Every week I get emails from aspiring start up business owners, wanting tips and tricks of the trade. If these girls and guys are brave enough to reach out and email, I figured there must be others out there pondering the same.
5. Perfecting your Pitch
Approaching potential exhibitors, stockists, and collaborators can be a seriously nerve wracking experience, so much so that this time last year, you wouldn't have caught me dead knocking on the door of companies to either feature or stock my pieces! The fear of rejection and of wasting precious time/energy is a tough combination to crack, but hey, firstly, you know what? Fear is a choice! You choose to feel scared about situations so channel that energy into making your pitch perfect.
- Identify the correct place for your pieces to be either featured of stocked. Your steampunk jewellery is probably not going to be suitable for a high end boutique, but Unique Bride magazine? Well they'd be all over that. Identifying your target market and focusing on a few boutiques/publications is much better than trying to blanket target everyone, ever.
- Get yourself known! Social media is fantastic for making connections with potential clients, writers and stylists. But, similarly, don't hound! You want to appear present but not irritating, helpful but not OTT. Retweeting every single thing your chosen stockist says is just going to appear creepy. If it's weird in person it's weird on the internet, too!
- Once you've made your connections, pop them over an email. Perhaps your chosen boutique has just started stocking a clothing company you shot your lookbook pieces with, or your favourite stylist has tweeted about a shoot they've got coming up that you know your pieces would be perfect for. It's great to have a reason to be contacting them, especially if you can be seen to be helping out with something.
- Act fast! If you've managed to get a reply (congratulations, that half the battle, especially with the big boys!) ensure you can send out your samples for next day delivery/pop over the wholesale order form and terms/send your latest lookbook as fast as humanely possible. Especially in fashion, despite publications working months and months in advance, call ins are usually very last minute so ensure you're as prepped as possible.
- If you're contacting 'blind', in that, perhaps you're applying to be a concession for a new jewellery store. you need to keep your content concise and eye-catching. Do your research about what the company are looking for stockists wise, send over some lo-res images from your best editorials, mention if you've been featured anywhere of note. Follow it up a few days later with a phone call - terrifying, yes, but if your email has been lost in a pile of submissions you're probably one of the few who will bother to make that personal connection.
- make yourself goals. Do you want to find two wholesale stockists per month? Feature in a national publication by the end of summer? Writing down your hopes for your business turn them from dreams to missions very quickly.
- some great places to start for stockists for small, creative business are- Two Red Trees, Blog and Buy Sale and Ginger Pickle.
Inevitably, you're likely to get knocked down at the first hurdle, but instead of crawling back into your comfort zone to lick your wounds, use the experience to evaluate what you could've done differently. If your pitch has been ignored, it's difficult to get feedback, but if you've had 'thanks but no thanks' this is the perfect opportunity to ask the reason why your submission wasn't successful. Take it on the chin! Don't try and argue if their response comes across a little harsh, simply thank for their time and take it on board! It's hard to not take things too personally when you're the heart and soul of your business but it's time to develop a thick skin, sister.
But you will get there. And when you do? Make sure you celebrate your successes - build yourself a hall of fame, buy a corkboard map to map your world domination or take yourself out for something sparkling. More importantly, thank whoever went out of their way to get you there. A little note in the post speaks so much louder than a rushed email from your phone - the Blogcademy recently put me onto Postagram, a nifty little app for sending postcards straight from your phone. There's no excuse!
If you've got a burning question about Crown and Glory or business as a whole, either email email@example.com or if you'd prefer to stay anonymous, you can ask us anything via Formspring