Jewelry artist Maryellen Kim of Twist Style has done a fantastic job of acquiring wholesale accounts. She shares some of her secrets.
ABI: What is different about your work that makes it stand out?
MK: There are many girls who crochet, and many girls who make jewelry but I combine the two by crocheting or macrameing my necklaces and bracelets. Since I don’t use premade chain, it makes much of my work ideal for folks who might have metal allergies.
ABI: You just started doing wholesale trade shows, but you already had store accounts. How did you cultivate them?
MK: I’ve been very lucky in that Twist Style has grown up in a very organic way. I started out in wholesale by selling to local boutiques and have never taken out an ad except for a few small blog spots for less than $100 investment.
I have over 50 wholesale shops and most of them found my work either by happening on my website, seeing it at a retail show, at another shop, or on someone. Aside from my first three accounts, I have never cold called a shop! The idea of having to do that gives me a stomach ache – thank goodness there are many options for marketing oneself without doing so!
ABI: You have a retail website with a wholesale “back end.” How is that working out?
MK: So far, so good! The new website just launched in November so I’ve only had a few months using that aspect of the site. It seems like my wholesalers like having the option of shopping on the site, but still prefer to place orders in person, over the phone, or using the pickbox method.
ABI: Do you have studio assistants?
MK: Yes, I have several ladies who help out in the studio. It’s so nice to pass along some of the more tedious work that I don’t love – like packing orders or tagging items. It brings me great satisfaction to offer a creative outlet to women who want to work, but don’t want to give up being full time moms.
These ladies tell me each week what hours they are available and what work they are able to take on. This allows them to get kids out the door in the morning and be there for them when they arrive home in the afternoon. As I have kids myself, the studio is usually open from 10 til 3 throughout the week.