Small Business Notes #1: On Consignment with Roma Agsalud of Common Room

 

SP: Tell us how you started!

RA: Popjunklove has been very active online and in bazaars so it was not really hard to convince shops to carry our items at the time. We started considering consignment when I decided to do the business full time in 2010. When I still had a day job, production was difficult so bazaars and online orders were already enough to keep our hands full. That all changed when I left my job and I needed to find a relatively steady source of income compared to bazaars, which happen only a couple of times a year.

Like I said, since we have been in bazaars for quite some time and had already gained following online, it was easy to convince shops to carry our items because we have already established our credibility as a business. Another thing going for us is that by that time, we already knew our market. It was easy to figure out which shops to best consign to. And because we have this vital information on hand, it was easy to explain to our target shops why we think our partnership has potential.

I think moral lesson of the story is that if you have already planted the seeds and did the hard work, branching out naturally follows.

SP: A lot of our readers are either makers looking into starting their own brands or current entrepreneurs looking into expanding their businesses. Most of them consider consignment as the next step, as a store owner that houses a lot of independent brands, what helpful tips can you share to help them out? 

RA: Build your portfolio. Make sure you’ve equipped yourself with the knowledge about your business and your market so you can easily enumerate the reasons why you think your items fit the shop that you’re planning to consign to. You do not have to be registered but you need to be, at least, credible. To be credible, you should have at least a body of work or products posted online. You don’t even have to have thousands of followers. You just really need a good product with great photos that give them justice. Sometimes, that’s enough reason for the owner to give your brand a second look. If you don’t even have that, why would the owner even consider you?

Problem with aspiring entrepreneurs nowadays is that they want everything to be fast. They have a product and they think it’s a great item so they will immediately contact you for consignment. They use the shop as venue for their big break. There are so many other brands out there who have already established their products and did the “work”, why would a shop consider you over these other more promising brands? Why would they give you the time of day when you haven’t even given your brand the time of day.

Work hard. Build your brand. The rest will follow.

 

SP: What’s the best way to approach stores? Do you prefer receiving hardcopy proposals or introduction emails? 

RA: Personally, I believe soft copies are better than going to the shop to ambush the owner and present your items. That’s me. Other shop owners may prefer the other way around. If you really want to set up a meeting, then it should be by appointment first.

SP: Can you give us tips on a “proper” cold email that can yield a good response. 

RA: Please introduce yourself properly first and be professional. Lessen the emojis please or the “LOL”.  Establish your credibility shortest way possible. Business owners are busy people. You are lucky if they open your email. Make sure your email message has all the pertinent information about your brand so that if you are lucky enough, you’ve already covered the important elements that make your brand a potential partner of the shop. Owners rarely have time to open attachments so make sure the message is enough in case they don’t have time to download your formal letter of intent.

Be professional but be personal too. This means that while you are establishing your credibility, make sure your email does not sound as if you have copy-pasted it from a dozen other emails to shop owners. Believe me we will know if the email was composed for us or just one of the shops you want to consign too. Different shops offer different services and cater to different markets. Your reasons for consigning to these shops are different too. This should be reflected in your message.

Make sure to leave your company profile, contact details and online sites for reference. Big mistake of some applicants is that they ask for consignment procedures only. Sometimes, some applicants even ask owners for the rates so that they can study if the rate is a good offer they can consider. Remember that you are the one applying, not the owners. The one who needs to do the convincing is you.

The reason why I think you should already attach your company profile and other details to your first email is because even without knowing the consignment procedure, these are the most logical requirements. In case these are the only details they’ll need from you, you have already complied. Owners rarely check emails from the same person twice so if your first email is just a question, you might have missed your chance.

 

SP: Rejection is quite a common response to most consignment proposals, what’s your advice for those who’ve had a lot of NO?

RA: In case you didn’t get in, JUST CONTINUE BUILDING YOUR BRAND.  You will survive. Opportunities will come. Just do what you do best. Adjust and just get yourself out there. If you made it big, it’ll be your sweetest revenge. Don’t you agree? 

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Common Room – Katipunan
#325 F. Dela Rosa St. Katipunan, Quezon City
Common Room – Rockwell
R2 Level, Power Plant Mall, Makati City
@commonroomph
commonroomph@gmail.com
Pop Junk Love
@popjunklove
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