The Mentor: Biba Schutz, art jeweler
The Lesson Learned: I am the only one who knows what's right for me.
A few months back, I had a phone conversation with the successful, talented Biba Schutz. She was kind enough to spend over an hour on the phone with me discussing all sorts of concerns I was having, such as… did I always have to procure the sale of a "special order" through one of my galleries even if it was unassociated with any of them? The answer: no, I don't have cut out to my galleries if they had nothing to do with the sale in any way, shape or form. In the past I always gave my galleries their percentage on custom work regardless of how I received the order, because I assumed that was what I was supposed to do. I also asked Biba, was I allowed to sell my work on my website in conjunction with consigning at the galleries? The answer: yes, it would be essentially just like owning my own "store" or gallery, and as long as the prices remain consistent, there's no problem. I've been so concerned about not tarnishing my gallery relationships that my business has been suffering and has not been able to grow in the ways that I would like it to. However, it's impossible to know all the answers to this stuff and it's ok to fumble through it at times. You live and learn.
The biggest question I had been wrestling with for quite some time, was whether or not to pursue wholesale. I had asked one of my galleries their opinion on the subject (about a year prior to my conversation with Biba) because I had been getting a lot of inquiries about wholesaling my work… their answer: it wasn't a good idea. Their reasoning: because the type of work that I do is "really more appropriate for one-of-a-kinds." I took their advice, blindly, because I assumed they just knew better than me.
Fast forward a year… I'm unhappy at the slower pace with which my one-of-a-kinds are selling and frustrated at the idea I may need to have a part-time supplemental job for the rest of my life. Wholesale was becoming more and more appealing as a concept. I began to wonder: why was I letting someone else decide the direction of my work and control my economic stability? Many art jewelers tend to either hold teaching positions or wholesale their work in conjunction to one-offs because it makes for more consistent income.
Enter Biba. Her advice and guidance regarding wholesale was invaluable. Most importantly, she stressed how it was a big decision to make and that there were a lot of aspects to consider and that only I could know whether wholesaling my work was the right move for me or not. After our conversation, I had renewed confidence in my ability to decide the direction of my jewelry line as well as a restored belief that ultimately I am the only one who knows what's right for me.
Wholesale world, here I come.