Keeping Your Jewelry on Trend
As a new year settles in, there is a constant bombardment of the upcoming style trends of the year. From the Pantone’s Color of the Year to Swarovski’s launch at the Tucson Show, it can be difficult to keep up. Bead and business expert, Viki Lareau, gives her advice to designers on keeping their jewelry on trend.
Staying in touch with what’s popular is absolutely essential to succeed in the jewelry industry. Even if you think your jewelry is very original and doesn’t lend itself to trends, there will always be colors, sizes, or lengths of jewelry designs that will be more popular than others. You would be wise to try to incorporate some of them into your designs, while still being true to your own style.
It only takes a couple hours a month to browse high-end catalogs, websites, department stores, or specialty boutiques. My favorites are Neiman Marcus, Saks, Barney’s New York, Fragments, and In Style magazine. Why only high end? Because by the time a design style has hit a store such as Target, it’s too late to adapt it. Ideally, we want to catch the latest designs before they have been popularized.
Couture designers preview their new designs as much as a year in advance. They give them to celebrities for free to wear out in public or to events where they will be photographed. When these pictures appear in fashion magazines, companies start creating knockoffs to feed public demand. About six months after the celebrity sighting, you will see similar designs in Macy’s or JC Penney, then later in the lower-end stores. By now the design has mass appeal—and mass availability. This is true with jewelry as well. The trick is to watch a trend while it is still exclusively in the highend markets and add a variation or element of it to your designs. By the time you have incorporated some of that look into your designs, it should start reaching popularity.
I would be hesitant to start a line with the looks that are popular now, because you may be coming in on the end of a trend. How will you know which ones are going to take off? You must make an educated guess. In the end, you’re only using the information to keep informed and make decisions about what design elements will help your jewelry sell better.
I’m getting ready to do my first real show, and I want everything to be perfect. I’m having trouble labeling the jewelry with prices. Is this really necessary, and if so, how do I make it look good?—Sandy B.
Labeling your pieces is a very important part of the marketing. The presentation you make with it says who your business is. Never use generic pricing stickers. As an artist you will want to make your own hang tags, earring cards, and signage. Invest time designing them to match the “feel” of your jewelry. Plus it gives you a better opportunity to describe individual pieces and the materials used in them. Providing this information for the customer can help sell while you are with another customer and helps make that personal connection every sale needs. Good luck!—VL
I love your column and your book. I plan on following your advice to the letter to grow my jewelry business. The problem I’m coming up against is not being able to part with the jewelry once I make it. I want to keep everything for myself! My husband says just make two of everything, but I think this takes away from the one-of-a-kind aspect of my business. Help!—April A.
This challenge is very common for new designers. If you are using a new type of product, make something for yourself first to keep. Everywhere you go you need to wear your own jewelry, so you do need some personal inventory. Once that requirement has been satisfied, you can relax into the idea that you are now making something to sell. Do take a picture or scan of everything, though, before you sell it so you have a portfolio of everything you’ve made. That way, all your previous designs can keep selling for you. You can always make a piece for yourself again but alter some element so that it is uniquely yours. Hope this helps!—VL
This article was originally published in the August/September 2007 issue of Beadwork magazine.
VIKI LAREAU is the author of Marketing and Selling Your Handmade Jewelry: The Complete Guide to Turning Your Passion into Profit (available at www.interweave.com). She has also taught business and beading classes nationwide.
For more advice from experts in the jewelry business, visit the Interweave Store.