3 Tips for Starting Your Jewelry Business
For years I had a jewelry business. I sold my jewelry online, in shops, and in galleries. I traveled around the country, showing people how to make jewelry…
Quench Jewelry Arts class
…and I sold beads in classrooms, at retreats, and at retail shows like a bead gypsy. Though it was a lot of work, I loved the freedom of my schedule, I relished being able to focus on projects that fed me creatively, and surrounding myself with beauty everyday was probably good for my soul.
However, the foray into having my own jewelry business often felt like a series of mis-starts, overspending, and being spread too thin. At the time, there weren't many of us out there doing this job, so I didn't have a lot of advice to help guide me. (And let's face it, I'm also terribly stubborn, so wanted to do it MY WAY!) But I know now, looking back, that I could have definitely used a mentor. With that in mind, here are three bits of advice for starting your own jewelry business:
1) Form a business plan
When launching your jewelry business, you might be so excited that you want to do it all! I'd advise against this. Instead, make a business plan that shows steady growth from year to year. It doesn't need to be a fancy business plan–heck, write it up on a napkin at your favorite dive bar–but do write up a plan. Ask yourself these questions, and give yourself some honest answers:
-> What am I best at doing?
-> What do I WANT to be doing?
-> What kind of profit do I need to make?
When you think about each one of those questions related to launching your jewelry business, think about design, production, and sales. Which of these areas float your boat most? Start your jewelry business with that, then, in Year 2, if all is going well, add in the next logical thing. Since this is probably new territory for you, building your business slowly will help you understand what you do best and what your customers will most likely recognize you for (with their dollars!).
2) Create an inventory system
Again, this sounds kind of fancy, but I can't tell you how much extra money I spent on beads that I already had in storage until I got my act together! Everyone does inventory in a different way. For example, if you're a tech-head, go ahead and make yourself an Excel file that lists all of the supplies you have in stock. As you finish up or buy a supply, remove/add it to the list. I'm not so high-tech, so my best way to keep track of my beads was to keep a wall of clear plastic shoeboxes in my basement, each filled with like beads (i.e. green size 11s). This way I could find, at a glance, what I needed to order from my suppliers.
3) Use your friends
This is one of those things that doesn't seem like it would help much, but it really does! I rallied my friends for not only trying on my jewelry to get their opinions, etc., but I also paid them (and my kids, too), to help me pack kits, organize beads, etc. Not only did it give me more time for designing and marketing and doing the creative stuff that I love, but, since having your own jewelry business is more or less a solitary endeavor, having others around to pitch in and feel good about what you're doing can be a huge bonus.
My daughter and a friend helping me kit a few years back…
These are just 3 tips for starting your jewelry business, but there is so much more information out there! Start with Nina Cooper's upcoming webinar, Launch Your Jewelry Business. Nina has been in the jewelry business for over 30 years, has run a very successful company (Nina Designs), and has an all-around glowing creativity and energy–a rare combination for such a successful businesswoman. In her webinar, Nina presents a really solid 10-step program for starting your jewelry business that will help you dive into making your business dreams come true.
Have you started your own jewelry business? What tips have you learned that might help your fellow readers? Please share them here on the Inside Beadwork blog.
Jean Cox (Campbell)
Content Strategist, Interweave Bead Group