Episode 26: Pricing in Retail and Wholesale with Marlo Miyashiro
In this week’s Episode, we talk to Marlo Miyashiro, the owner and visionary behind the retail gallery, The Handmade Showroom. Located in downtown Seattle, The Handmade Showroom showcases handcrafted local goods of various kinds that are carefully curated by Marlo. As a former jewelry designer, Marlo now operates two brick-and-mortar stores as well as an online store that offer products at retail prices.
Her most recent store, Bezel & Kiln, is an extension of The Handmade Showroom and offers handcrafted upscale jewelry and home goods. In addition, Marlo also has a passion for mentoring emerging artists and has arts consulting business called Creative Arts Consulting. Her passion is quite apparent as she offers so many great tips about pricing and marketing throughout our discussion!
Listen to Marlo as she talks about the difference between wholesale and retail pricing, what to consider when pricing your labour, and her passion for business mentorship.
Let’s first get to know Marlo:
1. Who is Marlo Miyashiro?
I am a former jewelry artist, a current mentor and teacher, a serial entrepreneur, and a creative person who is passionate about supporting and promoting artists and their work.
2. What type of artistic pursuits are you involved in?
I am working on getting back to designing and creating jewelry. Since opening my stores, I haven’t had much time for my own creative pursuits, but I am working on making time to get back to designing and creating jewelry. I really miss making things!
3. Tell us about The Handmade Showroom.
The Handmade Showroom is a gift store inside Pacific Place Shopping Center in the heart of downtown Seattle’s shopping district which is also home to some well-known brands like Tiffany & Co, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade.
Our mission is to elevate handmade by showcasing the work of our more than 100 independent artists and educating our customers all about the aesthetic and intrinsic value of handmade.
4. How did the idea of The Handmade Showroom come about? How has that project/business evolved?
I had been the organizer of the local Seattle Etsy team originally known as Etsy RAIN and later, Seattle Handmade, for about 10 years when the then-marketing director of Pacific Place approached us via our Meetup group in the spring of 2015 with the possibility of opening a local artist pop-up at the mall.
The most interesting thing about the timing of their inquiry was that I had been looking for a retail space to launch The Handmade Showroom for an entire previous year and had just made the decision to stop my search when the email showed up.
With the help of our team’s co-organizer, Kayce Quevedo, we negotiated our way into an in-line storefront and opened The Handmade Showroom with 1200 sq. ft. and 35 artists as a weekend pop-up concept in the summer of 2015.
That winter, we took the plunge and began opening every day as a full-time storefront, and over the next 2 years, we grew to use the full 2400 sq. ft. and expanded our artist list to work with more than 100 artists from all over the Pacific Northwest.
In the summer of 2018, we had an opportunity to move to the prestigious 1st floor in a 3700 sq. ft. space right next to Kate Spade. We jumped at the chance and had a fantastic holiday that year!
Then, in the middle of the holiday season, renovations at Pacific Place were ramping up and one of the larger chain retailers needed a space to occupy, so we were informed in December 2018 that we needed to move yet again – this time into a much smaller 1000 sq. ft. storefront.
Between the choice of closing and moving, we chose to move, culling our product mix down so we could continue to work with as many artists as possible while bringing on some new artists outside of the Pacific NW to keep our offerings fresh in the eyes of our customers.
We’ve been in our new space since Valentine’s Day 2019 and have plans to move once more to a larger space sometime in 2020.
5. How would someone interested in being in The Handmade Showroom apply?
We have an artist application on our website at https://thehandmadeshowroom.com/pages/apply-to-become-a-handmade-artist that we encourage everyone to read through and then submit an application if their work fits the criteria outlined there.
We are currently full in most categories, so we tend to keep all of the applications on file for future consideration. As a result, artists may not hear from us for a while so re-applying, when new items and designs are added, is encouraged.
6. Tell us about your recently-opened second store. What made you decide to open up another store?
After our move to the 2nd floor, we continued to actively look for a larger storefront with the hopes of having more square footage by holiday. When we found out that the space next door to The Handmade Showroom was becoming available, we considered our options and quickly jumped at the chance to expand our jewelry and housewares categories toward a new gallery-style concept!
Bezel & Kiln opened in September 2019 and features an upscale collection of artisan-made jewelry, meaningful accessories, and fine housewares from artists from all over the world. Many of the collections we have chosen have never been seen in the Seattle area, making our collection unparalleled in the Pacific Northwest!
7. You also provide business consulting services. Tell us about that.
One of the benefits of working in the retail/wholesale business fields for almost 30 years is the wealth of knowledge gained from a lifetime of trial and error. I love helping emerging artists achieve their goals from the inside out by offering my consulting services via Creative Arts Consulting.
8. You wear so many hats. How do you manage all of your different projects and stores?
With a LOT of help! With the full support of my wonderful partner in life and business, we have an incredible team of managers and helpers who are all super-dedicated to our mission so every day is a joy to come to work. I’ll be the first to admit that not all things get done, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is to let go of the idea of perceived perfection and allow things to come together in due time.
9. What are some of the challenges you've faced as a female entrepreneur?
Like many of my colleagues, I’ve had my share of feeling like I’m not being listened to when dealing with business negotiations. There were a few times when the resistance I was getting was so limiting that I had to allow my partner to take over for things to move forward. I had bigger plans to attend to anyway, so I stepped aside and got all the other things done in the meantime. Everything turned out great in the end, so making that choice to let go of that struggle was a good one.
10. What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs in the art field?
Be careful who you accept advice and criticism from. Know who your end customer is – most of the time, it’s your family, your friends, or even yourself. Pay attention to your inner instincts when it comes to making decisions. If you’re not quite in touch with that part of yourself, work on making that connection through meditation, physical activity, and/or therapy. You are capable of so much more than you give yourself credit for. Don’t let anyone stand in the way of what you know to be true and right for you and your business!
11. Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Thank you so much for this opportunity to share my story! If anyone is interested in a free hour phone consultation, please get in touch with me at [email protected] and mention this podcast. I’ll send over my quick questionnaire and then we’ll set up a day and time to chat. I look forward to meeting some of you!
Learn more about Marlo Miyashiro by following her on social media: