Saturday, July 31, 2010

Scottish Mumpreneur Network talks about getting your designs stocked in a shop.

Scottish Mumpreneur Network talks to Eleanor of  about getting her items stocked in retail shops.

1. Tell us about your business - what made you start it and how long has it been operating?

I worked in Thailand for several years as marketing manager for a jewellery company and during my time there I saw so many beautiful things that I knew I would buy. So I got to know the designers and producers well and tested the market by sending some items back home and through the excellent feedback I received I decided to set up Things Pretty when I returned to the UK in 2006. I have always worked full time so I started out slowly and worked market stalls at the weekends and progressed to my ebay shop. Since I had my lovely wee boy Charlie, 15 months ago and gave up work, I have really tried to pushed things forward as much as I can by setting up my website and selling to shop, I am now going to attend my first trade far in September so am very excited.

2. We see you have your designs stocked in a few shops? How did that come about?

I have an accessories range in Sam Thomas, luckily she is a good friend and she gave my products a trial run in her shop. Things have been going well over the last five months so we are launching a new range at the end of August. I also approached Mary’s Living and Giving Shop in Stockbridge because I read an article that they were interested in working with local people to promote their products. I popped in one day and asked if i could get involved and I followed it up with an e-mail and some examples of my products. Now I have a regular guest spot in the shop and a range of my brooches are displayed permanently. I also really enjoy working in the shop and giving something back to charity. Also I would say the hardest part is getting the first shop but once you have made that step it’s so much easier to grown from there.

3. Do you have any advice you would give other people about approaching shops?

It can be quiet daunting but I find the best way to look at it is from their point of view. If I was a shop owner, I would love someone to come in with an exciting new, different product, it’s great for the shop as much as it is for you. If you have a unique idea or good product then people love to know about it so just tell them. The best advice I ever read was from Mary Portas in her column in Grazia, she said she was sick of woman wasting time because they thought they were not good enough and I read it and thought, you are right what I am waiting for, just go for it and I did, seriously what’s the worst that can happen?

4. Have you had any difficult situations when approaching shops? If so how did you deal with it?

Not really, I did have a shop who didn’t contact me when I thought it was quiet a positive meeting and they seemed so keen but I later learned they had to close their shop, so always be positive.

5. Do you have any advice on how to cost designs for stocking in shops, that our readers would benefit from?

Do your research and know your market, who are your customers and what would they pay for it, ask your friends and family for advice, you can never have enough help. Today’s climate is very competitive and I feel in these uncertain times people are more careful with their money so be realistic, people are choosy but if you have a good quality product that’s a little bit unique then you are in with a good chance. It helps to be different; people also appreciate good customer service and a friendly attitude.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to approach Retailers

Scottish Mumpreneur Network speaks with Evelyn Smith of

My business is named Pollyanna Pumpkin and I sell handcrafted gift plaques for any occasion.

I started the business in August 2009 as I'd accidently fallen upon modelling clay and wondered what I could do with it!!

I ordered everything I thought I might need to create unusual gifts and then began making "test" gifts for friends and family.

These proved to be so popular that I then sourced some local Christmas Fairs and booked myself a table at 3 events.

The Christmas events proved to be massive! My stall was crowded the whole time and people couldn't get enough.

All of the products have my contact details on the reverse, and one woman had bought 3 personalised door hangers for her boss's sons.

Her boss contacted me and asked if I could visit her shop with some samples. She now has a display cabinet filled with Pollyanna Pumpkin products.

She suggested I visit another local retailer, which I did, and she too now stocks my products!

Having got a buzz from the idea of proper shops stocking my merchandise, I then made out a list of shops that I thought might be interested in stocking.

I have only got round to visiting 2 of these shops! One of which was demanding exclusive rights to the product!!

Another stockist at Braehead Shopping Centre contacted me as she too had been given one of my plaques as a gift and wanted to stock them in her unit at the shopping centre. I have been very very fortunate that my plaques have landed in the hands of retailers wishing to stock!!

My advice to anyone visiting shops with their merchandise is to be yourself. I approached the first shop dressed smartly and with a good supply of samples and a wholesale price list, and of course a friendly smile!

I asked if they might be interested in stocking and on seeing the product they did! I would advise anyone doing this to make sure you have your proposal fixed in your mind and not to be swayed. One shop owner almost bit my hand off for the plaques but she wanted exclusive stocking rights to my products and was also looking for my name to be removed and her name on back of product instead. Needless to say I walked away from that one! I wouldn't say that this was a difficult situation, but it certainly made me realise how protective of my products I am and that I wasn't going to have done all the hard work just to hand it to this retailer on a plate! You have to be 100% about what it is you are offering stockists and remember that every retailer will try to get themselves a better deal.

I would suggest that as far as costing your product is concerned, you have to work out exactly how much each item is costing you to make. I totalled the cost of each without adding on hourly rates or anything, and I then doubled that cost to make my profit. So for example if something costs you £5 to make, you would wholesale for £10. Retailing at £15/20. Retail prices can vary enormously depending on stockist and stockists location!!

If a retailer is buying in bulk then 1-10 units would be £10 each. 10-20 units £9.50 each. 20-30 units £9.00 each, and so on.

I am currently waiting for my website to go live and once that happens I will use a different approach with possible retailers. It still means I can visit with samples, but leave the web address for a wider range and also ordering facilities.

My only other piece of advice is that in order to promote your product you must work tirelessly! How on earth are the public going to know that your products exist if you don't draw them to it?Also make sure that your product is labelled with your business name and contact details.

I've learned alot along the way but I think the most important thing is to believe in what you do and have a passion for sharing it with the world!

I remember my first ever massage at a beauty salon and thinking "Why is there anyone in the world who hasn't experienced a massage?!?!" the treatment to me was so amazing that I felt everyone should be treated to a massage. I then promoted massage to everyone and anyone who would listen!!

That's the kind of advertising you are looking for!!!

Your product/service should be so amazing that anyone purchasing it will be telling the world about it!

Good luck!!