Cost-Saving Tips for Jewelry Production
Business Saturday: A chat with Cynthia Deis, Owner of Ornamentea, a brick-and-mortar bead shop in Raleigh, North Carolina, plus online supply shop.
Q: What’s your background in jewelry production?
A: I began making jewelry as a teenager on my parents’ back porch in Columbus, Ohio. My beading and jewelry making continued as a hobby until a necklace I was wearing caught the eye of a boutique buyer in North Carolina. I launched a jewelry line, Bedizen Ornaments, out of my home, selling to boutiques and creating custom designs for large-scale retailers, such as Sundance Catalog, Anthropologie, and J. Jill.
Q: How can designers cut costs when doing production work?
A: First, standardize your production methods. Determine exactly how you want to create a wire-wrapped bead, for instance, and then do it the same way (or teach your staff to do it the same way) every time. The benefit is you’ll know exactly how much wire you need, and you won’t waste time and money reinventing the wheel. It’s always more efficient to create on a production line. Whether you are working alone or with staff, adopt a production-line mentality to fill larger orders. Make wire-wrapped bails for all the pendants. Create all the hooks. String all the strands of beads and then finish the pieces all at once. You’ll save time by doing the same process at the same time before cleaning up and switching to the next process.
If your studio permits it, consider creating stations for stringing and crimping, gluing and resins, jigs and hammering, etc., so that several staff members can be working on their own part of an order. Making simple components yourself is another way to save money (and make your jewelry more original). Create eye pins out of spooled wire. Make your own hook clasps or ear wires with a jig, bench block, and hammer.
Q: What are the other benefits of being a penny-wise production artist?
A: Being careful with supplies and materials is not just economical, it’s environmentally friendly. As you add conservation techniques to your daily production habits, make sure to note it on your website and in promotional materials. You’ll educate your customers and inspire other designers to be more careful with their materials (and money!).
Q: Do you have any other cost-saving tips?
A: When using materials that come by the foot, such as beading wire, work from the roll. I have seen talented, experienced designers cut twenty-four inches of stringing material to make an eighteen-inch necklace! While stringing wire is inexpensive, it does add up. For minimum waste, string your design directly onto the roll, crimping when you are finished. Do the same thing with gauged wire: learn to make loops on the spool instead of cutting the wire first. This works well in production, where you aren’t making design decisions but are reproducing designs from your collection.
All photos courtesy of Ornamentea.
Learn even more from Cynthia!