QUESTION:

I am most interested to know how to connect to brand buyers in boutiques and keep them interested in intro emails when pitching my products. I make and design handcrafted women’s outerwear in the slow fashion sector.

Arianna, Paris

Hi Arianna,

The best way to connect with retail buyers and fashion boutique owners is to send them an initial intro email and introduce yourself and your brand. As buyers get so many of these daily (they can get up to 10 speculative pitches a week and sometimes more; via phone, email, and post and sometimes in person), it is important to keep in mind the following points:

  • Give them a reason to want to read your email. Think about the subject line of your email and how it will be relevant to them, their speciality, interest…etc
  • Keep the introduction letter or  Press Release brief – the maximum ideally is one page long. Break the text into relevant paragraphs to make it easy to read. For a guideline what to include in the write-up – see this article How to write a fashion press release.
  • Include images, but make sure these are very small in size – ideally, a JPEG or PNG format and under or 100KB if possible. If a buyer wanted to see a larger image, they will let you know. But if you sent many images and they are all large – your email may not be delivered and if it is, your buyer will not be happy to wait on images opening slowly.
  • Make sure you send the email to the correct person by calling in advance and finding out who that is and letting them know that you will be emailing them. Never send an email addressed “Dear Buyer”.
  • Do your research and only email boutiques and shops that really are a good fit for your brand. Don’t mass email hoping for someone to “bite’. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the market by benchmarking your product against the competition in terms of the quality, price, and availability. This will show the buyer you know your stuff and deserve to be taken seriously.
  • Don’t forget to also email the assistants.
  • Follow up! When you connect with retail buyers, most will not reply to the first (few) email (s). Often because they don’t open all emails, other times because they are too busy, it’s not the right fit, they don’t understand your brand…etc. By following up and getting, if possible verbal feedback, you know what your next steps should be. A conversation with a buyer will give you an inside look into who they are, what their level of interest is in your brand and what they are looking for and will help you tailor better your follow up emails. But remember – be persistent, but don’t bombard.

Once you have made the first steps to connect with retail buyers, if they are the right boutique for you but they are not able to take you on (yet!) or if you are already stocked by them, then the follow-up emails you should send them can be:

  • News of new product launches, deliveries;
  • News of celebrities wearing your products;
  • News of relevant publications that featured your product in the press;
  • Focus emails talking about your craftsmanship, the process of making, what sets you apart from others…etc
  • News hijacking – if anything happens that relates to your brand, use the opportunity to highlight your product and brand;
  • Trend forecasts and how your products fit in or are on trend.

Again, when you connect with retail buyers keep the emails short, captivating and include images. Images are easier to digest as information and have the power to grab and hold attention.

To connect with retail buyers doesn’t mean to email them weekly – keep these “stay in touch” type of emails to perhaps monthly recaps and updates.

Their purpose is to remind the buyer of your existence and to show them how you are progressing as a business, that you are serious and in fact – still in business. The last thing a buyer is interested in is bringing in a “here today, gone tomorrow” brand or product.

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