You’ve mainly been building your brand’s online presence- perhaps by forming your own website or online shop to take digital orders– but now you’re ready to take it to the next level. It’s time to get physical! For many independent designers, this step involves creating a pitch to local boutiques that will then carry their designs. But before you begin preparing your perfect sales pitch or stopping in at the most popular local stores, here are a few tips to guide you:
1. Pick just one store to start. Boutiques will be both flattered and intrigued by your line knowing that they are the only ones you approached. The idea of carrying a ‘locally exclusive designer’ holds an appeal of its own- wouldn’t you want to be the only boutique carrying an up-and-coming brand? Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your line is right for the store as much as the store is right for your line: pick one whose target customer, price point, and overall vibe match most with your brand. From there, you should have much better luck than if you were to approach multiple stores all at once.
2. Organize your brand’s story. Make sure you have all of your contact information set up, social media platforms updated, and your brand information easily accessible for the retailer to look up on their own. This will give the retailer a good idea of your customer following, a way to get in touch, and a solid overview of all that you have to offer in case they would like to learn more before meeting.
3. Speaking of which: schedule a meeting beforehand. Boutique owners can be very busy, so showing up without prior notice is a not a good look. Request to set up a meeting time where you can both meet and come prepared. Emailing is the best approach; calling may not allow for you to share enough information, and can also catch the retailer off guard. Keep your email short and sweet, but make sure you get your brand’s story across, as well as why you think it would jive with the boutique- don’t forget that this is a sales pitch!
4. Be confident, but not too pushy. You want to convey your belief in your work, but also need to recognize when the retailer isn’t interested. They know what they are looking for and excessive effort on your part can be, well, excessive. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with following up if you don’t hear from them within a week. Find ways to talk about how much your line has to offer without forgetting that the boutique may be looking very specifically.
5. At the actual meeting, be prepared with lots of information and samples. Make sure you’ve prepared for basics such as your price points, desired orders per item, or your minimum opening order requirements. Bring samples for the owner to look at, as well as ordering materials so that you’re ready to go if the owner wants to order on the spot!
So there you have it, you're ready to hit the road! Above all else, remember that boutiques are looking to carry new, unique pieces from independent designers as much as you are trying to sell your line to them. The store and their customers are likely to be excited by your hard work, so pitch with confidence and have fun knowing that you’re growing your brand!
By Destiny Ly