Starting out on the Right Foot with Your Left Brain

Mckenna HallettBy ABI faculty member Mckenna Hallett

I want reorders. I want my shop owners and wholesale buyers to have as much upfront support as possible. I want them to be completely up to speed when my first order arrives at their doorstep. In fact, I want them to sell my work before it arrives. Yes. Before it arrives.

So I developed a sales and marketing “Start-up Kit” package to give them tools, tools, and more tools ahead of that delivery date. I want to be a virtual salesperson, merchandiser, and PR person for my line.

I do this for many reasons.


A typical display of Mckenna Hallett's work.

A typical display of Mckenna Hallett’s work.


As a mature 20 year business with a limited amount of hours per week to make my one-by-one handmade jewelry, I cannot create thousands of pieces per month. My productivity can serve about 50 retailers with excellent service and prompt turnaround dates. I have a low glass ceiling. Creating 400 pieces is a maxed-out month and not my goal. I occasionally get days off with 350 pieces. I live on Maui. I need to get to the beach!

So…to keep my partnerships with my wholesale accounts at optimum levels, I am very cautious when inquiries come in. New accounts requests are vetted. I want to have that territory be as productive as possible. One or two orders is not useful to my production calendar.

Therefore, I do some research before that first order is accepted. It starts with a conversation, but I will also research their online presence. I will attempt to discover what other studio artists are currently being sold to see if my line will be a good fit overall.

I also want to see the actual retail space and the displays. So I will ask for photos if they don’t have pics online. I will even do Google street view if possible to see the neighborhood and surrounding businesses. The more I know about the characteristics of that business, the more I can tailor my support materials and put proper merchandise into that important (very important) initial order. Your mileage may vary.

I want my investment in that relationship to come back to me with years of sales. I want a very long and profitable relationship.

The best way to achieve this level of partnership is to create materials that help support their needs with information and content. Discover what you can provide to help sell your line with simple informational pieces. Answer these questions:

  • Do you know what makes a difference in presenting your work?
  • Do you have a story that makes potential customers bond instantly to your line?
  • Are there display concepts that add to your perceived value that can be suggested?
  • Can you provide any actual displays or props?
  • Can you provide pictures of successful store displays from other retailers?
  • Can you create some marketing piece or signage that will give viewers of your work insights that begin to create desire without a salesperson?

A busy shop can deeply benefit from this kind of support from their vendors. Make it a no-brainer. Show you care about details that supports and increases sales.

In Part Two I will give concrete examples of what I developed to send ahead of the first order. I will be including photos with examples of my start-up kit and a simple but effective follow-up that nearly guarantees that all important first re-order.


See more of Mckenna Hallett’s jewelry here.


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