i'm not going to be much help, but i will answer your question. yes,
i do sell directly to customers and retailers. about a year and half
ago, i took some time researching how to get a sales rep. i'm from
california, so i started there. i got the market guide books for
both the california market center and the new mart. i found as many
of the designers represented in those books as i could online and
checked out their jewelry. i found the reps that i thought matched
my style the best and sent off a cover letter and a few color
photocopies of digital photos of my work, along with a line sheet. i
got a response from one, but after some email conversations, we
realized that i did not have enough pieces in my line. i needed
about 50 and had only about 25.
about six months later, i went to LA to check out the CMC and the
new mart. these are huge multi-storied buildings that house hundreds
of showrooms of all sorts -- men's shoes to kid's clothes to women's
jewlery. i found the floors of the jewelry reps and went by every
one of their showrooms, talking to the reps when i could, leaving
business cards when they were not available.
i found the one rep that i had spoken to previously and while he was
still very interested in my work, i still did not have enough
product in my line.
i found another rep who was interested, but also needed more pieces
to represent me. her theory was: "they (the buyers) have to have
enough to choose from that they can disregard many pieces before
choosing the ones they like."
i also talked to a rep at Fragments, and his advice to someone small
like me was to find a "road rep", someone who would go out on the
road to individual stores and sell my line.
basically, at this point, although i felt bolstered and very
optomistic, i realized for me, at that time, a sales rep was not the
way to go.
also, on the commission question, i found that 13-15% seemed to be
my adivce to you is to research the markets like those in LA and go
from there. or if you're in california, you're set!. i'm not sure
what other cities have them, but it shouldn't be too hard to find
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