3 Things Successful Jewelry Designers Have in Common

Winners of the Future of Design Business Incubator Contest for Jewelry Designers were announced in March. Entering required budding jewelry designers to answer a 77-question application. Jewelry business experts Cindy Edelstein and Andrea Hill of StrategyWerx spent countless hours poring over the applications and providing feedback. Here's what they've learned about successful jewelry designers in the process:

Very few people understand what they're trying to accomplish beyond designing or making jewelry.

"If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there, right?" says Andrea Hill. "That's somebody's quote, not mine! The problem is they're all driving around on all these roads, floundering.

"That's not just true of the jewelry business, by the way, that's true of entrepreneurs in general. The typical entrepreneur has something they can make, something they know how to sell, and they think that's all they need. That's why the failure rate for small business is over 77 percent."

All big-name designers were jewelry artists who sat down, at some point, and did some serious planning.

Six semi-finalists in the contest win a mentoring meeting with one of the Future of Design's Dream Team, designers Gurhan, Erica Courtney, Todd Reed, Penny Preville, Lisa Jenks, and Robert Lee Morris – all of whom work from a detailed business plan.

"Todd's a good example," says Hill. "His business plan is thoroughly documented and so is his brand book. Long before I started working with him, Todd was very focused and steady and knew what he wanted to accomplish. He's one of the more disciplined people I know. He's constantly thinking about what he has to do now to accomplish the next set of goals."

Successful jewelry designers start by asking the right questions.

"All the finalists we've chosen were very capable of defining what their business was about right now, why they had defined their business this way, where they wanted to go in the future, and the kinds of questions they were trying to answer now to get there," Hill says. "Sometimes it's not just about whether you have the answers, these designers were asking all the right questions.

CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories on design, travel and business have appeared in AmericanStyle, Art & Antiques, Town & Country, Washington Post, and her own site, TheJewelryLoupe.com.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more about the importance of knowing what you want in "Do You Need a Business Plan?" May/June 2013.

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