Seller Handbook

Advice and inspiration for successfully running your Etsy shop

Seller Handbook

Thistle & Clover's Tips for Designers: Approaching Boutiques

Two boutique owners share their tips for pitching your products to retailers.

By Camilla Gale Jun 24, 2010
Camilla and Rand from Thistle & Clover.

What do boutique shops look for when picking which designers they'll carry? We asked boutique owners Camilla and Rand to share a few tips. While every boutique is going to have a different process and unique criteria, we think Camilla and Rand's advice goes a long way. Let's draw back the curtain on Thistle & Clover's Open Call.

Since opening our doors in March 2008, our Brooklyn-based boutique Thistle & Clover has held quarterly Open Calls for young, up-and-coming talent from the New York metropolitan area. We see around 15 to 20 designers per Open Call. But since our store has limited space, we can only invite around three or four designers to be showcased at the store. We’ve found that as the program grows, this process gets harder and harder for us to do! Needless to say, there’s always a glass or two of wine involved…

Etsy has asked us to pull together some of the qualities that we look for in a collection for you guys. And we’re just delighted to do so! Etsy is an endless source of inspiration for us and many of our Open Callers have used this fantastic site as a platform to sell and promote their wares.

Do your research.

Each store you approach will have a different set of guidelines for design submissions. Your best bet is to call/email the store directly to ask how they prefer to receive information. By all means, if you get an owner or buyer on the phone, introduce yourself! Just remember to keep it short and sweet.

A page from Dace's lookbook.

Presentation, Presentation.

Your next move will be to send the store line sheets and a lookbook either by email or snail mail (though email is free!). The goal is to catch the eye of the store buyer with a presentation that is unique enough that they’ll head to your website or Etsy shop to check out more of your work.Think hard about creative ways to represent your line. And keep in mind that sometimes simple is best. One strong image can make a far bigger impact than a few weaker ones. It was a simple postcard that inspired us to get in touch with T & C favorite LEWIS. Innovative/creative presentations can also help you distinguish yourself: Teeny House Bunny sent us shipments in vintage cigar boxes, which are both whimsical and useful for display purposes.

Include your facts.

When sending over images, it’s imperative that you also include line sheets, a bio and any press clippings that you may have of your work. This helps the store come to understand your line as a whole.

Establish Your Brand as a Lifestyle.

At T & C, we try to do more than just sell a pretty product. We want to tell the story behind our labels, to editorialize all your hard work! And all of that information comes from you. The more you turn your piece of jewelry, or painting or antique into a "story," the more your customers will understand your product. Cassandra La Valle of Coco & Kelley exemplifies this motto. Her Etsy shop acts as an extension of her wonderful blog, and the vision translates seamlessly.

Create a cohesive collection.

The last and perhaps most important thing we look for when selecting labels for the store is a cohesive collection. When Cate Reilly of Green Eyed Girl visited our store last February, we were struck by how directly her aesthetic vision was communicated to us. Every piece fit into her collection flawlessly. Cohesiveness will help showcase your work, and makes it easy for the buyers/store owners to envision how your line will merchandise in with their other collections.

That’s all for now! We hope this sheds a little more light on a notoriously opaque process.


Camilla Gale

Thistle & Clover strives to promote new, unrepresented design talent in the greater New York area.


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