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Hi, I just happened across your site while getting ideas for my wire wrap gemstones and sea glass.

The fact that you give away information, don’t insist personal information, has bought my business already.

To add to the joy (yes, I’m prone to hyperbole but I’m absolutely enchanted with your business model), you add stone treatment information rather than burying it somewhere.

It’s very important to me to be able to tell my customers the what’s been done to their stones, the quality, source and composition of the gems they buy.

I believe I’m the only vendor to have the FCC and AGIA disclosure booklets available at any festival I’ve attended.

You have a customer now and, if OK, I will use your page on stone treatments, with proper attribution of course, as a handout at my next festival the end of this month.

Brightest blessings,

Liz

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(B) block
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(D) dyed
(E) enhanced
(H) heated
(I) irradiation
(F) infused
(M) man made - synthetic
(N) natural
(O) oiled
(P) pressed
(S) stabilized

Finding Your Niche

Finding your jewelry niche

NAILING YOUR NICHE

In the beginning, I thought I knew the exact meaning of “niche”; yet, in nailing it down, I found that there are numerous parameters in finding your niche.


As I always do, I started with a sound definition provided by Encarta World English Dictionary. A niche is a . . .

  1. suitable place for somebody: a position or activity that particularly suits somebody's talents and personality . . .

  2. specialized market: an area of the market specializing in one type of product or service

  3. place in nature: the role of an organism within its natural environment that determines its relations with other organism …


The first two of these definitions have particular application to the field of jewelry design and/or selling beads and supplies.

beaded jewelry


You likely began making jewelry as you found an activity that suited your talents and personality. You liked the activity and just kept going. Before too long, however, you may have discovered that you wanted to make more jewelry than you, your family and your friends could wear and needed to find a market for your wares. If you are like me, you just jumped right in and began selling without consideration of your true niche. I just wanted to make enough money to buy more supplies so I could make more jewelry.

how to find your jewelry making niche

Was this the start of an evil triangle? (The Design Triangle: 1. make jewelry 2. sell jewelry 3.buy supplies to go back to # 1 making more jewelry) No. There was nothing evil about the Design Triangle since I was having a grand time, feeling productive and exercising my creativity. Soon, however, I was spending so much time designing and making jewelry that I actually needed to make some profit. I really needed to find my niche. Has this ever happened to you? Could it be happening to you right now?

 

The initial niche-finding phase for many of us is one of grand exploration. Did you start out stringing beads, learn to add a premade pendant and then venture farther into design work?

 how to find your jewelry making niche

Perhaps you tried wire work, making swirls and connectors or wrapping your own cabochons. Maybe you veered over into working with seed beads or learned bead embroidery. Do you now feel more comfortable following someone’s pattern and tutorial or is freeform more your style? Are your designs mainly traditional or do you enjoy making asymmetrical pieces? What about metal work. Have you tried that?


Following considerable exploration, you may have already found your design niche. Perhaps you enjoy doing all of the above, but experience the most joy and demonstrate the most expertise and innovation in one particular area. You may have noticed that when you offer your designs for sale, a particular type/style sells more quickly than the others. Could that be indicative of your design niche?

beaded jewelry

My customers actually began to define my niche for me. I largely sell wholesale to boutiques and often try to have a large variety of styles available. Some time ago, I noticed that my copper metal pieces had all been purchased by the time I completed a boutique run. Hmm . . . could that have some meaning? Last summer, I worked hard to produce a new trendy style of necklaces. The boutique owners smiled and thought they were nice, but didn’t buy them. Finally, I asked a long-time client about this. She told me that her customers look for my items made of copper and thus she needed to focus her dollars with me on that niche. This really rang a clear bell for me and I’m now better able to serve those boutiques. While the copper designs must remain fresh and new, that’s what my repeat boutique customers want. Knowing this will certainly save me a good deal of time.

 

I have been fortunate to have customers who will tell me what they think and this has helped in nailing my niche. This didn’t happen accidently. I continue to have to question these customers regarding why they purchased one piece over another. Was it a matter of color, style, material or price? Getting these answers is imperative to keeping me in the right niche. When I don’t ask the questions, it’s highly probable that I will assume the wrong thing. For example, yesterday, I showed a boutique customer a new bracelet in a style she always buys. She had previously sold all of the bracelets she purchased in this style, yet, she decided not to get this particular one. My thought was that she was tired of this type and I should bring something different to her next time, Thankfully, I remembered to question her and asked “what is it about this bracelet that you don’t like?” She replied that she truly liked the piece, but wanted to buy Spring rather than Winter colors right now. I surely am glad I didn’t walk away with my first assumption as my guide.

 

how to find your jewelry making niche

We’re not all lucky enough to have customers who express their wishes. Your venue may be art or craft shows where you have fewer repeat customers willing to tell you their thoughts. There must be some other way to nail your niche.

 

Referencing the definitions of niche at the top of this article, you may note that the narrative thus far addresses both of the first two definitions. For clarity purposes, we’ll call definition #1 the personal niche and definition #2 the marketing niche. I originally wanted to separate the discussion of one niche from the other; however this is not feasible. If you are in business and want to make a profit, the two types are intertwined. The personal niche is supported by the marketing niche. This treatise will not discuss definition #3 nor will it cover how to reach your target audience.

how to find your jewelry making niche

Nailing Your Personal and Marketing Niche

 

Explore, explore, explore!

 

I’ve known people who try to determine their personal niche before even trying it out. This can be a problem. For example, as an educator of teachers, I pushed for would-be teachers to get into the classroom as early as possible in their training. You might be surprised at the number of drops outs there were once the students entered the real classroom full of warm bodies. One student said to me, “what was I thinking?” “My Mom and Dad are both teachers, but this is NOT for me!”

 how to find your jewelry making niche

While sitting in your chair and contemplating your niche it may seem that you were destined to be a seed bead artist or something else. Whatever your choice, give it a try and practice it before investing too heavily in it both financially and emotionally. Find a class or a friendly tutor who will guide your development. Give it a good shot before determining it is or is not your niche. This may take some time. I was sure I have found my niche several years ago, but after completing over thirty pieces with the particular technique realized it wasn’t. How did I know? I woke up in the morning wanting to do something else and I was unable to develop new ideas within the selected medium. It was not my niche.

 

how to find your jewelry making niche

The exploration phase of nailing your niche involves trying different techniques, mediums and styles. That one thing that you said you never wanted to do may just capture your interest and provide an arena for demonstrating talent and expertise. It was that way for me regarding working with wire. I said “I will never . . . “ and look at me now. So, go ahead and try it. You might like it!

 

 

Cindy Schulson who offers “Ten Steps to Finding and Attracting Your Ideal Niche”, (http://www.ehow.com/how_5889458_attract-ideal-niche.html) discusses the topic in terms that apply to most businesses. While she is not honing in on jewelry design work, many of her steps hold information you may find valuable. She says to “Start With You. . . . [your niche] comes from who you are, what you believe in, and what you have to offer. Start by evaluating your passions, your skills, your experience, and your expertise. Look for areas of overlap and repetition.”

 

This is reiterated in a post to the Content Creation blog (http://www.seomoz.org/blog/finding-your-niche) by Vingold who also suggests beginning with self. He says we should make circles that are lists of things we like to do, things we are good at and things that we can make money doing. Then we look for the gold that can be mined in the areas where the lists overlap. I tried this approach and created the sample of list below:


 

Things I like to do


Things I’m good at


Things that make money

selling to boutiques


selling to boutiques


writing/selling tutorials

making own designs for wire bracelets


designing with metal


selling to boutiques

making wire chains


making wire chains


selling at craft shows/bazaars

writing


creating wire bracelet designs


teaching jewelry making classes

making metal pendants


making wire bracelets


selling online

etching on copper


writing articles


selling through consignment

riveting metals together


writing blogs



riveting charms on to metal


teaching





researching





stringing beads in unique ways





working with seed beads and bead weaving



 

By organizing your lists, you may be able to note areas of overlap that point toward your niche. I did this with the above lists and rearranged the items. I also added a fourth list, places to sell due to the fact that these entries overlapped with many of the others.

 

Things I like to do


Things I’m good at


Things that make money


Places to sell

making wire chains


making wire chains





making my own designs for wire bracelets


creating wire bracelet designs


teaching jewelry making classes





teaching







making wire bracelets




selling at craft shows/bazaars,








making metal pendants


designing with metal components



  • riveting metals together





selling through consignment,

  • riveting charms on to metal







  • etching on copper














writing


writing articles


Writing/selling tutorials


selling online,



writing blogs







researching












selling to boutiques


selling to boutiques




selling to boutiques








stringing beads in unique ways


making pieces with seed beads and bead weaving





 

This reorganization reveals that although the person may be selling through various marketing venues, exploration of teaching and writing may prove fruitful. Also, it is obvious that the person isn’t leaning in the direction of working more with seed beads or stringing beads and that wire and metal are indicated as appropriate mediums.

 

Once you assess your own likes, areas of expertise and opportunities to make money, you will be much closer to nailing your niche. Don’t be surprised if the exercise above leads you in a direction you had not previously considered. Although the new direction may not seem feasible, it’s certainly worth a look. Can you move in that direction and find a niche market that works for you? Do you have a product for a target audience?

 

The aforementioned Schulson also suggests that you identify your target [niche] market. “ . . . who can most benefit from what you have to offer?” Herman Drost, writing specifically about internet marketing (http://www.isitebuild.com/niche-marketing.htm) discusses niche marketing: A niche market is composed of individuals and businesses that have similar interests and needs, which can be readily identified and that can be easily targeted and reached. Finding a niche for your business means finding a great product or service for a highly targeted audience.

 

Once you have identified this market, Schulson provides criteria by which it may be evaluated. The following should be true for your niche:

 

  • Well defined market with specialized interests and needs.

  • Desire: The market has a strong desire for your product(s)

  • Competition: Although other businesses supply this market you will be able to differentiate your products from the competition.

  • Accessibility: You can easily reach the market

  • Size: The market is large enough to produce the amount of business you seek

  • Passion: “You enjoy working with the people in this group”

  • Profit: The customers in this market have the income needed to purchase your products

 

Once you have nailed your niche, you will want to do some research to learn a great deal about the market for your niche. This launches you into another area of exploration as you seek to learn the demographics such as age, occupation, etc. of the members of the market and how best to reach them. This should guide you toward marketing, advertising strategies and venues.

 

Whew! . . . and all I wanted to do was make some jewelry. As for nailing my niche; I’m almost there. How about you?

Karen Meador

**Contributing authors are noted in the articles they wrote. All articles are copyright. You can reprint these articles as long as the original author is sited and a link to this website is included. The name Magpie Gemstones must be used as the hypertext.

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