Showrooms are one stop shops where retailers find new products for their stores. Working with a showroom puts the power of an established company behind your brand, and gives you access to wholesale clients that might otherwise be difficult to connect with on your own.
Working with a showroom is similar to working with a retailer in some ways, but differs in others, so here are some tips on finding and working with showrooms:
Getting started: Create a list of brands you’d like to share a showroom with. These aren’t your competitors, but like-minded brands that will appeal to the same customers as your line. Use sites like the LA Fashion District, the Garment Industry Development Corporation and Fashion NYC to find showrooms that cover large cities and the entire country. Or you can get access to one of our showrooms lists here.
Do your research: Some showrooms are open to the public, so you can visit and browse their selection, but others are open by appointment only. Every showroom has their own preferred method of contact, so use their website to find the best way to connect.
Connect: Just like pitching to retailers, you need to connect with the team at a showroom. Use your pitch to sell the unique benefits of your product, explain how your line fits with others the showroom carries and, most importantly, remember to ask for an appointment.
Once you set an appointment, it’s time to prepare all of the materials you will need to wow them. Bring the following to your meeting:
Product samples let the rep interact with your product. If your product has color or size variations bring a range to illustrate the full spectrum of your line.
Marketing materials like line sheets, catalogs, price lists, advertising show that you’re product is ready to move. It’s better to have something with you that you don’t use than to not have something you need. Keep everything organized to show that you are professional.
Hardcopies of any press coverage you’ve received, even blog reviews and local press coverage. This shows the rep that you’ve been actively marketing your product.
A list of your retailers, brick and mortar and online. This shows the rep that your brand already has retail interest, and makes you a safer bet.
And be ready to tell your story as a business owner or designer, and the story of your brand. Telling a memorable story will help your line stick in the rep’s mind long after your meeting ends.
If the showroom accepts your line, you will need to negotiate a sales commission (usually 10 – 18%), month rack rental and the terms of your agreement. Make sure you keep copies of all of your signed agreements.
Above all, in all of your communications with a showroom, highlight your confidence in your business and your product. When you present a professionally confident exterior and a top notch product, your proposal will be hard to resist.
What have your experiences with showrooms been? I’d love to hear about them, and answer your questions in the comments below.