Venturing Into Wholesale Land

Hi All,

My wife and I have recently taken the time to reassess our business
and long-term financial goals. After several years of steady growth,
we seem to be bumping up against the ceiling of what we can do with
our retail sales without killing ourselves with more time on the
road and more time at the bench. We are also bumping up against
middle age and realizing we need to continue to grow our business in
order to have something that will provide adequate income for
retirement years.

Our conclusion is that we need to make some inroads to the wholesale
marketplace and transition some of our production/finishing to
outside sources. We are in the process of researching possible trade
shows to attend next year. We are not under any illusions that we are
“fine” or “high-end” jewelers so I’m not sure the JCK/JA type shows
would be suitable venues for our line. All of our designs are
original and we are currently doing all finish, fabrication and
assembly ourselves so we are somewhere in between the “art” category
and mass-produced, commercial end of things. Ideally, getting some
wholesale accounts and being less hands-on with the finishing would
free us up to do a little more creative work than we are currently
able to do.

We would really appreciate feedback/suggestions anyone might care to
share regarding their experiences with specific trade shows,
prospecting/managing wholesale accounts and production outsourcing. I
know that covers a lot of territory but those are the areas we need
to closely look into before we commit time/money to this endeavor.
Please feel free to browse our website if it helps to give a better
idea of where we fit on the jewelry spectrum.

Thanks in advance,

Mike Dibble
Black Horse Design

Hi Mike- back in the late 70’s, early 80’s I had a “costume jewelry"
handcrafted line of pins, earrings, etc. that I used to wholesale to
Nordstrom, Marshall fields, and numerous boutiques. It was called
"Faster Horses”. I found sales reps at the accessories markets-San
Francisco, Denver, Seattle, etc. Your line looks like it could go to
the gift market. You might try going to the trade shows as a guest
and talking to some of the sales reps you think may carry other lines
yours would fit into. It’s been 20 years since I used to wholesale,
but I paid my reps 15% after being paid by the stores. I kept my cost
of manufacturing to 10% of the retail price. Good luck-Margaret in

Hello Orchidland,

Mike Dibble wrote that he was coming on middle age and seriously
looking at ways to grow income that will provide for retirement
years. I’ll share a short personal lesson.

About 20 years ago my husband threw in the towel as a corporate
pilot and decided to open his own business. He actually made some
money, but rather than investing and diversifying, he plowed all
back into the business and into things like a boat, time (and money)
to fish tournaments, hunting trips, etc. His thought was that when
he sold the business, it would bring enough money to support
retirement… WRONG. He sold the whole thing for much less than he
had invested in it, and although the proceeds have been invested,
their grow time is very short.

To those starting out in any career, put something (just 1% of your
income) into your retirement fund, and do it faithfully while you
are young. Those modest funds will have decades to grow. Much
better than trying to make up for lost opportunities when you’re 50
years old.

Best wishes for your financial health,
Judy in Kansas