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Getting your line into boutiques/ shops
Written by: RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman
What you should know before you approach a boutique/shop
Being in a room with two buyers can be a very tense situation. Throw
on top of that inexperience and you are quickly driving down the road
of wrong decisions with signs of regret along the way. I felt like an
amateur with terms like Consignment and Keystoning, but eventually I
learned how pricing worked in a boutique, the hard way. So I decided
to write this article to help you become more prepared with the basics
before you approach a shop. My name is RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman and I
have been running a brand called Vaughn de Heart out of California for
a little over a year now. You can find us at www.vaughndeheart.com
First question, Should I put my clothing in stores?
Before you approach the shop
1. Become a regular-Before you approach the shop with your product.
If possible, visit the shop a few times. Talk to the employees about
the shop, or just fashion in general. Show them that you are not just
an average consumer. Make them comfortable with you and when you
finally do approach them with your business proposal they may be more
willing to sell your product and may even give you insights on what
the buyers for the store are looking for and what they like.
2. Buy from the shop-One of the greatest satisfactions and signs of
support is money. Imagine if a designer wanted to collaborate with
your brand but before he did he bought 3 of your shirts. How much
better would you feel about him when he finally approaches you and
says he wants to work with you? It goes a long way toward building
credibility. If you support them, chances are, they will be more
willing to support you.
Pricing in a boutique
1. Consignment-This is when a store will carry your product and take a
percentage of each sale. For example a store might agree to take 30%
of each sale. So if you choose to sell your shirts for $10 they will
take $3 from the sale and you will get $7. Most of the time under
this method I have found that you will determine the price in their
2. Wholesale-Wholesale is when a shop will buy your product from you
and then sell it in their shop. The advantage to this method is that
you get your money for your product regardless of how many items they
actually sell in their shop.
3. Keystoning-Keystoning is a type of pricing method that is a
standard in the industry. How Keystoning works is you determine a
wholesale price to sell your product to the store for. They will
double that and make it the selling price. For
example if you want your shirt to sell for $20 dollars in a particular
shop, that means you have to sell your shirt to the shop for $10.
Keystoning seems to be the standard wholesale method that I have run
into with most shops. So if you go into a boutique, chances are they
have bought most of the product in that shop for half of the original
selling price. If you are a new brand and your strategy is to make
your shirts cheaper than most and still make a profit, you need to be
able to make your shirts for less than half of the selling price.
This method was all new to me. I thought I would just sell my shirts
to the shop at whatever price I could negotiate then they would turn
around and sell it for whatever price they wanted (similar to
wholesale). But with Keystoning the two are related and gives the
shop more power in the bargaining process.
4. Keystone Plus-In this pricing method the final selling price is more than
double the price the boutique buys the shirt. For example, you sell a shirt
to a store for $5, the store could turn around and sell it for $16.
This would be called Keystone plus 3, because the final selling price was
determined as if the store bought the shirt for three more dollars than it actually did.
The regular Keystoning method would have priced the shirt at $10.
The advantage here goes to the shop because they make more profit, which
of they like. So when explaining to the shop what you want the shirt to sell for
you would tell them Keystone plus 3.
Marketing through a boutique
1. Pop up shop- Team up with the store that is carrying your product
and have them feature it in store for a limited period of time. You
can have giveaways and special displays to bring people out.
2. Behind the counter goodies- You can create a flyer or some other
promotional giveaway and ask the store if they would put one in the
bag of whoever buys something from their shop, not just people who by
your brand, creating exposure.
1. You are not trapped. Just because your product is in stores does
not mean that you have to be carried by stores forever. You can
change your mind later or even choose a timeline to pull your product
2. There is more than one way to start a brand-There have been some
who have chosen to be the only ones to carry their product, some who
allow their product to be carried by others, or both. All of these
methods are respectable and I feel that is not being said enough. It
is important to understand your customer to determine witch method is
best for you. Sometimes exclusivity will drive your customer directly
to you, sometimes exposure, it truly depends on what you are selling
and what stage you are in during your development.