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Just a quick note of appreciation...received my first order from you a couple days ago. I was very impressed with my experience. The beads are of high quality, exceeded my expectations ... they are beautiful! Your website is well done, the ordering process was straightforward, the order was filled accurately and promptly, packaged very well, and arrived very quickly. Thank you so much! I will certainly be ordering from you again. Everyone did a great job! Phil, Crooked Lake Studios

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Can I Make a Living Making Jewelry?

Is it possible to make a living in the field of jewelry design?

 

Making a living as a jewelry designerFaith Davis Ferris answers this question that is always on the mind of new jewelry makers. This was in response to a question in an online forum Wire Wrapped Jewelry. I asked her if I could share it with my clients. I thought her words were very good and succinct.Can I Make a Living Making jewelry?

For my 2-5 cents I'll say what I think is true. You don't know till you try. Can you fail? Yes. It can also work. Marginally. Well. Very Well. That being said a couple of points.

 


First, you need to consider all the 'core' aspects and responsibilities involved in a small business start-up.

 

To begin you need to apply, process and complete any permit applications your state, town and in some cases HOA require. The actual permits, paperwork, requirements may vary so be sure to confirm with your state, county town, HOA* They many include and are not necessarily limited to: filing for DBA, sales tax certification and zoning to note a possible few.

 

Then you need to consider the fact you'll be in charge of all the steps of running your small business. That involves bookkeeping, filing, paying collected sales tax, marketing, design (business cards, displays). Again to name a few, by no means all of the various responsibilities that will fall to you. Even if you should one day have employees you will still be 'the last word' in decisions and quality.

 

Then of course there is creating the item(s) for sale if you are selling completed jewelry. Packaging if you are selling components. Both will be an ongoing primary responsibility. All of these noted are (IMO) central or 'core' business model responsibilities.

 

Then there's the 'intangerine' (lol) The intangibles, actually. Based on market saturation there's few if any businesses you can launch that don't have fairly - to madly - intense competition (take my field of lampwork for an example). Based on the numbers of US lampworkers at shows, bead stores and on-line combined with the flood of import beads from India and China well, I should pack it up or starve . . . BUT this is where unique product (beads or jewelry design), become essential.

 

Add to the essential list astounding customer service, merciless organization (because it's true, time IS money - do not waste time if you run your own biz).

 

Next is marketing and presence. You must be obsessively committed to marketing, to presence of/for your product.

 

Starting, running, maintaining a business is much like having a child. There are no 'times off'. Almost never does a day dawn that doesn't hold an opportunity. For most (not all) it's daunting and more than they want to commit to.

 


It IS possible to succeed based on two additional factors (and mind you this is my experience, my opinion).

First, building upon your foundation of unique product/designs, jaw dropping customer service and keen organization you need to find and grow your niche market. Even when offering similar products/services similar to others in the same line of business, you will use/create colors, designs, types of findings that will appeal to a specific market - your client base.

 

It takes a LOT of time to find/feed/grow your client market. Trial and error. Head-banging. Endless interaction with those who buy and those who look. I'd wager few who succeed in the jewelry/jewelry component business (or any business) make it fly doing only what they are drawn to do creatively or buy/offer by personal preference.

 

Ferreting out what is wanted by they-who-hold-the-shopping-cash, what they want from YOU is the next step. Here's where having multiple income streams (in the same, similar or even divergent markets) helps. The more variety you offer, the the larger your market appeal. Multiple income streams from varied or related sources is worthwhile not only in dollars and cents but also in sanity. Eggs not all in one basket at start up has solid merit.

 

Second is to identify just what you 'need to make/show/clear' in profit (not sales but profit) to achieve what you require to pay bills or meet whatever goal you have. Very 'tangerine' (tangible) because how much you need to clear (profit) is so incredibly individual (and personal). For some the number is even variable.

 

I've watched established bookstores, bakeries, restaurants, clothing stores, jewelry stores, health clubs, auto sellers well you see the point - all type of business - beset with competition, both equivalent and 'under-cutting-price model'. Those who survive and prosper fight hard, fight long, fight clever. It is (for many) surprisingly demanding, complex, tiring. Certainly at times frustrating.

 

Beginning and running a small business (can) hold numerous unanticipated aspects and responsibilities to succeed or fail. I find most of my marketing students are (in class and in subsequent follow up) amazed at best and at worst find it necessary to more fully evaluate what's involved. It takes much more to begin and to maintain a small business than many anticipate. It's a career, a path, a choice better acted upon with all the information laid out and examined prior to being lived in a for profit model.

 

All that said, I not only believe, but daily live, that a jewelry design or component business (to name two) can be successful. And it can be successful amid intense, insane competition (ask me sometime how much I love 99 cent auctions for US lampwork).

 

The only other caution I'd throw in (I'm probably up to 8 cents now) is not to expend too much capital initially. There's a great inclination in new biz start-ups (stats prove) to 'over-spend'. For some it's items such as magnets or pens. For others it's stock.

 

For example buying 40 colors of crystals when 10 would be sufficient for creating designs and a far better cost-investment/start ratio for a trial design. It's easy to fall prey (IMO) to the 300 dollar 'eye catching ad' in a magazine versus far less expensive choices. Options such as newspaper ads, on-line ads, blogs, tweets, small inexpensive business fliers (think photo copy not pretty brochure), penny saver ads etc. It's what I've always called 'shovel and hoe' marketing. A lot of work, a lot. Not glitzy, but effective. Most important, very cost effective. And what cost effective means is the ability to constantly saturate your potential markets without breaking the start up bank initially or the profit bank over the long run.

 

Ok, I bet up pushing 10 cents (way over the accepted norm of 2-5 cents) so enough! Except to say that: In trying you may fail, but in not trying you'll fail for certain (and always wonder). Follow your dreams - but with your eyes open!

 

** I am not an expert in any State/Regional regulations so be sure to work with your local state/county offices and you accountant to establish the requirements for your desired business.**

 

Faith Davis Ferris (Insane and running a business/self employed for decades in the jewelry industry.)

http://www.fdferrisbeads.com/

___________________________________________________


Hi,
Read your article about "Can I Make a Living Making Jewelry".  Some interesting and valid points. 
 

I'm an artisan, one person company who does it all, everything from web design, jewelry design, making the jewelry, shopping for gemstones, to shipping; you name it I do it, all of it LOL.
 

I found that I was involved in too many things at too many times and became totally unorganized; not knowing what to handle first.
 

I tried making priority lists only to find I had pieces of paper all over of the place; list after list.  Been there, done that, didn't work.
 

Basically I'm a very organized person and this was starting to drive me crazy.  Out source?  Great in theory but in fact; can't afford it and wouldn't trust the person doing it.  I was losing my sanity and time and had to come up with a solution or quit what I love to do.
 

I couldn't quit, my previous career of 20 plus years  was in upper and operational management. I've had up to a 100 people working under my direction, and I can't seem to manage myself?  This isn't right.
 

After attempting several solutions, I finally came up with one I can deal with, which customers accept and which has kept me sane.  Instead of trying to accomplish several tasks in one single day, I've broken them down into a weekly schedule.  As an example;  I only work with silver clay on Monday.  Tuesday and Wednesdays are reserved to working on custom orders, Thursdays I'll work on beading only, Friday I'll work on copper or bronze and so on.  Weekends are free. 
 

Each morning I take 2 hours to do computer work; update my site, post new items, etc.  If I can't get everything done, I'll put it aside until the next day.  I found I don't need to get absolutely everything done in 2 hours. 
 

I'll then head to my studio and start on my daily task at hand.  When customers ask me how soon they can get a custom order, I now tell them I work on custom orders on Tues. and Wed. and they're happy with that. 
 

I've found by scheduling my week according to what I'll be doing on a particular day has kept my studio much more organized and cleaner than its ever been before. 
 

I can go on into so much more detail but won't, I think you get the idea. 
 

Thought I'd share that with you because the article mentions how much is involved in running a business but there were no suggestions on the things which can be done to helping you organize your business and schedule.
 

Sincerely,
Julie Teeples
Designer/Owner

 

 

**Contributing authors are noted and linked to 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 their site and this website is included. The name Magpie Gemstones must be used as the hypertext.

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