If you’ve ever considered making jewelry and selling what you make, there is a lot to learn before you jump in with both feet. I know it seems easy; go to your local big box craft store, pick up some beads and string, or even a kit, that comes with a few cheaply made tools and some findings (ear wires, clasps, head pins, eye pins, etc.), and then open up a website and the money will just start rolling in. However, as much as I wish that were a reality, running any kind of business, big or small is not that easy.
I’m not an expert and I don’t pretend to be. I do know a lot about marketing, since before I got sick (that’s a whole other blog) I was only a couple of credits away from having my MBA in Marketing. Regardless, you don’t need a college degree to start your own business; you just need to know the right answers.
First and foremost is making quality jewelry that customers will buy; this means knowing your market, i.e. who is going to buy it? Women, Men, Teens, etc. and making items you hope those people will like, at the prices you’ll need to charge to make a profit. Also, it requires skills you may have or maybe you don’t. Whether it’s just to brush up on what you already know or you want to learn something completely new, you can take paid classes through your local community college or sometimes a city has night classes, or you can take paid classes online, and there are tons and tons of videos on YouTube for free. You can choose to watch any videos you like, but my favorite is B’Sues Boutique https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-y8T1C7cZE.
Brenda Sue, the owner of B’Sues Boutique http://www.bsueboutiques.com/default.asp is also my favorite supplier for quality brass stampings and vintage inspired stampings that I use in almost all of my jewelry. I’m sorry if I sound biased, I am, because I believe she has the best supplies and prices, and NO I am not being paid for this post. I have tried many other supply companies, until I found her on the Internet. She also has a closed group on Facebook called, B’Sues Boutique Creative Group, (https://www.facebook.com/groups/bsueboutiquescreativegroup/ which has some of the absolute, nicest people you could ever meet and its free to join, as long as you make mixed media/metal jewelry. Don’t let the “Closed” portion scare you, it just means you have to send Brenda Sue a request and she will let you join (there are over 3500 members). Once you’re involved, there are monthly and weekly motivational challenges to help you reach completion of your designs. You’ll be “in the know” for anything related to the jewelry world well before anyone else. You’ll learn so much and not just from Brenda Sue, but she has a design team that will help you and answer questions if she isn’t available, and other group members will chime in with their opinions too. The group is filled with people just starting out, people somewhere in the middle, and some extremely experienced artists that have very sucessful businesses. A few are also very experienced in vintage jewelry, so when you get lucky enough to find one and know nothing, they can help fill in the blanks, as long as you post pictures of the front and back. There are Pinterest Boards for the group, so your items can get extra advertising. If your piece is well made it might even make it into B’Sue’s Newsletter or onto her Blog. The best part I like is it is completely “drama free.” It is ALL about jewelry and you’ll make some great friends too.
Second, have the right tools and supplies. Jewelry tools are specific for making jewelry and designed not to scratch up the metal your working on, or break after only making a few things. Quality needs to be considered, and even if you don’t have medical issues, the good tools, although a little more expensive will last longer and are ergonomically made to save wear and tear on your precious fingers, hands, and wrists. You’ll also need the correct supplies for your craft. Are you going to be doing a lot of beading? Then you’ll need to know the correct kind of stitches and knots, the size of beads you need for each individual project. Or, maybe you want to work with metals and a torch, then you’ll need to know the proper safety guides, as well as having a good base knowledge of what types of metals are available. Although every metalsmith would love to start with sterling silver and 14k gold, the costs of learning on these metals are usually out of reach for someone just starting out.
Also, if your working with any kind of metal, you’ll need the right tool for that job. Some wire cutters, as an example, are only meant to cut a certain thickness and if you try to use them on something too thick, you’ll break the tool. As for supplies, this includes everything from beads (plastic, glass, Swarovski crystals, German glass, Czech, and more), Stampings, Charms, Wire, and Bases to build with that come in all thicknesses and metals, such as Brass, Copper, Silverplated, Sterling Silver, Gold plated, Gold Filled, and more. Plus it all varies in thickness such as 8 gauge, 14 guage or 24 gauge, the higher the number, the softer the metal, which also then still comes many ways, like soft, dead soft, half hard and so on. There are also other materials that can be used to make jewelry, including leather, resin, polymer clay, and even one of the oldest forms, cold porcelain. Each has its own set of tools required and just about everything I have listed in this post can be colorized with different types of inks, paints, or dyes.
So, now that I have filled your head with all of the possibilities, you’ll still need somewhere to sell your items and you have lots of options there too: Etsy, eBay, Shopify, Handmade Amazon (this is brand new), craft shows, and more. You’ll need a good camera, so you can get the clearest pictures possible without using a flash. Most of today’s newest cell phones have pretty good cameras that can do the job, but if your still carrying one of those old flip phones, you’ll need to upgrade, plus you will need access to a computer for listing your items online.
Lastly, you’ll also need packaging materials, mailing materials if not selling locally, business cards, and as many advertising opportunities that you can come up with and can afford, such as the Blog Hop that B’Sue’s is having on September 25th, a Facebook page for your business, a Blog, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, if you have money to start out with your own website, and you could do paid advertising on FaceBook, Google, Yahoo, and more. Some print or electronic magazines are reasonably priced too. The more you can get your name out there and network, the more opportunities you’ll have for people to see your work and hopefully buy it.
Considering the amount of information I have given you to think about, I’m going to stop at this point and I’ll give you some more information in my next post. Maybe between now and then you’ll have decided to join me and the rest of the artists at B’Sue’s Creative Group. Or if you have questions, let me know.
Have a wonderful, artistic time until we meet again.
P.S. Don’t forget to stop by my Etsy Store to see if I have anything you like.