Selling Your Handmade Jewelry to Catalogs

Be Careful What You Wish For!


EARRINGS_LEMON FIESTA_WEBEveryone wishes they could sell to big department stores and catalogs.  But be mindful that it takes many steps after a buyer asks you to send in samples. For Pam Older Designs, estimating costs for these items is very important.  As part of the process you will have to source suppliers and get current quotes for your materials. It is great to be able to get volume discounts, but I find the price breaks are not there unless you are doing many hundreds of pieces in one order.The single price may be the most prudent one to use since you never know the size of the order until get the order, and after you send the sample. Make sure you are not only quoting recent prices (and date of the quote) but the ability to reorder from your vendor if you need to.  Recently I was going through the estimating process and was shocked to see how metal costs had driven costs much higher than I would have imagined.  Be careful not to underestimate to get the sale, cover your costs and make a reasonable profit. To ship the best quality for these important catalog customers, you should anticipate higher waste allowances and hence higher stone and metal costs, higher labor costs to accomodate additional quality checks and handling (most catalogs want you to barcode,and package the finished product to the catalog’s specifications).

I use a simple spreadsheet program to track my costs and determine my wholesale prices. It is an organized way to start out and an easy way to update prices and vendors as you continue to sell more and more! I price every element from labor to wire to jump rings. Also you may have to purchase jewelry tags with your brand’s name on it and secure backs for the earrings. Always ask the buyer or anticipate these additional add-ons.

If you have to take a leap of faith- over order custom stones or a particular finding.  If the customer reorders, you may not always be able to find identical pearls or stones (never mind the same price). You can always use extra materials in other pieces, but don’t get caught short by ordering too few. I spend a great deal of time tracking down supplies for orders.  Be prepared to spend the time it takes and get familiar with lots of  sources. ART Beads, Lucky Gems, Taj, Stuller, Halstead, Fire Mountain and Rio Grande are just few great suppliers to add to your own lists! Also explore stone cutters overseas and companies who manufacture a wide line of stones, chains and findings and establish relationships with them.Investigate the cost to have stones cut to your specification instead on hoping you will find the right beads!  Calipered stones can be a way to ensure quality and uniformity and reduce waste. Make sure you allow extra time for ordering custom materials. Also make sure you have the capacity to do the work in-house or with a contractor that understands your quality and design demands and can work on the schedule you have promised your customer.

Be aware of the customer’s return policy.All companies have different policies- be wary of a strict return policies where the catalog can return all goods and never pay you for your hard work.  Finally, get references from other designers to make sure the company you are selling to is honorable.

I would love to hear stories and experiences from those of you who have success with selling to catalogs!


One thought on “Selling Your Handmade Jewelry to Catalogs

  1. marielle753

    I love your jewelry and reading about how you started your business. I am learning a lot from you and hope to one day launch a jewelry design business of my own. Thank you for the blog posts, I love reading them!


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