Starting out on the Right Foot with Your Left Brain, Part 2

Mckenna HallettBy ABI faculty member Mckenna Hallett

Early in my business, I discovered that my line was not selling effectively on typical jewelry stands and props. My work is more contemporary and artful and works best with out-of-the-box approaches. For example, one of my very successful galleries placed various sized chunks of limestone on a bed of white beans. My work popped in that environment and instantly created a sense that something different was going on in that case.

But the smartest also use my free cardboard displays to show the very lightweight nature of my jewelry and to demonstrate my fully adjustable pendant design. This is often critically important to the success of my unusual line.

My jewelry also is made from unique materials: car radiators, parts from appliances, copper gutters, electrical and plumbing parts. I love house demolitions. Ancient and deep patinas are not something that can be done “chemically” to a piece of new copper. The result is that no two pieces are ever really duplicated. But my retailers love that! Variety for their showcases and clients is essential.


Copper scrap used for Mckenna Hallett's jewelry

Copper scrap used for Mckenna Hallett’s jewelry


However, it all takes a bit of explaining; earrings made from a car’s radiator are not an everyday jewelry item! Add to that the fact that most people who see my line for the first time assume everything is way too heavy to wear or that it will “rust” on their clothing and it is clear that some basic introductory conversations will need to be conveyed to those who start up with my line.

So the Start-up Kit is essential. Sending this information ahead of the first shipment can set up my new retail partner with something to share and the smart ones use it to get their clients crazy with anticipation of that shipment.


A start up kit is sent to retailers

A start up kit is sent to retailers before they receive their shipment.


Items include:

  • Small signs printed on card stock ready to cut out. Each sign tells stories and help clarify the “what” and “why” of the line, the eco-friendliness of the creations (I burn no fossil fuels, etc.), and even include a list of some of the unique materials I use.
  • A tip sheet for how to use my very cool re-purposed flour bags as packages for pendants and the raffia bundles for nesting the earrings inside the packages.
  • How to display my work with suggestions for various materials and props and best practices from my successful retailers.
  •  Conversation starter suggestions. How to create the total wow factor and draw in the casual viewer with the perfect “elevator speech” that keeps them exploring my line in deep amazement and eventually increased sales.
  • My self-stamped, self-addressed postcard with a small survey of their needs including free display items, drafted press release, jpegs of my work, link to them from my (wholesale only) website.


Reply Card

A reply card requests input from retailers.


But by far, the most important piece that is included in the Start-up Kit is what I refer to as my Share Catalog. As the name implies, it is for sharing and it is a powerful marketing tool.

In Part Three, I will explain how this Share Catalog is used to increase the interest and create a semi-viral pre-shipment selling environment for my line. My smart retailers are masters at this, or will be with a little prodding from me.


See more of Mckenna Hallett’s jewelry here.

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  1. Katherine Palochak says:

    Awesome article!

  2. Cindy@12Tribes says:

    Such a practical article – thank you! I always enjoy reading about Mckenna and her work…

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