My shop [image sources from left: Lucky Magazine, Boone Rodriguez, and Hadley Hutton]
Many of you may be at a place where you are ready to showcase your work in stores other than your Etsy shop. Although online marketplaces like Etsy are great avenues for artists to broaden their fan base, art, for the most part, sells better in physical spaces than on the internet. I have been a retailer of art and handcrafted products myself, and I have perused thousands of submissions from artists and designers. Only a small percentage actually piqued my interest, and here's how they did it.
1. The fit is right. Reach out to shops that sell similar art and products. To know if you're a good fit, you first need to be able to define your target customer. If your customer would (and could) buy from the majority of the product lines in the shop, then you have a good match.
2. Beautiful photography. It's all about first impression and in most cases you only have a few seconds if you're submitting your work to a shop owner via email. If you're not much of a photographer, then you need to hire someone who can take high quality product shots. And all you need for a submission letter are three or four really good photos.
3. Brief and concise submission letter. Ideally, you should show your collection in person. If this isn't possible, then email a submission letter to the shop owner. The subject line should be a short description of your collection, such as: new bamboo jewelry collection made in Portland. The body of the email should be no longer than six sentences, including information on artist's background and current collection.
Don't take it personally if you don't hear back from a store. The store buyer is most likely inundated with other submissions. Most stores also have buying seasons, so it may not be the ideal time for the shop owner to pick up a new collection. If you don't hear back from a store buyer within two weeks, try a follow-up email.
From your own personal experiences, I'm sure some of you can contribute to this list. Feel free to add more advice for other artists in the comment section.