We caught up with this week’s featured maker Jade Murray, to find out what goes on behind her Ginger Pickle shopfront, and discovered a well-developed brand that has grown to be stocked in 55 shops and galleries worldwide (and counting) thanks to Jade’s carefully considered brand identity, wholesale strategy, pricing formula and relationship with bloggers. There is a lot to be learned from this girl…
When did you start Ginger Pickle?
I launched Ginger Pickle after I graduated from art school in 2012. I considered going into recruitment and had an interview with one of the top recruitment agencies in Aberdeen, but I felt it wasn’t for me so I never went to the second interview. Who knows what would of happened…
Do you work on Ginger Pickle full time?
Yes, and there still aren’t enough hours in the day!
How do you sell your work?
I sell my work in my online shops and also in 55 galleries and shops in the UK, USA and Australia. There are a few more potential stockists in the pipeline – I’m just waiting to confirm them. When I was living in Aberdeen I also sold my work at a monthly market, but as I’ve just moved to Northumberland I’m still sussing out which markets I can sell my work at, so for the moment that has stopped. But I’m hoping to get back into selling at markets again soon.
Wow, 55 outlets across the world! How did you grow the wholesale side of your business?
It’s an area of the business which I put a lot of energy and effort into because it’s a fantastic way to get your brand out there and a great way to get regular cash flow in as well. It’s been a big goal of mine from the very beginning and I’m continually sourcing new stockists for Ginger Pickle. It’s something I feel as a designer is just as important as online selling, so I’m always contacting potential stockists where I feel my products would sell really well. It’s important to only contact the shops that fit with your brand though.
What are the benefits (and pitfalls) of selling to shops?
The benefits are:
- Getting your brand out there to lots of new customers from many different cities, countries and continents.
- It’s very easy and less time consuming than individually selling all the stock via online sales… all you have to do is send the stock to the shops and they do all the selling, packaging and deal with the customer side of things.
- Selling your work on a sale-or-return basis means you can develop a great relationship with many shop owners around the world.
- With wholesale orders you can sell lots of stock in high volumes and get paid for it straight away.
- Some shops place orders regularly, so it’s a great way to drum up repeat business.
The pitfalls are:
- You don’t have control over how the jewellery is displayed in the shops.
- With sale or return you’re sending stock to shops on the premise that they will pay you for work sold each month, but some shop owners aren’t good at keeping in contact. Luckily all the shops that sell my work have been great and I’ve never had too many problems but there are some horror stories. My advice is to have a contract in place and make sure the shop has a good reputation by contacting other designers who stock their work in that same shop.
- With wholesale you get a much lower profit margin. However, the fact that you sell in high volume makes up for this.
- If a shop closes down or doesn’t manage to sell your work, they will send your stock back to you. But it may have been handled a lot or the packaging might be damaged.
- You don’t get as much feedback when selling your work to galleries and shops as you do selling directly. Usually when you sell online you can get product reviews and customer emails, which are very helpful.
Is there anything you think makers should consider before approaching shops?
Yes, it’s important to consider the reputation of the shop if you’re selling your work through them on a sale-or-return basis, as I mentioned before. It’s important to know how and when you will be getting paid, who has responsibility for lost or damaged stock, the commission charges etc. A simple contract outlining terms and conditions should be in place so the maker knows all these little details. It’s also important to only approach shops that are in line with your brand, some research will help you figure this out.
Do you have a formula for calculating your prices?
Pricing has been a hard nut to crack. It’s something that has been very confusing for me and took a while to get right. So I did some research on how the pricing structure works and I took some time to figure out how much the product costs to make as well as other things like labour costs and overhead costs, and then I applied this formula:
(cost of item) x 2.2 = (wholesale price)
(wholesale price) x 2.2 = (retail price)
So, for example:
£3.00 (cost of item) x 2.2 = £6.60 (wholesale price)
£6.60 (wholesale price) x 2.2 = £14.52 (retail price)
I usually round the number off to make it easier though, so I’d sell that product for £14.50.
Your product shots are great. Do you do your own photography?
Thank you! Yes I do all the photography myself. I invested in a canon DSLR (just one that was suitable for beginners), then I sourced lovely props at charity shops, boot sales and antique shops. I have some lovely old books, old glass bottles and an old post card from the 1950s that I use frequently!
Have you got any photography tips you can share?
I think it’s a good idea to use props when your photographing your products to show scale and make the image a bit more interesting. I personally prefer lifestyle shots, but I think products with a white background can look excellent too.
How do you promote your work?
I use a mixture of Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and blogs. I frequently contact some bloggers I know to see if they would like to feature one of my products in an outfit post or review post. It’s a good way to get some hype around your products and some new photographs you can use to promote the product.
Which social media channel is your favourite?
I like Facebook best because you can get more interaction from your followers and they can share your posts with their friends too.
Is there someone you think does social media particularly well?
Yes, there are a few designers I follow who I think have done a fantastic job. Nikki McWilliams posts lots of great images on her Facebook page and she gets a great response from her followers – there are lots of lovely bright and bold colours on her page. I like to see a mixture of studio sneak peeks, new products, giveaways, and fun things on designers’ social media!
How do you package your work? Do you think packaging is important?
I package my jewellery on card with my logo printed on it, which are printed for me by a UK printing company. I prefer to get them printed for me as I can order hundreds at a time and stock up for busy periods. I’m always working on developing new packaging for my jewellery as I’m never really satisfied with it. In the future I will be packaging my earrings in little gift boxes for online orders, while for shops they can remain on the branded card. I package my prints in a cellophane sleeve with some protective board backing. I think it’s important to have nice packaging for your products, even as simple as my packaging – it doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it’s good for getting your brand out there when you sell online and to shops. I also think it’s more professional looking if you have packaging for your work – it shows you have paid care and attention to all aspects of selling your product.
Have you got any tips on how to keep your customers happy?
I think that going above and beyond customer expectation is the key. With all my orders I make sure I package them up really nicely, and include a discount code and thank-you letter. Getting orders shipped in good time is important too, as is updating customers of the progress of their order, or at least an email to let them know once it’s been shipped. I get special requests from customers quite a lot and I think it’s good to try and fulfil them. One time a guy asked me to draw a T-Rex with a personalised message on the front of the parcel which was for his girlfriend…it was the funniest thing I’ve ever had to do, and he was delighted I went along with it!