Hi everyone! I just completed a project and I want to share the results with you. I know many of you would like to get your handmade jewelry into galleries. I wanted to find out directly from the gallery owners and decision makers what jewelry designers need to consider before approaching a gallery.
To do this, I called a representative group of 20 galleries across the country and ask them for pointers I can give you on how to approach them. (believe me it’s not always easy to reach the person in charge). Here’s what I found:
1. Gallery owners overwhelmingly prefer that you approach them only after calling first and setting up an appointment. Drop in visits particularly during busy days are frowned upon. Several of them noted that Saturday is the absolute worse day to approach them either in person or by phone. One gallery owner said that if a designer drops in on a Saturday unannounced, she’d be unlikely to even consider them for her gallery as it’s a sign of unprofessionalism.
2. Your personality can play a role in whether or not your jewelry is accepted into some galleries. Gallery owners don’t seem to appreciate pushy designers and those who push too hard to “sell” their products. A polite demeanor and good manners go a long way towards establishing a relationship and can increase your chance of acceptance if you have a good product.
3. Several gallery owners emphasized the importance of having up-to-date wholesale price lists with you when you walk in the door. These should have wholesale prices listed and be marked as such. They said some designers will have the retail price printed on their sheets without specifying this. Retailers don’t like to have to ask whether or not the price listed is wholesale or retail. Make it easy for them!
4. Most gallery owners emphasized that they’re looking for jewelry designs that their competitors don’t have. While it may not be practical for you to grant them “exclusive rights” to your designs, I wouldn’t advise selling to their competitor down the street. Most gallery owners said they wouldn’t purchase from a designer who sold to their close competitors.
5. “No” doesn’t always mean no. Most galleries said they may turn down your work initially for a variety of reasons including an overabundance of jewelry or that particular style of jewelry, being overextended on their inventory purchases, not having the time to properly evaluate your line etc. They implied that a designer should follow up with them at least one time at a later date do see if anything has changed.
6. A few gallery owners emphasized the importance of having a full line of jewelry not just a few choices. It’s difficult to create an appealing display or theme if there are only a few choices in your handmade jewelry line.
7. If you live outside the area of the gallery you’re approaching, you can contact the gallery owner by mail. Be sure to include clear photographs and a wholesale price list. Mark your prices as wholesale so there’s no confusion to the gallery owner as to whether the stated prices are wholesale or retail. Include your minimum order requirement.
8. When a gallery owner places an order with you, be sure to address all of the details regarding shipment. When will it be sent? How will it be sent? Who pays for shipping and handling? When a shipping date is established, please be sure to follow through. Gallery owners are very critical of jewelry designers who don’t follow through with shipment in a timely manner.
9. Contrary to what you might think, gallery owners love working with jewelry designers and welcome new contacts. This means new and fresh merchandise for them which is the life blood of their business.
This should give you some idea as to what gallery owners expect from you as a jewelry designer and professional. It’s important to maintain good communication with any gallery you establish a relationship with and to practice the art of good customer service. It really is a mutually beneficial relationship and partnership between you and the gallery as you’re helping them as much as they’re helping you. Be sure to nuture that relationship and it will help your business grow.
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Thanks for reading. 🙂