Thursday, March 20, 2014

STARTING A JEWELRY BUSINESS

So you are an aspiring jewelry artist.  You have taken some courses in jewelry making; you did your research on sourcing materials and wasted no time getting to work. 

Family, friends, co-workers and friends of co-workers have taken notice of your baubles, and you want to know how to transform your hobby into a thriving business.

This edition of Splendor Sidebar takes a look at some things you need to consider when starting a jewelry business.


COUNT THE COST

According to my research, start-up costs will vary greatly depending on the type of jewelry you make (bead, gemstone, gold).  The amount can run anywhere from $1,000 to $20,000.

Factors such as whether you want a website designed, hire a photographer, or purchase business stationery will also influence how much your start-up costs will be. 

However, some jewelers, like Pamela Love, focused on purchasing materials only, opted to take their own photos, and developed an initial online presence via Etsy.com.

GET ADVICE

Jewelry designer Jennifer VanBenschoten recommends seeking tutelage from your city’s chamber of commerce: “These organizations exist to provide free or low-cost assistance and advice to anyone who wants to start their own business, and are often staffed by successful small business owners.” 

Creating a business plan outlining your goals, as well as looking into getting a business license are most likely two pieces of advice that will be given.

A PRICE TO PAY

A profitable business begins with setting accurate prices for your jewelry.  Costs for materials, including packaging materials, and the time to make a piece must be included in your calculation. 

Understanding your market—who buys your jewelry—helps in choosing the best venue for your baubles: church bazaar, consignment store, or high-end craft shows.  You may choose to sell lower-priced items at a church bazaar and sell higher priced, one-of-a-kind items at a craft show. 

If you choose different venues for multiple revenue streams make sure to keep prices consistent to the venue you choose.  Also be prepared to pay for booth expenses to show your wares.

INCLUDE SOCIAL MEDIA AS MARKETING TOOLS

Branding and marketing your jewelry business is important.  Connecting with current and prospective customers is essential to growing the business, and social media provides a free source to “advertise” your brand.

Independent jewelry designers including Jennifer Fisher and Irene Neuwirth implement Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to supplement their overarching marketing plans. 

They share photos of new inventory, inspiration boards, and a glimpse into their day-to-day activities.  VanBenschoten recommends posting to social media at least 3 times daily.

BE PROFESSIONAL

Whether your start-up costs are small or large always present a quality product to your customers.  Megan Kutchman, who specializes in writing about the highs and lows of owning a home jewelry business, offers this advice:

“There is much to be gained from a memorable presentation. When you sell a piece of jewelry, how you package and present it to the customer can be a factor in convincing them to return for more.”

BE PATIENT

Building a solid business takes time and is often a learning experience for many new to the industry.  Sale and marketing strategies will need to be re-evaluated and changed from time-to-time. 

Depending on your market, jewelry sales may drop or the cost of materials, as is the current case with gold, may skyrocket requiring that you change from18-karat gold to 10-karat or bronze.

Kutchman says this: “The beauty of a jewelry business is that you can scale it to be as large or as small as you are comfortable with.  How large you grow is completely up to you and how well you manage your jewelry business.”

For additional info on building a jewelry business be sure to check out fine jeweler Wendy Brandes’ frank commentary. 

Also take time to peruse Tracy Matthews and Robin Kramer’s blog Flourish and Thrive Academy where the duo “teach you everything you need to know about starting or running your jewelry business.”

That concludes this edition of Splendor Sidebar.  
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