Friday, December 19, 2008

A Year Older and Wiser...I hope

Today is my birthday and for the last few days I've been reflecting on how my life's path is going. Right now I feel at peace about where I am spiritually, mentally and with my family and friends. At the same time I also feel a sense of urgency and motivation to go on to the next level with my business in jewelry making and design. Lately, I've been reading a book called Crafting as a Business by Wendy Rosen and I'm beginning to find it to be a very resourceful tool.

My jewelry, at first, was offered to myself, family and close friends. Soon others that noticed my work started to want to buy my creations. After a while I finally got up the courage to do my first small home party and to my surprise it was successful-that is, I made a small profit-enough to treat my family to a pizza dinner the next night, at least. I was still working out my pricing formula and it seemed that I was selling jewelry just to have to buy more supplies to make more jewelry. I wanted to get out of that cycle. Not only that, I was struggling with trying to figure out my packaging and business image, how to obtain materials at a wholesale price, figuring out how to obtain a business licenses, and so on and so on...

I finally sat down with a mentor of mine by the name of Elizabeth Agte. I'd attended a workshop of hers once that taught PMC and I regularly visit her booth whenever she does Artwalk. She pretty much broke it down for me-as far as obtaining a DBA in NY, how to avoid overrated craft shows that would have more resale vendors than crafters and how to avoid consignment shops and boutiques that would have your creations sitting in a pile of dust or becoming "lost"while they pushed sales for their "friends" and colleagues artwork.

Joining Etsy was and still is a sort of experiment for me. I wanted to see for one thing if people besides my closest companions would be interested in buying my work. I also wanted to see how others who also created jewelry were pricing their work. I've learned a lot from selling online but to be honest, I wish that when I first started I would have been more prepared. I actually studied Etsy as well as other eccomerce sites to see how things were done for a whole year before I opened up shop and I still had not put everything that I needed to in place.

Some things that I would have done different in the beginning:

1. Streamlined and developed my product. At first I was all over the place making things just because I knew how. I realized after a while that I needed to focus on a certain style for my work...something that would make my items recognizable to people. This does not apply just to the product but also to the details from the packaging to the business cards.(I'm still working on the details☺)

2. Find my customers. I know there are people out there like myself who love the eclectic, primitive, ethereal, natural, artistic sort of bohemian look(that's a mouthful). I just needed to find who they were and what they were willing to spend for my jewelry. My very first sale on Etsy was for a customer in Australia-a place known for its tribal art and influences.

3. Finding the value of my work. I was barely making a profit at first and I knew I had to reevaluate my prices if I was going to try to make this work as a business. I created a list of materials that I would use that would bring value to my work. For example, in my SCJ shop, I am using only sterling silver, raw brass and gold filled beads and components, gemstones,pearls natural beads and natural fibers. Any other materials or components placed in my work will be secondary-the majority of each of my jewelry pieces will consist of the more valuable material. I watch the silver market and keep up on the latest offers from my suppliers to let me know when is the best time to purchase more. In the near future, I plan to incorporate quality karat gold and other items (a surprise) into my work. Along with the time,techniques,methods and design process that I go through, I am able to come up with a fair value for my work which gives me a good profit and gives my customers a piece of my artwork at a good price.

These are just three things that I have or am working on. I'll be discussing more in the future (you'll see an opinion poll pop up once or twice here in the coming year). I'm anticipating that by my next birthday that I'll have become even more attuned to the needs of my customer base and how I want to represent myself and my work to the public.

1 comment:

BlueTerracotta said...

I think I'll check out the book by Wendy Rosen. And there are definitely people out there who like eclectic, primitive...your jewelry is great!