Should I Sell my Work Wholesale?


bracelet by jibbyandjuna

Selling wholesale to galleries, boutiques, and gift stores is beneficial if, and only if, that outlet increases the demand for, and value of , your work. If it is merely an opportunity to cut your price, don’t do it! A good wholesale outlet will promote your work as part of its branding and image. The gallery’s  buyer and sales staff will become familiar with your whole body of work, your studio process, the materials you use, and your individual story. They will take pride in carrying your work; they will act as a your representative to their clientele.  As their sales create greater demand for your work, the price that you charge can be increased.

Any time the demand for your work exceeds the supply (what you can make in a year), you can raise your prices.

fine art print by Gretchen Mist

It is very important to understand this! The single most common mistake that artisans make is lowering price in order to sell more volume. It is almost always better to sell less, at a greater price, than to sell more with a smaller profit margin. So you must make sure that your wholesale opportunities are beneficial to you in order to justify the discount you give them.

If you want to sell wholesale, scout out markets that would add prestige to your work. Look for outlets that have an established reputation, that ask for exclusive representation of your work within a specified territory, and that have a median price of what they carry that matches the average retail price of your work. You don’t want to be the cheapest thing they sell, nor the most expensive. Look for outlets that take pride in selling artisan work or art. Make sure that their marketing makes a distinction between manufactured goods and handmade work if they carry both.

felted elephants mobile by Sewn Natural

Future posts will cover what galleries and exclusive boutiques are most likely to buy, how to make sure that you have that, and how to successfully pitch your work to wholesale buyers. Please let me know if there are other topics that you would like me to cover. I have sold my own work wholesale for over 30 years, owned, managed, and worked as a consultant for, American Craft and Fine Art galleries. I’m happy to help you get started and succeed in selling to galleries.

by Lee Wolfe/ OneClayBead


lblumel said...

Excellent advice!! Especially about the mistake of lowering prices to sell more volume.


Jen from SewnNatural said...

what a great & useful post! thanks, lee!

steinschmuckdesign said...

Great article Lee and
yes agree, this is a good tip,
Especially about the mistake of lowering prices to sell more volume.
Thank you!!!

Molly Smith said...

Excellent information. Thanks for sharing!

PoleStar Jewelry - Handcrafted said...

thank you so much for this insightful article! I have NO idea about wholesaling so this is an education.

Genevieve said...

Thanks so much for using my Pond Bracelet! Excellent and incredibly timely post for me personally - I look forward to learning more from you!

I just started selling wholesale in the fall when a large retail store found me on a blog. I am learning a lot, at a very fast pace which can be quite stressful.

For My Sweet Daughter said...

I have been wanting to approach local shops with my jewelry and have no idea what I am doing so I am looking forward to your advice and future posts.
Thank You for the great advice about pricing!
Shannon C

gretchenmist said...

thanks Lee ~ excellent info and advice. i like the point about making sure the gallery/shop are passionate about the kind of work you make {seems obvious but i've come experienced ambivalence which i guess is a good warning sign!!}.
looking forward to learning more ~ i haven't started approaching galleries yet.
thankyou for including my print too :)

WolfeWoman said...

You can ask me anything that you want- here, by Etsy convo, or in a team thread on Etsy. Your work is highly desirable for galleries and you'll be extremely successful in that market!

ShanonC- ditto, ask me anything that you like! And I'll post here every Wednesday.

I've encountered that ambivalence from gallery buyers, and it's a red flag for sure! It usually indicates that their clientele aren't necessarily your buyers but they hope to attract new customers by carrying your work. It's always better to find a gallery that is a good fit for you already- that has built their reputation on finding the newest and best of your genre.

Good luck to you all in 2011!
Lee/ OneClayBead

Tanner Glass said...

Great post, and perfect timing for me, as I'm jumping back in to the wholesale market in 2011.

Waterrose said...

Wonderful information. I prefer the work smarter not harder method. Plus if my creations are priced right it gives me time to create new and exciting pieces, rather then turning myself into an assembly line. Wish everyone would price for the value of their creations and time it takes.

Galit Barak said...

This is a great article!
Thank you!

BlueTerracotta said...

Excellent article Lee! I am wondering how to find and contact shops or galleries outside your local area, in another country. Or is it better to stay local because of added shipping costs for international orders? I look forward to reading more in tnis series!

WolfeWoman said...

Blue Terracotta-

Galleries are all aware of markup and don't want to inflate their retail price more than 20% to cover shipping costs. You will need to quote Priority International prices to the US, because you will need tracking and a timely delivery. That said, if you can offer quality work with reasonable shipping, buyers will be interested.
The internet is a great source for finding galleries, and I will cover this how-to soon! thanks for the question.