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Making Jewelry and Making Friends ... For Fun and Profit

Making Jewelry and Making Friends ... For Fun and Profit Making Jewelry and Making Friends ... For Fun and Profit
by Patricia Hawkins, Tricia Gail Designs

The harder it is for the economy, the better it is for my business. I make and sell jewelry. I don't have a jewelry store, just my kitchen table and a second-hand computer. Yet I earn as much as my friends doing the 9-5 thing in offices and I have a lot more fun.

The reason that I do so well during economic downturns stems from the fact that jewelry lifts women's spirits and it doesn't have to be expensive to do a lot of lifting. My business has never been better.

Many people who would like to get into business say that they're ok with the jewelry-making part but they are uncomfortable going out and trying to sell to strangers. Well, I understand, I was exactly the same way myself. I didn't get over my nervousness overnight but I found that people love to talk about jewelry--I haven't found anyone who wasn't perfectly nice to me. The longer I work at meeting people, the easier it gets--plus I've met so many great new people.

So let me share with you some of what I have learned on the road to financial independence--by doing what I love:

First, believe in yourself and do not be afraid of rejection. Remember that for every door that closes a new one opens and there is always more than enough to go around.

Be excited and enthusiastic about your creativity--it is contagious and people like that!

Research the Best Designs

Your suppliers want you to be successful and do not want you to fail. They often have web galleries of winning designs to get you started. The worst thing that can happen is that you buy supplies and attempt one design, then your supplies wind up sitting in your closet. The reason this happens is either you did not know what to expect or your expectations were set too high, setting yourself up for failure. Avoid this by doing your homework. If you are not inspired or excited, find something to stimulate you.

Homework inspiration can come from the most unexpected places such as catalogs, magazines, advertisements, store displays, boutiques, bridal and tuxedo stores. Seeing someone walking down the street wearing that special piece that catches your eye. Stop and compliment that person, ask them where it came from. It may have an interesting history. This may inspire your creative imagination and give you that ''Creative Kick Start'' you have needed. We all need these ''Kick Starts'' every so often.

When you see a piece that sparks your interest, ask to take a picture. Use this picture as a reference. You will remember what caught your eye and be able to change part of the style, colors or stones to make your design a piece that is uniquely yours, based on your own artistic talent. It is important for you to focus on current fashion trends, colors and styles out in the market place.

Have a business card made so that people can contact you and get your name and creativity out to others. Remember, many of the people that have seen your work will tell others and word of mouth is the best form of advertising.

Advertise

Wear your own jewelry. It is a conversation piece and gives you a chance to talk with others. Be sure to give them one of your business cards and possibly even sell that piece of jewelry you are wearing. Many times I have taken off the jewelry I was wearing and sold it on the spot. Be sure to get one of their business cards and/or name, phone number and email address. Obviously, that person admires your creativity or they would not have asked about it.

Your Portfolio

Be sure to take photos of each and every piece that you make for your portfolio and website if you have one. Clients like to look through your portfolio (book) to see items you have currently created as well as past ones. A lot of times they will see something they like and commission (ask) you to make one identical to the one in your book. Sometimes with some slight modifications to match a certain color outfit. I would be lost if I did not have my portfolio as I cannot remember each and every piece that I have made. There have been times that I have gone back to review my photos and recall how popular certain designs were. Then I reinvent them with a slight change to update them.

I have placed into my portfolio cards, letters and notes sent to me by clients, thanking me. Also I display certificates of appreciation I have received from various organizations for participation in their events. Clients are thrilled to learn about you and your successes. They enjoy seeing the ''kudos'' you have received.

So decorate a notebook or photo album and always carry it with you when you go out to see clients and prospective clients. Always remember to place it on your booth or table when you do a craft fair or fundraiser.

Prospective Clients

You would be surprised how easy it is to meet prospective clients every day. I have met some of my best clients in places such as church, school, work, walking, gym, parks, shopping, dance class, women's clubs, Chamber of Commerce events, and restaurants. Remember to smile; it sparks a person's interest that says ''hello,'' letting people know you are open to conversation. It should progress from there.

Build Relationships--It is easier than you think!

Window shop at stores and boutiques to see what type of clients they cater to. Pick up a few of their business cards. When you find a place that makes you think ''I would love to have this place sell my jewelry pieces,'' get inspired to make a few sample pieces that you feel meets the store's unique style. Then go back to the store and introduce yourself to the staff, manager and owner, if possible. Tell them you admire their store, décor and unique selection of items they sell. Give them some insight about yourself by showing them your portfolio. Then show them samples of the special pieces you have created exclusively for them. Let them know that you realize they have a unique, special clientele that they cater to. Reassure them that you appreciate and respect not only them but also their clients' desire of uniqueness. Further assure them that whatever you design for their store will be exclusively theirs' and not sold to other stores.

Again, I must say be excited, be yourself, be sincere, clients and potential clients admire and appreciate honesty.

Once you establish this relationship with your clients and potential clients you will discover that many times they will purchase your jewelry because they like you and can tell others that they are wearing an original by ''your name and business.''

Craft fairs and fundraisers are always happening, check with churches, schools, women's clubs, service clubs such as Lions Club and Rotary. Even your Chamber of Commerce may have information of organizations that have upcoming events. Contact them for dates, details and costs. Sometimes you may be charged a booth rental fee (sometimes not), they may require you to provide a raffle prize (another way to get your name and product out there) or they may require you to contribute a percentage of your sales to their fundraiser's beneficiaries. If they do, this may be a tax deduction for you.

After you do a craft fair or fundraiser, always enter these names in your contact database. Following up is especially important--send notes, postcards with a thank you, letting them know that it was nice meeting them. Ask them to call you if they have an event coming up that you could be of assistance with by showing your work. Also ask if they have a bridal party they need gifts for, or if they want a piece of jewelry just for them that goes with a special outfit that they have.

Building Your Client Database

Accumulating an accurate database of clients and potential clients is just as important as creating your jewelry. Believe it or not, to be successful means putting just as much effort into those potential clients as you do making your jewelry. In the beginning you are so happy to sell an item that you may make the mistake of not getting names and numbers of people. Each sale that you make to someone has the potential of making you four or five additional sales. So keeping an accurate database will help you reap future rewards for your time and effort.

At shows, you can build your prospective client list by holding a drawing--display the piece that will be won, be it a necklace, bracelet, earrings, bookmark, eye glass holder, badge holder, hair barrette or head band.

Set up a glass bowl or box for people to deposit their business card or give them a paper form for them to complete with their name, address, phone number and email on it. Include questions like: would you like to be informed by phone, email, or postcard of future events in which you will be participating? You can also ask whether they would like to set up an in-home jewelry event.

This way you can send a flyer out to all who have entered your drawing to thank them and let them know that you appreciate them and look forward to seeing them again. Invite them to call you, should they have a special piece of jewelry to be designed for them or a gift. Let them know about your next showings.

Build your clientele list by having a notebook (I use a 1-1/2'' notebook; on the front and back cover I have photos of my pieces to spark an interest). I make a sign-in sheet on the computer (but you can do it by hand) that asks for their name, address, phone number, fax number and email address. Also, it asks if they would like to receive a phone call, postcard or email of upcoming events. This lets them know you look forward to seeing them again!

Remember, people who participate in your drawing or sign your notebook already like and admire your designs enough that they provided you personal information about themselves. Which means that they will tell other people about your artistic, unique talents ... Thus more word of mouth advertising!

Display a ''Remember These Special People,'' sign on your display table. Make hand-outs of the idea list to pass out. This will bring repeat sales and new clients. (Be sure your name and phone number is on the hand-out.)

''Remember These Special People''

  • Mom
  • Sister
  • Pastor
  • Hairdresser
  • Dog Walker
  • Neighbor
  • Hostess
  • Bride
  • Brother
  • Minister
  • Fitness Trainer
  • UPS Person
  • Aunt
  • Bank Teller
  • Bridesmaid
  • Cousin
  • Nail Person
  • Postman
  • FedEx Person
  • Grandmother
  • Bank Manager
  • Teacher
  • Niece
  • Pedicure Person
  • Sunday School Teacher
  • Favorite Sales Associate
  • Grandfather
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Baby Sitter
  • Pet Sitter
  • House Sitter
  • Vet
This list has increased my sales quite a bit, especially during the holidays when so many people have a lot on their minds. Clients have thanked me many times over for helping them find a gift for that special person. Being able to help people is one of the biggest rewards you receive, especially during the holiday season. Everyone has those last minute items that they have not been able to find. Needless to say, the stress of the situation has settled in and they need help, which you can provide with ''One Stop Shopping.''

Pricing your product. This was hard for me at first and I continue to get better, as will you.

When pricing your items, remember everything that goes into your pricing. Here is a guideline that I use and it has been working quite well. It still gives you latitude to change your price at the time of purchase, if necessary.
  1. Supplies (Cost of supplies times 2-1/2 to 3 times)
  2. Research Time (Researching your product components)
  3. Creative Time (Designing time, inspiration time, prototype time)
  4. Time to Make (Once you have everything ready and set to go)
  5. Sales Time
Take item numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5 to figure the time you have spent on the item. Then come up with an hourly rate you feel compensates you for all of your time. Multiply the time by the hourly rate you came up with to arrive at cost for time. As an example 1/2 hour (time) multiplied by $15.00 per hour (hourly rate) equals $7.50 (your time cost) per piece. Then add the figure for your supplies, which gives you the approximate cost for your piece. Say you had $4.00 cost of supplies X 3 = $12.00 (cost of supplies marked up). Plus $7.50 (cost of time) = $19.50 total cost. Many craftspeople then mark this up 2 times to get selling price = $39.00. The $39.00 in this example represents retail pricing--where you sell it to the retail customer yourself. If you sell or consign your jewelry to a store, which is going to add its own markup--then your final markup should only be 1.3--1.5 times your total cost.

Clients always like a nice presentation for the item they have purchased from you. Which once again gives you word-of-mouth advertising. Thus potential future sales. Therefore, I recommend that you have the following items also:
  1. Design labels made with your name and or business name along with your address and phone number. Place this on the top of your gift box and on their receipt. You may want a ''wow'' label to place on the box and a basic label for your receipts.
  2. Gift boxes (I purchase these from Fire Mountain Gems and Beads when I order supplies).
Remember always that you yourself are honest, fair and friendly, and people will respect and appreciate you and your ethics.

I hope these suggestions will help you succeed and enjoy your artistic creativity.

Best wishes for a profitable season.

Patricia

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