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Today, I’m thrilled to have Tracy Matthews on the show. Tracy is someone who I was introduced to by Andreea Ayers and she runs the popular site Flourish Thrive Academy where she teaches others how to sell jewelry online.
Tracy has a ton of experience in this area and her jewelry line was sold in over 350 retail outlets all over the globe (ABC home, Sundance Catalog, Bloomingdales, Anthro) and she’s been featured in many magazines like Real Simple, InStyle And lucky magazine.
Anyway, since Tracy specializes in jewelry sales I am very eager to pick her brain on tactics specific to the jewelry niche
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What You’ll Learn
- How to stand out in the jewelry niche.
- Should you sell on Etsy or your own site.
- How to drive traffic to a jewelry site
- How to be successful selling jewelry.
- How to sell jewelry wholesale
- The best marketplaces to sell jewelry.
Other Resources And Books
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ReferralCandy.com – If you’re already getting steady orders every month, adding a refer-a-friend program to your store can give you a new sales channel. And ReferralCandy is the best in the business. Click here and get a FREE $50 credit towards your account.
SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
Steve: You are listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, the place where I bring on successful bootstrapped business owners and delve deeply into what strategies are working and what strategies are not with their businesses. Today I have Tracy Matthews of Flourish Thrive Academy who specializes in teaching others how to sell jewelry online, but before we begin I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show.
Now I’m always super excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I actually depend on Klaviyo for over 20% of my revenues. Now you’re probably wondering why Klaviyo and not another email provider. Well Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here’s why it is so powerful.
Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought which makes it extremely powerful. So let’s say I want to send an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the store in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special autoresponder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there’s actually full revenue tracking on every single email.
Klaviyo is the most powerful email platform that I have ever used and you can actually try them for free at mywifequitherjob.com/Klaviyo, and that’s spelled K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, so once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/Klaviyo.
I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is also a sponsor of the show. Now what’s cool is I also use and rely on Privy for both my blog and my online store. So what does Privy do? Privy is an email list growth platform, and they actually manage all of my email capture forms, and in fact I use Privy hand in hand with Klaviyo.
Now there is a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but here is why I like and chose Privy. So Privy is easily the most powerful platform that I’ve ever used, and you can trigger sign up forms based on any primer that you desire. So let’s say you offer free shipping for orders over $100, well you can tell Privy to flash a popup when a customer has 90 bucks in their shopping cart to urge them to insert one more item.
Here’s another cool use case, if someone has item A in their shopping cart, I can easily tell Privy to display a special coupon code for that item or to display a related item or offer. In terms of email capture, I’m showing a different email lead magnet depending on what product a customer is browsing in our shop.
So bottom line Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to Klaviyo to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/steve and try it for free, and if you decide you need the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. So once again that’s privy.com/steve, now on to the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, today I’m thrilled to have Tracy Matthews on the show. Now Tracy is someone who I was introduced to by Andrea Ares and she runs the popular site flourishthriveacademy.com, where she teaches others how to sell jewelry online. Now Tracy has a ton of experience in this area and her jewelry line was sold in over 350 retail outlets all over the globe including ABC Home, Sundance Catalog, Bloomingdales, and she’s been featured in many magazines like Real Simple, InStyle and Lucky magazine.
Now in my create a profitable online store course, there are several students selling jewelry to varying degrees of success, and to be honest I think that selling jewelry is not one of my most recommended niches, because it is so competitive and you really have to market yourself well to stand out. But since Tracy specialized in jewellery sales and she is very successful at it, I’m very eager to pick her brain on tactics specifically for the jewelry niche. And with that welcome to the show Tracy, how are you doing today?
Tracy: I’m doing great, thanks for having me Steve.
Steve: So give us the quick background at how you got into ecommerce and specifically jewelry?
Tracy: Okay so back in the olden days when I was in college, I took a jewelry making class as an elective, and I knew that – probably a couple of months into
that class that this is what I was going to do for a career. The independent jewelry seen in the early 90s were just sort of emerging, and I was working in a lot of boutiques and specialty stores at the time, working in retail and I just loved the idea of selling my jewelry in the store.
So fast forward a couple of years later I launched my business full time, I worked from a part time business to full time business and started selling to stores. So back in those days, selling to retail stores was pretty much the only way you could have a jewelry business, the internet wasn’t really around. I remember when I started my company, this is so embarrassing back in 1998, I don’t think I even had an email address; we used to fax in phone in order to communicate.
Steve: Wow, okay.
Tracy: Which I felt was pretty crazy. So fast forward a couple of years later ecommerce started coming around, and I started my first ecommerce website for my company at that time Tracy Matthews Designs. Ecommerce at that was really just like a secondary part of our business because still 95% of the business came from wholesale. So I closed that business down in 2010 to start anew direction doing custom work and selling jewelry to private clients, and I knew when I started this new business model because it was so different and working directly with clients that I was going to be meeting a lot of people online.
In fact 50% of my leads come from people just finding me through organic search on Google. So I knew that a lot had to change, I had to change the way that I was showing up in my business, I had to change the way that I was branding myself and I also had to change the way that I was communicating on my website if I wanted people who were just finding me randomly who didn’t know who the heck I was to actually fill out that form and move to the next set.
So that’s sort of my journey into the jewelry industry and I had an ecommerce site for many years, I’m going to be probably eventually launching a ready to wear bridal line which will have an ecommerce aspect in it, but I also teach thousands of jewelry designers how to create rounds online and also have successful ecommerce stores.
Steve: Yeah absolutely and we’re definitely going to talk about that. I‘m just curious just hearing your story why did you start the wholesale business in favor of more I guess you wanted interaction with your clients?
Tracy: That is a great question. I’ll try to make the story short; it’s kind of a long story. I had been in wholesale for about 11 years at that time, something like that before I closed the business. I don’t know if you remember 2008, but it was a very tumultuous time in the economy.
Steve: Yes it was, yeah.
Tracy: And quite honestly it was a combination of factors. I’d been in the industry for a long time, the face of wholesale was changing at that particular time, and the type of jewelry that I design was very personal, kind of [inaudible 00:07:31] and the trend in the market was kind of going more towards big and bold and cheap and chick at that time because people didn’t have as much expendable income to spend.
So the middle market was starting to close and I did have a fine jewelry line that time that was starting to become successful, I started shipping to a bunch of stores. Some of my best accounts were picking it up which is great kind of moving it to that new direction that my business was evolving into.
Then 2008 I started getting bankruptcy notices from some of these companies in the mail which for anyone who has a forward based business who is shipping lots of volume like a thousand units at a time or sometimes $100,000 orders it can be quite detrimental if you don’t get paid on time for your cash flow, or when people tell you that they are pretty much not going to pay you.
So I was faced with a choice, do I stay open or do I change directions? I lost my passion for wholesale at that time, and I was working with business consulting, I highly recommend getting consultants serve you in your business, I think that was the best decision I’d ever made, I actually made it too late. But working with this business consultant slowly helped me pull out what it is that I love to do and he kept asking me these questions to do with me, like what is it that you love, what do you love about this business, what do you hate about this business, where do you see yourself?
And I’m like I really miss the interaction with the clients and I missed that, I missed the designing part, I missed this creative process piece and I missed having a personal connection. And so we kind of worked shop together and I’ve been doing fine jewelry for a while, and I had designed my first engagement ring a couple of years into my fine jewelry line, and I realized that that’s sort of the direction I wanted to go in, and it was like feeding my soul. So I think that it was just an opportunity for me to kind of reinvent and have my small successful business.
Steve: Would you just say that if you wanted to go into jewelry today, you should just go to the extreme either like really fine jewelry or less expensive jewelry as opposed to that middle ground?
Tracy: That’s a great question; it depends on what you’re trying to do. I’m not really a huge fun of people like under pricing jewelry or importing jewelry from China and trying to have a jewelry brand, I mean like everyone is doing that. What we really do is we try to get people to position themselves from their brand.
It’s interesting; I was talking with a former client of mine who owns this great store the [inaudible 00:10:17].
She came and talked to our community and she was saying one of the things that drives her crazy about designers coming in is that they really don’t know who their customer is, and they end up designing for millenials but then over price their work and millenials can’t afford it, they are making things basically in a baby boomer price point. So I think when it comes to really expensive or really cheap, I think it really starts with knowing who your customer is.
If you are designing for millenials, then design in the millennial price point and work backwards so that you can do that. If you are designing for people in their 40s and 50s who have a lot of expendable income like I do, then design fine jewelry or things in a higher price point that they can actually afford. So I think that you can have a successful business in any price point, you just need to be really clear on who it is that you are targeting and what your positioning is on your brand.
Steve: Okay, I guess one of my main questions is what makes selling jewelry different than for example selling other regular retail products online?
Tracy: Well I think jewelry is a really personal purchase. There’s been a huge rise of people self purchasers these days, where they are buying jewelry for themselves to commemorate special occasions, it’s no longer just like a gift giving thing anymore even though that’s still a huge part of the market.
One of the things that I always try to do when creating different jewelry collections over the course of my career is to create things that people want to collect, and I think that’s something that’s so different about jewelry is that it’s really a collectible item, it’s something that is often passed down through the generations. Depending on the type of jewelry it is, junk costume jewelry is probably not, but my grandmother gave me some really cool costume jewelry and I love it, so maybe, you never know.
But thinking about it in terms of what is the meaning behind it, and I think jewelry is very different than other products because for instance like a sweater that you might buy on [inaudible 00:12:23] you might have like a very classic cardigan that you wear for years but like a Chinese sweater or something like that might be out of style in two years where a very personal piece of necklace you might wear for 20, 30 – it might be around for a hundred years because it’s being passed down.
Steve: Right, so how do you frame your jewelry in such a way that it makes it like a collectible, and how do you make the customer feel the meaning of your jewelry?
Tracy: I think a lot of it comes to your brand positioning; there is no doubt about it, you can literally throw a rock and hit a jewelry designer, there are so many others these days. It’s how you can position yourself and stand out and how you can share your story. So I’ll just share an experience for my personal life, my mother passed away when I was in my early 20s and if she hadn’t passed away, I probably would have never fallen into the jewelry industry, that’s a story for another day.
Because of that I had inherited some diamonds from her and other pieces of jewelry that were basically family items and these diamonds were not set. So I wanted to create something for myself that I would wear every day, so that was my first piece of earring redesign. And the way I position myself is based on my story about my mother, and I redesign a lot of family items into pieces of jewelry that people want to wear every day.
So a lot of the customers that come to me, they find me because they are maybe searching for a redesigned family earrings or something like that, they land on my website, they see my story, they go to my about page, read what I’m all about and my history and then we have strong calls to action that gets them buying to the next step.
So I think that for every designer it’s a little bit different, we work with people who do personalized jewelry, they have a different kind of story, or people who have a very formal training at GIA and they came about designing jewelry in a different way.
So I think there are so many different ways to position your jewelry business, but I think a lot of personal branding and the success of a jewelry business comes down to what it is that you stand for, the values, the prop that we call this the [inaudible 00:14:43] proposition, other people call it a unique selling proposition or an emotional selling proposition, it’s like how you are connecting with your audience to position your brand and then turning that into something maybe that is going to be something that they want to collect down the road.
Steve: Does that apply then that you have to use your own face and your own personality when selling your jewelry, or can you still create like a non personal brand?
Tracy: You definitely can create a non personal brand; I think that there are many successful brands out there who have. Some use like different types of names like a pseudo name or something like that. Most of the brands I’m going to use, they do show their face at some point, but remember this like [inaudible 00:15:30] back in the days with those really successful called King Baby, and I can’t remember the guy who owns it, but he really position himself like all the imagery on the site wasn’t really about him, it was more about the jewelry but then you find out about him when you go to the bio page. Or there is – I’m trying to think of another good example.
Steve: It sounds like story is a very strong aspect of being successful in the jewelry business?
Tracy: I think so. We have a lot of introverts or shy people, there is a lot of introverts that are very social, but there is a lot of shy introverts who are afraid to put themselves out there, and that’s fine. But I think the more that you’re able to put yourself out there, the more people want to buy from you, because that’s my personal experience at least the types of clients that I work for. There are many successful beginning and small name jewelry brands that never show their face, but they are really positioning or branding, it’s just a little bit different. But I think from a niche designer, positioning on your story and your values can be really valuable in helping you grow your business.
Steve: Okay so I know you teach a very successful class on how to start a jewelry business, so I was hoping that maybe you could just walk me through the process, like let’s say someone out there listening wants to start a jewelry business, what’s the first step? Assuming I’ve already created some jewelry, do you advice like I go on Etsy, do is start my own site, what’s the first step?
Tracy: Well it really depends on the amount of money you have to invest in it, how much time you’re willing to put in it, because there’s a lot of different ways that you can successfully run a business. You could do in person events like craft shares and craft fairs, you can set up a website which as you know and your audience should know that takes a little bit of time to get traffic to the website and to be able to build the website up.
If you want it fast you can get on Etsy as you mentioned. There were some pitfalls that come with that or you can go back and try to wholesale right away. There is a lot of different ways that you can start a business, I think the things to consider in the beginning are – we try to walk people through understanding like when they’re designing collections who their audience is which I mentioned earlier, how they’re going to be positioning their brand, so these are sort of the steps if we’re not talking about the legal steps to start a business.
Steve: Yeah not the legal steps yeah.
Tracy: And then we will talk about collection development because I think that’s a really important piece. A lot of people who fall into jewelry making or jewelry design don’t really think like a designer, they think like a maker and they just make a bunch of stuff because they like it and not think about how that ties into a merchandising perspective, which from a retail standpoint that’s like one of the number one things that buyer s are looking at.
It doesn’t matter what kind of buyer it is, whether it’s someone landing on your website for the first time, someone buying from you in personal, or someone buying from a boutique or a specialty store, how your collection merchandises together is what makes it sell.
Steve: Can we talk about that a little bit?
Tracy: Yeah, sure.
Steve: What goes into creating a collection so to speak?
Tracy: What goes in to creating, we call it collections that sell.
Steve: Yeah I don’t know anything about this so…
Tracy: There are three main aspects. If you think about a lot of successful businesses it’s like it’s pretty prevalent these days across all industries, but if you go into a fast food restaurant and you order a burger, they are always going to be trying to sell you fries with that or a full meal. So you have to be thinking like how you are building your collection around it, so you start with your signature pieces which we call the gateway pieces. They are the pieces that people – they’re probably going to be your best sellers and the things like people are always going to buy.
Then you want to build that also around your statement pieces. The statement pieces are the pieces that are bigger and bolder and it doesn’t matter if you design [inaudible 00:19:34] jewelry or supper substantial cost to your jewelry. They are the ones that really like catch the eye, so those are the pieces like if you’re displaying at show or they are in a retail case or on your website, people might go to first, but they might not always be the ones that they buy, they sort of like draw the attention in.
Then sort of round if out by the up sell or the add on item which is like a lower price point item that can be literally up sold at the end, so like maybe someone comes in and buys your middle price point necklace and then they want a pair of earrings to go with that. That’s the development around it and then as far as a price point structure level and then on top of that you have to be thinking about design, like what do you stand for as an artist, what’s your signature style, what are the key elements that are tying all the pieces in the collection together? Is it a design esthetic, is it a color story, is it how the pieces are made, or is it something else.
So it’s a combination of esthetics, I would say size, scale, structure, price point, all those things and how all that works together as a unit as a whole.
Steve: Can we use an example of one of your collections for example just to kind of fill in some of these blanks because I don’t understand all the terminology and everything.
Tracy: Absolutely, so when I was designing like foreign collections when I wholesaled, I would have like a necklace that sold really well, and it was like the best seller, I’m trying to think of the name of it, I was going to use the name, I will call the Shonti [ph] necklace. I used to teach yoga, so a lot of my pieces were named after…
Steve: Okay so you were targeting yoga people specifically?
Tracy: Not necessarily, it was more of a fashion jewelry line, but a lot of the influences of my design were based on Indian architecture or Moroccan shapes. So it made sense that I would use those fancy names. So then I would have a similar shape to earring but maybe that was like smaller that went with that. So maybe the necklace retailed for $125 and then the earrings retailed for $50, and then when I would be merchandising I would have another necklace like let’s say on the pendant, the chain for the Shonti necklace that I’m making up right now.
It had like an element and some stones or whatever. I would have something similar to that, but let’s say instead of one element in the center of the necklace, they would be like three or four or five elements of a similar shape on like one piece, so it was like a statement piece that really stood out. Without having visuals in front of you that’s the best way I can explain it over just with my voice.
Steve: I think I can understand, so you have something that basically draws everyone’s attention and it might be more expensive or too bold for people who actually buy it, but then they buy the toned down version, is that…
Tracy: Yeah they buy the toned down version because maybe – a lot of people do buy statement jewelry obviously, there is tons of statement jewelry brands, but you want to be building collections around these three aspects. So even if you’re only selling items like let’s say you only sell bracelets and you don’t do all categories of jewelry, you would want to have a low, medium, and higher price point piece and with those scaled price points, they will be like more embellishments based on the design and price.
Steve: Can we talk about pricing a little bit, like how do you come up with your prices?
Tracy: Jewelry is very specific pricing formula I guess is the best way to put it, and there is no really one way to price, so it’s confusing. I think the one thing that people need to remember is that you need to make sure that you have your archer crossing down and that you’re changing fair market labor for the labor of the piece.
Probably the people in your audience, probably a lot of them aren’t necessarily makers, they might be people who are outsourcing jewelry design, or outsourcing the making of the jewelry, that’s great because I’m a huge believer in that because I feel like you get fair market rates. I think when people get into trouble is if they are actually making now the jewelry themselves, and they think, oh I want to make $50 or $100 an hour and they are wrapping a necklace, that’s not a fair market wage rate for that labor.
So you need to get the actual costing down of the materials and the fees and a fair market rate for the labor that’s included, and the first thing that you need to do is to be taking those same things and then marking them up to a wholesale price point. So just a basic formula because there is so much more involved in this like with over heads and how much you market at, but let’s just say you’re using a basic pretty simple formula.
You take the labor and the materials, charge that by two, that gets you to a wholesale price point, and then to get your retail you’d want to charge that number by 2.2. So let’s say we have $10 cost of material and labor, that gets you to $20, and then that will get you to I think about $50, $20 wholesale and then like $50 retail if that make sense.
Steve: So that’s interesting, so that’s like a very scientific way of pricing, and I know I just bought something for my wife from Cartier [ph], and I guarantee you that it was marked up.
Tracy: Oh my god, Cartier market are pretty more than that.
Steve: Yeah exactly, so I’m just curious like you mention like story and all that stuff that will entice people to pay more. So you had that formula that you just gave me but for the students in your class for example that have managed to gain the mind share of their follower, how does the pricing work, and can you price a lot higher?
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Tracy: You absolutely can. When I’m pricing my custom jewelry a lot of it really depends on the variables of the project, it depends on who I’m working with, return of the budget of the client and it also depends on what I like to call the pain in the ass factor, like how hard are they to work with. So I’m obviously designing something different, it’s not ready to wear and it’s custom, so there was like a lot more expensive. I try to educate my clients on the front end that you can’t compare a custom piece of jewelry to a commission piece of jewelry basically.
So something that you find in the market, there are like apples and oranges, but for people who are designing ready to wear product or ready to wear jewelry in particular, a lot of it really comes down to what I spoke about earlier on understanding who your audience is, understanding who you are designing for and then understanding what the perceived value really is on your work because a lot of things you can charge, have a lot bigger margins because people see that there is much more value there.
A lot of things can’t be marked up that much. I think Etsy has created this phenomenon of people totally under pricing their work, and it’s devastating for the jewelry industry. I think that what I really encourage designers to do and makers to do is to come up with something different, like come up with a new idea. It’s cool that you started this hobby making things and you’re turning into a business like I’m all for it, but now it’s time to appreciate even further, like what makes your designs different than everyone else’s.
So like really be pushing that design piece and then I think like communicating the value of the process and what goes into the work to your clients, I think that’s really the most important piece with pricing and being able to charge a little bit more. If you can’t successfully do that, people aren’t going to buy it.
Steve: So in your case, what would be something noble in the world of jewelry, like I obviously don’t know anything about jewelry, so like what is an example of something noble that you have done and can you kind of go through the process that you’ve conveyed to the customer?
Tracy: What do you mean by noble?
Steve: You mentioned that when you’re designing jewelry, it helps to have something that is totally unique, doing something that other people…
Tracy: Okay so like something that I’ve done?
Steve: Or anything or any of your students that have been successful.
Tracy: Well this is a good example because I think it’s really unique and very different. We had a student come through our program a couple of years ago, and she designed like centic [ph] food jewelry which was really kind of random, I’m like I don’t know who would really like to wear like centic [inaudible 00:29:20] of jewelry but she had a huge market for it.
It was a very low price point, it’s very different, I’ve never seen anything like it. I still haven’t seen anything else like it, and it was something, she sold it like more on mass, but it was something that was very different and very unique to her. So we have – I’m trying to think of someone really specific.
Steve: That’s pretty unique.
Tracy: It’s pretty unique. We have another design on our mastermind program right now J. Kerry of the [inaudible 00:29:51] and she — a lot of people do personalization, but I found this really unique, they customized latitude and longitude points for their particular stores and clients. So they’ll do like a whole range of products that are personalized just for that store based on their latitude and longitude location. So it’s great for like destination spots, vacation spots where people are buying, so I think people will be willing to reimburse a little more or something like that, you know what I’m saying?
Steve: Yeah totally, so once you have your unique aspect with your jewelry and let’s say you’ve done a really good job with your story telling and the process by which you make the jewelry, how do you actually get the buyers to come to you?
Tracy: Well yeah, that’s a great question. I think in any business especially products type businesses, unless you’re going like [inaudible 00:30:50] to like really like ninja ecommerce strategies like you do, I think it takes like really a variety of methods. For instance like my business from the beginning, I did have a huge wholesale business, I did trade shows, I met buyers; I got class and had my work on a lot of celebrities.
But it wasn’t like I started my business and that happened, that was like over the course of 11 years. It started step by step and when I was just starting out, I would do anything to get an introduction to a store owner. Like basically I really have always said that my business has grown based on my frontal, whether it be referrals, people sending their friends to your website or people providing introductions to maybe a store owner because they are friends with them.
My first store opened when a friend of mine who was from Portland, Oregon introduced me to the store owners of the amazing store called Twist [ph], and that introduction then saw another introduction that I had to this store in Francisco where I was living at the time called [inaudible 00:31:53]. Those two doors opened like a whole variety of doors for me in the wholesale world because if you were selling at those stores people found you valid.
So that becomes like sort of their system overflow and building trust, it’s like recommendation. So testimonials on your website, how other types of social proof that you’re getting, referrals from other customers and I think something that you asked like how, I think there are so many ways, that’s one way, referrals.
Steve: Let’s say I want to get into wholesale for example, what would be like the first step that you would recommend?
Tracy: Well you need to get a line sheet together and a line sheet is basically a wholesale catalog of your work. You need to have all these branding assets that we spoke about earlier together; you need to have a really tight collection that has something unique and different. You need to have clearly maybe a store list of stores that you want to sell to that are not necessarily selling products like yours, but that your jewelry actually hangs with the designers that they are working with.
You need to understand who their customer is so that you’re making sure that you’re approaching the right kinds of stores. Basically you would just start with like sending them post cards or shooting them emails; I think that’s the best way or getting introductions from other people.
Steve: So when you mention a collection I just want to touch back on this, does that imply that you need pieces for like a necklace, a bracelet, earrings, and that sort of thing?
Tracy: It can but there is different ways to develop collections, because you can have an item driven business where like let’s say your entire collection is only hoop earrings. You could do an entire collection only of hoop earrings in different varieties of styles and that would be what I consider an item based collection.
Tracy: Or you can do something where it’s like all sorts of products that like coordinate together.
Steve: So how many pieces constitute a collection?
Tracy: Twelve to 24 I would say minimum, but when I was wholesaling I had up to 150, it depends.
Steve: Oh my goodness, okay. So basically you can’t just walk into one of these stores with like five pieces and hope to get in?
Tracy: Do you probably won’t get in? It’s hard, those like the businesses I think are better for like selling an entire — like if you only want to go deep in
like five designs, selling it on a platform like Etsy or Amazon handmade, or you could try it on your own website, but if you’re really serious about building a brand, you need to develop a cohesive collection.
Steve: Okay that’s good to know. So assuming I have all these pieces, is there any kind of strategies involved, like I’m emailing a store, what do I say?
Tracy: Hi there, my name is Tracy Matthews. My friend so and so told me about your store and I just love what you are doing. I wanted to introduce my line to you, here is a little bit about my line, I would probably tell them a little bit about my line. I’ve been featured in these places, and some of my key accounts are these stores. It depends on the account, but you might want to reference stories, you might not, because some stores like it, some stores don’t.
I think smaller stores would like to know that you are like in a really awesome door. Here’s a link to my line.
Steve: This is my first store though.
Tracy: Your first store. I would try actually; here is what I would do if it’s your first store. I would try to look in your local market; it’s always easier to start locally than anywhere else. I would find a couple of stores in your local market, I would walk in, get a sense of what the vibe is there, try to talk to someone.
I won’t try to show them your jewelry right there, I would try to talk to someone and have a conversation with them about who does the buying, complement them on their store, get more information, and then put yourself out there to say – hopefully they comment on the jewelry that you are wearing because you’re wearing your jewelry in the store, right?
Tracy: And then start a conversation and try to get an appointment with the buyer that way. I think locally that’s the best way is to develop a relationship and just say I’d love to make an appointment with the buyer. You can’t take it personally if they say no or they are not interested at the time. These people are really busy and it might take a couple of tries before you get in the door. I know that there are statistics out there that says 7 to 10 touches before I know turns into a yes.
So it takes some time and you have to give yourself in, but I would do that and try to get in to a couple of stores in your local market and then I would leverage those local stores into like maybe surrounding areas. For instance like when I lived in Francisco, there was like 15 neighborhoods in Francisco that I could potentially sell into. So I was like stock all those neighborhoods, try to get into one store each in those neighborhoods, and then I would go to the south bay, and then I would go to the east bay and then I would go to [inaudible 00:36:49].
So you are like expanding your circle. Same thing with New York, it’s like you might want to sell this to so and so, then you might sell to a store in the west village, you might sell to your store in Brookland. So just expanding in different neighborhoods, and then so as to give you exposure and leverage to get introductions…
Steve: To get into the bigger ones.
Steve: Okay, it works just like wholesaling for other products that way too, you start out with small stores. Okay and in terms of what makes a jewelry line a success at one of these smaller boutiques in terms of sales?
Tracy: I mean related price on the store, I think that educating the sales people about your product I think this is really important so that they know what to talk about. I think being in a store that actually is committed to selling your work; I think it’s a struggle these days. A lot of stores call themselves like a wholesale store or whatever but they are just taking stuff on consignment and that’s tough, like I don’t recommend that at all.
I recommend trying to go for stores who are actually going to buy your product, because they invested in the inventory and they want to sell it. So really like developing partnerships with the stores that you’re working with and teaching them how to sell your work I think is like the number one key to success.
Steve: Is there like a minimum order?
Tracy: I think that people should have minimum orders for sure. I don’t like dollar amount minimums because I think that money gets in the way of strategic buying. Instead I would recommend people having a per piece minimum depending on the type of collection that they have. So for some collection that might be six pieces because it’s a bolder collection.
My collection was always kind of [inaudible 00:38:34] so 12 pieces made sense from a merchandising stand point, and for other collections it might be a little bit more, but I would have a like per piece minimum, I think that’s really the best way to go.
Steve: It also sounds like of you have a really good online presence or just a presence in general, the chances of getting in the store are much easier, and so what are some of the things that you recommend to really get the brand out there?
Tracy: I can tell you honestly most stores will not take you seriously unless you have a beautifully branded website, an Etsy shop is not enough, Amazon store is probably a ton of moth only. You could do those things on the side but I wouldn’t advertize it. A website is basically like your digital business card, and it shows people that you are a serious business owner and that you are legitimate.
There is something about it. I talk to so many business owners and like I said there are so many ways to sell jewelry, like you don’t even have to wholesale your jewelry in order to have a successful business, I don’t anymore and I’m doing multiple six figures these days. So it’s not that hard, it’s just about being strategic and understanding who your audience is.
So I think a website really creates – a good website creates really a lot of brand validity and I think what you need to do on that website is to be able to build trust when people land there, to make it look like you know what you are doing and to make it look like you are not a [inaudible 00:39:59]. You can do through your imagery, having really good professional photographs through a lifestyle look book sort of images that create the feeling of your brand and what you stand for.
I’ve heard so many times the about page is the number one visited page on a website because people want to know what the company is all about, whether or not you are a personal brand or you’re just a brand name. A well written about page that draws the reader in is very important, it’s about them not just you which I think is a huge mistake I see designers doing all the time.
And then a website that takes people to the next step is important, so if you want to wholesale, so if I’m a wholesale buyer and I’m checking you out, I want to know like how do I order wholesale from you if I want to? So you need to make that crystal clear on your website if that’s an offer that you have.
Steve: Does that imply that you need a shopping cart on your website or?
Tracy: No you don’t have to; I mean for ecommerce obviously you do. I think over time it can be expensive to build out, that’s a nice park and I know some website platforms you can basically like replicate your ecommerce store and turn it into a wholesale store by just creating like a discount for that particular store, but there is a place you can do it.
But what I would do is have some sort of password protected area on your site where buyers can go and apply and then log in and then they can go into the secret area of your website and check out your line sheets or ordering your shopping cart, but it’s not necessary but it’s a good idea to have. It’s not necessary to have a shopping cart.
Steve: People can check out Tracymatthews.com, is that the site?
Tracy: Yeah Tracymatthews.com is my jewelry site, full disclosure I don’t wholesale anymore so you won’t have that, I don’t have that but you can see how I walk people through the custom jewelry process and get them to fill out my form on there.
Steve: Okay and it is still that site where you’re getting your custom customers, is that correct?
Tracy: Yes, absolutely.
Steve: Okay we’ve walked through going in stores, what are some of the other ways to market your jewelry as a small business owner?
Tracy: Online is a great way, it’s a great way to get the word out there about what you do, but like I said jewelry is really a very referral business and people – I don’t know if this is your answer Steve but a lot of people just put up a website and expect people to show up.
Steve: Exactly yes, it never happens.
Tracy: It requires strategies, so it’s like what is your marketing strategy, how are you getting the word out there? I think a huge missed opportunity that people don’t leverage enough is their friends and family network, and people think that that’s not a super professional way to build a business, but it really is like even to this day a lot of my best sales have come from a family or a good friend referring another person to me and then they refer someone and they refer someone. So it starts there and then expands beyond that.
So that’s the place to start. Obviously as you start to grow you want to be building your brand, and so you do that I think what we teach is really to get exposure through influencers, through traditional PR methods like getting placements in magazines or influential blogs. Influential Instagramers are huge in the jewelry industry; I know a lot of the designers we work with have brand ambassadors who basically either get free jewelry in exchange for sharing products on Instagram.
That landscape is starting to change a little bit, I think that there is a huge opportunity in brand building through affiliate marketing which is I think underutilized in a lot of markets. People don’t think outside of the box of how you can use affiliate marketing to spread the word about what you’re doing from a jewelry perspective, and I’ll give you an example of how I’ve done that with my custom jewelry business.
There are a lot of parallel markets that aren’t necessarily product based businesses that can refer products. So the wedding industry is a really good example, there are coaches who coach bride to like lose weight on their wedding day, or they coach them how to like decor. There’s wedding planners who can refer our business, or there’s like wedding photographers who are always in front of clients who are looking for other services.
So a couple of years back I partnered with a coach who was actually working with brides who were trying to lose weight for their wedding. It was an offer to her community, she went and blog posted about me and sent an email out to the people in her program saying, here’s my friend Tracy, she’s an amazing jewel custom designer, she’s offering this to my community, check out, this might be a great opportunity for you to have a custom wedding band made.
I was able to build a ton of leads for my list and then also I got probably about $5,000 in orders just from one email from her, and I gave her a small commission of like $100 for her campaign. So those ways it’s still like it is like a pain or play or like a leverage [inaudible 00:45:17] sort of thing but I feel like those are great opportunities, and this is huge in the blogger community these days. A lot of times bloggers you might be able to work out something with them instead of paying them upfront to work out some sort of affiliate commission opportunity.
If they are really getting traffic to those sites, you can offer some sort of discount to their readers. I’m not a huge fan of discounts, or you can offer something special to their readers if you don’t want to discount and you can track all that traffic with an affiliate link and pay the blogger based on the number of sales that they got. And you can stay connected with them so that you’re honest so that they know how much if they are really serious about selling more of your work that they can promote it and push it more.
Steve: You mentioned the email list, what do you do to get people to sign up for your email list, like what do you say?
Tracy: One of the best opt-ins that I had, I don’t have it any more because I felt like it was a little off ground for me, but when I started over back in 2010, my first opt-in was a jewelry cleaning guide. It was basically like learn how to clean your fine jewelry in non toxic ways. They’d opt-in; they get an email with this jewelry cleaning guide that taught them how to clean their jewelry that was really cool.
That was a really good opt-in that I had personally. What I really like that I think is working right now and a lot of people are starting to do it, so who knows if this will continue to working or not, but we have a designer in our community named Carina Harris [inaudible 00:46:50] and she started this VIP program for members. So she opens up a membership like if they opt-in to her mailing list for VIP sales that are only open to them, you can only get in on the sale if you are on the list, special like pre packaged items that are only available to those people and then some sort of style guide or something like that, there are a couple of other things.
Carina is like super stylish and really, really good at branding and marketing and packaging things together, so she will create these like Mother’s Day boxes that had like, here is the joy, then like it had a candle and some candy in it and it was wrapped up beautifully, she’s a great marketer. There is a lot of things that you can do like that, you can show people how to wear the jewelry, you can do some sort of like quiz on the front end where they are doing self assessment test like what’s your jewelry style, and then they take the quiz and then it points them to what they should buy on your website. So there is a lot of different ways that you can get people to opt-in and get them engaged.
Steve: How is she driving traffic to her site, is she running ads, is it blogging?
Tracy: She has a really great social media, she’s blogging as well, probably not as much as she should be, and then she does a lot of in person shows in her local market and she builds her email list in person. With a lot of jewelry I think that it’s a multi pronged approach not to be choosing any of the jewelry tab, but it really is.
I look at times you can’t just like I rely on one way, because you have to test what works for you. If you’re someone who sells a lot of jewelry in person, that’s like a great lead generation tool that’s on this opportunity if you’re not taking it, if you don’t have a lot of money to invest in paying for Facebook ads or Google retargeting and stuff like that. Hopefully you’re not getting the traffic to your site in the first place.
So but Carina I think she might be doing some retargeting, I don’t think she’s doing a lot of paid ads, but she’s blogging, she does has a great social media, she does a lot of in person to build her list and then just – yeah I think and then getting – what am I trying to say? Getting featured in the press, so getting bloggers to feature her, partnering with bloggers and influencers, and getting her stuff on TV shows, and magazines.
Steve: Can you give me an example of a good outreach email when you’re reaching out to some of these influencers for your jewelry?
Tracy: Sure, yeah, I mean it’s similar to like reaching out to wholesale buyers. You’d probably do something – I think the most important thing especially for influencers plus PR, anything like that is to have a good headline. You want to make sure that someone wants to open your email, so study headline writing formulas, so when I was talking to [inaudible 00:49:48] last night, she said something really good, it was really cute. It was something like don’t open this email; because if you do you’re going to die, the jewelry is so beautiful.
So thinking about something that’s going to get them interested to actually open it instead of like pro stud earrings, no one is going to open that stupid email. So think of like a catchy headline that’s going to capture their attention, and think of who their audience is in the first place and do some sort of play on that, that’s like another whole another podcast if you like.
You want to do an introduction, you want to tell them who you are and why your jewelry is relevant to their audience, that’s the first step. Then you want to tell them a little bit about your jewelry line and get into your pitch. Our PR expert for Flourish and Thrive [inaudible 00:50:33] recommends bullet pointing things so that it’s easy to read, so you can bullet point like five things that the editor or influencer, whoever needs to know about your brand in the center of it.
Then you tell them how to follow up for samples on the next step, and include in the body of the email – I prefer a collage picture that is like small in a file so it’s not like 20 megabytes, you want like 4 megabytes or smaller that is a great visual or example of what it is that you’re pitching. So it could be a couple of pieces of jewelry or maybe you want two pieces depending on what the angle is. So that’s like the formula, now what’s written in there will be a little bit different.
Steve: Sure, I hear there is a course on that.
Tracy: Yeah there is like courses on that, we also have blog posts about it over Flourish and Thrive Academy, so lots and lots of information.
Steve: Yeah, I was [inaudible 00:51:29], don’t go there. So I’m just curious, it sounds like when we were talking about this, it sounds like you have a negative feeling towards market places, is that accurate, like Amazon, Etsy and that sort of thing and so…
Tracy: I was not negative, but I will clarify, finish asking your question and I’ll clarify.
Steve: Oh no I was just saying does that mean like it’s kind of mutually exclusive, like if you want to have a serious jewelry line that is going in retail shops and stuff, does that imply that you shouldn’t be going into like Amazon?
Tracy: Okay, that’s a great question. I know a lot of retail stores actually selling on Amazon like designer rings and designer stuff, and a lot of designers – I don’t want to [inaudible 00:52:12] for I’m not 100% sure, but a lot of like high name designers are actually all selling stuff on Amazon in the designer section. So I don’t necessarily think it’s bad, but it shouldn’t be the primary. Same thing with Etsy, I don’t think it’s bad, but it should be a secondary source. I think that the problem comes in when someone relies solely on these markets.
If you’re trying to build a brand, if you’re just trying to make money selling products, that’s different, a totally different mindset, you’re just trying to make money selling some products, putting it online and getting on to Amazon, that’s like…
Steve: I feel it’s not sustainable though unless you build your brand though right?
Tracy: Yeah, so like with jewelry like I said if you really want to have a successful and sustainable jewelry business that’s growing and you want to keep developing collections and evolving as a designer, the branding piece is like the most important part. It starts with the website and then these other things are great alternative tools and we have a lot of designers in our community who are doing Etsy and Amazon handmade and selling on their own website.
In fact one of the designers in our community is Stephanie [inaudible 00:53:14] has a really successful business doing multiple six figures, and she has a beautiful website, and the majority of her sales actually come from Etsy, I think like she told me 70%.
Tracy: But she realized the importance of having a branded website because that gives her validity in the eyes of her clients, so she sells at Etsy business but the website helps improve the brand. So I think it just really depends on your branding, I think for a lot of people Etsy can be a good way to get rid of excess inventory, you can include the Etsy shop in a different name that’s related to your brand so it doesn’t conflict when people find things on Google search. There’s a lot of different ways you can use that tool, so I don’t think it’s bad, I think it’s like a good secondary.
Steve: Okay so the reason why I asked that question is people who shop on market places like Amazon or what, not Etsy but Amazon, they are more focused on price. It just seems to me that you can command much better prices if you’re just selling on your own site.
Tracy: Well that’s the whole thing, I mean Etsy and Amazon – Amazon campaign now, it’s real like people are competing on price and none of us are going to be – well maybe even you maybe importing from China one day I don’t know and doing mass volume, but the only way you can really compete on a stage like that is volume, and if your business is not set up for volume, then it’s going to be really hard to make money.
I think that it’s cool if you want to play on that stage and you want to do a volume business and many people can have very successful jewelry businesses doing that, but that’s a totally different game and it requires prior infrastructure, it requires a lot of strategy, it requires a lot more work I think in my mind.
I used to sell like ship orders worth 1000 units that we would produce in China and India, and the management of those processes, we would negotiate discount, the stores would negotiate discounts and I’m thinking like I think that in order to have a successful business in a discount market place like it would be the same thing is that like you have to do volume, so I don’t know.
Steve: Is it generally harder to brand those items too, and did you ever have any copy cats?
Tracy: Oh gosh, everyone has copy cats, it happens, but that seemed for reason being a designer that is continually evolving in their design, because that’s what makes you stand out and people to keep coming back. People can tell someone who just copies.
Steve: Right and I think just your personality and your branding is what prevents you from falling victim to that.
Tracy: Yeah, exactly.
Steve: Okay cool Tracy, you know we’ve been chatting for a while; I want to be respectful of your time.
Tracy: I know.
Steve: Where can people find you if they want to learn how to start their own jewelry business?
Tracy: Absolutely, you go on over to flourishthriveacademy.com, you can also find us at fnta.com if you like, flourishthriveacademy.com and you can check out some of our courses. We have so many courses that walk you all different aspects of the jewelry industry or the business of jewelry I should say. Then we also have a membership community, we have a free online community, lots of different ways to participate, so I hope to see you over there.
Steve: Cool and your site was tracymatthews.com also.
Tracy: Yeah my jewelry website is tracymatthews.com.
Steve: Okay, awesome. Well hey Tracy thanks a lot for coming on the show, I learned a lot because I know nothing about jewelry.
Tracy: Thanks for having me; it was so fun to be here.
Steve: All right take care.
Hope you enjoyed that episode. Now selling jewelry online is really challenging, you have to stand out in order to succeed and Tracy is an expert at making that happen. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode149.
Once again I want to thank privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Now Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers, therefore email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it supper simple as well. Now I like Privy because it is so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any primer that is closely tied to your ecommerce store. So if you want to give it a try it’s free, so head on over to privy.com/steve. Once again that’s privy.com/steve.
I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for ecommerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post purchase flow, a win back campaign, basically all of these sequences that will make you money on auto pilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/Klaviyo, once again that’s mywifequitherjob.com/Klaviyo.
Now I talk about how I use these tools on my blog, and if you’re interested in starting your own ecommerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away via email, thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.
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