Talking with Robin Kramer from Flourish & Thrive Academy

Talking with Robin Kramer from Flourish & Thrive Academy

Episode #195

Today I talk with Robin Kramer from Flourish & Thrive Academy. You’ll love hearing the insights Robin shares about the ins and outs of having a successful jewelry design business. Plus what’s new in the CRAFTCAST studio, some techie stuff and my favorite new book.

Robin Kramer

Annie Moscow/Phoenix

The Glass Castle/Jeannette Walls

Listen Now

Interview transcript

Alison Lee: Alright everyone. You are going to learn a lot today. I am talking to Robin Kramer from Flourish and Thrive Academy. I love their tag line “Where jewellery designers go to get business savvy.” Aren’t we glad that there is a place we can do that? So let me brag a little bit about Robin for a second. She was Director of Sales at DogEared Jewels and Gifts and grew the sales over 800%, we like that number, in just a few short years. And she brought the line so that it was sold in speciality boutiques including major department stores like Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus Direct, Bloomingdales, Lord and Taylors, very good. Applaud, Applaud. Thank you for coming on and talking to us Robin.

Robin Kramer: Thank you. I am so happy to be here with you today Alison.

Alison Lee: I know you have tons and tons of really good information. So let’s just dig right into this puzzle called “I make jewellery and now I want to go wholesale.” What’s the first question you should ask yourself do you think before you take that leap?

Robin Kramer: Well I have quite a few things you should be asking yourself. But the first and foremost is know why you are doing what you are doing.

Alison Lee: A good one alright. Let’s hear more about that, ok?

Robin Kramer: Knowing your endgame, I think it really is important to know, you can have a passion for it but what is your, really what speaks to you of doing this. And that’s the next thing would be knowing who. Who is your customer? And those two things are super important before you dive in. Because you can be a hobbyist and do a few things here and there, but if you really want to go wholesale it just entails so much more.

Alison Lee: With someone new, what’s the biggest misconception that people have, that they don’t know anything that they think?

Robin Kramer: I think the biggest misconception is that I want to do wholesale, I’m going to go to wholesale trade show and all these buyers are going to come and buy my work and it will be immediate. And it takes time. It takes time to build your reputation, it takes time to build the relationships. Relationships are key to business especially in the wholesale industry. And sometimes it takes a few years to. I have one designer that I worked with that it took 10 years to get into the Sundance Catalogue. But they kept submitting, they kept. It’s not taking it as rejection and not taking it as a personal rejection. It is, you know, there’s always the side of the buyer where, what are their needs? What are they looking for? And what is going to work well with their assortment that they are doing.

Alison Lee: Yeah. And I think that’s something that people can easily forget. That it’s not about you per se at that point, but the buyer has to make themselves shine as well.

Robin Kramer: Absolutely. And coming from a place of being, you know. Whenever I work with a buyer, I always look at what is going to be in their best interest? I would never sell a buyer something that wasn’t going to enhance the store experience for them for their customer. So coming from a place of service and what’s going to be helpful to them instead of “Oh my gosh! I need to sell this to make my quota.” Or you know, it’s really about how can as a designer and maker how can you help this store or this buyer with their business.

Alison Lee: I think that is huge if people hear that advice. Because they have to look good and how do you make them look good? They’re always going to come back to you if you can do that.

Robin Kramer: Again and again and again. They’ll be a lifer for you.

Alison Lee: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not about just you. I think that in my experience of that which was being on sort of both sides of the table for that was the first time I got used to being a creative director actually. Buyers saying “OK. Well that’s ok. But you have it in 2 sizes small or 3 sizes bigger and a bunch of different colours.” And then watching artist go “What?” What do you think about that? How do you have to be open, you know? What’s your feedback and that sort of thing when you get that feedback from a buyer?

Robin Kramer: I think all feedback is really valuable. Listen. I think sometimes people make the mistake of talking too much instead of listening. And it’s really important. You know my business partner Tracy Matthews actually has an experience where she was selling her, she is a jewellery designer and she was selling her line to a very reputable store in San Francisco. And the buyer said to her “You know what you have a very beautiful ascetic and beautiful [inaudible]. You need X, Y and Z to complete it.” This is where I see you’re missing. And what was so cool is Tracy took that to heart and took the advice and made the changes and it really made a difference in her business. And I think that’s really important for designers to take into consideration because it’s working with your buyers. Now I think you also have to take it with a grain of salt because it is very important as I said to know your [inaudible], it’s very important to know who your customer is. We call it that, your dream client. And to also know your story. How did you evolve? How did you get to this point? And why it’s so important what’s your inspiration behind what you do? And last but not least is your confidence. Be confident in what you are doing and how you are doing it. So listen to what the feedback you’re getting and take it in but that doesn’t mean that you have the change everything. But it’s very important to listen of the opportunity that might be presented to you. And know that if somebody says, “You know what? Turquoise and Gold sells for me all the time.” And you have to look at is that going to work for you? And if this is a store that you want to work with, is that something that you may want to consider bringing into your collection?

Alison Lee: Right. Right. Yeah. And I like what you just said before. You have to make non emotional decisions.

Robin Kramer: Yes

Alison Lee: Hopefully. I mean there is that place when you just [inaudible] and you go “I can’t believe they said [screaming]!” And then you let it all out and now go back to the facts here and let the emotion go.

Robin Kramer: Yeah. I mean you have to know too that the stores are coming from their perspective. It is a good practice to let it go and I have to tell you working trade shows for as many years as I have and done and all over the country and even overseas, to have a buyer come in and critique your work right there as you’re standing there. And I’m not even the designer, but I am very emotionally attached to anything I have sold. And I was at DogEared, I have these buyers that would come in and say “You know what. I could do that. Or this doesn’t seem special enough to me. Or this.” Then I would say “Thank you so much for letting me know. This might not be the line for you.” Or it will allow me to also say ” Well it’s interesting you feel that way. Here, let me explain the process to you.” So if you use it as a door, as an opportunity to explain you know, how you do something. Or they may have no idea that the silver you are using is socially responsible recycled silver. And it’s going to cost a little bit more. Or the fact that you, the reason that you carded something with a message is because there is an intention behind this. So, instead of looking at it as somebody taking digs at what you do, but as a door to explain why you do what you do and how you do it.

Alison Lee: Yeah. Well you just said. I’m laughing because we all need to take a deep breath but I’m with you. I think if anyone wants to bother critiquing for a good amount of people then that can be gold. Especially if it’s a negative because it’s like, there is a lot of gold in negative comments if you can sit down calmly and figure it out.

Robin Kramer: I 100% agree. Opportunity. Opportunity. Opportunity. And I always tell our community that when somebody gives you feedback, the first thing I always say is thank you. And that’s true. Somebody calls if let’s say, the chain broke on a necklace you know what thank you for bringing that to my attention.

Alison Lee: Absolutely.

Robin Kramer: It’s diffusing the situation and it really makes a level playing field.

Alison Lee: Yes. I totally agree. And people will come back to you again because they are not going to worry if it breaks again or if something else happens. They will know “Oh they’ll take care of it though so it’s no problem.” Well you were just saying before about the story. Just explain to people. You started going into it by saying recycled silver. That’s so important to share with people, whatever your story is. Don’t you think?

Robin Kramer:: So much so. I have worked with a lot of rep groups and being a sales person myself, the more I know about a product, the more I know about the inspiration behind it, the more I know about the designer, the better salesperson I am. So even if you are your own salesperson, know your story. Know how to pitch it too. And I think pitch, pitch is not my favourite word because I think sounds a little like sales-y. I would say educate. Know how to educate and know how to educate quickly. And know how you can educate within 20 seconds and know how you can educate within a few minutes. So by that, what inspires you? Why do you do what you do? So for some designers that is the recycle side of things. That is the responsibly sourced stones. It is the process, maybe the casting process that you do. It is people that you hire to work with you. Maybe you work with single mothers, who you know help teaching a trade to them. You know, your story is so unique and it is unique to you. And I think that this just brings up something else for me is that there is a lot of jewellery out there. And there is a lot of jewellery that even looks alike. But it’s what you bring to it that’s going to make it different. So I always like to say “A circle is a circle, is a circle.” There’s a lot of circle necklaces out there. It’s your interpretation of it. It’s maybe how you cast it or how you hammer it or what’s stones you put with it. And it makes it unique to you but it’s also your story around it. Like what inspired you or what kind of, you know the ideas behind it?

Alison Lee:Well I think a huge example of that is, and I forget the second name Ani and Ro? Ani and Me?

Robin Kramer: Me and Ro?

Alison Lee: Is it? No. I think the name is Ani and There. They have the charm bracelets, the bangles.

Robin Kramer: Oh! Alex and Ani.

What people are saying

  • Your classes are just amazing and I have learned sooo much from Cindy Pope’s classes on the Silhouette machines. She breaks it down so any beginner can learn. I didn’t take my Curio out of the box for a year until I watched her class. Now I’m addicted

    Beth B
  • Thank you for the informational class last night, and for the notes, it looks like a great product to work with. Best Wishes,

  • You are a truly generous soul to share so much with the community. I am constantly impressed by the extra effort you put into everything you do. A true inspiration. 

    Bridget D.