Line sheets revisited

I received the following inquiry via email and I thought it would make a very good topic for the blog.

I googled “line sheet” and found your information. Hope you can help me with a question I need answered. What is a line sheet and what do I send with it?

A little background if you’re interested.
Within the past year I began working for a jewelry and leather designer/manufacturer. We have been underground in the US for ten years and have been very popular in Japan during this time as well. I have the responsibility of opening up our market to the US. I am new to this field as a recent college graduate and I know nothing about sales in stores etc. So I recently started searching for stores to sell our products in and found I need a line sheet

In answer to your question “what is a line sheet and what do I send with it”, the easy answers are listed as close.

Still, I sense that’s not your whole question (based on your background). I’m thinking you have questions about selling the line because there’s more to selling a line than line sheets. In that case, when you sell a line, you have basically three ways you can go about it:

1- You can rely entirely on person to person sales, which includes trade shows, showroom sales, and in-store appointments. There are several jewelry importers/manufacturers that only exhibit at shows, do not have line sheets, websites or catalogs, some don’t even have showrooms, you write an order at a trade show or that’s pretty much it.
2- You can rely on person to person sales and supplement with printed/electronic materials. Typically the print and electronic materials are used to supplement.
3- You can rely entirely on printed/electronic materials.

I’m not an expert on jewelry, but since I attend a lot of trade shows I can tell you what I see:

First things first, bridge, designer and high end jewelry lines tend to have very good printed materials, when they provide them. And truth be told, it is because there is some level of glamour that is used to sell jewelry, because even at a bridge price point, it is considered something luxurious. An apparel line can often get away with crappy pictures of clothing laid on a table. It’s not the best way to do things, but it can work. Jewelry designers often do not have that luxury as you can actually make the jewelry look “cheap” with poor presentation.

Secondly, I have found that wholesale websites with restricted buyer access are more forgiving of mediocre pictures. In other words, if you cannot afford really good pictures, it’s better to put them on the internet than in print. I can’t explain it. There’s just a psychology to printed materials versus the web. But this may be counter-productive if you’re relying on the internet for all of your sales.

If you’re trying to open up a market my advice would be the following:

Take a good, hard look at who your line is targeted towards and determine what motivates that buyer. If you’re making $20 necklaces, you won’t need the same strategy as someone making $200 necklaces. You need to know what stores you would be in, what else they carry, how they merchandise their products. You need to study your buyer. I find that companies like us have it easy because we can just walk into retail stores and study them. If we were selling to a company like GM, we would not have the luxury of just being able to walk into their business and see how they operate.

Study your customer. When you find out what other brands your customer is carrying, look at how those brands market their products. Look at their strengths and weaknesses, what works, what could be improved. This will help shape your strategy.

Determine which method of marketing will work best for your line. What does your buyer need to see to consider purchasing your line? Do you need to put together printed materials? Can you rely on person to person sales? Can you make your first sale person to person and then use a wholesale only restricted access website for your buyers to re-order? What will work?

If you find that you need printed materials, photography does not have to be expensive. Most Apparel Trade Marts have tenants who are photographers and specialize in budget product photography. Budget doesn’t necessarily mean poor quality. In addition, many budding photographers will barter a reduced rate in exchange for credit for their pictures. Get creative.

I wish I could give you a simple answer, wrapped up nicely, but in reality, everything depends on your market and the strategy you need to formulate to reach your market.

If you are producing a line or would hope to, you really need to read The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Sewn Product Manufacturing because this entry (or this blog) cannot begin to teach you all you need to know. After all, if you didn’t know you needed line sheets, what else don’t you know? You can read sample chapters free online.

Why American Apparel has the best line sheets
What is a line sheet?
How to make a line sheet
How to make a line sheet pt.2
Line sheet cover letters

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  1. av says:

    Great Post! I do children’s clothing and price point and type of clothing really determines how you are going to market yourself. Whether you are everyday wear with a low price point or high price point, formal with a low, medium or high price point, swim wear, etc. your marketing will differ in each segment. Children’s wear has a fairly definite price ceiling you try not to go above. Once you go above that threshold, you can knock out about 80% of your potential customers.

  2. RD says:

    Amazing amount of info. Mind-boggling; but gratefully received.
    Question: Since a “linesheet” is where the rubber hits the road in this game, I was just wondering if it’s possible to actually see one or two examples of the little dears?
    Thanks Again

  3. Chris says:

    I keep hitting the brick wall of thought. After reading this article that is very informative the questions I have are regarding being a start up and creating a line sheet with accurate information for buyers. How can one who created their own samples and patterns figure out what to put on the line sheet when it comes to Delivery dates, Start dates, ending dates and even effective pricing given Ive made the samples and seek to produce via local shops then move to find sales representation. I can always give an amount but, how do I get the right info if Im starting out and Im not willing to loose capital to learn the hard way.
    –I need advice Pls.

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