has happened to me. Store owners network too. You might also send a jewelry artist friend their way (who shares your enthusiasm for consignment and good business practice) who may be better suited for their store. This is simply good karma.

Tropica necklace by Laura Christensen Wells

When you create the ultimate “portfolio” of great consignment stores, it will not only reflect the ones that sold the most, but the ones with great communication and business practices, which usually occurs in established stores or young stores with a big future ahead.

These qualities are appreciated by both parties, of course. Things like beat up jewelry and bad display locations are easily fixed, or become non-issues.

As a one of a kind jewelry artist, I believe that consignment is a great opportunity to keep myself, the store owner and the customer happy. Because the items I create are very unique, it is often difficult for myself or the store owner to predict their success with a wholesale order.

But a consignment relationship is open and fresh. I have the ability to discover what sells best by rotating my items and even moving them to other locations where they will find better success. So, should you have the jewelry consignment blues, I urge you to see it in a new light. Take control of your “business investment portfolio” and be bullish!

Author Laura Christensen Wells of Christensen Studio enjoys working with the ancient media of handcrafting glass beads and enameling objects in her San Diego, California studio. Her jewelry is influenced by life experience, her Native Alaskan background, and travels to Italy and Australia. She also has a degree in environmental design and many years’ experience as an architectural designer.

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