Mary B. Relotto used to own the stores that provided space for products from local small businesses and artisans, but now she’s flipping the equation around and helping the makers get shelf space.
Relotto introduces Mission Possible Consulting Group.
“What I have learned over the years is that artisans don’t like the business of pitching their product, sales, and the time it takes to manage relationships with multiple shop owners,” she says. “They prefer to create.”
Relotto has seen the phenomenon first-hand as owner of Dames Bond Market Place and the recently shuttered Mary B’s Gift Shop. Many artisans passed through the shop doors enthusiastic and excited about their product, but maybe not approaching a retail relationship in the best way. Relotto realized she didn’t just want to be a shopkeeper, she wanted to help.
“I really think there is something better out there for me to do and that is this [Mission Possible Consulting],” Relotto says.
Mission Possible’s services focus on a local relationship – local artists, local stores – and are open to makers of all types. The bottom line is to get products on to store shelves, but the services come with many pieces and parts.
Relotto will help manage and curate the process of getting a product to a retailer.
“Columbus shops that want to work with me are interested in identifying new product and getting it on their shelves with ease,” she says. “There is nothing more frustrating for a shop owner than working with an artisan who doesn’t know how to pitch their product and manage their inventory.”
There’s no cost to shops, but the goal is to make sure whatever hit shelves sells as that’s how the consulting business makes its money. Relotto is already working with the shop that will replace her German Village spot, bringing back many of the artisans, while building on connections to forge relationships with several other shops across town. She wants to see more retailers dedicate space to local products – even if it’s just a corner.
Relotto will leverage those relationships to create test environments for new products. Mission Possible will approach a retailer with a specific item to get feedback and do test sales before a business spends too much on branding or a product that doesn’t sell.
Mission Possible will also teach artisans how to do it all themselves with Product to Market classes. Multiple classes will be offered across the city starting this Spring.
The steps to even get a product to market are being addressed as well. Relotto will walk artisans through common issues like approaching merchants, how to determine the value of their product and branding.
“There’s a huge problem with artisans that don’t know how to brand their product,” she says.
Relotto cites missteps like making labels that are too small, too big or too cheap, or using the improper packaging. She’ll also work through the difficult task of placing a value on an artist’s work and determining pricing – many makers often undervalue themselves.
Relotto will be enlisting the help of connections made through Dames Bond to dole out advice. She’s gathered a group of about five with expertise in varying areas she can rely on.
Mission Possible Consulting is currently taking on clients and forging relationships with more stores.
Click here for more information.