As a small business owner, it’s a dream to see your product on your favorite shops’ shelves., but how do you make that dream come true? We asked some of P.F.’s best stockists how to get your product in stores. Here’s their take on bringing in new product lines, the dos and don’ts of pitching yourself, and how to keep the relationship going after an order.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE EVERYTHING
The first thing a buyer should know, along with how your line is made and where it comes from, is how much it means to you. “You can only make that first impression once, so make it good,” says Grace Kang from New York’s Pink Olive.
Since your story is the best marketing tool you’ve got, telling it is super important! Boutiques and shops usually have wholesale information on their sites that tell you how best to get their attention. Rebecca Hanna, of Atlanta’s Young Blood Boutique, says, “I appreciate it so much when someone takes the time to research how and where we'd prefer companies to share their work with us. We're specific on our website and it helps us keep things more organized when everything flows in our system.” All shops operate differently, but most can generally recommend emailing your initial pitch or filling out the site’s submissions page.
Giselle Gyalzen, of San Francisco’s Rare Device, pointed out a big no-no: showing up without an appointment. “Never show up to a store unannounced, expecting to show the person working at the register your goods. They may not be the buyer or, even if they are, their focus at the moment is helping their customers.” Stopping in without scheduling puts staff members on the spot, messing with that whole first impression thing. On the same note, April Gabriel of Boston General Store recommends starting with emails instead of a phone call. Calls can be set up later, but the keyboard is your friend!
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Get to know the shop you’re reaching out to and why your brands should work together. This shows you care about the shop itself and not just getting your product on its shelves. Madeleine Zinn, from Denver’s Sub Rosa Mercantile says, “For companies that aren't in Colorado and email us, the ones that stand out are those that actually take the time to get to know the shop & its aesthetic.” Find out who you’ll be talking to beforehand, because a personal touch goes a long way. Some brands, like Los Angeles’ Poketo, search for makers and curate by hand what goes into the shop. However, owners Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan, say that pitches do work for them, saying, “we have met so many designers doing great stuff just from a simple, concise email and a knowledge of our brand.”
Include well-made lookbooks and organized line sheets in your pitch, even when it’s just the first email. Making important information available to the buyer right away can create faster response rates and help move the process along. “Stores get a lot of pitches and we don’t always have time to chase down info. That could be the difference between getting an order and getting ignored,” say Chelsea Moylan of San Francisco’s Anomie. If you can, send some samples in the mail. Moorea Seal, owner of the Seattle boutique of the same name, notes sending samples is a great way for a team to better understand your brand and what makes it unique.
KEEP THE RELATIONSHIP STRONG
Never underestimate the power of follow-up emails and the words ‘thank you.” Inboxes are often packed with info, so your pitch may get lost in a sea of other messages. No worries, though! Check back and let the shop know you’d love to be in contact. Rare Device’s Giselle says “persistence is key. We get tons of submissions on a daily basis so it’s not possible to reply to every one of them.” Don’t add a store to your newsletter list without permission, because spamming is never cool. Your brand may not always be the right fit for a shop’s current needs, but staying updated on your latest promotion may be what sells them on an order.
While Pink Olive’s Grace says communication is key, Chelsea from Anomie says organization and quality control are everything. Fulfill orders on time, be flexible when needed, and always communicate between teams about shipping dates or deadlines. Buyers should be the first to know when you’re adding new products to your line or changing things up. An evolving line can be more subtle than brand new creations, but with consistent newsletters and check-ins, it’s easy to keep your shops excited.
Lastly, visit! Thao Nguyen from Minneapolis’ Parc Boutique advises to regularly attend trade shows and stop in the shop if you can. It’s one thing to email or chat on the phone with buyers and boutique owners, but it’s amazing to meet them in person. You get to put faces and voices to the team that has such a huge part in keeping your brand growing, and seeing your product in their shop feels great. The better your shops get to know you and why you continue to do what you do, the more genuinely they can share your work with their own customers. Meeting the people behind shops is a great way to feel proud of where your product is sold, and in the end, everyone wins. Boutiques get a unique, passion-filled product line on their shelves, while you get to see your hard work sold all over the world -- or wherever you pitch it.
Pink Olive is an inspiring New York boutique specializing in thoughtful gifts that are anything but ordinary. Founder Grace Kang used her experience buying for Bloomingdale’s, Saks.com and Barney’s New York to open the shop dedicated to making the gifting process fun.
439 East 9th Street
New York, NY 10009
Young Blood Boutique is an Atlanta craft and design shop run by artist Rebecca Hanna. With a focus on supporting independent makers and creating a sense of community with their brands, Young Blood carries a selection of well-crafted jewelry, ceramics, accessories and more.
632 North Highland Ave NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306
Rare Device is a San Francisco based shop for “beautiful things to hold in your hands.” Owner and buyer Giselle Gyalzen has filled the shop with “lovely, approachably designed items for your home, yourself, and your family.” Shop our Rare Device custom scent here.
600 Divisadero Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
4071 24th Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
Boston General Store is a celebration of makers and a passion for well-made goods. Once an online-only retailer, BGS continues to share functional, high-quality products from around the world.
305 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446
626 High Street
Dedham, MA 02026
Sub Rose Mercantile is Denver’s modern take on a classic general store, offering personal accessories, utilitarian home decor and much more. Handcrafted, eclectic, and a hint of vintage are carefully curated to support creative small business owners.
2337 W 44th Ave
Denver, CO 80211
Poketo is a Los Angeles based shop known for its bold aesthetic and “Art for Your Everyday” philosophy. A stockist since 2013, we created custom scent Tangerine & Vetiver exclusive for the brand, now available in our shop.
8840 Washington Blvd. Suite 104
Culver City, CA 90232
Anomie is another San Francisco based boutique, featuring a selection clothing, accessories, home good and beauty items. Their website says it best: “Basically, we sell nice things.” To read more about Chelsea and Anomie, check out our IN STOCK feature.
2419 Union Street
San Francisco, CA 94123
Parc Boutique in Minneapolis is a lifestyle store focused on simplicity. They work with both local and international designers in hope to create a diverse selection of pieces that are well-made and wearable.
For a full list of P.F. Stockists, check out our Stockist Map to find a shop in your neighborhood.