What a busy week, at least it seemed that way. It probably had more to do with the mental acrobats we had to do rather than the physical running around, although there has been quite a lot of that too.
We made a decision late last year to try and get our seaglass jewellery stocked in other shops around Cornwall. We have been trying to increase our sales, and this is one of the options we wanted to pursue. We felt that we need to prepare well and not just rush in, but to think about how this would affect us, and what we needed to do to achieve this ambition. So it has taken us 4 months to get to this stage.
Many of you have seen the new branding, which we are very pleased with and this was the first step. We asked ourselves, what would we like to see when we are buying. For me that meant a good presentation and a product that people felt they could just give straight as a gift and not have to worry about wrapping. For Steve, he wanted a level of professionalism that meant other shops would view us as serious manufacturers and not just hobbyists.
The next step was to research where we would like to place them. I know some of you may think we are being fussy and we should just go where someone will take us. But we felt if we did our research up front, we wouldn’t waste time targeting shops that just wouldn’t suit our product and secondly, we wanted a good fit and to work with people we saw could sell and had a nice manner when dealing with customers… so yes actually, we are being a bit fussy.
We visited quite a lot of places and this is where the second lot of planning comes in and where I would be lost without Steve’s business head and great ability to cash flow. I have discovered research and development, costs money! Shocker I know, but I am terrible at thinking about things like that. This is not a route to take without thinking carefully about money. Not only does the branding cost a considerable amount and buying in all new packaging labels etc, the research itself is costly…..we did quite a lot of travelling.
Having a list of potential places we would like to stock, we then decided because of delivery costs and not wanting to post stock to places, at least not initially, we would keep with a certain radius. This became obvious quite quickly, when we realised what sort of mileage we were raking up. We were also doing our research in winter and had to think about how places would be in the summer, our local knowledge, and a few friendly chats round all the places we visited, were quite important.
We decided on about 4 towns we initially wanted to target. We decided we did not want to flood a place with our goodies and wanted only one shop in each town to represent us. I don’t think there is anything worse than going around a town, with every shop stocking the same items. We drew up a list of up to 3 favourites in each place. There was one place we only had one on our list and surprisingly two of the biggest towns in the area didn’t even make this list. Mainly because they were too commercial. It is funny how you can have been to a place and think that’s a quirky and interesting town, but when you have a real good look at what’s on offer, and it’s not what you thought it was. We will never rule them out completely, while we have a very clear idea now of what we want, who’s to say that’s the right way to go, I guess only time will tell and I’m a great believer in not burning bridges
How to approach these businesses?
As shop owners ourselves, we get people coming in all the time asking us to stock their items. It has slowed down now but at the beginning it was 2 or 3 a week. We did take in some fabulous jewellery from Wight and Wight at the beginning, with the idea we might take in more as we went along. But we quickly realised, we just physically didn’t have the room, on top of everything we produced. Those of you who have visited us will appreciate that. I never mind being asked, and most people are lovely and genuinely are just trying to make a few extra quid. But we do have a few pushy people! Even after being told we don’t take other people items they will insist on showing you everything and wanting feedback. At quiet times it’s not an issue but when you are busy and trying to serve it can be. So, we wanted to make appointments rather than just arrive and make a nuisance of ourselves. Our solution was to write a letter. We did think about emailing or phoning for an appointment, but I liked the idea of a letter, something a bit more personal, I wanted to be able to put a nice presentation together that would represent us and what we were about. So just over two weeks ago they went out………………………and we held our breath
Part 2 will follow shortly