So you’re an artist. A designer. Maybe you still have a day job, but you’ve been toiling nights and weekends on a new clothing line that you – and all your friends – know the market is going to love. You’ve got your concept developed, tested, and refined. You’ve jumped through hoops and taken it from concept to finished product: you’ve found a manufacturer, studied the key metrics of the industry, maybe even created a company brand with matching marketing collateral such as custom hang tags.
Now you’re ready to unleash it on the market.
Sell Your Clothing Line by Forming Lasting Relationships with Boutique Owners
The first thing you’ve must know is that boutique owners are looking for you and your merchandise.
The second thing? The owner of a specialty boutique is like a curator at an art gallery. Their job is to know what their customers want. So when you show up, bright and shiny and flush with pride – just remember that they are looking to match your product with the client list in their head.
They listen to the chit-chat in their store's dressing rooms and hear the whispered hopes and fears (e.g. “Does it make me look fat?”) of their customers. They may even serve as personal shoppers for their high-end clients. Therefore, if they think your designs will appeal to one of their regular customers, you are probably a shoo-in. If they love it themselves, they might take a chance.
3 Secrets to Making Your First Clothing Line Sale at a Boutique
Remember that your sales target is a person too. After a clothing shop owner buys from you, they have to turn around and sell your merchandise. And their eye is always on their bottom line. Here are a few tactics to help you sell your clothing line:
- Straddle several price points. If your items are all high end or all low end, you may be leaving money on the table. Try to have a little something for everyone.
- Do your research. Make sure you’ve researched a boutique before you approach them. Does their customer resemble your ideal customer? Are their current offerings “classic” or “trendy?” Is their clientele diverse – or do they cater to a particular type of person?
- Make an appointment. Do not assume that boutique owners will have time for you if you walk in off the street. Show that you value their time by asking when it’s convenient for you to stop by. They will see you as a peer and professional.
What to Do When Your Line Isn't Picked Up?
You must be aware that not every boutique will be right for your clothing line; it’s nothing personal.
If you find that a shop owner has declined the opportunity to carry your line, thank them, listen to their feedback (this is imperative), promise to keep in touch, and move on. These skills will be critical as you advance in the world of fashion design. Treat the person who says, “No” the first time as carefully as any relationship you hope to retain forever. That’s how great brands are built.
Remember that people buy from people they like. Put your best foot forward and keep in mind that even if they don’t buy today, they may buy tomorrow.