Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Word To the Wise

A few months ago, I was approached by the owner of a brick and mortar gift shop in the upstate of South Carolina about putting some of my vintage look jewelry on consignment in her shop, which was about to open.  I declined because the rental fee was too high and I was in the middle of adding my 2012 holiday collection to the shop.  She emailed me again last week and said that they had a different offer:  Instead of a rental fee, how about a straight 20% commission?   Sounded great, because I've been hearing 40% from the local gift shops, at least in my area.  I said I would send some pieces if she could provide an artist agreement and some information about her business first.  The same lady said over and over how much she loved my work and how well my pieces fit what they had in mind for the store and not to worry, she would pass along my request to the actual partner who managed the legal stuff for the business and have her get in touch with me.   

Since the artist agreement is a contract, I wanted to be sure that whomever signed it on behalf of the company was doing so under authority of the company, thereby binding the company and making the company itself liable for any breach of the terms.  The person who is authorized to act for a company will be identified in the by-laws, corporate charter or blanket resolution, or an operating agreement if they are created as an LLC, a Limited Liability Company.   Blame it on being a paralegal for 32 years, but I didn't think the request was unreasonable.  I also wanted to know if there was insurance which would cover fire, theft, and damage as the result of negligence on behalf of the owner or their employees or customers.  Again, not an unreasonable request.  The artist agreement which the woman admitted they pulled off the internet, even had the terms backwards.  I was listed as the "consignee" instead of the "consignor," something which apparently had not come up with the other people who had signed it.  That's not my problem, but I wasn't about to sign it if it wasn't correct.   

Anyway, a few days went by and I heard nothing from them, but I went ahead and started on some new pieces to send.  Then I get an email basically stating that since they had JUST signed another artist who did virtually the same thing I do, and since they didn't want to be unfair to either of us, they were closing the opening for jewelry consignors and thanks very much for my interest.   Well.

I'm not stupid, and since everything was hunky dory up until I asked for proof they are who they say they are and that they had insurance, I have to believe that my request met with some resistance on the part of the business manager partner.  Wouldn't you?   I don't feel bad at all, though, as this may have saved me a whole bunch of heartache and money and aggravation down the road. Chalk it up to one of those lessons learned.

If I hadn't spent the last 32 years with my nose in law books, I might not have known to ask these questions, but I did spend 32 years as a paralegal, so I do know about this legal stuff.  I guess I just wanted to say to all you aspiring "consignors," be careful who you deal with and to whom you trust your precious creations.  If you don't protect yourself and your art, ain't nobody else gonna do it for you.  

So, I have a few new pieces to add to the shop, and I had a great time working with these vintage rhinestone bead caps that my friend Lucia (hey, Lucia!) sent me.  She found a warehouse full of vintage findings and good stuff a few years ago, and was so generous to send me a bag full of goodies, which I am playing with them this weekend.   

And on a personal note, happy birthday to my Momma, who celebrates her 80th today!   She can out-think, out-last and out-run me any day, even at 80!   I love you lots!


Bonnie Kreger at B-LEE KREATIONS said...

Lynda, that's great advice. It's not so bad if the store is near you and you can keep an eye on things. I got lucky when I did mine but then the store went out of business.

Love your new pieces and thanks for the advice.

Terri said...

Fantastic post!

Lupe Meter said...

Thanks for sharing that advice. I almost got into something awhile back ago but backed out because it sounded wishy washy and there was no agreement up front on paper. Your pieces are absolutely gorgeous! Love those vintage bead caps...they add a nice touch to your piece! Happy Birthday to your mom!

Kashmira Patel said...

Thanks a LOT for sharing this! A lot of us do not know all the legal implications we need to be aware of, and in fact as a beginner, I would be too excited to be approached at all. Am going to share this on a beading group page on FB that I know will benefit from this information. Hope that is ok!

m.e. said...

very good advice !Artists are often over eager to sell and gain exposure. We all need to take a deep breath and think before we sign our names on anything .
Happy ,Happy ,Happy Birthday to your Mom !
m.e. :)

Diva Designs Jewelry said...

Thank you to everyone who posted and emailed me feedback on this. I am going to check with the Small Business Administration to see if they have any tips for this situation, and will post them if they do.

Kashmira, which beading group? I belong to one on FB, too. :) And it's okay with me for you to post. Beth Wheeling and I have been having a conversation on FB about this, too.

The Crazier Sister said...

Good advice. Thanks for sharing with those of us who are eager, but *don't* have that experience and knowledge to draw on. It's great we can draw on yours.

A Half-Baked Notion said...

Wow, what a great story for those of us who are far too trusting, Lynda! Thanks for the heads up. BTW, the bead group to which Kashmira refers is the Creative Bead Chat. I think any member who is your FB "friend" can submit your name if you are interested.

Sarita said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
sandi m said...

Boy, I agree with everything you stated; great advice. Having worked for a title company for 30+ years, I, too, am familiar with contracts. Yikes! if they don't know the difference between "or" and "ee". You made the right decision.
Anyway, if they really wanted your pieces I would have suggested they just buy them ~ you get paid right away and it's their problem if they don't sell.