Where Can I Get Help to Sell My Designs?
Q.As a young designer, I'm good at the design-side of the business, but not so great at the selling / finance / business-side of it....and I've learnt that without sales (and therefore income) coming in, it's hard to stay afloat.
How do I find someone who I can partner up with to help on the sales/business-side of things? Are there resources available that don't cost an arm and a leg?
I'm glad you've asked this question. It's a common problem, and a lot of young designers get into trouble by trying to do it all themselves, not understanding that designing and sales are really two different jobs. Whilst some people will be naturally good at both, it's often better to get help, especially if you can't afford the time and expense to undergo further training.
As there are many designers who need this sort of help, there are a number of agencies which offer to provide it, but most of them charge unreasonably high fees. Where they should be happy to have the chance to make money from your products, they'll try to make you feel that they're doing you a favour. Never pay more than ten percent to an agency for this kind of service, and never resort to agencies until you've exhausted other options.
Fortunately, if you're willing to look a bit harder to find sales help, you can get much better deals. The first thing to do is to contact your local business start-up centre. Many people approach these centres because they like the idea of working for themselves, but don't have a business idea. Your local centre should be able to put you in touch with these people either directly or through networking gatherings.
For somebody in that position, a designer like you can be a dream come true. They'll have the sales skills and you'll have the product - perfect, eh?
Don't rush into it too fast. It's important to find the right person. First of all, you should ask for references to make sure they have the skills they claim, and that they can really provide the level of help you need. Secondly, you should make sure you can get on well at a personal level. Two years down the line, you don't want to be stuck with somebody who resents you and doesn't understand what you're trying to do.
Finally, you'll have to negotiate carefully to make sure you can establish a mutually suitable arrangement, without one of you feeling that the other is ripping them off. Your local centre may be able to help with this. Try to provide yourself with get-out clauses in case it just doesn't work, and allow for some flexibility as your working relationship develops.
With the right sales partner, you can get back to what you're best at - designing clothes!