I know that many of you who read Paper Crave are stationery designers and business owners who are always looking for new ways to grow your lines. Some of you may already have a representative for your line, but others may not know much about what it means to have your line repped. I know that it’s something that I’ve wondered about for a while, and I’m happy to say that we have someone who is not only an expert but who is willing to share with us her knowledge about what she does as a rep and what it takes to acquire a rep for your stationery line.
I’m very excited to introduce guest blogger, Carina Murray, of Crow & Canary, a fine art card and gift representation firm that covers the Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, and San Francisco markets. Carina founded Crow and Canary in 2006 and currently reps lines including 9SpotMonk, Jezebel, Paper + Cup Design, and Seraph. Now, without further ado, here’s Carina!
You may be thinking, what exactly does a stationery rep do? Believe me, you wouldn’t be the first person to be a bit fuzzy on the details. The majority of my friends and family are still a little unclear about my profession.
Reps are essentially a liaison between the designer and wholesale buyer. I show samples to buyers and forward the orders on to the lines I represent. I’m not responsible for production or shipping. My job is strictly commission based, 10-25% is the industry norm. Most reps only take commission on orders paid, meaning if a retailer cancels the order or does not follow through with payment, the rep doesn’t receive commission.
I work primarily as a traveling rep. I visit stores in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and Los Angeles, much in the fashion of an old-school traveling salesman. I also exhibit at one to two trade shows a year. Trade shows are optional and require a participation fee, along with standard commission. This is an excellent option for most designers because exhibiting at a trade show as a single entity is a rather large undertaking and expense.
I can’t speak for all independent reps, but I’m pretty specific in what I look for when I consider adding a new line to my repertoire.
- The line must be complementary to my current collection; if it’s too similar to designs I already represent, I risk competition within my own collection.
- I’m always on the lookout for innovative products. If I see a line and think: “Wow, that’s so unique.” — it’s definitely a contender.
- Good product photography, a comprehensive website and catalog and flexibility are key.
- I find it easier to rep lines that have at least 25 unique designs, though this is not a hard and fast rule.
- Lines that work with eco friendly goods are also a plus.
The second part of my Paper Crave guest post will feature answers to my most frequently asked industry-related questions. Please feel free to post a comment with any question you may have and I’ll be sure to respond in the next post.