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Sales reps demystified

Hi everybody

I am currently discussing options with a sales rep and wanted to get
a little back-up on the process. I read the archives, but
the messages were several years old. Does the rep get a one time
commission on the initial sale or ongoing pay? I’m wondering…if I
get picked up by a shop in NYC, is it normal to pay the rep each time
pieces go to the shop or just when she makes the initial sale. There
are really no standard rates available on what to pay her for
commission, but I was thinking 10% of wholesale on each sale. Of
course, all terms would be included in the contract. I also have a
slight problem with transporting everything. I don’t want her
carrying a jeweler’s case anywhere (even though I make fashion
jewelry, thieves don’t know what’s in the case), but here is the kind
of thing I make

and transporting this kind of thing safely, but tastefully is kind
of difficult. Any input would be really appreciated.

Kim Starbard

I worked as a rep a few years ago selling Silver Jewelry. The only
pay I received was a 20% commision.

I paid all expensive. They called and set the appointments up a head
of time. I did a lot of cold calling and had to with no base salary.
I used suit cases and always was aware of thieves. I would but a
jewelers policy for your line.

My car was stolen with some Jewelry at one time in Tulsa. Bummer! Pay
her 20% commision or more with no appointments.

Thanks Johneric

MJSA has a deal with Fed Ex for lockable jewelery containers that are
sealed until accepted by the addressee. You should check that service
out as it comes with your membership. Otherwise there are a vast
number of courier services in NYC that are licensed and bonded to
deliver just the sort of merchandise you are selling. It is very
common to see people in the garment and diamond districts walking
around with briefcases that are locked ad sample cases as well, If
your goods aren’t insured then it is totally your fault at not
covering all your bases. To project that you will get ripped off
puts it out there…When selecting your rep, insure that he or she is
aware of the inherent dangers of carrying a salesman’s case and ask
about their experiences and response to threats…if it meets with
your standards then they are the rep for you. If not keep looking. If
you want to enter a NY market but are worried about loosing a beaded
necklace perhaps you should rethink the entire affair.Fed Ex though
does a swell job at delivering valuable parcels and my
recommendation stands therein.

As far as a commission, as you said negotiate- however 10% to insure
your items are well merchandised, prominently displayed, delivered
and restocked in a timely manner and that your reordering software is
linked and synched with the stores buyer’s is too low…additionally,
it is wiser to commission your rep on a per collection or per line
commission than by the piece- to expect someone to make a trip into
the city, negotiate around town and then drop off 1 item to refill
its slot in a display is where FedEx comes in. However a bi-weekly
trip to check on your merchandise ( have them send you a digital
photo w/ time and date stamp of your wares on display to ensure they
actually went to the merchandise mart or store before writing the
check or transferring a payment online) is not unreasonable when
first establishing your place in the store or venue’s collection of
jewelry products. Also make certain the rep knows your product’s
warranties backwards and forwards and you do the negotiating with the
store unless your rep is exactly what you want to portray…you should
also consider an opening to introduce your line and meet with the
store’s owner (before the event) to make certain all is in place and
that everyone involved is on the same page if you plan on a long-tern
relationship with the store/mdse. mart. There are so many more items
that are relevant of a consulting nature that if you like you can
email me off line to discuss the fine points after Sunday.


Hi Kim I just started using a couple of reps and they both get 15%
on the customers sales that they find at the end of the month I cut
them a check for 15%, however they have to call on those customers
and continue to get orders and show new product etc. build thier
comission into the price, and if they try to go around the rep and
buy straight from you tell them the price is the same. you need to
support your reps.


Kim, I paid a rep 15% of the (wholesale) price of all orders sold to
the customers who she got for me. They could call me to reorder or
ask for something a customer requested in their store, but I then
would send my rep a copy of that invoice, and pay her 15% of it.
This was years ago, so the percentages reps ask for may have changed,
but it is a lot of work for just 15%, so I can’t see the percentage
going down to 10. You have to build it in to your price, but it
really should already be there, since the alternatives (retail shows,
open studios, websites, etc.) all cost you money, too. Not to mention
the cost of having your own store!


Hi All,

I am thinking about getting a sales rep and was wondering if any of
you have someone you would recommend. If not, where would I begin to
find one? I know there is a lot to consider and it is necessary to
find someone that would be suitable for my line of work, price
points, etc.

I had a bad experience years ago. A friend suggested I send some
work to her rep in California. I sent quite a number of pieces,
registered mail, detailed inventory sheet, etc. I thought I had all
the bases covered. Well, they stole a few pieces and returned the
rest, declined to carry my work and said they didn’t have the
missing pieces and had never seen them. I had no recourse, it was my
word against theirs. I was in Illinois so going to them in person
wasn’t an option either. I’ve heard similar stories of reps just
absconding with sample cases. I’ve been trying to get my husband to
be my rep, I could trust him implicitly, but he isn’t interested!! No
surprise there!

I already wholesale to some shops, consign and do custom orders.
Frankly, I am afraid to invest the money and time in doing shows.
I’ve done the art fair circuit before and it can be so grueling! The
thought of setting up a tent in the rain while my backside gets
soaked isn’t very appealing. Inside venues that don’t cost an arm and
a leg are great but far and few between. Not to mention I’m not
getting any younger and schlepping hundreds of pounds around is not
as easy as it once was.

I know, I know, I want it all. I just want to make stuff and then
have someone buy it. :slight_smile:

Victoria W-D

Hi Victoria,

I would go back to a few of your wholesale accounts and ask the
owner of those shops if they could recommend a sales rep. that they
currently work with. I think if you could get a referral, that would
be your best bet. (IMO)